Tree Care Services of Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR

Tree Care

Best Time to Prune 5 Common Trees in Vancouver, WA

By AK Timber

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

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

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

5. Douglas Fir: Early Spring, If Necessary

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

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

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

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

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

4. Japanese Red Pine: Winter

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

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

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

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

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

3. English Laurel: Late Spring or Early Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Weeping Willow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Header photo courtesy of Maarten Heerlien on Flickr!

5 Common Tree Diseases in Vancouver, WA

By AK Timber

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

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

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

5. Swiss Needle Cast

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

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

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

4. Sudden Oak Death

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

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

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

3. Bronze Birch Borer

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

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

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

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

2. Black Pineleaf Scale

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

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

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

1. Blister Rust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Header photo courtesy of Mike Maguire on Flickr!