Tree Care Services of Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR

Why Should I Compost?

By AK Timber

One of the most common questions you hear from people when you work on their yards is whether or not composting is a good idea. For the most part, composting is a great idea in many yards because it has so many benefits. Still, it is something that you have to do in order to get the benefits from it – and it is something you have to do right to really love it. Once you’ve composted for a while, you will start to wonder why you have lived your life like you have been – it will truly change the way you look at everything from gardening to taking out your garbage.

Still not sold on composting in your backyard? Here are a few more reasons to consider:

5. Makes Your Landscaping Look Better

  • Easy to use
  • Always at your disposal
  • Free

If you are the type of person who really likes to landscape, then composted soil with be your best friend. The first reason is that it is extremely easy to work with at almost all times of the year. It is a lighter, fluffier soil so that it will do what you want it to do and then work with the rest of your yard. In fact, composted soil is healthier because it has more air to hold nutrients and water, according to Virginia Tech.

Since it is lighter, it is also an easier soil to move around your yard. You will be able to take some of this rich, beautiful soil and completely line your landscaping to make defined lines with very little work. If you can’t lift weights that you used to or you find yourself not loving your gardenbecause of dingy soil, consider composting.

4. Neutralizes soil

  • Makes it better to grow plants
  • Reduces acid or alkaline, whichever you need
  • Can even sell soil

Why is neutralized soil important? Well, if your soil has too much acid, you will have trouble growing plants, trees, and shrubs of all sizes and shapes. If your soil has too much alkaline, you will have the same problem.

According to Soil Quality, “Plant growth and most soil processes, including nutrient availability and microbial activity, are favoured by a soil pH range of 5.5 – 8. Acid soil, particularly in the subsurface, will also restrict root access to water and nutrients.” If you were to get your soil tested right now, there is a good chance that it will fall in that range, but that it will be towards one of the extremes.

People who grow food or plants for a living are constantly testing their soils so that they can stay where they want to stay.

3. Reduces landfill waste

  • Better for environment
  • Keeps home values up
  • EPA suggested

Why is composting in your yard different from what compostable food does in in a landfill? CBS explains: “Food that goes out with the trash is usually trapped in plastic bags and, often, also in packaging or take-out containers that don’t let light or air in to finish the natural breakdown. What would normally be organic matter that breaks down quickly becomes artificially preserved in these dark catacombs of containers, sometimes for decades.

According to a recent study, if everyone in the United State cut down on throwing foot and other compostable goods away, there would be one-fourth less garbage in landfills. In other developed nations, that number is even higher.

2. Composting improves overall air quality

  • Eliminates need to burn
  • Reduces methane in air
  • Doesn’t produce deadly chemicals

Composting is a great way to improve the air quality in your yard and in your neighborhood if you get many of your neighbors to do it as well. One of the reasons it does this is because it reduces the need to burn any of your yard waste. It also reduces the amount of methane that goes into the air, which is bad because it warms up the planet.

According to CalRecycle, “Composting emissions do contain small amounts of stronger ozone-forming agents, such as terpenes and aldehydes. The overall ozone formation potential of composting emissions is quite low, about one-third as potent as a typical urban VOC mix.” This means that you do want to think about composting larger quantities and if there is a better way to do it, but it is still a great idea to do it.

1. Stops Erosion

  • Great for the rainy seasons
  • Keeps nutrients in your yard
  • Great for around water bodies

If you have a lot of soil erosion around your home and garden, you might feel like there is nothing that you can do it about it – and you are wrong. Using composted soil will help to slow down erosion, especially erosion due to water. When soils erode, it is a big deal – everything can become polluted, especially if you use pesticides. But when you use composted soil, which absorbs more water, you see much less erosion.

According to the University of Georgia, “the United States loses more than 2 billion tons of topsoil each year to erosion. Erosion removes fertile soil rich in nutrients and organic matter, which reduces the ability of plants to establish, grow and remain healthy in the soil.” This is a huge deal and something that we need to worry about – even in Vancouver because the same goes for us.

If you are in need of a go-to tree service contractor in the Vancouver area, contact AK Timber today. We are a highly trained team of skilled professionals that take tree services, including eliminating branches and picking up debris that you can then use in your compost pile. Your trees and your safety and security mean a lot to us, so we want to do whatever we can to make you feel secure while helping you live the lifestyle that you want.

Give us a call today at (360) 635-1076, and we can come to your residence to complete any maintenance needed and talk to you about composting. We can tell you about the trees that you can compost and the ones that you might not want to compost. Even better, we can tell you where to compost and where not to compost.

Header photo courtesy of Tony Buser on Flickr!

5 Reasons Bark Is Falling Off Of Your Trees

By AK Timber

When you think about bark on trees, you have to compare it to the skin on our faces. They do very similar things: protect what is inside, act as a covering, and tell many different stories. When you look at the skin on someone’s face, for example, you can tell a lot about the person and the life that they have lived. Even more importantly, you can tell a lot about how they feel. With a tree’s bark, you can do something similar in that you can tell if there might be something wrong with the tree or if it isn’t feeling its best.

While it might not look so good, peeling bark can actually help you to better understand your tree and get it the help that it needs before it is too late. So why are your trees peeling? Here are just a few common reasons why:

5. Thin bark

  • Common in some trees
  • Happens naturally in warmer climates
  • Can be a seasonal change

As humans age, our skin gets thinner and you can see the effects it has on our faces: wrinkles, cracks, and discoloration. If your tree has thin bark, it is more likely to peel than a tree that doesn’t have thin bark. Sometimes, it does so naturally when the time is right – like during the spring months or in the middle of fall.

When this topic was investigated by NYC Parks, they found that some shedding may have to do with the photosynthesis process – or the process in which plants obtain nutrients from sunlight. The cracks allow more sunlight to reach the delicate inner systems of the tree.

You can do a quick online search to see if your trees naturally peel or if it is something that you need to worry about.

4. Environmental Causes

  • Frost in the winter
  • Draught in the summer
  • Sun scalding at any time

Of course, environmental causes are another big reason for the bark of your tree to peel. Everything from an early frost to draught in the summer months can cause the bark of a tree to peel.

According to Gardening Know How, “Peeling tree bark is sometimes due to environmental factors. When peeling bark on trees is limited to the south or southwest side of the tree and bare wood is exposed, the problem may be sunscald [sic] or frost damage. This type of shedding affects the health and lifespan of the tree, and wider areas of exposed wood make it more likely that the tree will die.”

If a tree was already peeling and then it happens again – which happens quite frequently in the winter months when sun scalding is prominent – the process can be repeated and you will have several layers of peeling bark.

There are ways to prevent this, and it is something that tree owners need to look into – especially if you have sensitive or exotic trees.

3. Insect Infestation

  • Boring insects cause peeling everywhere
  • Ants cause peeling toward the bottom
  • Look around holes

Bark that starts peeling toward the bottom is often a sign that an ant infestation has caused the peeling – either because they introduced a fungus or a disease or because they are overwhelming the tree. Unfortunately, this peeling often makes the problem worse.

These holes invite more pests and more diseases, which can eventually disrupt the vascular system and slowly start to kill the tree. If you notice holes in your tree that have peeling bark, this is likely the reason why your tree doesn’t look so healthy.

Common insects can cause the problem too, like bees and ants so you need to be vigilant in checking. It isn’t unusual for this to happen on trees that were already sick or if the tree just recently got over an illness, according to Texas A&M.

2. The tree is exfoliating itself

  • Regular occurrence
  • Happens when the tree gets older
  • May occur in stages

Another reason that your tree may be peeling? Call it tree puberty. Trees exfoliate themselves just like we do with our skin, especially when there is something on the bark that the tree doesn’t like – such as weed killers and pesticides.

Per Home Guides, “A tree grows by forming a new layer of fibrous tissues deep within its core. As it grows from the inside, its outer layers expand, and it sheds its old bark to make way for the new. The bark on a young tree is generally smooth and flexible and can withstand the inner growth without much effect. Old bark, however, is dry and has lost much of its elasticity, causing it to crack and split as the tree grows.”

This is something that will vary by tree and location – sometimes sunlight can exasperate the situation. Some trees won’t have a problem at all and never have to exfoliate, even if they are the same type of tree. Note that the need to exfoliate can be brought on by disease, drought, or insect damage.

1. Tree is Dying

  • Extreme peeling
  • Happens after overlooked diseases
  • Extreme cases

If you have peeling that is all over the tree or just goes extremely deep, the unfortunate reality is that the worst may have happened: your tree is either about to die or has already died. For many trees, the peeling bark is a cry for help, according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. If you catch it in time, you will be able to save the tree with professional intervention.

Whatever you do, do not overlook peeling skin on your trees. This will only cause whatever the underlying problem is to get worse or open your tree up to other issues. If you see quite a bit of bark peeling or falling off of your trees, it is time to do something.

At AK Timber Services, our main concern is that your trees are as healthy as possible, which means that we do have to do some investigation as to why your trees are peeling in the first place – and that can be extremely difficult and take some time. If you are worried about the health of your trees or fear the worst, it is highly important to give us a call as soon as you can. In many cases, there is no time to waste.

Give us a call today at (360) 635-1076  and our professionals will pay you a visit to investigate your trees and see how we can help you.

Header photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski  on Flickr!

Vancouver Winter Preparedness Checklist

By AK Timber

Although it felt like it was never going to actually get chilly, all of a sudden the temperatures have plummeted, and we are in a position wherein the chilliness seems colder than it ever has before. Winds, rainfall, sleet, and yes, snow, are all on their way, so you have to make certain that you are prepared for their wraths. Have you completed everything that you wish to do well before the season begins to get as fierce as it can?

If you haven’t begun getting ready at the moment, now is the absolute best moment to begin. Take some time to work off some of your Thanksgiving turkey and wine and go out into your property to certainly see what might materialize if you don’t think toward the long term.

Not quite sure where to begin? Here are four ways to prepare for the season:

4. Secure Yourself From The Cold Weather Outside

  • Purchase and use storm window overlays
  • Use plastic on the indoors
  • Caulk any susceptible gaps

One of the most efficient and straightforward activities you can do to prepare yourself and your family for this arriving weather is to deter the cold from coming into your home. To do this, take a few preventive steps that the American Red Cross suggests highly.

The first to walk around your home from the outside and the interior and see where freezing air may permeate into your home. Common transgressors are windows and doors. However, there can be gaps in other places. This will keep your home much more enjoyable and your electricity expenses down, as well as do away with some of the threats that you might get a few pests boarding in your home over the season.

Another great approach, in particular for those who live close to the water, is to get storm windows. These will not only secure your house from the cold weather and wind but can also help them continue to be safe if debris starts to fly during an especially bad storm. If buying storm covers is too costly, consider lining the insides of your windows with plastic for some beefed up protection.

3. Winterize All Buildings

  • Don’t overlook swimming pools, water features, and porches
  • Take care to winterize small gardens and lawn
  • Never neglect your garage

Many people think that they solely need to winterize their homes because that is the only spot they will really be during the course of the storm, but that isn’t the situation. According to Weather Underground, many people fail to remember to winterize some factors on their properties, and that actually costs more money than the damages to your home would.

Winterize your pools, arbors, porches, and outdoor areas by removing anything that could blow away in a storm. Keep in mind that ice and snow are much heavier than rain, so you need to clear away anything where snow can build up, like awnings or coverings. Anything that previously has sitting water (like a pool, birdbath, or container) will likely ice over in the cold, so you have to account for growth as well.

Most essentially, you should always winterize your garage. While it is rare, if you do ever have to depart your property because of the snow, you want a reliable way to get to your vehicles.

2. Make Sure Your Equipment is in Position

  • Try to keep everything around your home
  • Always have a solid shovel
  • Have supplemental salt at the ready

One of the most significant blunders people make when they are trying to get prepared for the cold weather season is that they get many things prepared and then they don’t have it close to when the blizzard actually strikes. Will you really need a shovel at some point? Of course. But how can you get it if we get 24″ of snowfall and the shovel is in your garden shed? Be sure that your equipment is prepared and near your home at all times. Try setting it in your garage or on your deck. The CDC has a checklist of things that you need to be prepared for violent storms.

Check all of the important gear, like shovels, ice scrapers, snow blowers, gloves, hats, chains, and anything else you may need to make yourself protected in the snow. Guarantee they will do their tasks successfully and securely. It also isn’t a poor thought to have a few substitutes– just in case something goes wrong OR just in case you have a few helpers.

1. Check out Your Trees

  • Look for any hanging branches
  • Guarantee that they can acquire water and nutrition
  • Have risky branches removed

One of the most considerable challenges you may face in the middle of the winter weather months is tree care. Trees have a tendency to slow down a little in the wintertime, but they are still enduring and need to be able to get nutrition and water. Ascertain that the ground is making it possible for them to get what they are in need of– specifically once everything starts to solidify up and become dense. You also want to ensure that going into this time, your trees are safe and have a great chance of survival if they do have to go for a bit with no water or food.

Lastly, always consult a professional tree service if you see any branches that could pose a predicament to your home, cars and trucks, swimming pool, structures on your property, power lines, or the roadway if we do get a considerable ice storm or snow storm. These types of storms can weigh down trees and make it so that you have an emergency of your own in the middle of a weather-related disaster. As suggested by the US Government, be sure that you have the telephone number of a local tree care company in case you do have an unexpected emergency.

If you are in need of a go-to tree service contractor in the Vancouver area, contact AK Timber today. We are a highly trained team of skilled professionals that take tree services, most especially tree care in the winter months, extremely seriously. Your trees and your safety and security mean a lot to us, so we want to do whatever we can to make you feel more secure this winter season.

Give us a call today at (360) 635-1076, and we can come to your residence to complete any maintenance needed before the season gets too bad or, in the event of an urgent situation, we can really help you to clear up the predicament as quickly as possible.

Header photo courtesy of June Marie on Flickr!

Major Signs and Symptoms of Tree Stress

By AK Timber

Trees are a bit like human beings – they are extremely negatively impacted by stressors around them and stress found within them. In fact, trees tend to rebel against many different kinds of stressors, either causing them to prematurely shed their leaves, causing them to die, or make them just look and perform in weird ways. Sometimes, stress is caused by something that we can point to, like a specific disease or an environmental factor. Other times, it is harder to pinpoint just what is stressing your tree out. However, the most important thing for a homeowner to do is to be able to identify signs of tree stress and then make the phone call to a tree care specialist who can help.

For more information for a few of the most common signs of tree stress, keep reading.

4. Sudden Oak Death Has Taken Your Tree

  • Clusters of leaves die at the same time or fall at the same time
  • Stems and tips of leaves turn brown prematurely
  • Trunk cankers form near the base of the trunk

Oak trees are some of the strongest trees you can buy, but Sudden Oak Death is a result of too much stress on the tree. This is a very serious problem that can impact entire patches of woods. If you have one oak tree that has SOD, chances are that the rest of your trees are feeling the stress from it as well. You need to be on the lookout.

According to the Sudden Oak Death Organization,  oak trees aren’t the only ones to suffer from this type of stressor. In fact, over 100 different types of plants and trees get it, including oak trees, of course. It gets the name because it killed millions of trees on the west coast.

Moreso than the trees, this is a problem that should stress everyone out.

3. There Are Pests Lurking About Your Tree

  • Pests tend to take over ivy-covered trees first
  • Pests like to make a home anywhere easy, and a stressed tree is a perfect place
  • Can be hard to find, but needs to be taken care of quickly

According to the website Gardening Know How, “Weakened plants and trees are more susceptible to problems like pests or disease. It is best to always remove the ivy from the tree and keep it away from the trunk of the tree, at least 3 to 4 feet, to prevent it from climbing up the tree again.”

If you are seeing more pests hanging around the trees in your yard, there is a chance that at least one of them is stressed by something other than the pests themselves. Pests are smart and look for trees that are vulnerable. Trees that have a disease, are overwatered, are underwatered, or just aren’t in the right living conditions make for great homes.

This is one of the biggest problems that we see – pests overtaking vulnerable trees and making a bad situation even worse. Even if you are only seeing ants on the tree, make sure you look for other problems.

2. Your Tree Has Soft Spots

  • May not be a fungus
  • Often reveals a deeper, more serious problem
  • Wash hands after touching a soft spot

If your tree has soft spots, it is certainly trying to tell you something, according to the University of Illinois. What it is trying to tell you differs from tree to tree, but there are chances that it is telling you it is stressed out. Soft spots form when there is a fungal problem on the tree, if there is an infestation, or if the tree has been wounded. These are all stressors that put immense amounts of pressure on the tree.

Unfortunately, so many people will miss this sign of stress because they don’t touch their trees and feel the soft spots – and once the spots are big enough to spot with your eyes, it is likely that something other than stress has infiltrated the tree and you have a bigger problem.

As soon as you see a soft spot on your tree, call a professional tree care company. This is a sign that something is wrong and needs to be handled by a professional who has all of the tools and skills needed.

1. The Tree Doesn’t Belong Here

  • The tree isn’t in the right climate
  • You may not have planted the tree in the correct amount of sun/shade
  • Your yard isn’t big enough for the root system of the tree

As sad as it is to say, sometimes trees just don’t belong where they have been planted. If you purchased a tree without doing any research on it, there is a chance that you just bought a tree that doesn’t grow well in our climate. Trees that are made for places that don’t get cold or trees that don’t like a lot of water in the air don’t typically grow all that well here.

It could also be that your tree does grow well here, but you planted it in the wrong place. Some trees need a lot of sun while others need more shade. When planting a tree, make sure to pay attention to all of the rules that show how a tree grows best. Without the proper exposure, your trees will become stressed.

Some of the obvious signs that your tree is stressed because it isn’t in the right environment include failure to thrive, wilting leaves, growing only in one direction, instability, and soft spots on the trunk and branches.

AK Timber Services is your first line of defense when your trees seem to be extremely stressed out and on the verge of collapse – literally or figuratively. Give our Vancouver tree care company a call and we will come to your home and diagnose any problems that we see.  Then, we can introduce you to the different ways to tackle the problem, all of which will be safe for your entire family (including pets). However, the sooner we figure out the problem, the sooner we can give you answers and solutions and your trees will return to their beautiful selves.

Give us a call today at (360) 635-1076  to get started – there is no time like the present.

Header Photo Courtesy of paul bica on Flickr!

Getting Rid of Ants Near Your Vancouver Trees

By AK Timber

Ants are extremely small, but extremely powerful animals that can send do immense amounts of damage, especially if you allow them to run rampant in your yard and one your trees. It can be especially troubling to see ants in a place where they should not be.

Ants may be small and don’t always cause problems, if they start to colonize around your yard and especially near your trees, they are able to cause huge problems. Ants can take the nutrients and water away from your trees, cutting off the necessary items that your tree needs to survive. Even worse, ants can open up your trees to other sicknesses and different infestations.

At worst, a tree infestation of ants can take your tree down or bring ants into your home. Ants like to make themselves your friends by working into your home, especially your kitchen. They bring many diseases and germs with them. Luckily, there are a few extraordinary steps you could take to completely disposing of them out of your yard. It simply depends on how awful the infestation is.

4. Peppermint Oil

  • Essential oils are safe to use around pets
  • Easy to find at health stores
  • Clears up many different pests.

One of the best and easiest ways to rid your yard of ants is also a natural method. According to Natural Living Ideas, putting peppermint oil around your bushes and trees can help keep ants away. Soak fabric or some cloth in the oil and place it near the edge of your tree – be careful about allowing it to actually touch the trunk. This will keep the smaller colonies of ants from forming and will cause larger colonies to move out.

If you aren’t into essential oils and you don’t have peppermint oil at the ready, you can use anything that has the peppermint smell – like soaps, lotions, or even peppermint tea. Just remember that you want it to be labeled as herbal and natural, something that just smells like peppermint thanks to chemicals won’t work.

3. Sprinkle Pepper

  • Freshly ground is the best
  • Can use black, cayenne, or different kinds of pepper
  • Works best for smaller infestations

This is great for trees that aren’t located near extremely sensitive flowers because it can kill them. Just like many people, ants do not like spicy things. Even just freshly ground black pepper can ward them off for feet around your trees. If you have a bigger infestation, you might have to go for more acidic and spicy peppers, like cayenne. If you see just the start of a colony, The Frugal Life says that the ants will just move away without having to reapply. If you have a larger colony, you might have to do it a few times.

You should be extremely cautious around your other plants, so make sure not to spread pepper in any soil that connects to other plants. For extremely large infestations, you may want to try some of the other options on this list to avoid killing other plants.

2. Flood Ant Hills

  • Use an irrigation system to time it properly
  • Combine with other options for stubborn colonies
  • Stay patient, this method takes time

Putting water on the ground will quickly cause all of the ants to come out of the ground. However, you have to be consistent about it for them to stay away. Ant colonies go extremely deep, so you want to ensure the water permeates throughout the ground.

This method takes some time and you have to really wait it out for it to work. However, it is one of the most effective and natural ways to do it. Just make sure that you aren’t overwatering your trees in the process.

According to Pest Hacks, you should do this every day for about a week and then pull back to a few days a week, then once or twice, and then stop. You may want to keep an eye on the tree to ensure that the ants don’t come back.

1. Contact a Tree Expert

  • Large infestations cannot be treated alone
  • Multiple colonies are difficult as well
  • Trees that already look sick are in danger

The Spruce warns that at some point, infestations will become too big and too deep for you to be able to handle it all by yourself. If you see multiple colonies or there are so many ants that it looks like your ground is moving when you stand at a distance, you cannot handle it alone. The most effective solution is to call an expert who will help you with tools and hints.

Whatever you do, do not use chemical compounds that you make on your own or that you buy at the store. You will do some serious damage to your tree, can kill other plants in your yard, and even hurt your children and pets. It really isn’t worth it to skip the professional and try to tackle it by yourself. There are many bigger issues that can occur after an infestation, problems that chemicals won’t cure.

If you happen to see many ants on your trees, you don’t have to worry about losing your tree right away. However, it might be a great idea to reach out to a professional who can help you. In fact, it may mean the end of your tree if you do not.  Professionals are able to handle your ant problems and even tackle other problems on your trees.

AK Timber Services is your first line of defense when you have ant problems, so it should also be the team you call for ants in your trees in Vancouver. We will visit your home and diagnose your tree. Then, we can introduce you to the different ways to tackle the problem, all of which will be safe for your entire family (include pests). However, the sooner we figure out the problem, the sooner we can give you answers and solutions.

Give us a call today at (360) 635-1076  to get started.

Header Photo Courtesy of Sancho McCann on Flickr!

How to Stake a Tree Properly

By AK Timber

If you are putting a new tree into your yard, or you have a tree that recently underwent some trauma, chances are that you may need to stake it. If your tree is perfectly healthy and has a sturdy, solid trunk and root system, you won’t have to. Still, many people will stake their trees “just in case” of something else going wrong. This generally won’t harm your trees in any way – unless you don’t stake your tree properly.

There are many ways that you can actually injure and put unnecessary stress on your tree. In fact, if you don’t do it properly, staking your tree can do far more damage than it is worth. That’s why you absolutely need to know what you are doing, do it properly, and be as gentle as possible with the tree.

Follow this procedure for the best results:

5. Figure Out If You Need to Stake the Tree

  • Not all trees should be staked
  • Talk to the growers for the best options
  • Follow the directions of professionals

There are some trees that you need to stake and those that you don’t. The ones that should be staked include those that have bare roots or small root balls, those planted in areas with foot traffic, new trees that can’t stand on their own, certain tree species (hybrids, Eucalyptus, oleander, etc), top heavy trees, and younger trees in an area where it is wet and/or windy.

If you have any questions about whether your trees need to be staked based on the type of tree that they are, or just in general, always remember to talk to the person who sold you the tree. Fine Gardening also has a great list of which trees should be staked and which ones shouldn’t be.

4. Nursery Delivery

  • Talk to nursery about their staking process
  • Look where they put the stakes
  • Ask any questions when you have the chance to

When your tree is delivered, it will likely still have the nursery stakes on it yet. Nurseries will stake all trees, in general, because they are planted to be removed instead of planted to stay. You will likely find two to three stakes already in place on the tree, whether they are wooden or metal may depend on the tree.

According to Learn 2 Grow, you should put your hand on the trunk and see if the stakes hold the tree steady. If they do, you will put them in the same place. However, it is likely that you will have to move them because of the growth and cutting of the tree.

3. Use the Trunk to Measure

  • Measure each tree individually
  • Take your time
  • Measure at least twice

For your best results, put two of the stakes opposite of each other to start. They should be about 1.5′ away from the trunk. This will allow you to move a little more freely around to set up the rest of the tree, if necessary. Most people will have success with only using two stakes, especially with younger trees.

If you have a heavier or older tree, or you live in an area where you get frequent severe weather, use the third stake. Be careful about overcrowding, according to the University of Minnesota, as it can cause problems.

2. Tie the Tree

  • Use a soft material
  • Be careful not to cut into the trunk
  • Allow slack

The final step to actually staking your tree brings actually tying the tree to the stakes. Use the softest materials that you can find. There are some materials that are sold in stores, or you can use canvas strapping. Sometimes people will use their own materials, but you need to be careful about damaging the tree. Materials like ropes or wire can actually cut into the trunk and cause it to die.

Allow enough slack within the ties so that the tree can sway naturally. This helps it to establish itself, according to Bob Vila.

1. How Long to Keep Your Tree Staked

  • You’ll have to test the tree
  • Remove within a year
  • Watch tree after removal

In general, you want to leave the tree staked for at least the next growing season. This means that if you stake the tree in the spring (when most people plant trees), you will want to remove it in the fall. If you stake in the fall, another popular growing time, you’ll want to remove it in the spring. You don’t want to keep the stake on too long or the tree will start to depend on the stakes too much and it won’t stand on its own. Iowa State University says there really isn’t a rhyme or reason for it, you just have to get a feel for it by removing some of the pressure to see if the tree stands.

Make sure to check your tree routinely as it grows. Faster growing trees may start to grow around the fastening straps, which could cut off some of the flow of water and nutrients. You may have to remove the straps sooner rather than later.

If you are getting a new tree in your yard, AK Timber Services can help you with all phases of the process. Our team is knowledgeable about the different plants that succeed in Vancouver. We also know how to take care of newer trees so that they have a successful transfer period and adapt well to your yard.

The sooner you seek the help of a professional, the better your trees will adjust. Our team can help you with planting and staking if the above method seems to be just a bit too much for you to do. Don’t be ashamed – planting and staking a tree is something that requires a bit of practice to really get it right.

Give us a call today at (360) 635-1076  to get started. There is no time too soon – we can schedule an appointment to look at your yard, choose the right tree, and even get it planted.

Header photo courtesy of CIAT on Flickr!

4 Ways to Identify Tree Fungi in Vancouver, WA

By AK Timber

Tree fungi is a huge problem in Vancouver, for a few different reasons. The trees we tend to plant, the climate that we have, and even the way we take care of our yards puts a big target on our backs for tree fungi. Unfortunately, many people in Vancouver don’t realize that we have this big problem so they don’t inspect their trees closely enough. This leads to trees that have a fighting chance to survive, but it takes professionals too long to get to them and they fall or are injured beyond repair. However, we do have a fighting chance to save our trees in Vancouver, WA because of one thing: our inspections.

We have long recommended that people inspect their trees at least once per year, if not once every season. This will allow you to know and understand your trees, making it easier to deduce if something goes wrong. Most homeowners won’t do this, and even if they do, the symptoms of the fungus aren’t always easy to spot. Here are a few things you can look for, however:

4. Wounds that Don’t Heal

  • Darker Bark or Bark That is Wet Symbolizes Problems
  • Be Careful When Touching Wounds, Do Not Pierce
  • Start Low on the Tree and Move Up

When you cut your trees, a branch breaks off, or even through just normal wear and tear, you get wounds on the tree. In order to heal these wounds, your trees need to take the time to seal themselves from the outside world. However, they are also susceptible and weak, which is why fungi target these areas of the tree. They will then use the nutrients and water that the tree provides and feast, growing stronger and stronger. Then, the fungi start to feed on the rest of the tree. At this stage, it is difficult to turn back time.

According to Iowa State University, the best way to avoid wounds that won’t heal is to prune properly: “Do not apply wound dressings to pruning cuts. In the past, it was a standard practice to seal pruning cuts with wound dressings or paints. It was thought that wound dressings would keep water, insects, and decay-causing microorganisms from entering the wound.”

3. Yard Moisture

  • Keep Moisture Levels Low if Possible
  • Never Water Infected Trees or Plants Unless Specified
  • Purchase Moisture Monitors

The moister an environment is, the more likely it is to have problems with fungus. This is especially true somewhere like Vancouver, where humidity levels can be quite high. Even worse, living near bodies of water, having water features, or even having a pool can increase the levels of moisture in your yard.

Purchase a yard moisture monitor and use it to determine whether or not your yard is particularly moist this year. If it is, you know that you have to pay more attention to your trees and plants. In particular, pay attention to wounds and other areas where fungus forms.

According to the UGA Extension, you have to pay particular attention to this if you have oak trees. If you do find that you have suspicious looking trees, do not water or hose down those trees. The fungus can spread through the water, which can lead to a total infestation in your yard.

2. Spots on Trunk, Branches, or Leaves

  • Look for White or Black Spots
  • Can Be Flat or 3D
  • Some Wipe Away

Have you ever seen white or black spots on the branches, leaves, or twigs of your trees? If so, you might have seen a fungus in action. When you are pruning your trees or just doing your inspection, take note of any spots that shouldn’t be there. It is quite likely that this is a fungus problem. Some fungus doesn’t actually harm your tree, but many that result in this symptom can have a negative impact.


According to Better Homes and Gardens, “When you see orange, gold, or reddish spots rupturing leaf surfaces, you’re dealing with rust. While it rarely kills plants, rust fungus makes leaves unsightly and weakens the plant by interfering with photosynthesis, the process a plant uses to make food. ”

1. Mushrooms

  • Check Under Shade Cover As Well
  • Act Quickly to Save Tree and Expense
  • Allow Professionals to Remove

Many of us have mushrooms in our yard, and a few types aren’t a sign of anything malevolent taking over our properties. However, if they are on your trees or under the shade cover of the tree, then you might have a problem. Mushrooms that grow along the tree can be a symptom of an infestation that has been around for quite some time.

According to Home Guides, “Bark mushrooms typically grow in the form of conk, also called a bract or shelf. Although some varieties of bark mushrooms are harmless, some cause what is called white rot, and some cause the more serious brown rot. ” This is a serious problem that you need to tackle as soon as you possibly can.

If you see mushrooms, call a professional before removing them or at least take a photo of them so that the team can see what they are fighting.

If you have a fungus on your tree, you don’t have to worry about losing your tree. This is a problem and it can devastate your tree, but it doesn’t have to do so. Instead, you can become proactive and call a professional to handle the situation. Teams of all sizes can handle tree fungi problems in Vancouver.

AK Timber Services is your first line of defense against tree fungi, so it should also be the team you call for tree fungi problems in Vancouver. We will visit your home and diagnose your tree. Then, we can introduce you to the different ways to tackle the problem, all of which will be safe for your entire family. However, the sooner we figure out the problem, the sooner we can give you answers and solutions. Give us a call today at (360) 635-1076  to get started.

Header Photo Courtesy of Nicholas A. Tonelli on Flickr!

Best Time to Prune 5 Common Trees in Vancouver, WA

By AK Timber

Take a look around your neighborhood and you will see that there are different times of the year when people seem to be trimming their trees. Do you just assume that one of them is right and the rest of them are wrong or have you done your research and try to find when is the best time to actually prune different types of trees? Either way, it’s difficult to really determine when to prune a tree, especially if you don’t work with trees regularly.

For some trees, the fall is better because the trees are easier to prune when they are brittle and a little dry. For others, spring is better because you can see the shape and understand where the cuts need to be made. Even so, some are better to prune right before they flower and can even help them flower more and brighter

So when should you prune the trees in your yard there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for every yard. However, let’s take a look at the most common trees in Vancouver and see when you should prune them:

5. Douglas Fir: Early Spring, If Necessary

  • Prune to Shape the Tree
  • Make Small, Deliberate Cuts
  • Use Special Tools for Better Shaping

When most people think about pruning a Douglas Fir Tree, they tend to think about cutting a Christmas tree. However, that is the exact opposite of what you should do with a live, growing Douglas Fir.

Like most other conifers, you shouldn’t actually trim your Douglas fir all that often. You should instead remove any diseased or pest infested branches. Make sure that you clean up promptly and eliminate all of the debris from the trimming or you can spread the disease or bugs back into your tree in some cases you may even have to wear protective clothing

Those who do choose to prune their Douglas Fir Trees do so because they want to control how “bushy” the tree can get. To do this, you’ll make smaller, precise cuts that eliminate certain portions of the tree.

According to The Spruce, “Don’t try to prune once the needles have opened fully or you may end up with a misshapen plant, since most evergreens cannot replace their growing tips.”

4. Japanese Red Pine: Winter

  • These Trees Are Tougher Than You Believe
  • Wait Until You’ve Had Consistent Cold Weather
  • Small Trims Can Be Made At Any Time

Many people underestimate the Japanese Red Pine. These trees are much hardier than people give them credit for, which means they can (and should) tolerate quite a bit of pruning. Most people prune in the winter months because the tree is completely dormant and this is the best time to do it – you won’t run the risk of introducing pests or infection into the tree.

Still, if there are problem areas, you can prune this tree at any time of the year. When pruning, make decisive trims that impact your tree. Taking too many small picks at your tree can be bad for it and cause distress.

Don’t be surprised if you remove quite a bit of wood from your tree – sometimes it needs it.

According to Fine Gardening, “Japanese maples less than 15 years old are prone to put on new growth that looks like a buggy whip: unattractively skinny with no side branches,” but you shouldn’t prune those off – it will make the tree look worse.

3. English Laurel: Late Spring or Early Summer

  • Prune for Shape or for Health
  • Pruning Can Help Reduce “Skinny” Growth
  • Trim or Prune Only Once Per Year

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” is a great way to explain pruning the English Laurel Tree. This isn’t the type of tree (or hedge as many people call it) that you have to go into every single month and trim and prune to make it look good. In fact, doing so we’ll just encourage it to continue struggling and look worse than it did before.

The best time to prune your English Laurel is at the end of the spring or the beginning of the summer. You want to ensure that before ou prune, you have given it enough water and it is healthy enough to withstand the damage you do when pruning. Don’t wait until it is too late into the summer or any drought or lack of water can make it harder to prune successfully.

According to Plant Amnesty, it is a good idea to prune all of your English Laurel trees at the same time.

2. Empress Tree: Winter (After a Few Years)

  • Let Settle For A Few Years Before Pruning
  • Keep Tallest Branches
  • Cut From Bottom Up

If you don’t prune your Empress Trees, you will end up with a bush or a shrub instead of an actual tree. Many people buy Empress trees because they think they are beautiful and that they will make a great asset to their yards. Unfortunately, they later pull out the shrub or tree before they even give it a chance because they haven’t pruned it properly.

One thing has to be aware of is that this tree has to settle for a few years. You have to allow the frost to hit the tree and for it to naturally die back, only then can you prune it. Most people suggest waiting at least five years, according to Emily Compost.

Make sure you watch your tree and document its growth so that you can know when it is getting out of hand. Of course, in the first few years it will be easy to prune your tree. Still, you have to wait. Don’t wait too long or it will take a lot of time and there is more risk, including large sections of the tree dying or the tree getting weighed down.

1. Weeping Willow

  • Pruning is Better When Young
  • Only Prune As Needed
  • Prune Strong Branches, Not Thin Ones

Pruning a Weeping Willow actually has more to do with the training it. If you don’t train a Willow Tree, it can grow out of control. Training involves making specific cuts and prunes that will teach it where to go and how to grow. According to Home Guides, this is the most important thing you can do for your Weeping Willow Tree.

When pruning, you have to understand about leading branches. This means you have to understand the different weights and stressors that are put on the branches. One leader should emergy by itself, but it can be difficult to find the right one.

If you aren’t sure, just start by removing all of the dead and decaying tree parts. Focus on the base if you can, removing any suckers.

Pruning your trees. It is not something that not many of us look forward to because it can be extremely dangerous, extremely challenging, and it never seems to look like we pictured it would look while we were up on the ladder

At least, that’s how it is for people who aren’t professionals.

That’s why AK Timber reaches out to citizens of Vancouver and asks them to allow us to help them with pruning and trimming their trees. Our full service team of arborists has vast experience in pruning trees of all kinds, from those that are common to those that aren’t so common in our area.

Our tools and equipment keep us safe and keeps your trees looking absolutely beautiful all year round. Reading trees and understanding them can be extremely difficult, but our team knows exactly what to look for to determine whether or not now is the time to prune or whether something even needs to be proved at all. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 and we’ll set up a free consultation so that we can get started on your trees.

Header photo courtesy of Maarten Heerlien on Flickr!

5 Common Tree Diseases in Vancouver, WA

By AK Timber

Deciding on a home that has trees in the backyard is almost like adopting a pet. You are creating an agreement that you will take care of that tree, no matter what happens. Unfortunately, just like with pets your trees can get diseases. If left unchecked and untreated, these diseases can quickly turn into liabilities and dangerous events. While a certified arborist is the best way to really prevent the disease from taking over, there are some things that homeowners can do.

The most important thing is to keep your eyes on your trees. Inspect the leaves, the needles, the roots, the trunk, the bark, and the branches fairly regularly. When you know what your tree is supposed to look like, you will quickly realize when something is wrong.

In Washington, we face quite a few different diseases. Here are some of the ones you want to be on the lookout for:

5. Swiss Needle Cast

  • Yellow spots appear on needles
  • Lower branches start to completely lose needles
  • Needles turn brown on the tips

Swiss Needle Cast is a disease that Douglas Fir trees seem to get more than any other type of disease. It is known as a cast disease because it causes the tree to grow smaller, reducing the crown size because it casts its needles away. This is a disease that is native to the United States, though it has spread across the world, according to researchers at Oregon State University.

Caused by a fungus, the disease typically attacks in the spring,  making trees look like they are dying from the bottom up. It takes over the needles of the tree, causing small black dots to appear. It takes quite a while for the fungus to spread, giving homeowners plenty of time to contact professionals.

4. Sudden Oak Death

  • Clusters of leaves dying at the same time
  • Cankers forming on the trunk of the tree
  • Spotty leaves with spots starting at the stem and tip

Saying the words “Sudden Oak Death” can make even the best arborist shudder. It is a terrifying disease that attacks many different kinds of trees, not just oak trees. There are over 100 species of trees, shrubs, vines, and plants that have been hit by this disease, and it has killed millions of them. It is difficult to treat and even difficult to diagnose because there are many ways it will attack your tree, finding the weakest point and entering from there, according to the Sudden Oak Death Organization.

For a long time, this disease was almost exclusively a problem on the west coast, so we have been at the forefront of treating it. However, the disease has spread and mutated along the way, bringing even more problems. If you think you have this disease in your yard, contact a professional as soon as possible.

3. Bronze Birch Borer

  • Yellowing foliage near the top of the tree
  • Upper branches seem to be dying
  • D-shaped holes in the bark of the tree

Bronze Birch Borer starts as an infestation that quickly grows into a disease. During dryer seasons and warmer periods, your birch trees are at risk for this harrowing infestation and disease. The Bronze Birch Borer makes its way into your trees, effectively cutting off the nutrient and water pipelines trees have naturally. They bring their friends with them, making quick work of your tree’s insides.

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden: “Generally, the most susceptible trees are those weakened by disease, age, defoliation, adverse weather conditions, or previous borer infestations. Healthy, young trees are rarely attacked.”

Thankfully, trees can come back from this if you find the infestation or disease early enough. Even better, proper pruning and care techniques will help keep your tree strong enough to fight back against it.

2. Black Pineleaf Scale

  • Thinning toward the crown of the tree
  • Needles turn a yellow or dark gray color
  • Needle drops happens shortly before death

Black Pineleaf Scale is a disease of trees that results in decrease the aesthetic value and can result in the death of the tree eventually. It sticks only to the needles of the tree, turning them a brown or black color in the spring months. The scale feeds on the needles, spreading at a faster and faster rate as they go.

Most commonly, scale go after Douglas Fir and hemlock trees, though it has been found on other trees. Make sure to pay attention in the spring months, as this is when they feed. Once infected, multiple generations will fill your tree. Trees that are stressed are more likely to be impacted by the disease as are trees that grow in dusty conditions, according to the University of Minnesota.

1. Blister Rust

  • Death near the crown of the tree
  • Reduction in the number of pinecones the tree produces
  • Orange color at the base of needles or leaves

Blister Rust has been one of the most terrifying diseases to grip Washington, helping to eliminate a large majority of North American White Pine trees in the area. These trees tend to have high mortality rates in general, but they die extremely quickly when exposed to this disease.

Most common in high elevations, the disease is complex. It requires a white pine and a currant or gooseberry plant in order to take over, but according to the US Forest Service, it has shown signs of mutating and being able to use other types of plants as well. The fungus grows into your tree through wounds in the bark OR through the needles. From there, it works to rot the tree from the inside out.

The disease targets seedlings and young trees, infecting them and killing them extremely quickly. If you believe this disease is in your yard, you have to act as soon as possible.

As licensed tree care professionals, the team at AK Timber Services will work with you to keep your trees healthy. Give us a call and we can monitor your trees for some of those common signs of tree disease. Even better, we will be at the frontline, treating them so that your trees can stay sturdy and strong for years on end.

Our team is well trained in spotting diseases and treating them. However, if it is too late or the tree is too diseased, we can also help to eliminate the tree and dispose of it in a safe and timely manner. This will keep the rest of the trees and plant life in your home safe.

Give us a call at (360) 635-1076 to schedule an appointment for one of our professionals to visit your property to look for any tree disease issues.

Header photo courtesy of Mike Maguire on Flickr!

5 Best Trees to Plant in Washington

By AK Timber

Washington has a bit of a tricky climate when it comes to growing trees. Between the wind, the water, and the problems that can sometimes arise with trees, many people are a bit reluctant to plant their own trees. Instead, they rely on the trees that are already in place or they just accept the fact that they don’t have trees and move on – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Trees are gorgeous additions to our yards, adding pops of color, scents, and texture that you can’t get anywhere else.

These trees also don’t have a lot of maintenance requirements or “special attention” for them to grow. Instead, you just have to let them be, do some pruning, and maybe water them from time to time if we are going through a particularly dry patch. Other than that, you can just enjoy the beauty and freshness that comes with them:

5. Douglas Fir

A group of Douglas Fir trees.

Credit: Tom Appel

  • Requires little water in Washington’s climate
  • Grows very quickly
  • Can be grown in full sun or part shade

Conifers grow extremely well within the Washington climate. While many people think of Douglas Fir as a tree that you’d only see around the holiday season, they can be extremely beautiful and bring that delicious scent to your yard year round. Some families will even plant Douglas Fir seedlings and then watch them grow to the perfect size for a Christmas tree so that they can cut it down.

According to Arbor Day, “the Douglas Fir grows to a height of 40–70′ and a spread of 12–20′ at maturity.” They will live for a long time, however, so once you plant them, you will have a tree for life if you don’t cut them down for Christmas.

4. Japanese Red Pine

A group of Japanese Red Pines at full height.

Credit: Shizhao

  • Requires little watering once it has been established
  • Grows extremely quickly
  • Prefers to grow in full sun

You might also find that the Japanese Red Pine will grow extremely well in your yard. These trees are great for people who want extremely large trees that grow quickly at first and then taper off – they’ll reach heights of 100 feet. According to the University of Connecticut, these trees can actually look like they are fake or plastic because they are so beautiful and so symmetrical with very little work.

Still, don’t expect to see ornamental flowers like some people expect – you’ll get beautiful leaves and very little debris from this one. Every two years or so, you can expect the cones to drop, so there will be some cleaning.

3. English Laurel

The flowers on an English Laurel tree.

Credit: Karduelis

  • Requires watering
  • Grows quickly when planted in warmer seasons
  • Prefers full sun

If you are looking for privacy shrubs or just something that can be manicured to look absolutely perfect, the English Laurel is a great shrub choice for the Washington area. It has dense branches and beautiful green leaves that withstand some drought, though are better looking and easier to maintain when watered. The tiny flowers have a sweet fragrance that carries in the wind. If you live on the water, these are the choice shrubs because they withstand salt water.

According to Washington State University, they grow extremely well in groups, making them perfect for screens or separation. Note that these will require some pruning in order to get the best physical appearance.

2. Empress Tree

Mid-sized Empress Tree.

Credit: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

  • Requires occasional watering, especially in drier times
  • Extremely fast growth rate
  • Grows well in partial shade or sun

Empress trees are a unique strain of trees that have been carefully cultivated over the years to be one of the most beautiful trees in the world. Growing 10 to 20 feet per year according to Home Guides, they top out at 50 feet within the first decade. The reason many people love this unique tree is because the leaves grow to 2-3 feet in size.

Note that they do have an extremely large root system, so it is best for yards that have more expansive space. You don’t want to grow them too near the road or sidewalks or the root system can come up and ruin them. Still, if you have the space it is absolutely worth it.

1. Weeping Willow

  • Grows better near water or when watered
    Willow Tree growing near lake.

    Credit: Bruce Marlin

  • In right conditions, grows quickly
  • Requires sun or partial shade to grow

One of the most dramatic and beautiful trees to grow in Washington, the Weeping Willow has been a favorite for so many people over the years. In many areas, a Willow tree will provide food for rabbits, beavers, and big game such as deer. The yellow flowers it produces are absolutely gorgeous and do extremely well when pressed or dried. Note that this tree is more of a “spreader” than it is a grower – it will often take up 40″ of space in a yard, according to the National Arbor Day Foundation.

If you have very little luck with growing trees, consider a Weeping Willow because it is very difficult for it to go wrong. Kids love Weeping Willows as well because they are fun to play in and hide around – just be careful – we all remember getting hit with one of those branches.

At the end of the day, Washington’s climate makes it a great location for tree lovers to try new trees, cultivate brand new types of trees, and even work with trees that harder to grow. For the common person, however, you can plant any of the above trees without having to worry too much about maintenance or keeping up with the debris clean up. One thing to note is that in order to get the most out of your trees, you should have them inspected regularly, trimmed when necessary, and treated for any diseases or pests. If you think your trees aren’t growing as they could, or you want them to look better, give AK Timber Service a call at

If you think your trees aren’t growing as they could, or you want them to look better, give AK Timber Service a call at (360) 635-1076. Our team of professionals can help you with everything from tree planting to cabling, from tree removal to brush and land clearing to make room for your next beautiful plant.

Header photo courtesy of Tom Britt on Flickr!