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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!

5 Reasons Bark Is Falling Off Of Your Trees

By AK Timber

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

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

5. Thin bark

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

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

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

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

4. Environmental Causes

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

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

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

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

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

3. Insect Infestation

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

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

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

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

2. The tree is exfoliating itself

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

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

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

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

1. Tree is Dying

  • Extreme peeling
  • Happens after overlooked diseases
  • Extreme cases

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

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

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

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

Header photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski  on Flickr!

Vancouver Winter Preparedness Checklist

By AK Timber

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

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

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

4. Secure Yourself From The Cold Weather Outside

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

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

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

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

3. Winterize All Buildings

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

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

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

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

2. Make Sure Your Equipment is in Position

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

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

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

1. Check out Your Trees

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

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

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

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

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

Header photo courtesy of June Marie on Flickr!

Major Signs and Symptoms of Tree Stress

By AK Timber

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

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

4. Sudden Oak Death Has Taken Your Tree

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

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

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

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

3. There Are Pests Lurking About Your Tree

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

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

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

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

2. Your Tree Has Soft Spots

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

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

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

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

1. The Tree Doesn’t Belong Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

Header Photo Courtesy of paul bica on Flickr!

Getting Rid of Ants Near Your Vancouver Trees

By AK Timber

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

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

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

4. Peppermint Oil

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

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

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

3. Sprinkle Pepper

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

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

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

2. Flood Ant Hills

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

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

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

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

1. Contact a Tree Expert

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

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

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

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

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

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

Header Photo Courtesy of Sancho McCann on Flickr!

How to Stake a Tree Properly

By AK Timber

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

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

Follow this procedure for the best results:

5. Figure Out If You Need to Stake the Tree

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

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

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

4. Nursery Delivery

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

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

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

3. Use the Trunk to Measure

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

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

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

2. Tie the Tree

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

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

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

1. How Long to Keep Your Tree Staked

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

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

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

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

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

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

Header photo courtesy of CIAT on Flickr!

4 Ways to Identify Tree Fungi in Vancouver, WA

By AK Timber

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

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

4. Wounds that Don’t Heal

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

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

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

3. Yard Moisture

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

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

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

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

2. Spots on Trunk, Branches, or Leaves

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

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


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

1. Mushrooms

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

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

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

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

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

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

Header Photo Courtesy of Nicholas A. Tonelli on Flickr!