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What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Their Aging Trees
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Environmental Issues, Ponds and Watergardens, Outdoor Interest

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What Every Homeowner Needs To Know About Their Aging Trees

Just getting Started.  Program was Feb 24th.  I plan to post some photos and links.

      If you would like to Skip the Introduction and go to a given topic, then click the highlighted links Listed
      Whats Next conerning Aging Trees, below is the Introduction
      Help for Condominiums and institutions with tree issues, especially large numbers of trees
      List of Books and Authors to learn more about pruning trees
      Does English Ivy Harm Trees?

February 28, 2016
Below, is the introduction about the program What Every Homeowner Needs To Know About Their Aging Trees.  The actual program was given exactly one Year ago. I really do not intend to write everything about the program and one hopefully soon, the edited video will be on this site.  Meanwhile the emphasis of the program was what the homeowner should look for concerning his or her trees.  Directly below is the list:  What you should look for and understand about the trees that you have.

Since this program was designed to give homeowners information, I started by saying I want to help you become a tree diagnostician.

1.  Get A Camera:  You will likely live in your home for twenty or thirty years.  You need to document some of the things about your tree as a permanent record.  Read More Camera

2.  Buy or borrow some Binoculars.  You would be amazed at how much more you can observe.  There are many tale- tale signs that become visible with binoculars.  Read More Binoculars

3. Get a Magnifying Glass  10 to 16 power.  You will often find insects or fungi and being able to observe such things in detail. Read More  Magnifying glass

4.  Get out your Hammer or Rubber Mallet.  The purspose of either of these tools is to tap the trunk to see if is hallow.  Either works, but the mallet will do less harm to the tree. Read More Mallet

5 Get a Measuring Tape (cloth or fabric is good for measuring trees}.  Sometime you can get a cloth tape that will read in diameter as well as circumference which can be handy if you have lots of trees to measure.  Read More Tape

5.  Have a good strong sharp pocket knife.  Read More Sharp Knife

6.  Get a long screw driver or metal rod  3 feet long   Read More Metal Rod

7.  Have access to a Sharp Shooter Shovel Read More Shovel

8  And a Hand Trowel  Read More Trowel


For some time the board of the Myers Park Homeowners Association (MPHA) has been discussing tree issues, especially falling trees.  We thought it would be appropriate to put together a program for our members.  We also realized that we might just have a dozen people show up.  We then decided to make the program available to anyone who wanted to attend.  I started to advertise the program by sending a flyer to other neighborhood associations in Charlotte.  The major neighborhoods were readily available with a quick Google search.  Unfortunately, some of the less well organized neighborhood associations were difficult to find.

During my working career, I was an active member of the National Arborists Association (now TCI), The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), and Past President of the America Society of Consulting Arborist (ASCA).  As a member of the MPHA Board, I volunteered to develop the program and make the presentation.

We asked for preregistration simply so we could figure out how many people were interested.  Registrations started flowing in between one to three a day all the way up to 6:00 PM of the night of the meeting.  We had a packed room 140 seats set up additional stacks of chairs to be set out if needed.  Although this is not an exact count, all seats were filled and people stood along the back hall of the room.  We estimate there were 170 attendees which pleased us very much.

I presented the program, and do not intend to do it “live” again.  I am 76, retired and there are other things I prefer to do. A friend of mine Frank Schwartz owns a company called LEC Media and has Video Taped the program.  It is our intent to post it on this web site (,  the, and sites.

What’s Next:
The video tape will be completed a month or so down the road (still coming just delayed for lots of reasons).  As in any presentation, there are many things that can not be covered.  In this case there were time restrains because people lose interest after about 45 minutes, and there were several issues that were too complex to address.   What I hope to do here is bring up some of the topics and also respond to some of the questions asked after the meeting.

List of Books and Authors:
To start with someone asked me for a list of books about trees and pruning etc.
Some big time authors about trees are Richard Harris, Nelda Methany, and Jim Clark.  Collectively they have written many articles and books. They might be a little deep and more than the average homeowner will want to read.

One of my favorite persons on trees is Dr. Edward Gilman at the University of Florida.  I partly say that because some of his articles are on the Internet and free to download.  He has lots of fact sheets on trees and here is a link to just one.
(I suppose you will have to cut and paste the link above. I don’t know why it won’t show as a hot link).

In preparing for my program, I downloaded a very excellent article by Dr. Ed Gilman, but I see that he collaborated with Brian Kempf, Nelda Matheny, and Jim Clark.  This is a 6 page article and anyone wanting to understand pruning concepts should read it. 

There are many authors and articles about pruning and related tree topics.  I encourage you to search the Internet.

 Help for Condominiums and Others Who Have a Large Number of Trees:
I would have liked to address this in the program, but it was one of the topics that did not make the cut.  It is very important and besides the other things I mentioned about mapping the trees, photographing them etc., this would seem overwhelming.  There are several site mapping programs that can make the job easier.  One program I looked at was called Urban Forest Metrix.  The program has lots of features and is probably more expensive than most condos would care for.  Colleges, and other institutions with lots of trees might want to check it out.

Here are a few of the features of Urban Forest Metrix:  You have the program in your portable IPad and go up to a tree. The program locates the tree by GPS and marks it on the map.  Take a photo or several, make notes species, on condition and move to the next tree.  Again the new tree is located on your map and you do the same routine with photos and the other stuff it ask for.  This would mean that with the right attention to detail on the individual trees, one could develop a pretty detailed map that can be recalled in the future and help develop a maintenance plan for the trees.

My understanding is that the master program might be owned by one of the tree services or tree consultants who is in the business and in your area.  There is a smaller version that they sells or rents (not sure which) to institutions and much of the raw data is put in by one of the individuals at the condominium or university.  Then that material is analyzed by the consultant who helps make sense of the data and implement a program.

Other Mapping Programs:
There are some other programs out there that are available.  If this interest you, then try Googling  Programs for tree inventory  I found quite a few, some of which might fill your needs.  Also, I would check with local tree service companies and see what they have to offer.  Charlotte Arborists Association

Some of the Questions asked at the end of the Program on February 24th:

English Ivy:
There seemed to be quite a few persons interested in what I thought about English ivy and letting it grow up a tree. I have some strong opinions about that.  First of all it is an invasive species and once it goes aerial it produces seed.  As long as ivy stayed on the ground it might not be a problem, but ones it goes up something like a wall or a tree and develops vertical height,  it produces seeds which are then carried everywhere by birds etc.

First it obscures the trunk so one can’t see any issues like holes or decay at the base.  Secondly, it grows about 8 feet a year and soon will get to the limbs of the tree.

We used to have a customer who thought it looked great on the trunk, and he paid us every year to come and go up on 30 foot ladders and take the new growth off the trunk.  It was costly, and I don’t think my men liked doing it at all.  It is pretty dangerous working from a high ladder and the terrain underneath is not stable for a ladder.

Once the ivy gets in to the canopy, it grows out the limbs and will choke out the leaves of the tree which can kill the tree outright.

Probably the biggest objection is at this point it has increased the leaf surface of the canopy and trees can really build up a lot of ice during freezing weather.  I remember one customer who had dozens of tall ivy filled pine tree.  We had an ice storm and the pines snapped off mid-trunk. With a compromised root system, tree also could fall.

About Cankerworms:
I purposely did not include a discussion about fall cankerworms in the program for two reasons.  One, is that I could have spent the entire 47 minutes doing that.  There are other pages on this site that deal extensively with this issue.  The second reason is that I do not feel that the cankerworm is as great a problem as we are lead to believe.

Healthy Tree
If your tree or trees are generally healthy, and we have a growing season here that is at least three to four weeks longer in both the Spring and the Fall than trees growing in Pennsylvania or New York State.  I have carefully looked for trees that have been totally defoliated and watched them put on new leaves in 13 to 15 days after defoliation.  If you look at the growth rings on this willow oak you will see how much larger they are during the early years of the trees life than at the end when the when the growth rings are getting smaller.

I would rather see some of that money spent on cankerworms  be devoted to proper maintenance of the trees.  hundreds of miles of tar paper and Bug Barrier, and tons of Tanglefoot are in our landfill areas right now and will probably take hundreds of years to breakdown.

I suspect many people will disagree with me on this subject, so just consider this my opinion.  I will continue to track the cankerworm infestations in Charlotte.  Knowing when they first appear in the fall and when they hatch in the trees in the Spring is useful information. More on Cankerworms Here.

It is true if you have a very weak tree that is not putting on much new wood every year and in general has lots of problems, then you don’t want to damage the tree further.  You should band that tree or otherwise treat it.

Flash Message from City Arborist about Cankerworms:
I received a message yesterday evening that we should be taking down our cankerworm traps.  That is because there is an insect that will devour the cankerworm larvae when they hatch.  Don Mc Sween says that these Fiery      Beetle are here naturally and not imported.

Here is his message. This is a reminder to start removing your bands to allow for the Fiery Searcher Beetle. This is a “caterpillar gobbler” that will eat over 200 caterpillars a day. The Larvae of this beetle also eats caterpillars. The reason for taking down the bands is that the adult (shown above) will climb the trees in search of its delectable meal.
I have entered some helpful information about the Fiery Searcher Beetle here

Enough for now. March 10, 2015

If you have questions that pertain to the program presented on February 24, 2015 send me an email and I will attempt to answer it.