Developing a tree-care plan

It takes 20 years or more to replace a mature tree - which is why more and more homeowners are hiring tree services for routine maintenance to keep these giants of the landscape healthy and beautiful.

But do you know what work actually needs to be done?

Tree care is both science and craft, requiring knowledge, skill and experience. The right tree service will involve you in understanding the appropriate treatments for your trees – considering them not only as individual plants but also in the context of the larger landscape.

For example, Mike Ripley – an ISA-certified arborist and founder of Ripley Tree Service – says a job begins with a detailed assessment. It includes pruning and shaping considerations that serve both tree and landscape, such as cleaning, thinning, raising or lowering the crown, backing limbs and compartmentalizing decay, to name a few.

Planning also should include samples soil, bark and tissue cultures to determine fertilizer needs and other specialized treatments. For trees that drop fruit or nuts in parking or seating areas, the planning process can include regimens to suppress growth of this "mast".

Once completed the assessment can be turned into a written plan, which Ripley discusses and uses throughout the job. It includes a description of each tree and each service, priority levels for each task, and a plan of attack – both for the day’s work and over the course of time.

Ripley likes to share the plan with the homeowner too, even though the terms and techniques are typically unfamiliar. “Most people are really interested in the different ways we can make their trees noticeably healthier and prettier,” Ripley says. “And they always appreciate the transparency.”

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