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Skaggs: Arborists perform surgery on trees
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At this point, we are all well aware of the seriousness of the ongoing drought. Water conservation efforts are ongoing, and hopefully all citizens are doing their part.

For many, their thoughts have turned away from their landscapes and gardens. However, now is a good time to evaluate any potential tree problems.

Long-term drought is extremely stressful to mature trees, especially those in urban and suburban situations. If you have large trees on your property that could be a hazard, consider contacting a licensed arborist for a consultation.

Arborists are the surgeons and physicians of the tree trade. They diagnose tree problems (diseases, insects and general decline), implement strategies to improve tree health and provide emergency tree care. At some time or another, most homeowners will need an arborist.

What does it mean to be a "certified" arborist? It means the arborist has been through a rigorous training and testing process to ensure that he or she meets the standards set by the International Society of Arboriculture for a qualified professional arborist.

These people are well trained in tree health, pest management, soil fertility, assessing storm damage, cabling and bracing and proper pruning techniques. In other words, they are specialists in the care of trees.

If you were hiring a company to do any tree work at your home, using a certified arborist is recommended.

When an arborist does a consultation, he or she evaluates tree health and tries to recommend a plan to stop any tree decline.

The arborist might recommend pruning to remove any dead wood or to shape the tree.

If the tree has any unsafe branches or bad branch angles, the tree professional might cable the offending limbs. Cabling involves using heavy gauge stainless steel cable and eye bolts to secure limbs and trunks.

The arborist may recommend a fertilization regimen to increase the tree’s vigor and stop any decline. Trees are often fertilized using 3-2-1 ratio liquid fertilizers injected into holes that are drilled in the soil around the tree.

If the tree is not salvageable, then the arborist will recommend removing the unhealthy tree. Often, the tree will be in a location where it cannot be felled easily. Maybe there is a structure under or near the tree or the tree is near the property line.

In this case, the arborist may decide to rope the tree. Climbing the tree, the arborist ties ropes to the branches. Then the branches are cut off one by one allowing the rope to break the fall.

In essence the tree is removed from the top down. The branches will be lowered down gently to workers on the ground to prevent any unwarranted damage.

Reputable companies will leave the property only after they have cleaned up the mess and the customer is satisfied.

Trees are assets that add value to one’s property and should be cared for properly.

With the help of certified arborists, your trees will remain healthy and safe through proper fertility management and pruning.

Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County Extension Coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.

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