FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
PREPARATION BEFORE EVERY JOB...
Q. What do you charge for estimates?
A. I don’t charge for estimates, nor do I charge for referrals to other service providers who I think might more effectively meet your needs.
Q. Are you a Certified Arborist?
A. No I’m not. I’m a long time dues paying member of the International Society of Arboriculture but I am not a Certified ISA Arborist. I have experience working with a few who operate in the area and can provide you with referrals, or you could try the website of the local ISA chapter at: www.pnwisa.org.
Q. Do you charge by the hour or by the job?
A. I use both methods for giving estimates. Which method I employ depends upon the amount of work to be done and the degree of difficulty or danger that the job entails. I like to be transparent about how I charge for my services to avoid any surprises or misunderstandings.
Q. Do you do Topiary?
A. No, I do not.
Q. We recently bought a house that has a number of beautiful old trees on the property and want to do what we can to keep them healthy. I’m concerned about the amount of moss on the branches and trunks, several of them actually have ferns or clumps of grass growing out of them! They haven’t been pruned in years so they’re pretty overgrown. We’d like to open them up to get more sunlight into the yard so we can have a garden. I’d actually like to learn how to take care of them myself but right now I don’t know what I’m doing and they need way more than what I can do. Is this the kind of thing you do?
A. The moss and lichen growing on the trunks and branches of the trees will cause them no harm. The ferns and grasses, however, are an indication that rot has bored pocket-cavities into the holding wood of the tree. Once rot has gotten into a tree it’s impossible to stop but there are a few techniques that we can employ to slow the rotting process down. A good thinning will help as well by allowing more sunlight and air circulation into the interior of the tree as well as into garden areas. On the issue of learning to maintain your own trees you might want to consider scheduling a work-along session. As we work together I can explain everything I’m doing, recommend tools and equipment, reference materials, outline on-going maintenance issues, and answer any questions you might have.
Q. Is this the right time of year to prune my trees?
A. There are exceptions of course, but a great deal of research has conclusively demonstrated that how we prune our trees is far more important than when we prune them.
Q. What treatments or fertilizers would you recommend to help keep my trees healthy?
A. Compost, compost, compost! Also, composted manure or a mixture of both. If you have good healthy soil you’ll have strong, healthy trees and plants that are more robust & vigorous and better able to resist disease and attacking pests. Build up your soil, regularly, with rich composted organic material. Mulch and decorative bark are attractive dressings for bed, but that material is not readily usable by your plants. Consider using compost instead.
As the composted organic matter gets watered into the soil, it provides almost immediate nutritive value to every living thing in your garden. Compost Tea would be another good option.
Here are just a few of the many web sites available on this and other related subjects:
Q. How can I find out what’s wrong with my trees, several of them are sickly looking? I’m particularly concerned about my Apple tree. I’m itching to do anything I can to treat and protect them but I don’t want to use any harsh chemicals. What should I do?
A. The first step in problem solving is identifying exactly what the problem is. So, a great place to start is at the following very helpful web site: http://pep.wsu.edu/hortsense/. The site will also provide you with useful information on effective treatment options that you yourself can employ. If the self help approach isn’t for you, Washington state law requires that you hire a licensed professional. A good place to start your search for professional help is at www.inharmony.com or www.hendrikus.com.
But know this: applying most treatments is ridiculously easy to do, and since the timing of application is the most critical aspect of the whole process, who is in a better position to see the tree and know when the most opportune time for application is? You are! You will be amazed at how easy it is to do yourself. I promise!
Q. I’ve had a few bad experiences hiring people who had good references and who claimed they knew what they were doing only to come home to find my trees butchered. How do I know you’re any different?
A. As with any profession, there are talented, highly skilled tree care professionals, tree butchers, and everything in between. Top quality pruning professionals that I know in this region get the majority of their new clients through word-of-mouth referrals. I’ve been in business, in Seattle, since January 2001 and have built a client base and reputation that continue to serve me well. If you hire me to prune your trees I can promise you this: I will be the person who shows up to do the work we’ve agreed on, on the day that we’ve agreed on and for the price we’ve agreed on.
Q. Even so, I’m leery of getting burned again with more bad pruning. What would you do if you were in my shoes?
A. First thing that I would recommend is that we schedule the work for a time when you’re available to be on site when I come to work on the trees. It’s also important to know going in, that a) if the damage is truly extensive the kindest thing to do, for all concerned, may be to simply remove the tree (s) altogether; and b) correcting badly pruned trees can take patience and several years of very careful and selective pruning to coax it back into a more natural form and shape.
Q. We have a lot of beautiful trees in our yard but everything is pretty overgrown. We don’t really have the tools, equipment, or skills to do the work ourselves, but we’d like to put our own sweat equity into the process of getting the yard under control. Would you be open to an arrangement like that?
A. Yes, I actually do this quite often. I’ve done everything from working with one person, all the way up to six people doing the “grunt work” while I focused on pruning.
I’ve had situations where homeowners organized work parties made up of family and friends to situations where a client hired two laborers, rented a large capacity dump truck, and hauled away close to 3,000 lbs of pruned material. I try to be flexible in my approach to working with clients in meeting their sometimes unique needs in these matters.
Q. When is the best time to prune my fruit trees?
A. Here in Western Washington, stone fruit trees (especially cherry trees), ornamental or not, should be pruned during the growing season. Non-stone fruit trees should be pruned beginning in January, but late growing season pruning is an excellent time to prune as well. Water sprouting is much less vigorous in response to late summer pruning. Here’s a good resource on this subject and many other fruit related issues: www.westerncascadefruitsociety.org.