Friday, December 30, 2016

5 Popular Alpharetta Georgia Shade Trees

If there were ever to be a change to the name of this city it would have to include – ‘Tree Friendly’. Alpharetta Georgia is home to not one or two but three Arboretums! Cogburn Road Park, Webb Bridge Park and Wills Park all provide a walk through amazing native specimens.

Trees have a tendency to provide and support a natural eco-infrastructure. Nesting birds, mischievous squirrels and plant life thriving in the shade of the canopy are a few examples of how trees share their life with their surroundings.

Our Arborists Share the Basic Characteristics of 5 Shade Trees

Red Maple – When Red Maples turn brilliant scarlet in the fall, the song lyric “Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls Of Fire” may come to mind. If color explosions are your autumn heart’s desire, this shade tree is a must have on your list.

Red Maples when mature, can reach upwards of 80 feet, but most mature at 50 feet. These specimens have a canopy spread of up to 40 feet, and display the stereotypical range of fall green, yellow and red hues.

This extremely robust tree has been recognized by the US Forest Service for being eastern North America’s most populous native tree. Next to their fall foliage, their resilient qualities to remain healthy through weather and soil severities play a large part in their popularity.

From low to high altitudes and from swamps to arid soil, Red Maples are able to adapt, which makes them an ideal tree to shade your backyard.

Eastern Redbud – The state tree of Oklahoma reaches 20 to 30 feet in height with a canopy diameter of 25 to 30 feet. The Eastern Redbud has beautiful green leaves, turning to bright yellow in the fall before losing them.

The true show is revealed in the spring. This tree flowers before and with emerging leaves, continuing into early summer. The light to dark pink flowers bloom in clusters, eventually giving way to its fruit. The fruit are flat pea-like pods, with maturation occurring from August through October.

With the reds and yellows fighting for your attention, it would be an epic sight to come across a row of alternating Red Maples and Eastern Redbuds in the fall?

Willow Oak – ‘Weeping Willows’, as they are popularly known, have those mesmerizing leaf laden branches draped towards the ground gently waving in the slightest of breezes.

While highly desirable, the Willow Oak is not an ideal tree for all Alpharetta yards. This species should be discussed with your local tree expert before coming to any conclusions.

With a short trunk and broad canopy, mature trees reach 50 feet high and 40 feet across. The most suitable environments for these species are along riverbanks and ponds where the roots can run freely. 

In their non-stop hunt for water sources, Willows are known for their invasive root systems potentially interrupting sewer and water lines. Preferring full sun, Willows are the first to produce leaves and last to shed them in the fall.

Red Oak Trees – The Red Oak gallantly reaches upwards of 75 feet with an amazing canopy spread of 50 feet.

As they are fast growing, robust and expansive canopy trees, Red Oaks are a piece of perfection in the land of shade trees.

The bark of a mature Oak looks to have wrinkly ridges running up and down. If your potential was to live to be 500 years old, you might develop a few wrinkles too.

All in all, the iconic Red Oak truly is a perfect fit for Alpharetta yards and a perfectly shaded landscape.
Yellow Poplar – This quick to develop tree can reach 160 feet in height, but is ordinarily about 85 feet. Their development is counter-intuitive in that they grow slower and shorter in full sun, and taller in shaded areas.

The Yellow Poplar is the tallest eastern hardwood tree. Like the Red Oak, this shade thrower lives up to 500 years old as well.

Sitting erect, the flower of this amazing tree is greenish yellow with red and orange dashes, with a striking resemblance to a tulip, thus the nickname, ‘Tulip Tree’.

This specimen tree does better in soil with high amounts of organic matter, due to its fragile and fleshy roots. Likewise, it has a poor tolerance to drought.

Outstanding Shade Trees for Your Alpharetta Yard

Trees partner with surrounding vegetation to halt soil erosion and even provide natural fertilization when their fallen leaves decay. The high temperatures during the summer months make shade trees desirable to Alpharetta residents. Once planted, prune your trees so they grow a nice full canopy. With that in mind, make informed specimen selection decisions leading towards a beautiful, balanced and well-shaded landscape.

Visit to get our arborists insight about the best shade tree species for your Roswell home or Alpharetta Ga yard.

This article was first published on:

Friday, December 2, 2016

Essential Tools for Tree Care and Gardening

To have a well-maintained lawn or lively garden, you need the right tools. The types of tools you’ll use will be contingent on the size of your garden or yard. The time you spend in your lawn or garden, as well as the amount of money you’re willing to invest in it. These are all factors to consider, and below are the basic tools necessary to upkeep your yard or garden.

Cultivating Tools for Gardening

When it comes to cultivating, gardeners use either power or hand-held tools. The core objective in cultivating is breaking up, aerating, and leveling the soil. Obviously “working the soil” requires effort and is no easy task. The kind of tool you use depends on how much of an effort you’d like to put into your gardening project.

Landscaping Hand Tools

Hand tools consist of spading forks, shovels, trowels, padding forks, diggers and rakes. They can be used to prepare a garden, don’t require excessive strength to operate, and are quite simple to handle. Other hand tools that aren’t critical, but helpful, are pickaxes and mattocks. These hand tools are for harvesting and digging deeper in the soil.

Power Tools

Power tools may cost more than traditional hand tools, but they minimize labor, saving you effort and time. The most important gardening tool is a tiller, which separates and prepares the ground for planting. A tiller will also cut down any lingering debris, as well as help combine compost with fertilizer. If you would rather not buy a tiller, consider renting one, or hiring someone to tile the ground for you.

Tree Cutting and Pruning Tools

If there are small trees, hedges or shrubs on your lawn, you should be using pruning tools. For branches around ¾” in diameter, pruning shears are ideal. Lopping shears are able to handle pruning tree branches as high as 2”. Pole pruners can reach trees as high as 15 feet above ground level. Pruning saws and hedge shears are considered heavy duty equipment and usually purchased by gardening aficionados.

Watering Tools

Plants must be watered regularly to maintain their longevity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always rain when we need it to. That’s why watering tools are essential. The one tool you can’t neglect is a water hose. Many gardeners use drip irrigation hoses or sprinklers. You also have the option to buy timers for drip hoses or sprinklers.

Gardening without the proper tools can be frustrating. There’s nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty in the backyard, but it can’t hurt to own fundamental tools like shovels, rakes and hoes. Some would say these tools are just as substantial as the trees, dirt and seeds surrounding your landscape.

Visit for pruning services or expertise about tree trimming, shaping or health issues.

This article was first published on:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tree Pruning – Why, How and When to Prune Your Trees

when and how to prune your tree and shrubs

Tress help improve the overall look and appeal of your property, but they need to be maintained and pruned regularly for various reasons. Oftentimes the branches have to be trimmed for public safety and equally important, the tree’s health.

Tree Pruning and Why Should I Do It?

There are various reasons to prune a tree, the first of which is safety. Frequently weather affected trees and dead branches fall. These obviously dangerous limbs should be removed to decrease liability. 

Another consideration and reason to prune trees is to remove visual traffic obstructions and low-hanging branches that interfere with a pedestrians walking path.

In residential and commercial settings, trees should be trimmed for building upkeep and preservation. Paint damage and structural damage may occur as a result of limbs rubbing, touching, or an overgrown trunk compromising a structures foundation. Secondly, insects and pests can use these as easy entry points and certain trees can contribute to and harbor mosquitoes.

A counterintuitive concept is that trees should be pruned to boost their development, growth and structural appeal. Healthy trees generally have good foliage density but their interior should not be overcrowded. Fruit trees often undergo structural pruning, which results in helping them cope with the additional weight of the fruits that are produced.

Aesthetics is an obvious and suitable reason to prune trees. Poorly maintained or unsightly trees detract from the appeal of a property. Trimming and pruning are simple methods to improve the visual appeal of a tree and the real property.

If a tree needs to be pruned or removed because it poses a threat, it’s best to contact an arborist or tree removal company. As personal safety is a major concern when dealing with trees, it’s best to hire a professional tree service to properly inspect your trees for damage, pests or disease.

* Note – Check whether your city or local municipality has a tree ordinance or permit process to prune your trees. For example, Take a look at Alpharetta's tree ordinance and permit for removal process.

How to Properly Prune & Cut a Tree

The two basic types of pruning and tree trimming cuts are: "thinning" and "heading" cuts. 

Thinning - removing a limb at the point of its origin or attachment.

In other words, pruning a branch at the point it connects to another branch (or from the trunk). Tree thinning allows a tree less wind resistance, improved air circulation, and less crowding, ultimately improving sunlight penetration.

Heading - as the name suggests, reduce a tree’s height. 

When performing heading cuts, or “topping” the tree, you are cutting lateral and/or terminal branches. Heading cuts promote growth of buds nearest to the cut. Heading cuts may not be best on branches older than a year, so as to avoid encouraging suckers and water sprouts. Likewise, on older trees heading may disfigure and leave a tree susceptible to pests and disease. Topping is not an ideal method of pruning; long-term it may destroy a tree by making it susceptible to rot.

Insects, fungus and bacteria exist in every environment and can be dangerous to a tree. Note that avoiding pruning in warming months is the best way to avoid tree disease and insects from ravishing an otherwise healthy tree.

When is it Best to Prune Trees and Shrubs?

Knowing when to prune a tree depends largely on the goal and objective. As a good rule of thumb, it's best to prune a tree in late winter to early spring when the tree is dormant. Since the tree is mostly inactive during that period, limb removal will not be as stressful to the tree. Also wounds seal better and there's a reduction in pest infestation risk as diseases and insects are inactive.

Late spring and early summer is the worst possible time to trim trees because this is when their leaves expand and the tree’s entire energy source is being given to its new growth. 

Lastly, late summer pruning may encourage new growth. This is bad because it may not have sufficient time to harden and prepare for a potentially harsh winter.

On the other hand, non-flowering shrubs can be pruned as needed to maintain or achieve a specific shape. Flowering shrubs should be pruned as soon as they finish blooming. When pruning shrubs its best to leave the bottoms wider; this technique allows ample sun to get to the bottom of the shrub which prevents the shrub from excessively thinning out.

For this full pruning article visit

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Winter Tree Care - Stress Prevention & Insect Protection

Winter can be hard on everyone, even shrubs and trees! But if safety measures are taken, trees can be helped through another season. The shortage of water, fluctuating temperatures, drying winds, and other things make for a stressful winter, especially if plants are not indigenous to the environment they are planted in. Plants are harmed by cold damage through dieback, sun scald, frost heaving and root injury. So we should lend a helping hand to plants by taking some preventive measures. 


Water - Drought like conditions can be created by lack of running water and drying winds in winter. Roots are unable to replace moisture by absorbing water once the ground freezes and if the shrub or tree doesn’t have enough water stored to get it through winter, it may lead to leaves drying out and dropping or even dying. To avoid this, trees and shrubs should be watered till the ground freezes, that way, water to last through winter can be absorbed. 

Drainage - Providing good drainage is an easy way to protect shrubs and trees. Poorly drained, wet soil expands and contracts a lot more in winter and sometimes heaves roots out of the soil, but roots are kept in place by soil that is well drained. 

Mulching - Mulch is very useful for the following; keeping a constant temperature on the ground, helping roots avoid heaving through the soil and helps keep moisture in the soil. Also, biodegradable mulch will eventually break down and enrich the soil. Cover tree bases with about four inches of dry leaves to create mulch, chicken wire and fallen tree branches can be used to keep the mulch in place. A few inches should be left between the trunk and the mulch so as not to tempt burrowing animals to chew on the trunk. 

Wrapping - Trunks of trees can be wrapped to prevent winter damage. Young trees are vulnerable to frost damage, and even older trees can be nibbled by rabbits, deer and other animals. Barks can be protected from cracking by wrapping. 

Planting Location & Shelter - Planting trees in sheltered areas can protect them from wind and snow damage. Temporary shelter can be created if shelter is not readily available. This can be a burlap snow fence which blocks some wind and snow but let’s in sunshine. Snow should be knocked off before it freezes and causes damage to the branches. During winter, when plants are dormant, it is recommended that horticultural or dormant oil is sprayed to control insects. They should be sprayed on everything from lilacs to fruit trees. 

Difference between Dormant Oil and Horticultural Oil - The major difference between the newer horticultural oils and past dormant oils is that they are much more refined and they are useable throughout the year. Most horticultural oils are refined from petroleum oil. 

The refined oil is combined with an emulsifying agent; this allows the oil to mix with water which makes spraying easier. Originally dormant oils were heavier and less well-refined, however, they have been replaced with light weight, better refined oils that can be applied all year round on foliage without damaging it. The time of application is now why it is referred to as dormant oil and not the properties of the oil.

That said, there are other oils that can be used and they are; Mineral oil, summer oil, Supreme oil, Superior oil, Vegetable oil, Cottonseed oil, Soybean oil, and Neem oil.

Uses of horticultural oil:
  • They smother and kill insects 
  • They disrupt the feeding of insects which is important in stopping the spread of plant viruses by aphids. 
  • They can also be used against powdery mildew. 
Horticultural oils are effective, safe and they do not harm useful insects. Spraying should be done before buds swell and can be sprayed even if the buds are slightly swollen. This may damage some of the buds but the advantages overshadow the damage.

Precautions - Oils shouldn’t be used on oil sensitive plants and when temperatures are high (100° F) or very low. Also, if rain is likely to fall or the plant is wet then application should be avoided. Do not apply oils in freezing weather as it can cause the emulsion to produce uneven coverage. Finally, when shoots are growing, oils shouldn’t be sprayed. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

City of Alpharetta Tree Ordinance, Tree Removal Permit & Arborist Information

If you live in Alpharetta Georgia you must adhere to the following guidelines when you need to remove your tree(s):

City of Alpharetta Tree Removal Process

We advise hiring an Alpharetta arborist to manage your tree removal. However, the 3 steps below are a simplified version of the Alpharetta Tree Ordinance and process for Alpharetta residents to remove any unwanted, dead, diseased or hazardous trees:

1. A completed City of Alpharetta tree removal application must be submitted to the City Arborist at

2. The tree(s) that are to be removed should be measured using DBH (Diamater at Breast Height)

3. Deliver a sketch of your property, including structures and driveways. Include locations and numbers of the trees to be removed. Also the trees must be marked for easy inspection by the City Arborist.

The City Arborist office is located in the Community Development Division of Alpharetta City Hall.

tree removal ordinance alpharetta city hall permit

Alpharetta City Hall

2 Park Plaza

Alpharetta, Georgia 30009
Phone: 678-297-6000

Alpharetta Emergency Tree Removal Ordinance

When a resident faces an emergency tree removal situation in Alpharetta, it is handled by the Arborist division on a case-by-case basis. If disaster strikes and you have a tree emergency, contact the Alpharetta Arborist as soon as possible.

City of Alpharetta Arborist
David Shostak
Phone: 678-297-6229
Fax: 678-297-6071

If the emergency occurs during non-business hours, leave the Arborist a voice message, fax, or email. Document and take photos of the tree emergency and all damage. Submit the completed application and supporting documentation by the next business day.

This article is a re-post, visit for additional information.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Local Christmas Tree Recycling Programs

As you gear up for the holidays you purchase and decorate your Christmas tree. During the holidays your Christmas tree provides visual pleasure, adds to your holiday cheer and is the centerpiece of your home.
Then after the season is over, it’s time to dispose of your tree. A great question you probably have is, “How can I dispose of my Christmas tree in an easy and environmentally friendly way?”
Across the U.S. many municipalities and local Christmas tree farms have a Christmas tree recycling program. The cities and farms generally have various Christmas tree drop-off locations, making this convenient for their residents. Local fire stations and conveniently placed retailers like Home Depot are oftentimes the drop-off locations.
When the trees are dropped-off they are usually chipped and turned into organic mulch that can be re-used. This not only saves dwindling landfill space, but also provides a simple and environmentally conscious means of disposal. As an added benefit, you may be able to coordinate free mulch delivery if you make a request to the disposal vendor.
Christmas tree farmers plant thousands of trees that add cheer to our holidays, but dumping these trees just adds to the waste in our overflowing landfills. An easier and many times more convenient solution is to participate in your local Christmas tree recycling program.
Contact your local government or a local tree farm to find out the nearest Christmas Tree recycling drop-off location. Happy Holidays!