Checklist for tree care
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find a variety of trees and
shrubs, garden supplies and lawn-care products
at Costco and on Costco.com.
PLANTING A TREE beauti;es
parks, streets and backyards,
and it’s also great for the environment. Many cities and counties in the U.S. have programs
in place to encourage and
assist residents in selecting
and planting trees in or around
their properties. Some include
a consultation with an arborist.
Here are a few to consider: ; www.urbanforestproject.com ;Friends of the Urban Forest,
fuf.net ; treepittsburgh.org ; www.altamonte.org/index.
aspx?NID=521 ; switchitprovo.com/
trees-for-conservation ; ourgreenmiami.wordpress.com ; greenseattle.org ; www.treepeople.org/
forestry-programs ; www.minneapolismn.gov/
WCMS1P-080826 ; www.milliontreesnyc.org/
Plant a tree can identify and mitigate problems before they
become overwhelming. Being proactive saves
money and time, and keeps your plants healthy too.
Timing your landscaping needs
So, how o;en should you call in the experts to
revisit your landscape needs?
That depends on your yard, says Collier.
Someone with a small plot and only a few trees will
have needs di;erent from those of a homeowner on
a larger lot with many trees. Someone who needs
help building up their soil will require a plan di;erent from the plan for a person dealing primarily
with drainage issues.
;e age and condition of your trees and shrubs
will also dictate the type of care plan you put in
place. “Sometimes trees and shrubs need to be managed and shaped to eliminate low-hanging branches
or structurally weak limbs,” says Donnelly.
Pruning tips for trees and shrubs
As a general rule, a tree should be pruned three
times in the ;rst 10 years of its life, and that could be
as simple as ;ve to 10 well-placed pruning cuts each
time. Shrubs are more individual, and treatment will
depend to a large extent on whether you want to let
them grow naturally or whether you want to shape
them to perform a particular function such as acting
as a hedging screen.
Conversely, mature trees come with their own
set of requirements. Most arborists agree that maintaining the health of mature trees is extremely
worthwhile, though they also say it’s important to
hire someone who is particularly knowledgeable to
prolong and maintain their life.
Trees and shrubs play an integral role in a
healthy environment; they’re beautiful, and when it
comes time to sell your house, treed landscapes
fetch more money than non-treed yards. Why not
care for them, asks Collier: “You do furnace maintenance and you paint your house, so why wouldn’t
you protect your asset and give the same regular
care and attention to your trees and shrubs?” C
Laura Langston lives and gardens in the Paci;c
Northwest and is caretaker of many shrubs and trees,
including eight heirloom pear trees.
;Pick the right tree for your area.
There are many regional differences,
and that’s where a certi;ed arborist can
help, particularly if you want to grow a
tree that’s borderline for your zone. ; Keep grass, rocks and waterproof
colored mulches away from the tree
drip line (the drip line is the maximum
extent where branch drips fall). Instead,
spread partially composed wood chip
mulch around the base of the tree to
the drip line to create a healthy environ-
ment for tree roots. ; Do regular inspections. Check for
obvious signs of insects and diseases,
and look at the structural condition of
the tree. Is it growing in such a way
that might cause problems to other
limbs, or nearby trees or buildings? ;Plant properly. Follow the planting
directions for individual trees. Many
trees are planted too deeply. Always
remove the wire basket and burlap from
the root ball, and inspect the root ball
before planting. ; Leave tree climbing to the profes-
sionals, practice good pruning tech-
niques and be aware of what’s current.
“Pruning practices of 20 years ago are
outdated,” says Terrill Collier, a certi;ed arborist and plant healthcare consultant, “but arborists are trained in the
latest techniques and tree treatments.” ; Natural is always better. Trees
and shrubs have grown naturally in
the forest for centuries; mimicking that
natural environment is best. That said,
when a beloved plant is sick, intervention is sometimes needed. For that,
seek expert advice.—LL
Tips for hiring
ALWAYS HIRE AN arborist who is qualified,
experienced and familiar with trees and
shrubs in your area. Look for a certified arborist, ideally one who belongs to a professional
organization, such as the International Society
of Arboriculture, the Tree Care Industry
Association or the American Society of
Consulting Arborists. Arborists belonging
to professional organizations will have met
specific eligibility requirements and, in most
cases, will have passed an exam. Some are
required to take continuing education to
recertify every few years.
Always check references, ask for proof
of insurance (personal injury and property
damage) and try to visit a garden or site
where the arborist has worked previously.
Be cautious of tree services that go
door-to-door soliciting business and offering
cut-rate prices. And avoid any arborist who
recommends “topping” to control a tree’s
height. That kind of radical cutting results
in weak regrowth and often leaves large
open wounds that may become diseased.
Finally, look for an arborist with whom
you’re on the same wavelength. “If you
understand what they’re saying and you
agree with their approach, that’s the person
you want,” says Chris Donnelly, director
and past president of the Connecticut Tree