General tree review

It’s really important as a tree owner to review the trees on your property regularly throughout the year (it’s good practice to check out Council owned trees in close proximity too). Waiting for a stormy forecast is not good timing. See our below tips on conducting a tree review and let us know if you have any questions.

Tree review tip 1 – Think SAFETY!

Safety is our top priority and it should be yours too.
P.P.E (Personal Protective Equipment) should be worn at all times when you’re working in the garden so it’s super important to ensure you have the right stuff, and that it’s in good condition. The following is a list of BASIC P.P.E you should have available at all times:

  1. Gloves
  2. Eye-wear
  3. Steel capped footwear (or appropriate depending on the job)
  4. Earmuffs if using noisy tools
  5. Chainsaw chaps/pants for chainsaw/hedge trimmer use
  6. High-vis vest if you’re working near the road
  7. Hard hat
  8. The right equipment for the job, in good condition
  9. Mask/respirator if you use sprays (or are handling potting mix)

It isn’t only about looking the part – it’s having the right attitude and knowing when to get an expert involved.
Having the right attitude to safety is so important. If you want to avoid being hurt (or worse), ensure you have an idea on what the task involves and how to complete it. If you, for example, are looking to use a chainsaw above shoulder height, don’t just think “She’ll be right” and go for it. We would strongly recommend you contact your local, qualified arborist as chainsaw use above your shoulder is very dangerous and risky – look at what is attached to your shoulders.

Tree review tip 2 – Use the right tools

Using the right tool for the job you’re undertaking is both a time saver and a risk saver.
Ensure your tools are in good working order by doing regular maintenance and completing pre-use checks each and every time you use that tool.
Tools should only be used for the purpose they are designed and should be used in accordance with the instruction manuals (e.g. don’t use the tip of a chainsaw).

After each use, we recommend you sterilise your tools – this avoids spreading pest and disease between your vegetation.
The best way to do general sterilisation is using citric acid (e.g. lemon), or a capful of bleach dissolved in a small amount of water (ensure you have gloves on!) to wipe down surfaces.

Regular servicing and maintenance is a must for chainsaws. Sharp teeth is essential.

Now lets head out into the garden!!!!

Tree review tip 3 – Check for the three D’s

We recommend you always start by looking for the three D’s – Dead, Dying, Diseased.
If you discover any dead, dying or diseased looking branches and are confident in removing them, do so.
Remove all dead, dying or diseased branches from the garden – leaving them under or around trees, can lead to re-infestation or contamination.

Ask yourself if your trees look healthy – if there is any doubt, consult with a trained, qualified professional, like us.

Don’t let your trees die before you call in a professional. Dead trees tend to be more expensive to remove as they’re dangerous. A LOT of risk is involved when removing dead trees. It takes longer and is a whole new level of scary!

Tree review tip 4 – Look closer – what are your trees telling you?

Inspect your trees for any crossing limbs, sick looking branches or pockets of decay.
Included branches are also of concern. They are one of the leading causes of failure. Included means tightly formed unions. As the tree grows and its annual rings develop, unions that are included become tighter and apply pressure upon each other, which can eventually force them apart, usually resulting in one coming down.

An included union - these are a risk as when the annual rings grow, the branches push on each other and force apart - this can result in a failure.
Included unions are bad news – deal with them before they result in failure

Tree review tip 5 – Deal with conflict

Conflict and upcoming conflict between your trees and everything else – your house, your shed, power lines, etc. need to be managed.
We know that life is crazy but when trees and vegetation get out of control, it can become an expensive exercise – the bigger the tree/branch or the further over your roofline it is, the bigger the cost.
Did you know that a premise is 24.2 times more likely to become infested when that structure is easily accessible to rats?! They can jump approximately 1.5m – 2m and squeeze through 8mm holes! Look at what your trees and vegetation are growing towards and take action before it’s too late. Don’t think they can’t squeeze under your roofing iron either! Check out this Rat facts blog by Predator Free NZ for more info.

Hedge vegetation touching house allowing rats to enter roof cavity.
Vegetation close to the house allows pests to enter the roof cavity

Tree review tip 6 – Learn about YOUR trees

Knowing what type of tree you own is part of good tree ownership. Understanding your trees, what to expect and how they contribute to our environment and living conditions can help you make decisions about their future. A Privet tree, for example, is a known pest plant/tree in NZ and a serious cause of Asthma and Hay Fever when in bloom. A lot of people we complete site visits for don’t even know they have them and suffer when Spring rolls around.

Privet tree is flower - causes Hay Fever and Asthma attacks.
Privet trees in bloom – these are a pest and are awful for Hay Fever and Asthma sufferers.

Tree review tip 7 – Feed your trees

Do you know that you should feed your trees to keep them in good health so they can continue to absorb our carbon dioxide?
Show your trees some love by providing them with a good quality mulch and fertiliser (what kind will depend on what type of tree you have). Not only does a layer of mulch under the drip line of a tree provide the tree a birthday and moisture, but it will also provide you with a little less mowing time, and a small save on gas. It looks really pretty too, especially if you dig a circle around it (don’t go too deep as you may damage roots) and place the goodness directly onto the roots.

Avocado tree treated with mulch, compost and fertiliser.  Dig the grass out first so the goodness goes straight onto the roots.
An unwell Avocado tree after a birthday

Tree review tip 8 – To H20 or not H20?

Hydration is a funny subject. Some trees love it, others don’t. Again, knowing the type of tree you have will assist you to keep it happy, healthy and risk-free.
Soil plays a big part in this process too – depending on the type of soil you have will depend on how it retains moisture and how often you need to get out the garden hose.
If you have a tree that requires regular water, maybe start thinking about putting in a tank for this purpose – we are going to continue having droughts so it’s best to think about future-proofing your home and garden.
Mulch is also a good solution for helping the tree retain moisture, especially during our dry summer months.

Tree review tip 9 – Do your trees need a haircut??

Trees will always benefit from having a good haircut performed on a regular basis. Just like you and me, their ‘hair’ grows constantly. And just like you and me, their ‘hair’ grows differently than everyone else’s. Formative pruning can be described as a ‘shoosh’/general cleanup and should include the Three D’s – dead, dying and diseased. It also means that the tree looks ‘normal’ for that species and that it looks good for yours and others enjoyment. You
Formative pruning may not have a massive impact on the look of the tree – it’s more of a tidy up. If it looks like nothing has been done (but you can see debris on the ground), it’s usually a sign of quality tree work.
Trees can be formatively pruned at any time of the year – it’s a light trim.

Pohutukawa tree formatively pruned - before and after
You shouldn’t be able to see a whole heap of difference when Formative Pruning has been completed.

You might’ve noticed that trees never stop growing. How fast they grow is obviously dependent on the species and their characteristics – which comes back to tip 6 – learn about your trees.

Maintaining your trees is really important for a few reasons:

  1. Health & Safety of you and those around you
  2. Your pocket – the bigger trees get, the more expensive they get to deal with
  3. Your live-ability

Health & Safety of you and those around you

Health & Safety should be top of mind when dealing with your trees. Climbing and/or cutting trees is very dangerous work and things can go wrong quickly. Even the experts have issues sometimes. Make sure when you are looking at getting in an arborist, you do your homework. Ask them some questions and check they have insurance cover – just in case! You can even ask for their insurance certificate. Get them to talk you through the process that they’ll take and ask if they have any other solutions for your potential problem that the species will tolerate.

If you have trees that have previously been “topped” (as it sounds – the tree is lowered in height by an overall reduction), it is a wise idea to continue to have them “topped” going forward to avoid damage and risk occurring through decaying branches.

When a tree is topped, decay makes its way into the main trunk of the tree and can cause it to become rotten from the inside out over a number of years. Reducing the tree back to previous “topping points” reduces the weight these rotting branches/trunks carry and therefore, is safer for you and those around you.

Using a ‘tree paint’ doesn’t help – this traps the bad fungi/bacteria in the tree and can accelerate the decaying process.

Your pocket

You know the saying – “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Don’t always go for the cheapest quote. Go with the person who you think knew what they were talking about, and who you feel comfortable with. Google reviews and Facebook feedback is also a great way of getting the ‘inside word’.

The bigger trees get, the more expensive they are to deal with. Big trees mean big risk (sometimes small trees mean big risk!) and time – that then reflects on the price.

Your live-ability

Your live-ability is important – sunshine is important for your health (click here to read about the 7 health benefits of sunshine), but it’s also good for growing vegetables to keep your belly full, and lovely flowers to keep the bees fed and producing. Bees are critically important to New Zealand and to the New Zealand economy – click here to read more about how you can help them to help us.

Live-ability isn’t just about sunshine. It’s about having a clear path around your house to prevent pests and feeling safe living around your trees.

Tree review tip 10 – Enact the Vector ‘first free cut’ if you are eligible

Trees within power lines can cause hazards and only limited Vector approved contractors can work with these trees.
You may not realise it but under the Tree Regulations, you are legally required to keep any trees located on your property a prescribed distance from network lines.

Click here for more information about this important point and what you need to do if your trees are within the ‘growth limit zone’.

You must keep your trees and vegetation clear of the growth limit zone around overhead network power lines. The size of the growth limit zone varies depending on the voltage of the power lines. (It’s important to note that the Tree Regulations only cover network lines and not your service line).

If you have any questions for us or would like us to conduct a consultation at your place, contact us here.