A Cut Above Tree Service – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why and when should I prune my trees?

Most pruning to remove weak, diseased or dead limbs can be accomplished at any time during the year without negative impact on the tree. Pruning, as a general rule, should take place before the spring growth flush; then, growth will be maximized and wound closure fastest. Some trees, such as maples and birches, tend to “bleed” if pruned early in the spring. It may be unsightly, but it is of little consequence to the tree.
Heavy pruning just after the spring growth flush should be avoided. At that time, trees have just expended a great deal of energy to produce foliage and removal of a large amount of foliage can stress the tree.

A few tree diseases can be spread when pruning wounds allow spores access into the tree; susceptible species should not be pruned during these periods. If you have questions on if your tree is susceptible or other questions about pruning, give us a call.

What is the difference between pruning, topping and “dead wooding” a tree?

Tree pruning, thinning, and/or deadwooding are recommended (and often necessary) to promote the life and beauty of your trees. Pruning is done to avoid obstruction and to maintain the safety and aesthetic of your trees. Your trees can also be thinned through the selective removal of branches to increase air movement and light penetration through the crown – which opens the tree’s foliage, reduces its weight, and helps maintain the tree’s natural shape. Deadwooding is the professional removal of dead, dying or diseased branches from the crown of your tree.
Per the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA, the governing body), we do NOT top trees. “Tree topping” is perhaps the most harmful known practice to trees. It is detrimental to the health and safety of your trees and can reduce your property value. If another tree company offers to “top” your trees, kick them off of your property! For more information, visit: treesaregood.org

When should I prune my fruit trees?

When you regularly prune fruit trees, you ensure sunlight reaches all parts of the tree. As a result, you get more, higher-quality fruit. The best time of year to prune your fruit trees is when they are dormant, usually December through early February.

Can I prune my neighbor’s tree if it is hanging over into my yard?

While state law establishes guidelines, city ordinances can sometimes supersede the state law. The common factor in all city ordinances are that the tree must be causing property damage or a problem, not a nuisance. Leaves in your yard or shading your garden is not a problem; it is a nuisance.

The legal ramifications for violating a city ordinance can be very expensive. It is always best to check with an arborist trained in understanding the city ordinance and laws before pruning your neighbor’s tree without permission.

What diseases and insects are prevalent in the Treasure Valley that could impact my tree’s health?

We live in an ever-changing climate, and new insects are migrating into the Treasure Valley. Changes in weather patterns also mean that we are seeing tree diseases that are not common to the Treasure Valley. Our professionals are experienced in diagnosing and treating a wide variety of tree insect and disease maladies. Below is a short synopsis of some of the most common.
• Dutch Elm’s Disease (DED). Caused by the sac fungi and spread by elm bark beetles. With DED, the tree attempts to block the fungus spread by plugging its own xylem tissue. The xylem delivers nutrients and water to the tree, and thus this prevents water and nutrients from travelling up the trunk of the tree, eventually killing it. The first sign of infection is usually yellowing and withering of upper leaves in the summer, months before normal color changes in the fall. This progressively spreads to the rest of the tree, with further dieback of branches.
• Iron chlorosis. Iron chlorosis is the yellowing of leaves caused by an iron deficiency. Possible causes include poor drainage, damaged or compacted roots, high alkalinity, and nutrient deficiencies in the plant. These deficiencies could be from an insufficient about of nutrients in the soil or from a high pH in the soil, otherwise known as alkaline soil. If affected, the leaves of your plant may turn yellowish-green, or very commonly, they turn yellow between the veins, but the veins remain green. Treatment options include giving your plants good growing conditions, ensuring good drainage, and adjusting the soil pH. Please note that many factors can cause leaves to become chlorotic, so it is important that before assuming the problem is lack of iron, you have the problem professionally diagnosed.
• Aphids. Aphids are tiny, pear shaped insects of almost any color. They feed by sucking fluid from the tree, usually attaching in groups to the underside of leaves or on young buds and shoots. As they feed, they release a liquid called “honey dew”. So when you see tree leaves dripping sap, the usual cause is aphids. If left unaddressed, these can cause serious stress and lead to disease in your trees.

• Japanese beetle. These flying pests emerge and attack plants from mid-June to August, eating away chunks of tree leaves and flowers. Japanese beetles particularly like to feast on the crape myrtle, birch, crabapple, purple leaf plum, Japanese maple, Norway maple, weeping cherry and ornamental cherry.

• Ash borer. Ash borers can have partially transparent wings like other clear wing moths and pester ash and lilac trees. They lay their eggs in the tree’s bark and the larvae feed by chewing into the sapwood. You may spot ash borer damage to your trees through crown dieback; random sprouting as the tree tries to grow new branches and leaves wherever it can; bark splitting; D or L-shaped emergence holes, and actual spotting of the larvae and/or adults.

• Spiraling whitefly. This pest is similar in appearance to a small moth. It feeds off many types of plants including palms, Birds of Paradise shrubs, and ornamentals. You will know if the spiraling whitefly has invaded your yard if you spot the underside of plant leaves covered with white, waxy material, and the top of the leaves covered with black mold. Although the spiraling whitefly often does not kill health, large trees – it can be detrimental to small, newly planted or unhealthy trees.

• Broad Spectrum Phytophthora. Meaning “plant destroyer”, these species are capable of causing large scale damage to all types of trees and crops. In fact, one species of phytophthora caused the great Irish potato blight! Many ornamental trees and shrubs are susceptible to Phytophthora –and can develop root and crown rot. Leaves will appear drought stressed, sometimes turning dull green, yellow, red, or purple as they wilt. Root rot particularly develops if the soil around the base of the plant remains wet for long periods of time.

• Anthracnose. Anthracnose is caused by fungus and requires moisture for development – thus cool, wet weather often promotes its development. Your trees may develop dark, water soaked spots on stems, leaves or fruit.

• Fire blight. Typically impacting pome fruit and related plants, fire blight can destroy entire trees or shrubs. Fire blight can be spotted through cankers that exude tan, watery ooze. The ooze turns dark when exposed to air, streaking branches and trunks. Dead, blackened leaves and fruit cling to branches giving it a scorched appearance, hence the name “fire blight”. This bacteria can extend into root systems and severely disfigure or kill trees.

• Frost damage. Although not an insect-carried nuisance, the sudden harsh winter conditions we experienced in the Treasure Valley has led to damage and death of several species of trees. The types of trees that were most affected include stone fruit trees (cherry, apricot, plum and peach), as well as English walnut, willow, eastern white pine, maple and hibiscus. You’ve likely seen trees with frost damage as you’ve driven around the valley – canopies that are dead or attempted to leaf out, then wilted or never grew properly. If you have to remove your frost damaged trees, we recommend replacing them to maintain the health and stability of your yard and to continue experiencing the many benefits of trees. You may want to replace them with a heartier variety.

For any insect or disease diagnosis, it is wise to talk to one of our experts, who can confirm diagnosis and recommend potential treatment(s) for the health and life of your tree.

How do you diagnose and treat tree disease or insect infestation?

Tree diagnosis is done via onsite consultation (this is not an estimate, this is a consultation). Most disease and insect issues we treat with injectable products for a more effective, more environmentally sound treatment and result. We use Arborjet products, the latest technology for the healthiest and strongest trees possible. Formulations are delivered through a drill plug inject method that directly injects and seals the product in the tree, resulting in rapid dose delivery to the infected area without harming the tree.

As for insect infestation, there are treatments than can be applied to help limit or prevent damage caused by chewing or boring insects.

Is it time to take down my tree?

So how do you know if tree removal is necessary? Making the decision to remove a tree can be tough, we recognize that we often have emotional attachment to our trees. When making this decision, it is wise to think about the big picture. It is advisable to remove a dead or dying tree as soon as you notice it. The longer you wait, decay and danger increase.

How do you know if you tree is dead or dying? When is it time?

• Declining health--the branches or top of tree is dying back; large dead branches; decay on the main trunk.
• Major storm damage rendering the tree beyond repair and the tree is beyond repair
• Tree is too close, or leaning too close to the house, other structures or power and utility lines
• Roots causing serious threat to foundations, driveways, sidewalks or underground utilities

Many homeowners fear that tree removal will disrupt the balance of their landscaping and property. We have a wide range of tree removal knowledge and skills and will discuss with you what type of removal is best for the size, species and access to your tree. If you are unsure if your tree needs pruned, repaired or removed – just ask! We will work with you to do what is healthy, right and best for your trees and your overall property.

What constitutes a hazardous or dangerous tree?

We hear this question in many different forms. Some call us and say “I have a big tree near my home. Is it safe?”; or maybe you have limbs touching your house. You may want to consider these questions:
• Are there large dead branches or detached branches hanging in the tree?
• Does the tree have cavities or rotten wood along the trunk or in major branches?
• Are mushrooms present at the base of the tree?
• Are there cracks or splits in the trunk or where branches are attached?
• Have any branches fallen from the tree?
• Have adjacent trees fallen over or died?
• Has the trunk developed a strong lean?
• Do many of the major branches arise from one point on the trunk?
• Have the roots been broken off, injured, or damaged by lowering the soil level, installing pavement, repairing sidewalks, or digging trenches?
• Has the site recently been changed by construction, raising the soil level, or installing lawns?
• Have the leaves prematurely developed an unusual color or size?
• Have trees in adjacent wooded areas been removed?
• Has the tree been topped or otherwise heavily pruned

If you are not comfortable with any of these things, you should call an arborist

Is my large tree near my home dangerous? What can be done?

Not all large trees are dangerous. Sometimes they need is internal cabling and bracing for support. Our team can apply the proper internal rigging and bracing systems to your trees to help promote proper tree growth and decrease the likelihood of tree failure. Hazardous tree splitting can also be mitigated through internal rigging and bracing. Although there is not a 100% guarantee that a tree will not split, our professional application of rigging and bracing will certainly help. And hopefully it will also help bring you some peace of mind when it comes to those trees.

What are some benefits of maintaining healthy trees?

The benefits of trees are numerous. If you look out your window, you can likely experience one right now! In areas with more trees, people view themselves as healthier. Studies have shown that when you add 10 more trees per block, residents feel better – the impact of these added trees can equal being up to 7 years younger or earning $10,000 more a year. Research and study published in Scientific Reports.

They help every bit of our environment. One single tree can produce 260 pounds of oxygen a year and remove one ton of carbon dioxide.

Home values – National Realtors association re matured maintained landscape can contain 28-30% of your home’s value. The U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station says that planting a tree in front of a house increases the home’s sale price by an average of $7,130. Planting a tree on the west side of a home can reduce a home’s energy bills 3 percent within five years and 12 percent within 15 years!

Do you plant trees?

Yes! As an arborist, establishing your trees correctly is one of our primary goals. There is more to planting a tree than just digging a hole and putting it in there.

What are the best kind of trees to plant near my home?

While we live in climate zones between 5 and 8 in the TV, we also have micro climates that can be as specific as your neighborhood. An arborist can help you select the proper tree for your area.

My newly planted tree looks like it is having problems. What can I do?

When new trees have brown, yellow or wilted and drooping leaves, there’s a problem. It’s not hard to understand why – your tree is adjusting to a new home. This sudden change in environment can cause transplant shock. This shock could be caused from roots not having enough room to spread out or not getting enough water or too much water when first planted. Overwatering is probably the most common mistake made and can be more deadly to a newly planted tree than not enough water.

Here’s how to tell if your newly planted tree is in shock:

• Try bending a tree branch. If the tree’s dead, it will easily snap. Live tree twigs are flexible and harder to break.
• Or scratch a spot on the twig with your fingertip or a pocket knife. If the layer immediately under the bark is moist and bright green, the tree’s alive.
If it is in shock, there are a few ways that can help your newly planted tree:
• Give tree roots at least one inch of water per week.
• Apply a two-to-four-inch deep layer of mulch from the base of the tree to the drip line. Keep mulch five inches away from the trunk.
• Don’t over prune young trees, unless it’s to remove dead or damaged branches.
• Your tree may also need to be moved to a larger hole. If you are unsure if your tree is in transplant shock, or it needs moved, please call us.

How much and how often should I water my trees?

There are several clues your trees give you to tell you if they are under or overwatered.

Signs of Underwatering Trees:
• Wilted or curling leaves, may be brown at the edge
• A sparse canopy of off-color and undersized leaves, or leaves that looked scorched
Trees prefer to be watered deeply. Even if you use sprinklers, your trees likely need more water. Grass quickly “hogs” a sprinkler’s water, leaving your trees thirsty.

Signs of Overwatering Trees:
• Area around the tree is constantly wet
• New growth is withering or turning light yellow
• Leaves are green but are fragile and break easily

Over and underwater trees can look very similar. How can you tell?
• One easy check is to stick a long screwdriver into the soil below your tree. If that’s hard to do, your tree needs more water.
• You can also dig 6-8 inches below your tree, grabbing a handful of soil. It should be cool and moist. Is it over wet? You are overwatering. If it isn’t drenched, roll it into a ball. If it crumbles, you are underwatering.

Does your company have licenses, certifications and insurance?

It is important to be an informed homeowner/customer when hiring an arborist. Safe tree work requires extensive knowledge of tree biology and physics, which can take years of experience and study to acquire.
• Always ask for credentials up front to ensure the company is properly trained and insured.
• Find out where the arborist has performed similar work and ask for references.
• Watch for safety – hard hats, hearing and eye protection and gloves should always be worn for safety.
• A good arborist will thoroughly look over a work site to identify trees on the property and possible hazards before beginning a job.

A Cut Above Tree Service is licensed in the state of Idaho for tree work. Our state license # is RCE-27960.

As we said above, working on trees can be dangerous. That’s why some liability insurance companies exclude tree work from their approved coverage. This means that many times, companies may not be insured for the right level of coverage. As an example, landscapers often do tree work. Unless they are specifically insured as a tree service, their insurance does not protect them or YOU from damage.

A Cut Above Tree Service is insured as a tree service, and we have the proper levels of coverage on our services – whether on the ground or 50’ up in your trees.

Often times, businesses that perform tree work do not carry the type of liability insurance coverage –which could potentially put you at risk. Lack of coverage means the homeowner assumes liability for the work at their own expense. Always ask to be made a certificate holder on the policy of the tree service provider. Unfortunately, some companies will start insurance just to obtain the paperwork, then cancel it to get their money back. Always verify with the insurance provider and the state that the policy is current. We carry the required, proper levels of coverage and are happy to provide proof at any time.

It is important that you hire a company that is well-trained in safety standards and best practices. After all, tree work can be dangerous. “Because there are no federal requirements, not all tree care workers are properly trained and credentialed,” says Jim Skiera, International Society of Arboriculture Executive Director. “ISA Certified Arborists are knowledgeable and specially equipped to provide proper tree care in a safe manner.” We are active members of the Pacific Northwest Chapter or the ISA and stay up to date on training, certifications, safety guidelines and techniques.

Have more questions on the quality and safe manner in which we conduct our work? You can check out the Better Business Bureau page here to read customer reviews.

Do you haul all wood and debris?

We design your project to fit your needs – just give us a call.

What type of equipment do you have?

We own and operate a full-service tree care company. This means that we have every piece of equipment needed to complete your project in a timely manner. Do we climb? Yes. Our team of skilled climbers know the proper techniques to safely climb your tree without causing damage. Do we have a bucket truck? Yes, along with chipper, stump grinders, chip trucks, skid steers. For us, buying new equipment makes us like a kid in a candy store. Rest assured that we have the right equipment, customized to the needs of your job.

Do you do stump grinding?

Yes! We can provide stump removal at flush-cut to grade, stump grinding, removal of the complete root ball, or administer and show you how to chemically decompose your stump.