Tree Care Services of Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR

What You Need To Know About Tree Fertilization In Vancouver, WA

By AK Timber

Fertilizing your trees may not seem like something you need to do, but it is actually an essential activity for someone living in Vancouver. Tree fertilization has many benefits that go beyond just your trees – it can help to keep the rest of your yard safe as well.

Tree fertilization is something that you want to take seriously – do not do it yourself. The application methods, tools, chemicals, and timing all matter to ensure that there is maximum impact. Even so, there are some things you should learn for yourself to make a decision about whether tree fertilization is right for your Vancouver, WA yard.

Why Should I Fertilize My Trees?

Credit: USDA
  • Helps fall and spring shows
  • Prevents nutrient starvation, particularly during difficult times of the year like winter
  • Can help the tree to produce more fruits

The main reason that most people choose to fertilize their trees in Vancouver, WA is because it helps their appearance. Trees that have been fertilized tend to look healthier, have fuller foliage, better color, and perform better in times of trouble.

We all know that there are difficulties during certain times of the year – summer tends to dry out trees whereas winter freezes them out. A fertilized tree can actually help the other plants and foliage in your yard as well. Sure, there are some trees that may be just fine without fertilization, but most people shouldn’t take that risk. Trees are just too important.

According to the University of Missouri, fertilization won’t solve every problem that your trees can have, but it can help to make them stronger to withstand problems that do emerge over a tree’s lifespan.

Should All Trees Be Fertilized?

Credit: Anika Malone
  • Not all trees need to be fertilized
  • Most trees will benefit from fertilization
  • Testing can conclude whether or not a tree should be fertilized

Of course, there are certain trees that will benefit from fertilization and certain trees that actually need it in order to survive.

Tree Help summarizes best: ” Trees growing in their natural habitat should have access to all of the minerals they need to survive and grow.  Anything you can do to mimic that habitat can reduce the need for fertilizer.  This may include letting leaves remain on the ground in the fall instead of raking them up.  Chances are, though, that despite your best efforts, the need for fertilizer will not be entirely eliminated.”

Essentially – you are doing something good for your tree when you use fertilizer, no matter what kind of fertilizer you use.

Should I Fertilize At A Specific Times?

  • In general, spring or fall fertilization is best
  • It all depends on the type of tree that you have
  • Sometimes you may have to fertilize more than once per year

Certain plants and trees need fertilizer at specific times. This is when their roots are most ready to absorb the nutrients within the fertilizer. Usually, roots are ready when they are growing and the soil is moist. For most trees, this is during the early spring and early summer, according to Clemson.

You do not want to fertilize during a drought, despite the fact that you think it will help your trees. If there is no water present, the plants will not be able to absorb the nutrients.

If you are going to apply fertilizer to other trees or your grass, you want to try to do everything around the same time so that they are not competing to get the nutrients.

Of course, there are some other great times to fertilize, like when you first plant a tree or if there is something specific happening that will stress out the tree.

Will Any Fertilizer Work?

  • There are specific fertilizers that work better than others
  • It may depend on the type of tree that you have
  • Soil testing can help you understand what will work best

The key to properly fertilizing the trees, shrubs, and bushes in your yard is to ensure that you use the right kind of fertilizer. Not all fertilizers are created equally. Some are specially formulated to match with certain fertilizers. These fertilizers can help to do many things – they can match with specific areas, specific types of trees, or specific problems. It is best to talk to a tree care professional to help you determine what your trees need.

For the science of it, the University of Massachusettes explains: “Basic plant nutrition involves the uptake of sixteen mineral elements essential to plant growth. In addition to carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which are obtained from air and water, the elements nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are required in greatest abundance. Research in woody plant nutrition has shown however that nitrogen is the element that yields the greatest growth response in trees and shrubs. For this reason, high nitrogen fertilizers with N-P-K ratios of 4-1-1, 3-1-1 or 3-1-2 are generally recommended for feeding established woody plants. These include fertilizers with analyses such as 8-2-2, 15-5-5, 24-8-16 and similar formulations. The analysis refers to % nitrogen, % phosphorus (as P2O5) and % potassium (as K2O) in the fertilizer.”

Fertilizing your trees is something that you should absolutely consider – no matter how old or young your tree is. Whether you just planted it, you are entering into an important time of year, or you are struggling to keep your tree healthy. If you aren’t sure what type of fertilizer to use, when to fertilize, or you just want what is best for your tree, reach out to a professional.

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 with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of Dick Thompson on Flickr!

Why You Should Allow A Professional To Plant Your Trees

By AK Timber

Planting trees – it seems easy, doesn’t it? It just seems like something that we should all be able to do without help. After all, you can just go to your local big box store, dig a hole in the ground, and then put in the tree, right? You cover it back up, give it some water, and it will grow strong and tall.


Planting a tree is actually an exacting science. There are so many reasons that your trees require a professional touch – and some of the reasons to seek out a professional to plant trees has nothing to do with the tree.

Let’s take a look:

Figuring Out The Best Placement

  • Tree placement can be based on your yard
  • It can also be based on the type of tree you have
  • Usually, it is a combination of the two

Where should you place your tree? So many of us have ideas about where a tree should go in your yard. We have an empty space that needs to be filled, so we think that it needs to be the home for that tree you’ve always pictured. Unfortunately, trees and mother nature often have a different idea of what the best placement for that tree is.

You have to look at so many different things – the amount of sunlight that portion of your yard gets, what the water drainage is like in that area of your yard, how many environmental toxins it will get (such as exhaust fumes from cars), how deep and wide the root systems will go, how far the branches will spread, and many, many other things. You cannot just place a tree somewhere just because you want to do it. According to Trees Are Good, you may even have to reach out to your utility companies to see if you can plant a tree in a specific place.

A professional can look at your yard and tell you where to plant a tree so that it will have the best chance for success.

Pick Trees That Work For Your Yard

  • Some trees just won’t work in your yard
  • Some trees just won’t work in our area
  • Other trees won’t work in one part of your yard, but may work in another

To start picking a tree for your yard, Better Homes & Gardens suggests looking around your neighborhood. If you don’t see anything that you particularly like, you may want to go to your local parks and wooded areas to see the trees that they have successfully grown. From there, you can narrow down trees that will work for you.

A reminder to choose sturdy trees instead of trees that grow quickly. You don’t want to have a tree that is risky in your yard – this is a lifetime relationship, and slow and steady will always win the race.

Once you choose the tree that you want, you may want to look into different varieties. Maybe you want a tree that flowers at a specific time or a tree that doesn’t require a lot of pruning – you can likely find that variety if you do a little research.

Once again, a tree care professional can help you to choose the best trees for your yard. They will be able to advise you based on your individual property, the soil in your yard, and just their own experiences.

Build A Relationship For Ongoing Maintenance

  • Can help to ensure your tree is healthy
  • You know you can trust a specific company
  • Saves you time and effort

If you contact a tree care professional for planting your trees, you are building a relationship for ongoing maintenance. Many of us prefer to work with the same people over and over again, and for good reason. We trust those people who have worked in and around our homes before. We understand that this is a delicate subject – many people don’t like to invite people into their homes. When you forge a relationship early on, you will feel more comfortable with every step of the way.

When someone knows your trees, it is likely that they will get better care, according to Mother Earth News. A tree care professional who knows your trees will be able to intuitively understand that your trees needs, what procedures will work, and how much they can do at a specific time.

Get A Plan For Tree Health

  • Understand what your tree will need
  • Get the help that will make your tree survive
  • Ensure your tree will continue to grow strong and in the right way

How can you ensure that your tree is going to be healthy and actually become a part of your yard? It isn’t going to be an easy thing to discern – you have to know about cabling, watering, fertilizing, and just general tree care.

Watering tends to be the most difficult thing to tackle.

Take it from Family Handy Man: “There’s no magic formula for how much water to give your tree in its first year, so don’t rely on a “rule of thumb” for watering. Too little water can kill a tree. But overwatering in clay soil can cause root rot, which can also kill a tree. You’ll need to water your new tree until the root system is well established. The right amount of water depends on the weather conditions, your soil and the planting site. “

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 with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of sagesolar on Flickr!

Best Shrubs For Your Portland Landscaping

By AK Timber

Shrubs are some of the most beautiful foliage that you can add to your yard – and you can get everything that you want without adding a lot of work. Whether you look for something that will add more color to your yard, something that you can move around as you see fit, or something that will just provide you with some privacy, there is a shrub for that. At the same time, shrubs can provide wildlife habitats that will bring your favorite animals into your yard, sweet fragrances to enjoy in the spring, and even help to add structure to a beautiful landscape design.

Still, it is important to know that not all shrubs look great or work great for every yard – you need to be judicious about what you get.
Here are some of our leading choices for Portland yards:

Deciduous Azaleas



  • Provides ample shade
  • Can grow extremely large
  • Requires some pruning

Many different types of azaleas fall into this category, but that provides homeowners with many options. These are some of the most beautiful shrubs you can put into your yard. According to Gardening With Charlie, you can get your choice of colors in these shrubs: Early spring in colors such as pink, salmon, yellow, white, rose and bi colors. Left alone, they will grow fairly well. If you do some basic tree care, however, you can get quite a better show each spring. This is the perfect shrub to take pictures against.

There are azaleas that won’t grow in every area, however, so it is important to understand which ones will grow in Portland and which ones won’t – it is best to talk to a professional or a specialist.




  • Does not produce seeds
  • Attracts butterflies
  • Perfect for sunny areas

A few years ago, the traditional butterfly bush was taken off the market because it was turning into too much of a nuisance for homeowners – the seeds were spreading everywhere and causing too many to pop up. Since then, the Buddleia has taken over its spot – but we cannot really call it the butterfly bush anymore.

The Old Famer’s Almanac explains further: “Despite the “butterfly” name, keep in mind that this shrub is not a “host plant” for butterflies in that it does not support butterfly reproduction and lifecycle. Caterpillars do not feed on butterfly bushes; rather, it only provides nectar to adult butterflies. If you do have a butterfly bush, be sure to add native host plants such as milkweed, aster, and dill if you want the butterflies to stay.”

Still, this is a perfect shrub for sunny areas where you want to add some truly unique color.




  • Most beautiful in winter
  • Has a purple color
  • Attracts birds

If you are ever looking into someone’s yard in the winter and see a beautiful flash of purple, it is probably because they have a Callicarpa shrub on their property. These shrubs are fairly nondescript in other seasons, but in the winter it is quite gorgeous. While it may look fancy, it is actually one of the easiest shrubs for homeowners to grow and care for on a day-to-day basis.

The Callicarpa provides shelter and food for birds in the winter. Growing up to 6 feet, it is a fairly substantial shrub that will provide shade, privacy, and security if you want it. Relatively pest and disease free, you won’t have to worry about this one too much. In fact, it is generally one of the easiest shrubs to care for, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden.




  • Also known as the American smoke tree
  • Showy in the fall months
  • Beautiful purple/green leaves

The Smoke Tree is one of those trees or shrubs that you will need to look at a few times before you really understand what is going on – the “smoke” is actually comprised of tiny, delicate flowers that are translucent. The smoke can last for some time, changing the appearance slightly as it ages.

According to Fine Gardening, “Outstanding specimens in a shrub border, Cotinus are also a great choice for massing or for hedges. They need minimal pruning to maintain a healthy framework, or alternately, may be coppiced to produce large, dramatic foliage on varieties with colorful foliage (this is at the expense of generous flowering).  C. obovatus is native to the southeast U.S.”

Philadelphus Lewisii


  • Also known as the “mock orange”
  • Provides longer interest than other shrubs
  • Quite tolerant

According to Calscape, the Philadelphus Lewisii is one of the easiest, most tolerant shrubs to grow but is also one of the most underutilized. That makes it a great choice for someone who isn’t sure about the conditions of their soil or yard. This is a shrub that does require some regular pruning to keep it looking its best, but other than that it is fairly easy. Most people do choose to plant this one in groups.

While providing privacy, this one will actually completely fragrance your yard – they are known for their sweet smell. This is certainly one of those shrubs that will reward you when you put the work in and keep it looking its best.

Adding shrubs to your yard is going to add so much to it, not only the things listed above, but shrubs have been known to create healthy ecosystems that sustain all other plants in your yard.

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 with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of crabchick on Flickr!

Best Trees For Rainy Environments

By AK Timber

Selecting a tree that is drought tolerant is important for some people, but in Vancouver, WA, it might be even more important to plant trees that can withstand wet soils and rainy climates. Why? Most people assume that the more water there is, the better everything will be – that isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, some trees truly cannot withstand the amount of rain that certain places get. They will start to rot from the inside out and eventually will die. Sometimes, the roots get to be too much for the wet soil and they can overturn.

So what can you do?

If you are looking to plant trees, the best thing you can do is plant trees that can withstand wet environments. That way, you won’t have to worry next time there is a rainstorm.

Here are our top choices:

1. River Birch

  • Grows to about 40 feet
  • Spreads about 50 feets
  • Turns beautiful colors in fall

The first tree you may want to consider is the river birch or betula nigra. This is an absolutely gorgeous tree that has pink and yellow undertones to it. It is perfect to wet soils and is fairly hardy. It was originally found on the river banks in the south, but it has spread across the country at this point. This is a favorite for many people because it is so unique – the shaggy and flaking bark (sometimes referred to as “peeling skin”) gives it a softer appearance that complements many landscapes.

When the river birch reaches maturity, it becomes especially beautiful. Naturally, it will take on a pyramid shape (and it looks even better when trimmed) with diamond shaped foliage.

According to Barcham, the tree is also the tree thrives in many different conditions – including near cities and even in more arid environments. As the climate around Vancouver continues to change, it is a great option for anyone who wants to plant a tree that will stay for a long time.

2. Swamp Oak

  • Grows to 45 feet tall
  • Spreads about 45 feet
  • Takes on a rounded appearance

The swamp oak tree is another beautiful tree that has peeling bark – this is a common thread through many of the trees that seem to thrive in wet weather. These are so popular because of the lobed, two-tone leaves that seem to attract attention. They are quite dark on the top but have a silvery-white underside that creates a lot of visual interest. In the fall, however, watch out – they are a beautiful orange-gold to yellow.

If you are looking for shade trees, these are some of the best options that you can make.

One thing to note is that while swamp oaks will take on wet soil, it should be well drained. According to the Penn State Extension, “Sloped sites are not necessarily well drained. Soils that have poor internal drainage with high clay content, or sites with high water tables may all hold too much water for trees and shrubs to survive.”

3. Shademaster Honeylocust

  • Grows to 45 feet tall
  • Spreads about 35 feet
  • Doubles as drought tolerant

If you are looking to plant a tree that grows quite quickly, the Shademaster Honeylocust is a fantastic option. It has delicate, fragrant flowers that many people will love. It has an open silhouette that doesn’t give a ton of shade if you prune it (but it can grow thick if you don’t) but does allow for plants and grass to bloom under it. Another reason so many people love it, according to Arbor Day, is because it is tolerant to wet soil, pollution, salt, and drought.

Many homeowners will choose to plant this tree because it is very easy to plant and grow, it is quite showy, and it doesn’t make a lot of dirt, which many people don’t appreciate.

As an added bonus, they tend to bring a lot of wildlife to your yard.

4. American Hornbeam

  • Can grow to 25+ feet tall
  • Spreads to 20 feet
  • Has a smooth trunk

The American hornbeam is a native tree to the Chicago area, but it adapts well to areas like ours. It is frequently used for shady landscapes or gardens. The new leaves are quite stunning, coming out in a reddish-purple color, though they will change from yellow to a fiery orange in the fall. Even in the winter, this tree is beautiful thanks to the blue-gray bark.

Homeowners use this tree for many purposes, including massing, screening, shade, and decoration. It isn’t too tall, so it looks absolutely great in smaller yards. It is important to plant this tree in the spring and note that it is difficult to transplant because it does have roots that spread quite a bit.

This is a tree that can live through a bunch of other types of soil, but it is really built for soggy areas.

According to Oregon Live, “Besides rainfall, there are other factors that can contribute to soggy soil, especially if the growing area sits on a high water table or has soil that is heavy clay or drains poorly. If that soggy area sits in a shady spot protected from winds, it may remain wet or soggy year-round. Water from higher elevations and surrounding hardscapes — streets, driveways, rooftops — may collect in a low spot in the yard, resulting in soggy soil.” This means that even if you do plant this tree, you do want to worry about some drainge. Need help determining what type of soil you have? Shorty’s Garden Center is a good place to go.

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 with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of patchattack on Flickr!

Springtime Signs Your Trees Are Unhealthy

By AK Timber

When trees are blooming in the spring, it is a great time to notice that something just isn’t right. During spring, trees are doing quite a bit of work and it is the best time to spot something that is going wrong.

Identifying something going wrong with your trees can be difficult, especially for people who don’t know a lot about trees or how they grow. Sometimes, trees will do some pretty strange things in the springtime and it is completely normal.

Since the inner workings of your tree are probably a mystery to you, it is best to learn some of the telltale signs of a bigger problem:

1. Excessive Branch Loss

  • It is normal for some branch loss
  • Too many may signal a problem
  • Look for clusters

During the winter months and as the temperature starts to warm up, trees are largely dormant. This makes it somewhat difficult to evaluate the health of the tree. During these early stages, however, there is one thing that you can spot: broken branches littering your yard. While heavy rains or strong winds will commonly bring down a few branches during this time of the year, seeing an excessive number of downed branches can signal that something is going very, very wrong.

According to Love To Know, it is important to remember that some trees are self pruning, which means that they will shed branches at a given time. This is especially true of fruit bearing trees.

2. Trees Are Leaning Suddenly

  • Largely due to other problems
  • Make sure soil is steady
  • Can sometimes be fixed

Another problem that sometimes makes itself present during the spring months is a leaning tree. Often, people chalk this up to planting the tree crooked or some soil loss. Sometimes, especially in younger trees, this can be the problem. However, older trees typically don’t have this problem unless there is something else going on.

Trees that have been weakened by diseases, infestations, or other structural problems lack the strength to keep themselves steady when the soil moves or there is a weakening in the root system. If this is the case for your tree, you may want to check for a common problem called a “lifting root plate” which, according to the University of Florida, causes most structural support problems.

3. The Leaves, FLowers, or Fruit Don’t Look Right

  • Can occur as they bloom or later on
  • Sometimes growth is slow
  • Growth may only occur near the tips

As the leaves, fruit, and flowers begin to grow in the spring, you might notice that they do not look like they used to look. This could mean that the tree has simply matured, according to the University of Arkansas OR it can mean that the tree is unhealthy. If your leaves are slow to develop, it could signal a problem or it could just be the result of a difficult season.

If there is nothing developing, it could mean that there is a portion of the tree that is dead or that the entire tree is dead. If only leaves develop but no fruit or flowers, it is a sign that the tree is not healthy and you may need to take steps to get it healthy.

In short, if a tree’s leaves, flowers, or fruit look unusual or are completely absent, you may want to have the tree inspected to see if it is healthy.

4. You Spot Fungi Growing Alongside Your Trees

  • Some fungi is okay
  • Sometimes, it can be a symptom of a significant problem
  • Can kill some weaker trees

If you have fungi (mainly mushrooms, but it can be other fungi as well) around the base of your tree, you might have a problem on your hands. These organisms can eat away at the base of your tree and your bark, which can open a pathway for other infestations and diseases. They can also be a sign that there are already parts of the tree that are dead.

It is important to remove them – but you cannot just pull them off. The Tree Center explains: “Fungi come in many shapes and sizes, with the large ones being the most conspicuous. Often a fungus is like an iceberg – what’s visible is only a small part of what’s there. If you see a mushroom or puffball you might think that’s the whole thing, but in fact it’s just a fruit. Its purpose is to grow, then scatter, the spores that will grow into more fungi, and it won’t last for long. The actual organism it’s growing from is a network of threads buried just below the surface, and this network is the feeding, growing part of the fungus. In the case of a mushroom of puffball it’s nourishing itself on decaying plant matter in the soil. Other species will be feeding on a dead, or living, tree.”

5. You Have A Lot of Shoots

  • Healthy trees have shoots too
  • But if you have too many, that’s a problem
  • Can be caused by stress, abnormalities, or pests

If you see healthy trees that grow tall, you shouldn’t see any shoots on the base of the tree. If you do see a few, it might not always be a problem. However, if you see a lot of them, it can be a signal of a bigger problem.

Love Your Landscape says that these are bad for your trees: “Those stems are called suckers, because they zap water and nutrients from the main tree. As suckers are unhealthy for trees and they are unsightly, it’s important to know how to eliminate them and when possible, how to prevent them in the first place.”

It is best to eliminate them as soon as possible.

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 with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of gailhampshire on Flickr!

3 Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Neglect Your Trees

By AK Timber

Trees are some of the most beautiful things on the face of the earth. They can be short and beautiful, with flowering buds and sweet scents or they can be tall and strong, sheltering your home from high winds, sun, and pollution. No matter what type of tree you have, you want to ensure that you take care of them. Why? A tree that is left to stand without any help can be extremely dangerous.

Now, that doesn’t always mean that your health is in danger. Sometimes, it can mean that your trees themselves are in danger. You want to ensure that you know enough about your trees to know when something is wrong with them – and then you know enough to take action as soon as possible.

By knowing your trees, and having a tree care expert on speed dial, you can avoid some of those problems. If you don’t? Here are some of the things you may face:

3. Your House Could Be Damaged

  • Falling branches do a lot of damage
  • Trees can grow into basements or outdoor fixtures
  • Certain disease or infestations can transfer to home

When trees aren’t properly taken care of, you might fail to notice that a branch has died, was broken, is infested, or has some other problem that might render the structural integrity unsafe. When there is a storm of any kind with high winds or heavy precipitation, there is a chance that the branch could break. The branch falling by itself might not seem dangerous – but if you have anything in the vicinity of the tree, then you might have a problem. Pools, hardscaping, walkways, cars, sheds, your home, people, power lines, or anything else in the way of the tree could face a problem.

It can also harm the price of your home if you are looking to sell it – trees can add a lot of worth.

According to House Logic, “A mature tree can account for as much as 10% of your assessed property value, depending on your market,” which means that you will actually be lowering the price of your property if you don’t take care of your trees.

2. It Costs More To Fix

  • Trimming and pruning takes more time
  • Need harsher chemicals to fix infestations
  • Takes much longer until the tree is beautiful again

If you have just moved into a home where the trees were neglected or you are just starting to worry about your trees, you might want to find a way to bring that tree back. The truth is that trees are extremely hardy and they should be able to come back from even the worst neglect – but that doesn’t mean that it will be easy to get them where you want to get them to be.

Sadly, neglect adds up over time. What might have started as a problem on one part of the tree might spread to another part of the tree quite quickly. When your problems compound, you will have to go through more steps to get it healthy again. We tend to think that it is worth it.

Sometimes, you will be able to save your tree. It will cost money to save it, unfortunately. That is why we recommend seeking the help of a professional that will find the best ways to fix your problem.

The Impatient Farmer warns that, “In other circumstances, however, you may want to remove [the tree]. Trees that are weak and prone to breakage pose a hazard to property, people, and animals. Those with shallow roots can cause lawn damage. Trees infested by disease or insects may pass on their infestations to neighboring trees. Trees that are 50% or more damaged usually should be removed.”

1. You Could Kill Your Tree

  • Young trees need the most help
  • Sometimes leaving your tree be is helpful
  • Still, you need to know what your tree looks like healthy

If you neglect your tree for too long, there is a chance that it will die. Trees are living things and if something does go wrong, they will need help to feel better and stand as strong as they once did. It is especially important to monitor your trees in the winter months and during the spring, when they are doing the most work.

It is also important that you take care of your tree after you do any work on it, when you have any visible problems, and right after the tree was planted in your yard. It doesn’t take long to look over them – just do a few laps around your yard.

Remember, Canopy explains why you need to be careful when you plant the tree: “The first five years are critical for the long-term health of a tree. Proper watering, pruning, and other tree care will ensure a healthy, mature tree and drastically reduce future maintenance costs.” Make sure never to neglect a tree once you plant it, as this is the most important period.

Taking care of your trees is something that you need to do, whether you have a potted tree in your living room or a high standing tree in your yard. It just doesn’t make sense not to take care of them – they are a part of your life and do enough to help you breathe clean air.

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 with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of mark byzewski on Flickr!

4 Signs Your Tree Needs Trimming

By AK Timber

Your trees are living, breathing things and sometimes they need to be taken care of properly. Whether you think about it like a haircut, something necessary to make your trees healthy or like getting a manicure, something that makes your trees look beautiful, you need to allow your tree to get these little luxuries. Much like split ends or nail ridges, your tree gives off signals that it is time to get some work done.

Trees don’t always give off subtle hints that something needs to happen, but that doesn’t mean people respond in the best ways. Too often, they try to take care of their trees by themselves when, in reality, they need a professional to help them. If you do it yourself, you might cause even more damage and spread the reason the tree needs pruning in the first place.

Here are four signs your tree is ready for a trimming:

4. Branches Are Crossing

  • Biggest sign that a tree isn’t taken care of properly
  • One of the branches (at least) needs to go
  • Rubbing needs to be taken seriously

If you don’t take care of your trees properly, one of the biggest tells that we see is the crossing of branches. This is when branches grow so closely together that they rub and cross, wearing away at each of them. If you see this, you absolutely need to cut at least one of the branches and then treat the one that remains, especially if there are any wounds.

According to Texas A&M, you have to be extremely careful about when and where you make these cuts. Doing something at even the slightly wrong angle can open up your tree to many diseases and infestations. After these branches have been pruned and trimmed, you need to take care of them like you would any other wound.

3. You Have A Lot Of Deadwood

  • A sign that tree is near death
  • Decay sets in quite quickly
  • The tree might need to be removed

One of the most obvious signs that you need to take care of your tree and have a professional come in to prune it is that it has deadwood. No, not like the television show but like wood that is rotting and decaying away. This is a cry for help from your tree and requires immediate action.

Check your tree to see if it is actually dead. According to The Spruce, you can do this yourself: “Just beneath the outer layer of every branch and twig is the cambium, a thin green layer. It is green in every season, even winter, but it turns brown when the plant dies. This is the most decisive way to test young wood, with an outer layer thin enough for you to scratch with pruners, a knife, or your fingernail on the youngest wood. On old branches with thick bark, you may need to slowly use a saw or another method of checking the wood.”

If you think that there is deadwood, it doesn’t mean that it is the end for your tree. Instead, professional trimming can save its life. Once again, you need to act quickly. This is not a time to drag your feet.

2. The Leader Branch Is Dead

  • The main branch of the tree dies
  • There may be more than one leader branch
  • Pruning may make your tree more viable

Many trees have what we call a leader branch, which is one of the main branches at the stem of the tree. There can be quite a few leader branches or there can be one. When a tree has more than one, the branches will compete for dominance and that can cause problems.

You need to prune your tree so that you only have one leader branch and the rest of the tree will be healthy.

If you only have one leader and it dies, pruning the tree might help it to survive. You can help a new leader emerge if you know what you are doing, but it requires quite a practiced hand. This isn’t something you can do yourself. According to Gardener’s Path, you may have to wait out the new leader, but one should emerge in an otherwise healthy tree.

1. Tree Is Misshapen

  • Helps to keep certain trees small
  • Will keep trees from growing wildly
  • Reduces weight

Just like everything else, trees sometimes need a little trim just to look their best.

According to the Heritage Arborculture Center, “Regular tree management maintains the health of the tree and provides a more distinct environment. Recommended works will depend on many factors including whether there are any nearby hazards, evidence of decay or disease, species etc,” but the biggest reason to trim a tree is because it is misshapen and that causes problems throughout all stages of the tree’s life.

Of course, it will also help to give your trees more of a uniform look that most homeowners really want.

Misshapen trees are more likely to have health problems, more likely to fall during storms, and are even less likely to recover from any problems that emerge. It is just part of a healthy life for 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 to watering. Of course, we can also help you with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of Scott Costello on Flickr!

Don’t Blow Leaves Onto Your Neighbors Property and Other Rules

By AK Timber

Whether you like your neighbors or you are mortal enemies, tree care is something that we have to work together for – no matter what your relationship is. Trees are beautiful and if anything can bring you together with someone that you have nothing in common with other than a property line, they can. For most of us, trees are just a beautiful part of your yards. However, some people find that they do fight over their trees.

Whether it is falling leaves, trees pests, branches that fell, or a large branch overhanging your garage, tree care can sometimes cause some pretty big arguments. A good neighbor can be extremely helpful with tree care, but a bad one can make you start questioning what your rights and responsibilities are as a homeowner. Even if you have a good neighbor, fights over trees can quickly turn sour.

That is why you need to know what your responsibilities are, what their responsibilities are, and where you can take control. Here are some rules to follow for neighborly tree care:

4. You Own What Is On Your Side of the Property

  • You can trim the overhanging part of the tree
  • The tree belongs to the property where the trunk falls
  • You can only trim to the property line

If your neighbor has a tree that is right near the property line and is causing problems for you, or even if you just don’t like the looks of it, you can cut it in most places. In some counties, this isn’t the case so if you don’t get along with your neighbor, you can always check local rules for the full details. If you can trim the tree, it is important to know that you can only go as far back as over the property line, if you go any further, it is a problem.

If you have the opposite problem and a tree that is in your yard overhangs your neighbor’s yard, you can cut that back as well – and you should, just to make sure that everything is handled properly.

According to FindLaw,  “As a general rule a property owner who trims an encroaching tree belonging to a neighbor can trim only up to the boundary line and must obtain permission to enter the tree owner’s property, unless the limbs threaten to cause imminent and grave harm. A property owner cannot cut the entire tree down and cannot destroy the structural integrity or the cosmetic symmetry and appeal of a tree by improper trimming.”

3. Can I Harvest From My Neighbors?

  • You can eat fruit from the tree after it falls
  • Air rights do not have a place here
  • You must clean up fruit even if you do not eat it

Something that many of us learned as children is that many people are protective of their trees and shrubs, whether they are apple trees or berry trees. The eternal question is this: who actually owns that fruit? According to ABC News, someone can be arrested for theft if they just pick fruit off of someone’s tree without their permission beforehand.

If the fruit falls onto your property, on the other hand, you can pick it up and eat it – but you might want to check it for any pests that are quick to attack. Of course, it is important to know that sometimes fruit will fall onto your property and your neighbor will come over to get it – and that is actually illegal.

2. You Can’t Blow Leaves Onto Your Neighbor’s Property

  • Wherever the leaves fall, that is the property owner who has to eliminate them
  • You cannot dump the leaves on someone else’s property either, even if a majority of them fall on your yard
  • The tree owner has no claim to the leaves

No one really wants to spend their Saturdays and Sundays raking leaves when they worked all week long. Raking them into a few piles is fun, but doing the work to get them out of gardens or putting them into trash bags gets old very quickly. For people who don’t have many trees in their yards, they sometimes wonder where all of those leaves come from – and they get angry.

However, if leaves or other debris fall onto your property, they are yours to eliminate. After all, probably a few leaves leave your yard as well. You have to clean up everything on your property and dispose of it properly (meaning not on someone else’s side). One of the main reasons for this is that it is hard for anyone to really determine where a leaf comes from – or who it belongs to.

According to Home Guides, you might want to rake your leaves in your neighbor’s yard if they are older or cannot do it themselves – just to keep up the relationship.

1. Pests Require Teamwork

  • Tree owner has the responsibility of pests
  • Spraying sometimes ruins other areas of the yard
  • Contact a professional in many cases

Many people don’t have problems with their neighbors until they see that they are spraying poisonous materials into the air. If you see this, it is in your family’s best interests to maybe talk about other options. As the reverse, you want to do the same thing for your neighbors.

However, we need to take care of pests as they come, so what should you do? Mostly, your neighbor will have to take care of his trees and you will have to take care of your own. However, sometimes you will have to work together to eliminate the problem. The best thing to do is talk to each other to try to work through it.

For many places, infestations need to be tackled and if your neighbor isn’t willing, you can contact the local government, according to AVVO.

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 with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of lns1122 on Flickr!

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!