Are your trees ready?
If you’re not sure, give us a call today for
- winter cleanup
- damage assessment
- spring fertilization
- pest and disease prevention
Are your trees ready?
If you’re not sure, give us a call today for
Did you ever think about the amount of physics, math and biology knowledge needed to be an arborist?
Most people don’t. And if you tell kids what they’ll need to know, many would never choose to become an arborist!
But if you show them how it all works, and make it fun at the same time, then you might just convince a few kids to study arboriculture. Plus, you can help teach them some basic principles of science.
Each year I participate in the Kiwanis Bringing Up Grades (BUG) Program, where I go into 5th grade classrooms to share my experiences as an arborist, help the kids understand more about trees and how they relate to their everyday world, and yes, have a little fun!
The Bring Up Grades or “BUG” program is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club Foundation of Greater Danbury. To participate, students select a subject in which to bring up their grade from the previous marking period grade. The students must continue to maintain their other grades.
During the classroom visit, I relate physics, math and biology to the kids and talk about how I get paid to climb trees and run big equipment (that usually gets their attention!).
I like to throw out a few vocabulary words and always use “dendrochronology” (a real tongue twister!) which is the scientific study of tree rings and determining dates of events during the years of the tree’s growth. To bring it to life, I put up a picture of giant redwood log with a guy standing next to it. The rings on the tree show its timeline from 550 to 1891 and we can talk about all the major events this tree saw.
I also talk about safety, and especially about power lines that come down in storms and what to watch for to avoid electrocution. We go into step voltage and how it can travel through the ground – that gives us a good excuse to practice the Michael Jackson moonwalk to get away from the wires without lifting our feet!
To really bring the message home, I show them a big chunk of glass that came from the side of the road where 14,400 volt wires came down and heated the sand to 3200 degrees and melted it to glass. Wow.
Then we talk about how a tree produces sap, how it moves around the tree and how maple syrup is made. That leads into a discussion of how arborists give trees injections to help them survive and to control diseases and infestations (just like a doctor does).
Lastly, we get into physics with a discussion of how to gain a mechanical advantage using pulleys and ropes. This is where I break out the “bling bag” full of gear. We talk about how with a fiddle block we can gain a 4:1 advantage. Then I have the two biggest kids grab each end like tug-of-war and the smallest kid in the class pulls the draw rope – the end result is that the smaller kid can effortlessly pull the big kids together. Of course they all want to try that!
We end with show and tell, showing off gear and helmets with bluetooth radios and harnesses, etc. They ask lots of gear questions, wanting to know what each item is and what it does. Kids also want to know how high an arborist can climb in a tree, how much money we make, what we do when it’s snowing or raining outside, and a ton of other questions. Many of them tell me stories of when they saw someone doing tree work by their house.
And then there are the few who after it’s all over say to me “I know what I want to be when I grow up – an arborist.” That always makes my day!
Spring-flowering trees offer the biggest seasonal show of bountiful blooms. And after a cold dreary winter, it’s just what we need to get spring off to a great start.
Many trees that flower in spring are fragrant and feed pollinators, in addition to beautifying our Connecticut landscape. Plus, the best don’t just offer spring flowers – they’re multi-season powerhouses.
My top picks for the best spring-flowering trees are resilient, beautiful, easy to maintain, and just right for growing in Connecticut. They include regional natives, in addition to well-behaved non-native trees with impressive spring flowers.
The remarkably hardy downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea, 15-25 feet) is a vase-shaped small tree that produces lots of fragrant, delicate white flowers that feed bees in mid-spring. The tough Connecticut native is tolerant of both partial shade and clay soils, in addition to being disease resistant. The spring flowers are followed by edible, tart-sweet, purple-red fruits that are favored by songbirds. Exceptional orange-red fall foliage and smooth gray bark extend its interest into fall and winter.
There are several downy serviceberry hybrids that are offer exceptional landscape performance. Two of the best are ‘Autumn Brilliance’ (20-25 feet), which offers brilliant red foliage in fall and ‘Forest Prince’ (20 feet), which has an oval shape and wonderful orange-red fall color.
American dogwoods are fantastically beautiful Connecticut natives, but they are so prone to the deadly disease anthracnose that I generally don’t recommend them. One variety shown to stand up to anthracnose is ‘Appalachian Spring’, which has pretty, white, mid-spring flowers and eye-catching red fruits and foliage in fall.
A better choice for us here in Connecticut is the Korean dogwood (Cornus kousa), a popular landscape dogwood with spectacular late spring flowers. You’ll love its four seasons of interest and reliable disease resistance. The multi-stemmed, picturesque tree produces white or russet pink spring flowers followed by attractive, round, coral red fruits that mature in late summer. The fall leaves turn shades of red, orange, and purple, and its beautiful mottled bark adds winter interest.
Weeping flowering cherries lend classic beauty to spring landscapes and some offer added landscape interest after the flowers have faded. The Weeping Extraordinaire™ Double Flowering Cherry (Prunus ‘Extrazam’, 20 feet) is vigorous and bears spectacular double pink blooms in early spring. In fall, its crisp green foliage turns burgundy.
A stellar, non-weeping flowering cherry is the Kwanzan cherry (Prunus ‘Kwanzan’, 20-30 feet). It has a broad, spreading habit, and offers a wealth of fully double, pink blooms in mid-spring. In fall, its leaves turn coppery shades and younger trees have attractive, peeling mahogany bark.
Crabapples lost favor with Connecticut homeowners because of chronic disease problems, but newer varieties are wonderfully disease resistant. The red-flowered Prairifire crabapple (Malus ‘Prairifire’, 15-20 feet), is a perfect example. High disease resistance, colorful spring flowers, and persistent red crabapples have made it a top-notch landscape tree.
Two more remarkably compact and disease resistant crabapples include the white-flowered, orange-fruited ‘Adirondack’ (Malus ‘Adirondack’, 12 feet), and dwarf, spreading ‘Tina’ (Malus sargentii ‘Tina’, 5 feet), which has fragrant white flowers and red fall fruits.
Native redbuds (Cercis canadensis, 20-30 feet) look like puffs of reddish smoke when in bloom and pair beautifully with American dogwoods. Brilliant, bee-pollinated, purple-red flowers line the bare branches in mid-spring. The trees have an attractive, broad, branching structure and heart-shaped leaves that look pretty through summer. Two unique landscape varieties include the purple-leaved ‘Forest Pansy’ and chartreuse-leaved ‘Hearts of Gold’.
Before choosing the right spring-flowering tree for your Connecticut landscape, consider your yard’s space, light, and soil. Most spring-flowering trees perform best in full to partial sun and prefer well drained soils of average to good fertility. If you’re unsure, give us a call – we’re happy to take a look at your property and recommend appropriate trees for your location.
Once you’ve found the right spot, plant one or more of these beautiful spring-flowering trees to make your spring extra fragrant, colorful, and beautiful.
In February we attended our fourth Tree Care Industry Association Winter Management Conference, held just outside San Juan, Puerto Rico.
This 3-day conference is a gathering of leading arborists and tree care companies from all over the world and is always held in a nice warm location (a welcome escape from the snow and cold of Connecticut).
While you may think it’s just an excuse for a mid-winter vacation, the truth is that it’s the most valuable conference I attend all year.
Each year, TCIA brings in great speakers who really make you think about business-critical issues that we business owners don’t always pay enough attention to. Being able to get away from the day-to-day management of the company gives me a chance to learn new things and reflect on ways to make my business stronger, my employees more engaged and, most importantly, make us all safer.
The conference is also a fantastic opportunity to network and share with tree care companies who are similar to us, learn from the large corporate tree care companies, and provide mentoring to new business owners.
After all of these years attending the Winter Management Conference, we’ve made a lot of arborist friends from all over the country. The friendships are wonderful, and the added bonus is that when there’s some new uncharted area for the business or a question I can’t answer, there’s this awesome network I can hit up any time as a sounding board.
Where else can you spend three days learning new ways to improve your business, catching up with old friends, and trading tips with forward thinking individuals who are pushing the envelope of arboriculture and safety in the industry – all while enjoying a bit of warmth and sunshine in the middle of a frigid winter?
Some years we get so much snow and wind in February that it’s hard to believe spring officially starts in just a month. Other years, it feels like spring has already arrived!
Either way, it’ll soon be time to get busy checking trees for any damage caused over the winter, fertilizing your trees and shrubs, and taking steps to protect them from disease and pests.
But in the meantime, below are some things you can be doing in the yard, as well as important tree care issues to take care of before spring arrives in full force.
You’ll also find answers to some of the questions that we often get at this time of year.
Big snow banks built up over the winter. Will they damage my trees and shrubs?
Yes, they probably will. Here’s what you can do about it.
How do trees protect themselves from crazy temperature swings in late winter?
Why do trees make cracking sounds in late winter?
What’s all that racket? Is it dangerous? Find out here.
What kinds of tree work can be done in late winter? Do I have to wait until spring?
You may be surprised to know that most tree service activities can be done during the winter. Some things, like tree removals, are ideal for winter. Others, like dormant pruning, can (or should) only be done during winter. We’re often able to do the work more efficiently when the ground is frozen – meaning lower costs for you!
I hear late winter is a good time to prune fruit trees. Really??
Pruning while trees are dormant (before temperatures warm up and buds start to form) is the best time for major pruning on most trees. But it’s doubly important for all of major fruit trees grown here in CT, like apples, pears, peaches and plums. Learn more about it here.
What kind of insurance should tree care companies have?
Here’s an article I wrote describing what you need to know about tree care company insurance. If you’re ready to have some tree work done, this article is a must-read. Protect yourself and your property by ensuring that your tree care contractor has the right insurance coverage.
Winter can be tough on trees here in Connecticut, with wind, ice and heavy snow loads, not to mention frigid temperatures. But with proper preparation, your trees can make it through the winter unscathed.
Here are the things we recommend you do before winter sets in, as well as things to keep in mind throughout the coldest months of the year to keep your home and loved ones safe from winter tree damage.
To make it even easier for you, you can download our Winter Tree Care Tips.
And if your tree has been damaged by a winter storm, click here to find out what you should do.
Ready to try something a little different this year? How about a live Christmas tree? Not only are they beautiful, they’re an environmentally friendly alternative to the typical cut (and dead) tree. But live trees take a little more effort and care if you want them to survive the holidays.
Here’s how to ensure your live tree provides not only a beautiful decorative accent for your holiday festivities, but creates a focal point in the garden for many years to come.
Unlike a cut tree, with a live tree you’ll want to make sure it will adapt well to your climate. Don’t assume just because it’s sold in the Danbury area that it will grow here. Some good options include:
Live trees are often sold balled and burlapped, although some are potted up or grown in containers. All will work fine as a Christmas tree.
Live trees are very heavy. A six foot tall balled and burlapped tree will weigh as much as 250 pounds. Be sure you have help moving it (a dolly works well).
Leave your Christmas tree outside for three or four days in an unheated, sheltered area, such as a garage or enclosed porch. Keep it out of the wind and sun, and don’t let it freeze. This process is necessary to slowly acclimatize the tree to warmer temperatures and avoid a sudden growth spurt when it’s brought inside.
Check the tree for insects and insect egg masses. Some of our friends once found their live tree, carefully placed in the living room, covered with shimmering gossamer threads. It was beautiful but the tiny spiders cascading down the tree were not welcome holiday guests!
Place the tree in a cool location in your home. Keep it away from heating ducts, fireplaces, or radiators.
Put the tree in a large pot or tub (nothing with drainage holes!). If necessary, stabilize the tree with rocks, bricks, or mulch. If the tree is balled and burlapped, do not remove the burlap or twine/strapping.
Keep the root ball moist but not soggy. Unlike a cut tree, you probably don’t need to water the tree every day. To help keep a balled and burlapped tree moist you can pack mulch around the root ball. Don’t add fertilizer or any nutrients to the water – you don’t want the tree to start growing while it’s inside.
Be careful decorating the tree so you don’t damage any branches. If you use lights, use LED lights that don’t give off heat.
Keep the tree inside for no more than 10 days (some experts suggest only 4 days).
After Christmas, place the tree back outside in a sheltered location for a few days to allow it to acclimatize to the cooler temperatures.
At this point you can plant the tree. If the ground isn’t frozen, dig a hole about twice as wide as the root ball and 1” – 2” shallower than the root ball is tall. If you were planning ahead, you would have dug the planting hole while temperatures were more moderate and saved the soil in a protected location (like the garage or garden shed) so that it doesn’t freeze (a wheelbarrow works well for this).
If the ground is frozen and you can’t dig a planting hole, place the tree in a protected area and carefully pack straw, bags of leaves, or mulch around the root ball to prevent it from freezing. Make sure you keep the root ball moist until the tree can be planted – check it regularly and water it as needed.
If the tree is in a pot, carefully remove the pot before planting. For a balled and burlapped tree, remove any jute twine around the tree trunk (if the twine is nylon, remove it all), cut off the wire basket (if there is one), and pull back the top 1/3 of the burlap before placing the root ball in the planting hole (keep the root ball intact).
Back fill with the soil you removed from the planting hole and water thoroughly (but don’t flood the planting hole, particularly if the ground is frozen as this can create a ball of ice in the root ball). Mulch heavily to prevent the root ball from freezing.
If you can, stake the tree to stop it from rocking back and forth in the ground over the winter.
Note: Some nurseries recommend spraying your live tree with an antidesiccant or antiwilt product like WiltPruf to minimize needle loss. If you choose to do this, do it while the tree is still outside acclimatizing.
I love the idea of using a live tree for the holidays but if it’s not right for you, here are my best tips for choosing the perfect cut Christmas tree.
If there are deer in your neighborhood then they’ve probably stopped by your property to feed. As deer populations increase in Connecticut, more and more homeowners are faced with the problem of trying to keep them away from landscape plants, especially in winter when there’s little other food available to hungry deer.
An adult deer eats between 6 to 7 pounds of plant material every day. With that kind of voracious appetite, it won’t take long for them to totally decimate the plantings on your property.
Deer also carry ticks that spread Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. Although deer may look cute, you definitely don’t want them hanging around your home!
So what can you do to keep deer away?
Below are the most effective ways to prevent deer browsing. However, if winter weather is harsh enough and food becomes scarce, deer will munch on just about anything. This includes normally “deer-resistant” plants and shrubs, as well as some plants that have been sprayed with repellents that are highly effective under normal conditions.
For most homeowners, the easiest and most economical approach to keeping deer away is a spray repellent program starting in the fall. This spray is innocuous to plants and shrubs while smelling and/or tasting bad to the deer.
Here in Connecticut, deer repellent sprays should be applied September through December when temperatures are above freezing. Application earlier in the browsing cycle (September and October) leads to much better results.
There are two types of deer repellents, contact repellents and area repellents. Contact repellents are applied directly to plants, causing them to taste bad (this is what we use at Barts). Area repellents are placed in a problem area and repel by their foul odor but we haven’t found these to be as effective.
Spray repellents should be applied on a dry day with temperatures above freezing. We treat young trees completely and older trees may be treated only on their new growth and buds. Treat to a height 6 feet above the maximum expected snow depth. Deer browse from the top down.
Home-remedy deer repellents are questionable at best. These include small, fine-mesh bags of human hair and bar soap hung from branches of trees, among others. The only truly effective home remedy I’ve seen is a 100 lb dog in your yard. Deer don’t like things that remind them of wolves and they’ll generally stay clear.
At Barts Tree Service we spray “Deer Free Winter Armor” to protect your landscape from deer. This is a white pepper based product so as you can imagine it doesn’t taste good at all. The product lasts 6 months and is made right here in the USA. One of the best features of this product is that it dries clear, whereas most of the other deer repellent sprays on the market have a green dye which can stain your house, walkway or other infrastructure.
Another option is to put up deer fencing around all plants that you want to protect. Keep in mind that this fencing must be 8 feet tall – anything shorter and deer can jump over it! If you have a few specimen trees or large flower beds, this can be a good choice as there’s no need to spray once the fence is up. The downside is the work involved in actually putting up the fence and the space needed to store it during the warmer months.
Electric fences also can be used. Electric fences should be of triple-galvanized, high-tensile, 13.5-gauge wire carrying a current of 35 milliamps and 3,000 to 4,500 volts. Several configurations of electric fences are used: vertical five-, seven-, or nine-wire; slanted seven-wire; single strand; and others. When using a single strand electric fence it helps the deer to see that the wire is there if you mark it with cloth strips, tape or something similar. Otherwise, the deer may not see it in time and go right through it.
If you only have smaller shrubs to protect, you may want to simply wrap them in burlap. Not only does this protect them from grazing deer, but it protects the shrubs from drying out in the cold winter winds. You can learn more about this in our article on preventing winter browning in evergreens.
And if you’re having problems with bucks damaging your trees by rubbing their antlers against the trunk, check out our article on preventing deer rub damage.
Barts Tree Service is proud to sponsor this amazing comedy series at the Ridgefield Playhouse.
The series starts on September 24 with Janeane Garofalo and wraps up on March 10 with Rob Schneider, with a lot of terrific comedy acts in between.
Tickets are available directly from the Ridgefield Playhouse.
You can see the full line up here.
And don’t forget to keep an eye on our Facebook page – we’ll be giving away free tickets to some of the shows.
We’ll see you there!
Barts Tree Service is a proud sponsor of the upcoming Saluting Branches event September 21st where arborists across the country will be donating a day of services at veterans cemeteries.
Here in Connecticut we will be at the Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery in Darien.
We are deeply appreciative of the brave men and women who serve and have served in our military making it possible for us to have the freedoms we enjoy every day.
As a small token of our appreciation, we will be providing tree care to ensure a safe and beautiful environment for our veterans in their final resting place.
Please consider making a donation, sponsoring or volunteering for this great event. You can find out more here: www.salutingbranches.org
Get helpful tree care tips every season with the Barts Tree Newsletter
14 Lakeview Drive
Danbury, CT 06811
Serving Ridgefield, New Fairfield, Redding,
Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown, Weston, Danbury,
Wilton, Westport, and surrounding areas