Tree Care Services of Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR

What Are the Invasive Species I Need to Look For?

By AK Timber

Pests – we all have them in our yards and we all know that some of them aren’t great and some of them actually do a lot of good. Unfortunately, many people try to eradicate invasive species on their own, which often does more damage than it does good. You may try to use caustic substances or DIY methods that will just aggravate the invasive pests instead of eliminating them – and then you might have an even bigger problem on your hands.

But what are the invasive species you need to look out for in your yard? Here are the most common in our area:

4. Hornets

  • Can live in or around trees
  • Tend to move in spring months
  • Can grow to 300+ colony size

Hornets, especially those of the European variety, have been extremely prevalent throughout the United States for over 150 years, according to the Penn State Department of Agriculture. Not only are these pests annoying, they are dangerous for those who have children or pets. Their sting is quite painful and can send people into shock with the pain. Even worse, they have a tendency to swarm if they are disturbed.

Signs of a hornet infestation include seeing them flying around, spotting the nest (typically tucked back into a cavity of some sort), and sometimes you may see debris left over from the hornets. You are more likely to get hornets in dead trees that have hollow portions or in stumps.

If you have a hornet nest in your tree or property at all, it is best to let it sit and contact professionals who can help you with removal. There are ways to eliminate the nest promptly and safely, but most people who aren’t professionals might need help.

3. Tomato Hornworm

  • Can be controlled by handpicking
  • Destroys tomato, potato, pepper, eggplant, and tobacco plants
  • Often spotted in midsummer

A particularly annoying pest for those that like to grow their own vegetables, tomato hornworms can be a problem for trees and other greenery as well – they don’t discriminate, especially in the height of growing season.

Planet Natural offers some advice on how to differentiate them from some other species: “Likely to be the largest caterpillars you’ll see in the vegetable garden, tomato hornworms (3-4 inches long), are green with seven diagonal white strips and a black or red horn projecting from the rear. Adults are large (4-5 inch wingspan), heavy-bodied moths. They are gray or brown in color with white zigzags on the rear wings and orange or brownish spots on the body. Also called a sphinx or hawk moth, they fly quickly and are able to hover like a hummingbird.”

You can also look for their droppings along the leaves of the tree. If you think they are there, you can spray a little bit of water onto the area and wait – they will start to move around quite quickly as they do not like water. In these cases, where there aren’t too many, you can easily solve the problem by handpicking them off of the trees and greenery. To prevent the tomato hornworm from coming into your yard, you can till the soil in the fall and/or winter to bring the pupae to the surface.

2. Azalea Lace Bug

  • One of the newest pests
  • Found on evergreen azalea plants, mountain laurels, and rhododendrons
  • Introducing spiders can help

Another pest that we need to worry about is the Azalea Lace Bug, also known as Evergreen Azalea Lace Bug. These bugs can be difficult to spot until it is too late, which is why people need to be vigilant about inspecting their plants and trees. According to Oregon State, you need to look for the eggs that are laid in the midrib on the underside of leaves and away from the sunlight – something that makes them more difficult to spot. As they age, they get darker and it becomes much easier to spot them.

More often, people spot them when they start to notice the damage on their trees and shrubs. They see that the leaves are turning white and curling up towards the edges.

To eliminate them, some people will introduce azalea plant bug, tree crickets, earwigs, green lacewings, minute pirate bugs, and/or spiders to their gardens so that they naturally eliminate them. Of course, there are ways to eliminate them with more forceful means as well.

1. Corn Earworm

  • Can be devastating
  • Found all over the United States
  • Lifecycle is less than 30 days

Why fear the corn earworm? The University of Florida explains: “Corn earworm is considered by some to be the most costly crop pest in North America. It is more damaging in areas where it successfully overwinters, however, because in northern areas it may arrive too late to inflict extensive damage. It often attacks valuable crops, and the harvested portion of the crop. Thus, larvae often are found associated with such plant structures as blossoms, buds, and fruits. When feeding on lettuce, larvae may burrow into the head. On corn, its most common host, young larvae tend to feed on silks initially, and interfere with pollination, but eventually they usually gain access to the kernels.”

If you see this bug on anything, whether it is a porch swing or a plant, you should try to kill it. Sadly, the only other effective ways to eliminate it require a professional to use highly damaging chemicals that make your yard unsafe for pets and children for some time. The best thing to do is kill them and hope that the infestation doesn’t get too bad.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Of course, we can also help you to eliminate pests from your trees, shrubs, plants, and property. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of US Dept. of Agriculture on Flickr!

Hover Parenting Techniques For Your Trees

By AK Timber

Think about when you were learning how to drive. Every time you approached an intersection, a stop sign, or another car, whoever was teaching you probably started stomping on the floor to hit the break. This person may have yelled whenever they thought you were going too fast or you were too close to other cars.

It is a common occurrence that probably didn’t stop once you passed the test and the state said you could drive. Your parents didn’t want you to drive in the rain, the snow, or when the sun was too bright. They were afraid when you drove their cars but even worse when you drove your own.

However, you only really got better when they allowed you to fly on your own.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but this is how your trees feel as well if you try to do too much to them. Like a teenager, sometimes trees function best (and aren’t prone to outbursts) when they are just left alone.

Think you might be hover parenting your trees? You need to stop.

Start with these four tips:

4. You’ve Pruned By Yourself

  • Causes lasting damage to the health of the tree
  • Hurts the likelihood of a good fruit harvest or spring flowers
  • Your tools might be doing more harm than good

Let’s be honest, our parents aren’t always great drivers and when we learn from them, we tend to learn their bad driving techniques. It isn’t until years later that we realize that we get road rage like our mothers or drive slightly to the right like our fathers. These are things that, if we were taught by a professional, we might not do and might be safer drivers.

The same is true in regard to trees. By doing something like pruning, which should be handled by a professional, by yourself, you are setting yourself up for fights and errors.  You are going to make mistakes that you think are right based on what you’ve seen your parents do, people do in movies, or just what seems right. This isn’t a good idea.

What you do to your tree when you are pruning it will impact its overall health, possibly for the rest of its life – or shorten its life dramatically. Tree Care Tips advises that you should never cut more than a quarter of your tree back at any given time – but even snapping off a twig is too much if you aren’t sure what you’re doing.

Remember that when you are trimming your tree, you are creating lacerations in it and those wounds will need time to mend and in order to heal correctly – and there isn’t any way to speed this process up. This means using the proper tools and the best techniques for tree pruning is imperative.

3. Your Soil is Wrong

  • Professional soil testing can help you determine what is good and what isn’t
  • Make sure to balance out nutrition with your ecosystem
  • Testing is necessitated every few years

Delivering nutrients is one of the most basic ways we show anything or anyone that we appreciate them. Going back to the driving metaphor, when we first get a car, most of us are particular about cleaning them consistently and changing the fluids.  What we don’t realize is that we aren’t allowing our cars to function properly and then we might not know when something is wrong.

This is similar to tree care because most people who love their trees overlook the fact that the soil might be killing them slowly and gradually. They throw spoil on the ground, water regularly, and pick off anything that doesn’t look right – clearing any signs and symptoms that something is going dangerously wrong.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the pH of your dirt is one of the most critical elements to consider – and for most home lawns, you want the pH to be about 6.5. This will support all of the necessary functions of your tree, including soaking up nutrients, growing, repairing from cuts, and producing flowers and harvests.

2. You’ve Irrigated Too Often or Too Much

  • Leaves start to turn color or textures
  • Tends to happen in the wet season
  • Allow land to dry out at times

Sometimes too much of a good thing is undoubtedly a bad thing. Too much junk food, too much exercise, too much TV time, and even too much water are all bad for humans.

Too much water is also really, really bad for your trees. When you water them too much, you are actually causing a lot of problems.

If you have irrigated your trees too much, you will see the following problems, according to Home Guides, if your trees have yellowing leaves, blisters, or exposed roots, it is possible that your trees have had too much water.

If you see any of these clues, you need to scale back on the watering. Sometimes just allowing your tree to dry out can help it to get back on track. Other times, you may need to do some digging to elimate water that is stored in the soil – but this is most common during flooding or stormy seasons.

1. You Are Worrying About the Pests Too Much

  • Sprays can be more harmful than the pests
  • Some “unwanted pests” are actually good for the trees
  • Nature tends to take care of itself without intervention

Just like some blunders when you are learning how to drive (how else will you remember to put on the emergency brake when you part on a hill unless your car has taken out a neighbor’s fence?), some pests aren’t a problem on your trees. In fact, trees and pests need to coexist for both to survive.

When there are too many, then the problems start.

According to ThoughtCo, “Insects that attack trees come in many sizes and shapes. The beetles consume leaf parts and inner bark; the aphids, leafminers, and moths defoliate; the borers consume wood; the gall-making wasps deform limbs and leaves. Not all insects will kill a tree, but the “killers” listed can be certain death when insect populations explode.”

So really, you have to be cautious and prudent when it comes to treating your tree if you think there is an infestation. Sometimes, the methods that you would use to destroy the pests or insects might do more damage. You also need to know that not all pests look like insects – birds and mammals can be hazardous as well.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of Barb Manning on Flickr!

Tricks For Adding Trees To Your Yard

By AK Timber

What does your dream backyard look like? Is it is sparsely filled? Does it have nothing to do? Or is it a lush wonderland with livable spaces and beautiful configurations of plant life and hardscaping? Over the years, it might have seemed like your dreams of a beautiful outdoor space have slipped away – but worry not, they haven’t.

You still have a chance to get that beautiful yard.

If you want to add a tree to your yard, you first have to think about the type of trees you want to add – something small and flowery to provide brightness to your yard or something tall and elegant that will make your home stand out. The options are up to you.

Before you think about planting a tree and even thinking about what type of tree you want to plant, you have to think about what function you want that tree to play in your yard. Do you want something that will require a lot of upkeep? Something that will thrive even if you don’t do anything to them. You also have to think about cost and work and upkeep – all crucial parts of being a tree owner.

Want to start dreaming that yard you’ve always dreamt of? Below are 4 landscape design choices to consider when adding a tree:

4. Take a peek out of the window

  • Security and safety are important
  • Remember that curb appeal matters as well
  • Must be one of the first things you think about

According to HGTV, one of the biggest landscaping mistakes you can make is to plant a tree before looking at it from all angles – including from the inside of your home. You want to look out of your window and determine what type of tree you’d like to see. Maybe you need to close your eyes to picture it or even put a little cut out you printed on your window.

We spend a lot of time looking out of our windows, so you need to enjoy that view.

Think about what you see from inside your home that you no longer want to see – people, places, cars, etc. Then think about what you absolutely need to see, like a playground where your kids go or your pool. You will want to make a note of these before you choose your tree. Remember that trees grow and even if you can see something now, you might not be able to in a few years.

3. Consider looking from above to get the best layout

  • Professional landscapers will be able to walk you through the process, if need be
  • Consider plants, sidewalks, water features, patios, and so much more – and of course your tree
  • Remember that you have to live in this space

When planting a tree, you have to realize that this tree will be part of the ecosystem of your yard – which means that you need to put it in a smart place. Most people just plant trees in one space and don’t think about how the roots, shade cover, and branches will impact other structures and life in the yard. Lifehacker suggests looking at your area from an aerial view to see where a tree will look the best. At the very least, this will give you a few ideas on where, when, and how to plant your tree.

Once you have it narrowed down, you can then take tape or chalk and mark out the area on the ground to get an even better view.

2. Trees impact your home’s value

  • Remember that trees do take some time to grow, so you want to give them that time
  • Curb appeal is a buzzword – but it really does make a different in selling your home
  • Do not go overboard with too many trees, or people will only see added cost

If you are thinking about selling your home into the future, the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers has a basic suggestion: plant a tree or two. If you do this, you could be adding as much as $10,000 to your home’s value. Even better, you could (and should) be adding to the to the curb appeal, which means people will be more likely to get into a bidding war over your home, which could spell more money for you.

Once again, remember that trees take some time to grow so you need to plant them early into the future.

1. Bring the inside, outside

  • Use trees as part of your livable space
  • Conceal yourself from neighbors
  • Get your own space

According to Better Homes and Gardens: “If you don’t want to work on making your entire yard a private paradise, take one corner and transform it into a secluded getaway. A simple way to do this is to carefully place a couple of trees to form a pocket. Here, for example, two pines make a hammock feel tucked away. A redbud just behind the hammock enhances the effect.”

Many people don’t have outdoor spaces that they really enjoy spending time in for any number of reasons – bugs, sunburns, nosy neighbors, noisy neighbors, or just too much to do on the inside. By planting trees, you can make an outdoor space that is private and comfortable – one you want to spend time in. It might take some planning and forethought, but it is worth it.

No matter what type of trees, shrubs, or plant life you have, you want to keep them protected and cared for as much as possible. Your soil can only do so much to keep the water going to the roots, your tree can only do so much work on its own, and then you will need some help to back you up. Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of Sound_Gene on Flickr!

Why Mulch May Hurt Your Trees

By AK Timber

“Put mulch around your trees,” is one of the biggest pieces of advice you’ll hear when you tell someone that your trees aren’t looking healthy. “It is one of the best things you can do for it,” they’ll tell you, along with some long-winded story about how their trees are beautiful now. Mulch is truly a great product – it can make all the difference in your gardens. Why is it a great addition to many gardens? It minimizes the amount of weeds in the soil around the tree, assists with moisture retention in the drier months, keeps soil temperature level, and also it looks better than the simple ground does at many homes.

Still, there are some problems with mulch that people don’t tell you about.

You have to be careful when it comes to placing mulch in your yard. It isn’t something that you can do haphazardly or quickly – you may be doing more damage than you are doing good.

Here are a few things to take into consideration when you apply mulch around your tree:

Root Girdling

  • Leads to excessive dieback of tree
  • Girdling stunts the growth of trees
  • Makes tree at risk to various other diseases

When a tree is girdled, there is a band that goes around the bottom of the trunk. Mulch can sometimes cause girdling, especially if you use those rubber mulch mats that are basically made out of tires. Girdling threatens the livelihood of the tree because it causes a blockade on the flow of nutrients and water to the rest of the tree. Over time, your tree will certainly start to wither away.

Your tree will begin to look really, really different when it has a root that is girdling the bottom of it – note that girdling can appear around branches as well. Normally, when it is around the root, the tree’s trunk will begin to flare out near the surface of the ground. Sometimes you won’t see this at all. Instead, you will see the tree getting narrower, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. They say that,The threat depends on the size of the root and the amount of the tree’s circumference affected. It is almost impossible to predict if a developing girdling root will cause problems for a tree. However, if a tree has girdling roots it is more likely to have problems than one without them.”

You Might Cut Off the Oxygen Supply

  • Roots need oxygen to help the tree grow
  • Tree development can be cut off at any stage
  • Eventually, suffocation could occur

All plants, including trees, need oxygen to make it through their growth and regeneration. This is because without access to clean oxygen, the trees cannot carry out something called aerobic respiration nor can they complete photosynthesis. This process utilizes water, co2, and the sunlight’s power to produce oxygen. This happens around the tree, however not in the origins, according to USCB Science Line.

The tree is able to get air from the dirt near the roots to carry out photosynthesis — yet with too much mulch too close to the bottom, it is most likely that the dirt is compacted and doesn’t have as much air.

Mulch Can Push Soil to the Trunk

  • Traps water in and creates a greenhouse under the mulch
  • Triggers tree bark to decay and softening
  • Trees are extra susceptible to fungus

One of the biggest reasons people decide to put mulch around their trees is to get a more consistent, beautiful look. But you have to think about the heat and water that the mulch creates around the roots of your tree.  As the ground heats up, your tree’s trunk and roots will soften and that can cause many different problems.

Soil isn’t always great for your trees – especially when it is packed around the base. SFGate explains why: “Soil added around a tree reduces the amount of oxygen available to the roots and slows the rate of gas exchange in and around the roots. There may be less moisture and nutrients available to the roots or too much moisture may remain around the tree’s roots. Inadequate oxygen reaching the roots or microorganisms in the soil around the roots can lead to an accumulation of chemicals that can injure tree roots. The tree’s bark may decay where soil is newly in contact with it. Damage or injury to the tree because of the added soil may not become apparent for several months or years and generally appears as a slow decline followed by death.”

There are many other options besides mulch to help your tree feel and look attractive. You have to be judicious what you do with mulch. Most importantly, you want to find a mulch that is high quality and uses only natural products – or it can leech into the ground and cause even worse problems.

Note that some of these issues can occur with natural mulch and rubber mulch as well, though they seem to be exasperated with rubber mulch. You need to beware when you spread mulch and you should constantly check your tree for any type of troubles that you see.

No matter what type of trees, shrubs, or plant life you have, you want to keep them protected and cared for as much as possible. Your soil can only do so much to keep the water going to the roots, your tree can only do so much work on its own, and then you will need some help to back you up. Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of Phil Roeder on Flickr!


Is Deep Watering Right For Your Trees?

By AK Timber

Is deep watering the right option for your yard?  Many people believe every trend that they read on Facebook or Pinterest. Others don’t believe anything at all. When it comes to deep watering, we have heard plenty of people on both sides of the argument.

Is deep watering the right option for your trees? It could be. Here are some things to consider before using it as a method for your yard:

4. Use a Soaker For Easier Watering

  • Great for people that aren’t home regularly
  • Could be a DIY project
  • Do not over water with this system

Standing outside in the hot sun, watering your plants and sweating doesn’t sound great to everyone – that isn’t something to be ashamed of. And you aren’t alone in thinking this way.

If this sounds like you, you may wish to purchase a soaker tube or soaker system. A soaker pipe is just an attachment to your traditional garden hose. This attachment has holes periodically, holes that are smaller than the actual hose opening, yet still large enough to let out water. As soon as you put this onto your hose, you can then wind place it into your gardens as well as position it where you require it to be. If you aren’t interested in buying an irrigation system or a drip hose, you can make your own thanks to this tutorial from the DIY Network.

These still make use of a little bit of water, but they are taken into consideration to be much better compared to the typical lawn sprinkler since they place the water directly where it needs to be, not up into the air initially.

This type of system benefits people that don’t or cannot take care of their backyards, individuals who are frequently in need of someone who will water their yards for them, and those who just have way too much to stay up to date with when it concerns caring for their lawns.

3. Deeply Water Hedges, Trees, and Shrubs

  • Tree branches tend to go deep
  • They will certainly additionally spread everywhere around the tree
  • Trees are one of the most vulnerable in a drought

The Morton Arboretum explains it best: “The top 8-12 inches of soil should be kept moist around trees during periods of drought, at least as far as the branches spread (dripline). It is impossible to give a formula on how much or how often to water a tree to keep the soil moist 8-12 inches deep. The amount of water required will vary with local site conditions, but without adequate rainfall, established trees may need to be watered as often as every 10-14 days. Don’t wait until your plants show signs of stress, such as wilting or yellowing. Any of several methods of watering work well. Remember, you are not watering plants, you are watering their roots.”

So in order to keep this a reality for your shrubs, you want to aim for the most susceptible parts. Shrubs and hedges, in particular, require quite a bit more water than many other types of plants. If you aren’t deep watering your trees and shrubs, it is likely that you will not water them enough. The water can drip down the trunk, but it is even more likely that the water will evaporate into the air before it gets to the roots.

One thing you want to be aware of around trees and shrubs in particular? Shifting dirt – by drip irrigation and being careful about how much you water, you will be able to avoid shifting dirt.

2. It Won’t Help All Plants

  • Deep watering will not help plants with shallower root systems
  • Most won’t be hurt by it either, so you can try both approaches in mixed gardens
  • Valuable for annuals as well as bigger plants

One common error that people make is that they believe that deep watering will help all of the plants that you can grow in your garden, and this isn’t the truth. As a matter of fact, perennials and vegetables don’t need deep watering since they do not have origins that go as well deeply right into the ground, according to Gardeners.

Instead, they have roots that are closer to the top of the ground. You will only be wasting water if you are deep watering these plants in your garden.

As always, you will want to check out your plants to see if there are signs of over watering or under watering.

1. Just How Deep Should The Water Go?

  • The roots must obtain the water, not the leaves, stems, or flowers
  • Go 12″ to 18″ deep, depending on the plant
  • Some plants may not need watering that deep, some require deeper

What do you do when you water your plants? It is possible that you aim your hose to spray some water onto the leaves of your plants and maybe the dirt around them.  This isn’t the best method. Many plants do not have leaves or stems that are able to absorb the water you are spraying. Most plants will use their root systems to get there. Will it drip down? Eventually, yes. The trouble is that, when it is warm outside, the water evaporates right away and then ends up not getting to the plants.

Slate has some great final advice on deep watering: “Water infrequently and deeply. The traditional rationale, rather moralistic, was that shallow watering allowed the plant to get used to finding water near the soil surface, thus making it lazy and ill-prepared to go deep in case of drought. But the real rule is this: Water when needed. The answer to when it’s needed is, “It depends.” Observant gardeners begin to see that different plants have different needs at different times.”

No matter what type of trees, shrubs, or plant life you have, you want to keep them watered as much as possible. Your soil can only do so much to keep the water going to the roots, and then you will need some help to back you up. Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of LadyDragonflyCC on Flickr!


Fill Your Garage: Tools for Tree Care

By AK Timber

As a homeowner, you know that there are some tree care related jobs that you might have to do – things that you don’t actually need to call a tree care company for, but you do need to do for the wellness of your trees. We recognize this and know that there are some undertakings you want to handle on your own – but we also know that you can only do that if you have the suitable tools in your hands. That is why we gathered this list, to make it possible for you to see what you should have in your garage or tool shed.

You do have to make sure of a couple of things: you know how to use the tools, they are high quality, and you only deal with what you can handle. If you have any issues, it is better to err on the side of caution.

So what do you need? Let’s take a look:

4. Watering Systems

  • Helps with standard watering
  • Useful in all growing periods
  • Invest in a timed system for improved results

Dry summers are the greatest danger to healthy, happy trees. You want to have a property that is nourished and hydrated all over, not just near your trees. When your yard looks a little brown or stiff, you might have to invest in an irrigation system, landscape sprinkler, or at least a garden hose. While you do have to be informed of the volume of water that you use, you should have something help our your trees – even if it is reused water.

The Home Depot has a superb manual for purchasing a garden hose that will work with your yard and all legal regulations on using water. Make sure to put it to good use – this doesn’t have to be a huge expenditure.

3. Inch Pruners

  • Be careful when using
  • Do not cut into blisters
  • Always wash properly

This one is a more very difficult tool suggest because you do have to be extremely careful when you use them. Still, it is a necessary part of any yard service plan. However, we recommend hand pruners because they can not do any of the serious cutting that can be really harmful to your trees. You should still take care not to cut too much and never cut with contaminated or rusty pruners.

You won’t be able to considerably change your trees, but you can make some maintenance cuts that will help with some of the bushiness or extra pieces.

Per Garden Products Review, “Pruners (also called clippers, pruning shears, or secateurs) are used to trim and shape plants, deadhead, prune out dead or damaged foliage and small branches, and cut back perennials. They’re one of the most-used gardening tools so it’s important to get a pair that works best for you.”

Once again – do not go overboard with this or you will do more harm than good.

2. Cart

  • Lasts a lifetime
  • Always useful
  • Helps with all projects

Another tool that people have abdicated too soon is the wheelbarrow. It is something that we all need, even if we don’t’ want to admit it. They will really help you to do a job that you might not want to do because it seems like too much work. While there is still work with a wheelbarrow, you are able to do merely a little bit less.

Whether you are cleaning up after a violent storm or moving some gardening items, it makes your job just a little easier. Even though they aren’t high tech or cutting edge, carts are a good expenditure because they are always going to be useful and we can’t really see a way to improve upon them too much. In fact, according to analysis by the University of Houston, the first wheelbarrows may have had sails, and they have been around for a very, very long time.

Invest in a higher quality wheelbarrow and it will last you a long time.

1. Rakesrake

  • Helps in all seasons
  • Spread mulch or new soil
  • Expose roots

One of the most handy tools for all parts of your yard is the typical yard rake. Many people have swapped in the manual labor of the rake for a leaf blower, but that doesn’t have to be the circumstances at all. Other than being great physical exercise, an old rake can do so much more.

According to a recent article from The Seattle Times, ” Among landscaping rakes, metal bow rakes are used for moving soil around the garden, mounding dirt to create raised beds, picking up garden debris and tamping the soil. The sharp steel points can dig too deeply into a lawn, however, and, when used to rake leaves, those same points spear the leaves and get clogged easily.”

You can use a rake at any time of the year to tidy up your gardens, which will certainly keep your tree healthy. Of course, you want to be meticulous that you aren’t too tough or do too much damage. For this reason why, you want to use a quality rake that won’t cause bruises to the roots.

Of course, rakes are a great tool for everyone int he family, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t have more than one to get a little help.

No matter what type of trees, shrubs, or plant life you have, you want to contact a professional before you do any type of planting, maintenance, or pruning. Your soil can only do so much, and then you will need some help to back you up. Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of Karen Roe on Flickr!

Soil: 4 Essential Things It Needs for Trees

By AK Timber

Dirt is just dirt, right? Absolutely not – dirt is one of the most amazing structures that is found on the face of the Earth. It provides nourishment, protection, and comfort to many living things, including your trees. Dirt, or soil, is one of the biggest factors in the health of your trees. For example, if your soil doesn’t have a certain element, your tree might not respond as well to different treatments, it might not produce as much fruit, or you might have trouble keeping it healthy.

When you are planting trees, it is especially important to understand the makeup of your soil, what the pH is, and even what type of soil it is – and yes, there are different types. You can have your soil tested by a few different companies or you can do it yourself if you have the capabilities.

But first you need to know: what has to be in your soil? Let’s take a look:

4. Air

  • Helps with watering
  • Stops compaction
  • Can be helped by aeration

It might seem strange, but the more air that your soil has, the better off it will be. This is because air allows room for drying, which can help to prevent the growth of mold. It also helps other nutrients and organic matter to move easily throughout the soil.

According to the Morton Arboretum, “When soil is compacted, the number of large pores decreases and the number of small pores increases. As Coder writes, “The total pore space of soil being compacted initially increases as more capillary pores are created and as aeration pores are lost. With continuing compaction, total porosity declines and oxygen diffusion rates plumate. The pore sizes which fill and empty with water and air are most impacted by compaction.”As a result, less air and water can be held in the soil.”

It is better to have soil that naturally has more air in it, but you can also buy soil that has a lot of air. This is also one of the main reasons mulch is so effective, the shape almost guarantees air.

3. Nitrogen

  • Pulled through the roots
  • Helps plants develop proteins
  • Helps cell development

One of the most important things your plants and trees need to survive is Nitrogen. Nitrogen helps your trees with the development of proteins, and therefore healthy growth. Many trees that have flowers need more nitrogen than other trees, and fruit trees tend to need more nitrogen as well.

Nitrogen is also imperative for the photosynthesis process, according to Hunker. Photosynthesis helps your trees get usable energy so that they can grow.

If you do not have enough nitrogen in your soil, it will turn yellowish or brown at the tips.  To increase the amount of nitrogen, you can add animal manure, especially poultry manure to your soil.

2. Phosphorous

  • Helps move energy
  • Allows trees to absorb nutrients
  • Keeps entire tree healthy

The next nutrient that should be in your soil is phosphorous. This is an absolutely critical element in the physical development of the plant. Even more, it is important in photosynthesis as well. According to the University of Minnesota, it is important to the growth of strong, solid, deep roots. This means that you definitely want to ensure that your soil has enough phosphorous when you plant trees.

If you don’t have enough phosphorous, you might see leaves that are wilting and dying, but it is even more common to see purple splotches and poor fruit development. To rectify this problem, you need to add animal meal to your soil. You want to find higher quality animal meal, not anything that was treated by antibiotics.

1. Potassium

  • Helps fluid move through the tree
  • Activates enzymes
  • Exists in two forms

Potassium is important for a number of reasons, but the main one is that, according to the Northeast Organic Farming Association, “Potassium is the Great Regulator. It is active in numerous enzyme systems which control metabolic reactions, particularly in the synthesis of proteins and starches. Micronutrients, which have similar functions, are required only in minute amounts. In contrast, potassium must be present in large quantities, although it seems to be completely unsuited for its role.”

So, potassium is one of the most important elements of your soil. A good amount of potassium will help with moisture retention as well as help to prevent any damage from heat. Even better, with younger trees or plants, it will help with growth thanks to stronger root systems.

You can tell that you don’t have potassium in your soil in a few different ways – but mostly you will see leaves, stems, or even branches that are limp and just aren’t as lively as some of your other plants. There are MANY ways to improve the amount of potassium you have in your garden, which is a good thing. The first is to add compost to your soil, compost that has many fruit and vegetable scraps. Bananas should make up a lot of those scraps. If you don’t compost, you can also use wood ash, but that can impact the pH levels of your soil, so you have to keep an eye on that as well.

No matter what you do, you want to keep an eye on your soil levels. Even if you have it tested one year, even one summer with strange temperatures or the use of chemicals in your yard can significantly alter the different nutrients in your soil. You want to stay on top of whether or not your soil is healthy for your trees, because by the time you see some of the nasty results of poor soil, you can’t always alter it.

No matter what type of trees, shrubs, or plant life you have, you want to contact a professional before you do any type of planting, maintenance, or pruning. Your soil can only do so much, and then you will need some help to back you up. Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of Daniel R. Blume on Flickr!


Need Trees on Your Land? A Few Things to Consider

By AK Timber

If you are looking to plant a tree – or more than one tree – in your yard this year, there are a few things you want to consider when it comes to the types of trees that you can plant. We truly believe that trees are the most important parts of your yards, whether you have a large yard that can have multiple trees or you have a small yard that only has room for something small. Trees make yards more beautiful, cleaner, and a place where you want to spend time.

Confused about which tree to choose? Here are some things to think about:

5. You can get some shade

  • Shade keeps your home warmer in the winter
  • Shade keeps your tree cooler in the summer
  • Shade trees work best on large properties

One of the most popular options, especially for larger yards, is a shade tree. Some of the most popular shade trees include the paper birch, weeping willow, river birch, red maple, tulip poplar, bald cypress, dawn redwood and American sycamore.

These trees tend to have bigger trunks, roots, and a larger spread over the yard to provide shade. According to Arbor Day, using shade trees will not only help with temperature control, it will help with your heating and cooling costs as well. Make sure that the tree is properly positioned on your lawn to give you the most impact, but also to keep you safe.

4. You may want some privacy

  • Perfect for nosy neighbors
  • Increase security for your home
  • Can also be shade or decorative trees

Do you have neighbors that like to peer over into your yard? Want to give your children a place to ply where you don’t have to worry about everyone watching them? Privacy trees, like evergreen trees, some deciduous trees, and semi-evergreens, can help you to secure your yard and make it more private.

These trees tend to be the ones that don’t lose their needles at any point, keeping your yard private all year round. Note that while people can’t see into your home, you also won’t be able to see out of it. This can cause some security problems in some places, though in most places it will keep you safer. For the most security, you won’t just be able to plant one tree, you will have to plant several.

According to Fast Growing Trees, “When planting it is also a good idea to place your trees at least 10-15 feet away from your home or foundation. You will also want to stay at least 4-5 ft. away from patios, fences, and other structures. Remember if you are planting underneath a utility line you will want to select a short tree that will not reach more than 25 ft. high.”

3. You just want something to look at

  • Beautiful trees are often delicate
  • Require more work
  • May only be pretty during certain seasons

When you plant trees like a Japanese maple, Chinese magnolia, sugar maple, northern red oak, bald cypress, royal poinciana, or wisteria trees, you often want a tree that is absolutely beautiful. There are some trees that are beautiful during the spring and early summer (most common), but there are also trees that are most beautiful when they change colors in the fall, or even some that keep beautiful berries into the winter months. HGTV has a list of some of the flowering trees that remain beautiful all year long, if you are looking for something that always stays gorgeous.

Flowering trees are a bit more work, especially when the flowers fall and stain the concrete. You have to be careful and diligent in cleaning up your mess.

No matter what, it is important to talk to a professional or do some of your own research to see which trees will work for you and your home.

2. Get some fruit

  • Require a lot of work compared to other trees
  • Need sun and plenty of water
  • Might require the use of chemicals

Many people want to get something from their trees in return for all of the work that they do. Fruit trees do just that, if you are diligent and take care of them properly. From watering schedules to chemical use to ward off pests, fruit trees require a lot of care. If you are willing to do that, you can reap the rewards.

Chemicals often tend to be the sticking point. Some of the ones that people know are illegal and cannot be used in your yard. Even the ones that can be purchased may hurt the other plant life in your yard, according to Dave Wilson Nurseries.

Some of the most popular fruit bearing trees you can plant include apple trees, fig trees, lemon trees, avocado trees, mulberry trees, and olive trees.

1. Shrubs = Small Spaces

  • Easier to take care of in all climates
  • Better for people who don’t have time
  • Fit great in yards of all sizes

For people who don’t have a lot of time to handle trees, or for people who don’t have a lot of room, shrubs are the best option for your yard. Shrubs are beautiful and (mostly) easy to take care of – and can do all of the above, though on a smaller scale.

According to Bob Vila, “that like most ornamental plants, shrubbery requires well-draining soil,” which means that you might have some work to do upfront, but you will have less work to do overall.

No matter what type of tree or shrub you want to plant, you want to contact a professional before you do any type of planting. This will help you get off on the right foot with your trees. Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of Dave on Flickr!

Dead Tree Removal: What To Do

By AK Timber

While many people remember having trees from the time they were little, the truth is that trees are living things and that means that they aren’t going to be around forever. In fact, over time, trees will start to die slowly and you have to make decisions about what to do with them. Namely, you have to remove them.

4. Not Removing Them Isn’t an Option

  • Can bring infestations into your yard
  • Eyesore over time
  • Can harm other plants

Depending on how your tree died, you will want to get that tree out of your yard as soon as possible. Trees that succumb to diseases or infestations don’t kill the problem when they die. Instead, the cause can continue spreading throughout the rest of your yard and garden as well. Even worse, infestations and diseases can strengthen as they eat away at the material. More and more can also join in on the party – creating an even bigger problem.

Of course, you want to remove the dead tree for safety reasons as well. The tree can fall at any time (if it hasn’t already) and is more susceptible to doing so when the weather is bad, according to Ready for Wildfire.

Lastly, having a dead tree standing (or resting) in your yard is just an eyesore – you work so hard to keep everything looking great, so don’t let this keep you down.

3.  Think About How Desirable Your Tree Is

  • Some trees have ornamental value
  • May be able to save some wood
  • Can even sell some wood

One of the most important things to think about when removing a dead tree is what you want to do with the wood. For some people, using it in decorations or in new ways is exciting. Another thing you can do is put some of the smaller pieces into a compost pile or use them in other ways. Some tree care services will offer a chipping service.

In some cases, people may even buy the wood from you to use in their own projects. This might require some work from you, but it is worthwhile.

According to the University of Maryland Extension, “Undesirable trees include black locust, Siberian elm, box elder, mulberry, poplars, Bradford pear, Norway maple, tree of heaven, mimosa, empress tree, and willows. Characteristics that make some trees “undersirable” include: weak wood prone to frequent breakage, always dropping large quantities of debris, shallow roots that damage lawns and pavement, often infested with diseases or insects specific to the tree species or being an invasive species by prolific reseeding in the landscape.”

2. Quick Action May Save Money

  • Not all cases
  • May be easier as well
  • Consider professional tree care companies

Any tree that has died, whether it has lived to a ripe old age or it has had its life taken by a disease or a pest, is going to start to be structurally unsafe. This is not something that is always apparent from the outside of the tree, or even from the top of the tree at all. Instead, the roots can start to go bad, the insides can rot, or the tree might just mask it well.

When a branch falls off or the tree does fall, you might be looking at a huge problem. The tree or branch could fall on another tree, a car, your house, a pool, a fence, or even on top of a person. The damage could be immense, and it is something that you might want to avoid.

Even more importantly, some home insurance companies will force you to get the tree removed, and you won’t have time to look for the best company to do the job. According to The Law Dictionary, “Under the terms of most homeowner’s insurance policies, homeowners are required to perform any maintenance work that’s necessary to prevent significant damage to their homes. This provision is often sweeping. In fact, homeowner’s insurance companies interpret it to cover routine maintenance tasks like storm-proofing windows as well as more complicated jobs like removing potentially dangerous trees.”

1. Contact a Professional if Tree Had Disease

  • May need special tools
  • Trees can be contagious
  • Might be a health hazard

If something just seems “off” about your tree, you might want to contact a professional tree care company. This will allow you to be certain that you aren’t spreading the illness that took your tree and that you are doing what is best for your yard. Certain illnesses are much worse than others, so you have to be sure that you aren’t dealing with something that could spread way beyond your own yard. Most importantly, you don’t want to get hurt yourself.

Sometimes, a tree care company won’t be able to handle the situation by themselves. They will have to work in conjunction with local governments, pest specialists, and even home owner’s associations if the problem is that bad. While this may seem like a lot of work, it is the easiest and best way to handle bad situations.

According to Tree Help, “Large trees should be removed by a professional as guide ropes and mechanical equipment may be required for removing large limbs before felling. If a tree is being removed due to interference with utility lines, you should contact your local utility company.”

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 helping with dead tree removal – whether it has fallen or you need it cut down. 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 work with you to remove dead trees.

Header photo courtesy of bluesbby on Flickr!

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!