Tree Spotlight: Gleditsia triacanthos

Gleditsia triacanthos

TRADE NAME: Honey locust

FAMILY: Fabaceae

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Mostly found in the moist soil of river valleys ranging from southeastern South Dakota to Louisiana; central Texas; northeast along the western slopes of the Appalachians; and as far east as eastern Massachusetts. Isolated populations also occur in northwestern Florida.

WOOD VALUE: Honey locust wood is dense, hard, coarse-grained, strong, shock-resistant, takes a high polish and is durable in contact with soil. Is used locally for posts, pallets, crates, general construction, furniture, interior finish, turnery and firewood.

OTHER USES: Thornless varieties are commonly planted as an ornamental, particularly on dry sites. Pods are being fermented for ethanol production in studies to explore the feasibility of biomass fuels. Is also a source of pollen and nectar for honey.

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Begins to flower when its leaves are nearly full grown, from around May 10 in the southern parts of its range to around June 25 in the northern parts of its range. The legumes ripen from September to October, usually falling after ripening but sometimes remaining on the tree through February.


  • A native, deciduous tree. Mature heights usually range from 49 to 98 feet, with a maximum height of 140 feet. In natural stands, averages 70 to 80 feet tall.
  • Is armed with heavy-branched thorns on the lower branches and trunk.
  • The crown is plume-like and open. The bole is usually short and often divided near the ground.
  • The bark of mature trunks is usually 0.25 to 0.75 inches thick, with narrow ridges divided by fissures. The bark peels in strips.
  • The thick, fibrous roots are deep and wide-spreading. Is generally sturdy and wind-firm.
  • Its fruit is a legume that’s 8 to 16 inches long and 1 to 1.4 inches wide.
  • Average longevity is around 125 years.
  • Unlike most leguminous species, honey locust doesn’t form Rhizobium nodules on its roots and doesn’t fix nitrogen.


  • Suggested uses include shade, street tree, massing and specimen plant.
  • Thornless and fruitless varieties have been developed by the horticultural industry and are used extensively in landscaping.
  • Is very hardy and is often used in parking lot islands and along sidewalks. The open canopy and small leaves won’t shade out turfgrasses or other landscape plants.
  • Once established, is generally maintenance- free. Pruning of lower limbs will encourage tall, upright growth.
  • Is susceptible to triclopyr and to a mixture of picloram and 2,4-D.
  • Isn’t usually subject to serious insect and disease problems. But with the increase in plantations of honey locust, there’s been a concurrent increase in insect pests.
  • Is host to a number of leaf-feeding insects, including spider mites, whitemarked tussock moths and honey locust plant bugs.
  • Webworms occasionally defoliate trees by August.
  • Canker can sometimes be a problem, but is rarely fatal.
  • Damage to young trees is caused by rabbits gnawing the bark and by browsing of livestock and white-tailed deer.


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Feeling Remorse From Tree Removal

Profit & Loss — Something Gained, Something Lost

If you work at a tree care company, you may find it a mystery as to why you feel a sense of loss when removing a tree. It’s something we rarely talk about in this trade, yet we know it’s there. Given that trees aren’t human and they don’t feel pain like we do, why should we feel any sense of remorse, even the most hardcore of us? People harvest all kinds of plants and for a multitude of good reasons, not the least being food and shelter. We’ve done so for a very long time. So how is harvesting an urban tree any different than harvesting wheat, corn or sugarcane? Countless trees perish due to natural causes. Many trees pose a literal risk to life, limb and property. Others pose a risk to habitat integrity. Frankly, some trees are just plain ugly. In the urban forest, someone needs to remove those trees. Someone also needs to perform that work in as professional and safe a manner as possible.

Personally, I take pride in doing just that.

We remove trees at West Michigan Tree Services and customers pay us to do so. We’ve removed many a dead or dying tree. Because of the emerald ash borer, we’ve removed tens of thousands of ash trees. We’ve also removed trees for new home construction, new developments, to widen roadways and for a multitude of civic improvement projects. There are lots of good reasons to remove trees.

On the other hand, we also remove trees for what many would feel are, at best, peculiar reasons — to allow more sunlight for turf, because clients are sick of cleaning up the leaves in the fall or to make room for a new tree.

Many a homeowner has complained to me about how they’re sick and tired of cleaning up after those “dirty” trees. That reason always makes me cringe. Really? How is a tree “dirty?”

There are people who care so much about trees that they’re willing to literally fight for them. We’ve had our fair share of confrontations. At a minimum, they’re awkward situations. At their extreme, the confrontations were at gunpoint. We’ve had to call the police on more than one occasion.

I sell lots of tree removals. As an arborist, I also sell several types of tree care services. I’ve grown a thick skin about selling the removals. To do my job, I felt I needed to.

Or did I?

This summer, I removed a large cottonwood in my yard. One stem was leaning toward the house, but mostly I removed the tree for convenience sake. The cottonwood drew copious amounts of water from my lawn. Cottonwoods grow four feet a year and the cost to remove it was growing yearly. But the primary reason I had it removed was due to the annual snowfall of seeds. I don’t miss the mess. But now that it’s gone, I feel a strange sense of loss. Its absence leaves a hole in the sky when I look outside.

It’s as if something important is missing.

It’s not just clients who feel that way, nor is it just me. Case in point: Tim, a foreman for one of our land-clearing crews, pulled me aside on a job I sold. He said he was having difficulty removing a large sugar maple. It wasn’t that it was a difficult removal — it was because the tree was magnificent. It was a 36-inch sugar maple in all of its glory. It was full, healthy, thriving and in full autumn color. Despite already felling 50 other trees on this lot, Tim was balking at dropping the maple.

I don’t know how many trees Tim has cut down over the course of his career, but I’m sure it’s at least in the five-figure range. Interestingly, he couldn’t bring himself to say that the maple was too beautiful to cut down. Instead, he tried to find a practical reason to convince me to leave it. He argued, “It’s close to the edge of the property. It shades the neighbor’s deck. The new house will be 100 feet away. It’s perfectly healthy.” Standing beside me, glancing sheepishly up at the maple, he asked, “Why do we need to remove this one?”

What Tim didn’t know about the job was that the grade change was so severe the tree wouldn’t survive it. I explained that to Tim, which would normally have satisfied him. This time, however, it didn’t. Pressing me further, he asked, “Why are they changing the grades over here? That seems odd.”

And he was absolutely right.

The change wasn’t necessary at all. The site was being leveled at the wishes of the builder who wanted to completely clear the lot and then regrade the site so he could have a blank canvas to work on. This particular home builder provides us with a lot of work, so I sold the job and wasn’t about to argue with him over his reasons.

Recognizing Tim’s concern, I realized I had dodged his question. I could have been more forthcoming and not omitted the reason for the grade changes, which also had seemed silly to me. So why did I dodge his question? More to the point, why should I feel guilty about it?

There are several pragmatic reasons I might have felt guilty. Trees provide tangible benefits — carbon dioxide reduction, erosion control, shade, wind screens and sound buffers. Trees provide wildlife habitat. They produce oxygen, dampen harmful ultraviolet light, build soils and increase property values.

Trees also provide several important aesthetic benefits — more difficult to quantify, but no less real. Studies have shown that the simple sound of the rustle of leaves reduces stress. The air smells better with trees. They make us feel more alive. They cause us to feel as if we’re a part of the natural world.

Trees are used by painters, photographers and poets to describe the human condition. They provide so many enriching benefits that pictures of trees are recommended to be placed on the walls of hospital rooms.

We know all of that.

I know all of that.

I use those very reasons to convince people to buy our tree care services — when I’m not selling removals.

As I’ve come to learn more about all the benefits trees provide, my position on removing them has shifted over time. This conversation with Tim occurred several years ago. I still sell many a tree removal. But lately, I’ve been asking my clients more questions about why they want to remove a tree. And if the reason they provide sounds shaky, I ask them to reconsider.

Given what I’ve learned, I feel I must answer for my actions to my grandchildren.

I don’t want to dodge their questions as I did with Tim. I want to be able to tell them openly, and with a clear conscience, why I did what I did.

It’s a new world that we live in. Yet, it’s an old issue. My forefathers cleared the state of Michigan of trees. By the turn of the century, very little was left of the forests. I remember wondering in school as a child how they could have been so foolish, so short-sighted. Couldn’t they see the siltation of the streams? Didn’t they know they destroyed a wildlife habitat? Did they really think the forests were endless?

Do I?

It’s a difficult issue. One I don’t particularly like to face.

Yes, there’s profit in selling tree removals, but there’s also a loss. In some instances, the loss outweighs the gain.

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TCIA Opens Search For New President

TCIA opens search for new president

The board of directors of the Tree Care Industry Association recently began work to find a successor for president Mark Garvin, who plans to retire early next year. He has served the association for more than two decades and as president since 2009.

“Mark has expertly piloted the association to significant growth and program expansion during his tenure, leading a talented management team in the delivery of strong and consistent value for TCIA members,” says Peter Sortwell, chairman of the TCIA board of directors. “The board will miss Mark’s leadership and is thrilled that he will assist in our transition.”

The timeline for the search was expected to take two to three months.

“It has been an honor to lead this association and this great industry alongside our dedicated TCIA team,” Garvin says. “Twenty-one years ago, when I came aboard the National Arborist Association, we were a much smaller organization with a much more limited reach. TCI EXPO was relatively new. There was no accreditation, CTSP safety certification, Voice for Trees political action committee, Arborist Safety Training Institute, workforce development initiative or regional outreach coordinators.

“Next year, TCIA will celebrate 80 years of advancing tree care businesses. As we work together to write the next chapter in our shared history, I am confident that the association and the industry will continue to grow.”

The new TCIA president and CEO will begin his or her tenure in approximately February or March.

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Take Time To Enjoy The Great Outdoors

Enjoying The Great Outdoors

Every fall I find myself crossing the largest lake in the world to vacation on a wilderness island. Reached only by seaplane or by boat, Isle Royale National Park is surrounded by hundreds of square miles of Lake Superior. Isolated, remote, and due to the long severe winters, the park is closed for seven months of the year. There are many years that Isle Royale is the least-visited national park in the lower 48 states. If you’re looking for a place to get away from it all, you’d be hard pressed to find a better location. As an added bonus, no Wi-Fi is available and cell phones register no bars.

This will be my 35th year vacationing on Isle Royale — I suspect the people I work with at my tree care company envy my annual sojourn to the wilderness. Every one of them hunts, fishes, hikes, bikes, gardens or is seriously engaged in some sort of outdoor recreational activity.

It’s safe to say that people who work in the tree care industry enjoy spending time outdoors, whether at work or at play.

Besides working outdoors, tree workers frequently look up. It’s kind of a job requirement. If you look up at trees as often as we do, you’re going to notice natural wonders that most people miss. We get to see interesting cloud formations on a regular basis. We notice raptors soaring on the thermals.

Then there are the trees themselves. Since we are outside so much of the time, because we’re looking skyward, and because of all the physical activity this job demands — despite its many hazards — I also believe we’re a healthier lot, which is terribly important benefit. As author Augusten Burroughs remarked, “If you can have your health you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.”

As a result, I’ve known several individuals in this trade who, when offered a so-called promotion, have turned the job down. And those who do accept new positions soon complain about how their waist lines are growing or about how they now breathe hard when climbing a flight of stairs.

We also work on crews, which keeps us on our toes. We don’t want to be that person who lets their crewmates down. More importantly, we want to make a positive difference in each other’s day.

And since we must work together, we must learn to communicate. We need to learn to speak quickly, clearly and often times, loudly. When someone needs direction and they’re running a saw or a chipper or hauling wood, you can’t hem and haw over your choice of words. It’s critically important that those working around you know what you’re doing and why. In fact, a good tree crew communicates so well that they often anticipate each other’s needs, handing that saw off just as he turns for it or having that line ready before it’s called for.

I return to Isle Royale each year because I love the wilderness setting. I’m literally outdoors 24/7 and I picked a good place to do that. The island park is so pristine that ecologists use its inland lakes and the air overhead for a barometer for what healthy water and air should look like. As such, Isle Royale was declared a wilderness area as soon as the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964. The research projects conducted here have grown so scientifically important that Isle Royale was declared an International Biosphere Preserve by the United Nations’ Science and Environment Panel, which is a sort of Hall of Fame designation for environmentally important sites.

Due to the remote wilderness setting, several wildlife studies are conducted on Isle Royale, including the longest running predator-prey study in the world. Moose and wolves are the only large mammals that inhabit the island. The predator-prey balance between them is a living example of how important that relationship is. The 55-year-old study is often cited when explaining why predator-prey balances are so crucial. It’s a lesson arborists have learned well, for it certainly applies to growing healthy trees.

Places like Isle Royale, however, are important for more than just their scientific reasons. I had the privilege of spending an entire month here over my fiftieth birthday. I fished, canoed, hiked, camped and relaxed for an entire month without hearing the sound of any car or smelling the odor of exhaust. To say I felt inspired when I returned is an understatement. That month away spawned two books: “Naked in the Stream; Isle Royale Stories” and “Hidden in the Trees; an Isle Royale Sojourn.” The first became the official Great Lakes Region read for 2017 as chosen by the Michigan Center for the Book.

John Muir, a man who could honestly boast about spending much of his life outdoors and who would inspire the creation of the National Park System, once said, “I only went outside for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” Those of us who work in the tree care industry well understand how Mr. Muir came to that conclusion.

If you work for a tree service, there’s no question that working conditions can be rough. It’s often too hot or too cold. You’re often wet and miserable. We work hard — even harder during storms. After natural disasters, we may work seven days a week. Our bodies ache. Our muscles are sore. Most of us are nursing cuts and bruises. But we get up the next morning and do it all over again. We’ve learned from experience that we can. We know the hard way that we’re capable of working through pain. We also know how to pace ourselves.

That all strikes me as being extremely valuable.

Ours’ is a type of self-awareness I believe few people acquire. It’s a confidence in oneself that can be carried with you into whatever endeavor you choose, be it professional or recreational.

As with tree work, wilderness camping has its challenges, too. I’ve experienced a great deal of “education” over the 35 years I’ve vacationed on Isle Royale. I’ve learned how to better prepare, how to pack and what to avoid. I’ve reached the limits of my physical endurance. I’ve learned to maintain my equipment in good working order.

And with each passing year, I learn something new. I’ll bring an improved piece of gear or clothing or footwear. It may be something as simple as a headlamp versus a handheld flashlight. Or polar tech outerwear versus a wool shirt. Or a new fishing lure “guaranteed” to catch fish.

You never quit learning in this trade.

It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. Our work crews now wear headsets in their hard hats so as to better communicate with each other. The new ascending devices dramatically improve that initial climb up a tree. Digital photography clarifies for customers, as well as for staff, what needs to be done. And I can’t remember the last time I didn’t email an estimate.

I’m sure future improvements will be just as big. Laser pruners? Jet packs? Holographic house calls? Chain saws and chippers so quiet they’re almost silent. New equipment that’s stronger and lighter than ever before, strong enough to lift tons of wood and yet do no damage to lawns.

I believe our trade will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future. Given the many sharp minds at work in it, I think that future looks quite bright.

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Manufacturers Analyze Equipment Trends

Equipment Trends

One way to make important buying decisions easier is stay abreast of industry trends. Tree Services recently asked several leading manufacturers to share their insights regarding equipment and products for arborists and how the market trends they’re witnessing impact buying decisions. These experts also asses the overall outlook for the tree care equipment market and analyze what the future holds, as far as equipment and product advancements:


  • The growth of compact loaders in the tree care industry has been meteoric in the last several years and we expect this trend continue. The reduction of manual labor and the increased efficiency of mechanically feeding chippers with compact loaders helps tree care professionals’ margins get tighter. Vermeer is dedicated to continued innovation in this market, in terms of attachments and new equipment for the arborist in the coming years.
  • Both national and regional diseases and infestations — such as emerald ash borer — are continuing to drive demand for skilled arborist services, for either extended treatment or the takedown and disposal of large trees in urban environments.
  • The need for larger equipment and arborists certified in technical tree removal is a growing trend we see as well.

Matt Hutchinson, Product Manager/Vermeer

  • We continue to see industry professionals seek out new ways to increase their efficiency and productivity.
  • We’re noticing more mulching head users switch from carbide cutting teeth to sharpened knives. Although knives require regular sharpening, they’re providing a productivity boost that operators want. The knives also produce a more attractive end product that customers desire.

Bill Schafer, Product Development Supervisor/Loftness

  • Difficulty in finding employees.
  • Difficulty to hire and retain CDL drivers.
  • Difficulty to find drivers that know how to drive manual transmissions.

Andy Price, Tree Care Market Manager/Altec

  • We are seeing growth in the battery-powered product segment as more and more professionals are seeing the multitude of benefits offered by battery-powered technology. Noise and emissions regulations in certain working environments — such as municipalities, schools, hospitals and many residential communities — continue to be a contributing factor in driving this trend. Arborists are also increasingly recognizing the cost-saving benefits and efficiencies battery products can provide.
  • Tree care professionals are continuing to buy the vast majority of their equipment from independent servicing dealers.

Kent Hall, Senior Product Manager/STIHL

  • One of the primary trends we’re seeing is the need to do more with less. Although the tree care industry is poised to experience moderate growth in the short term, many arborists and tree care contractors are looking to optimize their equipment fleet with smaller, nimbler and more productive equipment.
  • Both skid steer and compact track loaders have been popular equipment options for the industry; however, many tree care professionals are now looking at smaller equipment options with comparable lifting capacities as a substitute for their bulkier cousins.

Sean O’Halloran, Marketing Manager/Toro

We continue to see battery-powered products and innovation in sustainability as the number one trend. More and more arborists realize the benefits of battery-powered chainsaws when it comes to both rear-handle as well as top-handle saws. This is still an emerging trend and we’re just seeing the beginning of where the industry will take this over the next years. We are certain, though, that it will shape and define the future not only in replacing low-displacement gas saws but also more powerful, higher-displacement saws as well.

Christian Johnsson, Product Manager, Husqvarna


  • Labor seems to be the limiting factor in the growth of many of our customers’ businesses. There is available work, but skilled and qualified labor is in short supply. This has led Vermeer to continue focusing on the efficiency and productivity of our equipment. The launch of the newest Vermeer brush chipper, the AX19, is intended to continue to address this labor issue. The enhanced crush capability and pull-in force of our infeed system helps reduce operator interaction at the chipper to process large, branchy material and process more material in a normal day.
  • The Tree Commander remote control is also a standard feature, which allows control of the feed system when not standing next to the chipper. The fully featured, deluxe Tree Commander remote-control option can even adjust the chute and apply hydraulic crush. This remote operation allows us to create a unique synergy with our compact utility loaders, like the CTX100 mini skid steer.
  • The Vermeer brush chipper line now features the BC1000XL with an 89-hp gas engine, the BC1200XL with a 135-hp gas engine and the recently released 165-hp gas option for the BC1800XL.

Matt Hutchinson, Product Manager/Vermeer

  • Loftness has recently introduced a new Battle Ax drum mulcher, featuring a redesigned rotor to meet the needs of today’s industry professionals. The Battle Ax has unique depth gauges that maximize the performance of cutting knives, as well as carbide teeth.
  • Keep an eye out for a new disc mower, which we will be introducing soon.

Bill Schafer, Product Development Supervisor/Loftness

  • Our EC175-5S-FG remote-controlled tree-trimming unit.
  • An intentional and strategic expansion of both brick and mortar and remote service capabilities.

Andy Price, Tree Care Market Manager/Altec

  • The new STIHL BR 700 X backpack blower is one of the most powerful (64.8 cc) blowers in the STIHL range, delivering 34 Newtons (the force needed to accelerate 1 kg of mass at the rate of 1 m/sec2) of blowing force. Its fixedlength tube is a half-pound lighter than the BR 700 and features a more flexible pleated connecting hose, reducing fatigue and increasing the speed of cleanups by up to 20 percent (depending on battery and usage).
  • Earlier this year, STIHL launched several new high-performance pole pruners (HT 103, HT 132 and HT 133) featuring a redesigned gearbox, making the machines lighter and easy to maneuver (compared to previous models). With 710 cc fuel tanks, each pole pruner provides 30 percent longer run times than the previous models. The result is that users can spend less time refueling and more time cutting.
  • The STIHL Lightning Battery System is consistently expanding its professional lineup. Designed for professional use and long run-times, the AP Series features commercial-grade products such as the MSA 200 C B-Q chain saw, the extended reach HTA 85 pole pruner and the BGA 100 blower.

Kent Hall, Senior Product Manager/STIHL

  • Leading manufacturers of tree care equipment, like Toro, are focused on incorporating more operator-centric features into their equipment to enhance productivity and improve safety. One way these companies are doing this is by listening to the concerns of tree care professionals themselves and working with research and development teams to engineer solutions that can meet those needs.
  • With the recent launch of the Dingo TX 1000, compact utility loaders are now rivaling — and surpassing — the lifting capacities of some skid steer loaders and compact track loaders. This means tree care professionals can accomplish the same work at the same rate with a lower upfront equipment investment. Additionally, they can take advantage of all the benefits a compact utility loader offers, including easier mounting and dismounting, a better vantage point and improved accessibility in tight areas, among others.

Sean O’Halloran, Marketing Manager/Toro

A highlight of Husqvarna’s professional-grade 500 Series battery lineup is the 536Li XP chainsaw, which features a 14-inch bar and produces a high chain speed of 65.62 fts at max power. The chainsaw’s performance is complemented by ergonomic features, including a lightweight design, quiet operation and reduced vibrations, which minimize user fatigue. The Li-ion battery can be used interchangeably with the 536Li XP chainsaw along with the rest of Husqvarna’s battery-powered products, making it a natural fit for on-the-go professionals looking for efficient, high-quality outdoor power equipment that is also quiet and environmentally friendly.

Christian Johnsson, Product Manager, Husqvarna


  • All indications are that 2018 will continue to be a good year for tree care — consumer confidence, new housing starts and a rise in discretionary income all point to a positive growth trend. As a company, Vermeer will continue to listen to the needs of our customers as we innovate for the future.

Matt Hutchinson, Product Manager/Vermeer

  • At Loftness, we’re optimistic about the market and our opportunity to supply tree care professionals with the equipment to help them succeed.

Bill Schafer, Product Development Supervisor/Loftness

  • Products that utilize technology that can reduce the number of employees needed to perform tasks.
  • Products that can eliminate or reduce labor.
  • Products that allow tree work to be done more safely and by keeping workers on the ground, when possible.

Andy Price, Tree Care Market Manager/Altec

  • We believe the market will continue to progress in delivering product advancements that enhance arborists’ productivity in the field. This includes increased durability, improved ergonomics/comfort and fuel efficiency.
  • Manufacturers and suppliers are continuously evolving their products to better meet customer demands and the needs of the industry.

Kent Hall, Senior Product Manager/STIHL

  • In the short term, the tree care market is looking forward to moderate growth.
  • Equipment selection is more important than ever.
  • Equipment is getting smarter and more sophisticated by the day. Savvy tree care professionals are taking the time to properly evaluate their options on a regular basis.

Sean O’Halloran, Marketing Manager/Toro

We think there will be a lot of focus on lighter, gas-driven chainsaws dedicated for climbing and crown reductions as professionals continue to look for high-quality products that provide the best possible solution for each type of job.  At Husqvarna, we will also continue our focus on innovative battery products across the entire landscaping and tree care portfolio.

Christian Johnsson, Product Manager, Husqvarna


  • Environmental, regulatory and labor issues are helping to define the future of the professional arborist. The acquisition cost of new equipment has continued to rise, as regåulatory emission standards have led to an increase in cost and complexity of diesel engines used on chippers, stump cutters and other arborist-related equipment.
  • The result of this has started to shift equipment purchasing decisions toward industrial gas engines in the 75- to 200-hp range. Provided we don’t see an inverse in fuel costs, we see this trend continuing based on the lower purchase price of gas-powered equipment.

Matt Hutchinson, Product Manager/Vermeer

  • Tree care professionals are looking for new products to increase their efficiency and productivity. But most of them are also looking for an equipment supplier that will support them long after the sale to help ensure their success in the field.

Bill Schafer, Product Development Supervisor/Loftness

  • Demonstrated and effective after-the-sale service.

Andy Price, Tree Care Market Manager/Altec

  • Tree care professionals are continuously seeking high-quality, durable products that are rugged enough to stand up to tough jobs, combined with efficiency features to get these jobs done.
  • Fuel continues to be one of the biggest expenses for companies in the tree care industry. For those who employ gasoline-powered equipment, a big driver in purchasing decisions is a product’s ability to maximize fuel efficiency, therefore minimizing this expense.
  • Tree care professionals tend to be an eco-conscious group. They’re looking for products that not only meet — and exceed — performance expectations, but also feature environmental efficiencies and/or minimize their environmental footprint.
  • Tree care work can be physically demanding, so arborists are continuing to seek products that reduce fatigue and make their jobs easier. Optimal power-to-weight ratios are essential for in-tree work. Manufacturers are keeping this in mind, designing products that are both powerful, yet lightweight.

Kent Hall, Senior Product Manager/STIHL

  • For tree care professionals, it’s all about productivity, versatility and maneuverability.
  • Much of arborists’ work varies from week to week. They require a fleet of equipment that can meet a variety of needs while still remaining cost effective and practical. One week the job might require clearing trees in a wide-open area; the next week it may be a tree felling in a small yard with limited access points. The tree care professional needs a fleet of equipment that can serve

Sean O’Halloran, Marketing Manager/Toro

We see three major factors that influence purchasing decisions. Durability – they want a saw that they can rely on for a long period of time. Service – they want a knowledgeable dealer that can provide service and repairs nearby. Ease of use – when climbing a tree or felling a large tree from the ground, they want a saw that is easy to start and handle with low vibrations so they can use it for longer periods of time without fatigue.

Christian Johnsson, Product Manager, Husqvarna

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Best Maintenance Tips For Stump Grinders

Talking Stump Grinders

We asked experts from several leading manufacturers: “If there’s one thing you could remind tree care professionals about maintaining their stump grinder properly, what would it be?”

Here’s what they had to say:

Casey Gross
Tree Care Products Business Unit Director/Morbark

Make sure to keep the cutter teeth sharp — this gets overlooked all the time. While the tooth may look good, it can get rounded and dull. This can put undue stress on the bearing and cutter shaft. The cutting teeth are the heart of the machine and need to be looked at daily.

Matt Hutchinson
Product Manager/Vermeer

The sole purpose of a stump cutter is to remove tree stumps in an efficient manner. This is true regardless of the machine’s horsepower, how that power is transmitted to the cutter wheel or whether the machine is on tracks or tires. The main feature of a stump cutter, which helps with productivity, is the cutter system working in tandem with the teeth — a critical component of the cutter wheel. It’s up to the user to monitor and maintain the condition of the teeth on a daily basis to help ensure they’re in good condition and being used for efficient operation. Vermeer offers its Yellow Jacket cutter system on all stump cutters. This can be a benefit to operators, as it allows the teeth to be rotated and is independent of the tooth pocket. To help ensure smoother operation, keeping the teeth in good condition will help extend the life of the machine.

Harvey Geiser
Technical Support Engineer/ Steiner Tractors & Schiller Grounds Care

Make sure the teeth are sharp so you don’t waste your time with a dull stump grinder. If your grinder is dull, a stump that would have taken you two hours could take you four to six hours. Dull teeth can also decrease fuel economy and increase stress on the machine. Users should check stump grinder teeth daily, or at least after every use. Look for cutters that are dull, bent, missing or broken. When sharpening, don’t sharpen the carbide tips themselves. Instead, sharpen the heel of the bit so that the carbide tip has room to grind against the stump. In addition, make sure the drive to the wheel is in good condition and that all belts have proper tension.

Earl Gress
Service Manager/ Rayco

Maintain the cutter teeth. Dull teeth not only slow down the time it takes to cut the client’s stump, but the grinder uses extra fuel. Dull teeth will shorten the bearing life and cause undo strain on the cutter head drive system. Teeth should be checked daily and sharpened or replaced if dull. If the carbide tip is broken or missing, the cutter tooth should be replaced.

Chris Osgood
National Sales Manager/Dosko

Proper inspection and timely changing of key components. Stump grinders are machines that operate in very tough conditions. We count on the teeth to quickly and safely remove stumps. Most operators know when the teeth need to be sharpened or replaced. In addition to the teeth, the tooth pocket and bolts need to be inspected each time teeth are sharpened or changed. Also, the bolts need replaced each time the pockets are changed. Changing pockets and bolts make sure the cutting wheel is in good shape.

Sean O’Halloran
Marketing Manager/Toro

Make sure the integrity of the cutting wheel isn’t compromised and that the teeth are sharp and clean. This can be accomplished with a simple visual inspection before startup. An operator should never start a stump grinder with any evidence of cracking in the wheel. Ensuring that the wheel and teeth aren’t compromised will equate to more productivity, and more importantly, will help keep the operator safe. Depending on the model of stump grinder, operators should take a look at bolt holes to see if they are worn, oversized or elongated. This can cause the tooth pockets to rotate during use and potentially change the cutting angle, ultimately leading to poor cutting performance, tooth bending or breakage.

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New Product Roundup: November 2017

Wood rings

Snow Plow
SnowWolf recently introduced its redesigned ProPlowFX, an all-purpose plow that works for both snow removal and light dirt moving/ landscaping, the company says. The versatility of the ProPlowFX’s new attachment is made possible by a semifloating torsion system that provides infinitely variable down pressure and shock absorption, a trip lock-out feature and a shorter blade-to-machine distance for greater maneuverability, according to SnowWolf. The ProPlowFX also features automatic oscillation, which is an improvement over the previous design. It allows the attachment to rise or fall up to 5 inches on either end, so the plow follows the contours of the surface being plowed and scrapes it clean, the company says. In addition, SnowWolf reports that the resized the blade makes the ProPlowFX ideal for smaller skid steers and compact tractors. The attachment is designed for use with machines that weigh up to 8,000 pounds and is available in 5-foot, 6-foot, 7-foot and 8-foot lengths.
Barko’s B-Series loader product line has recently been updated to offer several new service and safety features. According to Barko, the B-Series loaders deliver high-capacity performance for various log-handling applications, including sorting, stacking, pull-through delimbing and loading. New enhancements to provide easier and safer machine serviceability on the B-Series loaders include relocated fuel filters, simplified electrical accessibility/ component replacement and better wire protection and routing, the company says. In addition, a more robust hydraulic cylinder design adds durability. All B-Series loaders feature a pilot-operated hydraulic control system — in conjunction with IQAN electronic controls — to provide a more natural feel for the operator, Barko says. The system can be configured as necessary and maintenance can be performed without a specialist, according to the company. Each loader is powered by a 173-hp Cummins Tier 4-final diesel engine. Maximum lift capacities range from 38,820 pounds for the 595B to 22,820 pounds for the 295B.

ArborSystems introduced its new direct-inject Retriever insecticide at the International Society of Arboriculture’s International Conference and Trade Show in August. “Retriever controls aphids, caterpillars, scale, Japanese beetles, leaf miners, leaf hoppers and other pests,” says Chip Doolittle, president of ArborSystems. Retriever is available in 120-ml and 1,000-ml Quick-Connect Chemical Packs. It’s used in tree injection application of ornamental or non-bearing fruit and nut trees, the company says. Retriever contains the active ingredient Acetamiprid and is formulated to translocate in the tree’s vascular system when injected, according to ArborSystems.



Have a new product? Send a 75-to-100 word description and a high-resolution color photo to us at with the subject line “New Products.”

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The Great Value Of A Good Leader

The Great Value of a Good Leader

I’m a leadership junkie. I’ve always been interested in why people follow the lead of certain others, both in the workplace and in everyday life.

Tree care, like any business, requires solid leadership in order to be successful. It starts at the top with the owner of the company. It then filters down to the crew leader on individual jobs. The fact is, strong leadership from crew leaders and managers will almost always result in increased safety and efficiency. Leaders inspire people to achieve great things. This can happen in any company, big or small.

So, what goes into good leadership? Do you have a leadership void at your company? Here are some general tips that could help at your operation:

Have a plan. And a backup plan. And a backup plan for the backup plan.

Keep documents, inventories and notes. It’s vital to document both good and bad incidents and behaviors, especially when it comes time for performance reviews. Well-organized records can help you track the progress of your business and prepare accurate financial statements and reports. How can you know what equipment to buy and when to do so if you don’t have a crystal-clear picture of your company’s finances? Also, ground everything with data. Back up all your decisions, opinions and thoughts with hard, objective facts and evidence.

Leadership is more work, not less. If you aspire to be a leader, understand that such a position should create more work for you, not less. Leaders lead by example. How can you expect someone to be inspired by you if you’re not the first person on the job and the last one to leave? (Depending on your situation, this may not always be practical or feasible.) The point is that if people see you slacking off, they’re likely to do the same. That’s the complete opposite of good leadership. Being a leader is a responsibility – expect and demand more from yourself than from employees. A leader’s foundation is strong and unbreakable.

Set standards and practice equal treatment. Say your best climber isn’t wearing the proper PPE – but this is the first incident for this person. Several of the people you supervise observe this break in protocol. What do you do? A good leader will reprimand the climber and ensure the proper PPE is present. A bad leader would give the climber a pass, since that person is your best and it’s never happened before. Treat everyone the same, regardless of skill or experience level.

Leaders live balanced lives. We cover the importance of proper work/personal life balance often in the pages of Tree Services. This isn’t on accident. For the long term, leaders don’t let work, or their job, define them. They have balance in their lives. Family, personal mental health and happiness are always the top priority. Professional success follows from there. At the same time, leaders exhibit a passion and love for their job while on the clock. Positive attitudes are contagious. If you don’t love it, who will?

An eye toward the future is critical. One of the more important traits for a leader, in my mind, is the ability to think one step ahead of everyone else. This goes back to having plans in place. But thinking ahead can also mean looking ahead. The future of a business depends on vision and a willingness to not become out of date or obsolete. Use this concept of forward thinking when hiring people or even purchasing equipment – how will this person/tool not only help me now, but three years from now?

Make your own copies. The worst boss I ever had was someone who didn’t know how to do anything in the office. This person couldn’t answer the phone, use the computers or figure out the printer. Instead of bothering to learn, this person had their employees do it all. Especially in a small company, this is the worst example of leadership. Have humility, roll up your sleeves and get dirty with your staff. Educate yourself. Step out of your comfort zone.

Know yourself and be honest. If you’re good at resolving disputes, step in and resolve them. If there’s something you’re not good at, admit it and work on it. Also, don’t make excuses. If you make a mistake, own it and don’t pass the blame.

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2017 Tree Care Industry Expo Preview

2017 Tree Care Industry Expo

The TCI Expo offers educational opportunities with top industry leaders in business, safety and arboriculture, as well as the chance to network with colleagues, vendors and manufacturers from around the country. Compare equipment, evaluate products and take advantage of expo-only pricing from hundreds of exhibitors. Plus, check out live demonstrations, attend forums and roundtables, earn valuable CEUs and much more.

Nov. 2-4 | Preconference Nov. 1

Greater Columbus Convention Center Columbus, Ohio



Tree Care Industry Association

@VoiceofTreeCare | #tciexpo


Thursday, Nov. 2 | 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 3 | 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 4 | 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.


The TCI Expo includes several preconference seminars, including the Electrical Hazards Awareness Program (English & Spanish); Plant Health Care Strategies: Pest, Plant and Soil Management; and a free Accreditation Workshop. New this year is TCIA’s Crew Leader Qualification (see below).


Wednesday, Nov. 1 (Preconference) CREW LEADER QUALIFICATION

Sharon Lilly, Aesculus, LLC; Bob Rouse, TCIA

Aspiring, new and veteran crew leaders — develop and grow your leadership, communication and personnel management skills, and learn how to apply them to strengthen your team. Participants will take an exam to earn TCIA’s new Crew Leader Qualification. *Prerequisite: Completion of Tree Care Academy Crew Leader manual. Includes lunch. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 1.


CTSP CEUs are available for all safety seminars, in addition to select business seminars. (International Society of Arboriculture CEUs are also available and are noted in the TCIA’s event guide, which will be available to attendees upon arrival). In total, the TCI Expo offers more than 85 hours of education:

  • NALP (National Association of Landscape Professionals) Recertification at 1 CEU/hour of attendance
  • ASCA (American Society for Consulting Arborists) 12 possible CEUs for trade show attendance
  • Pesticide CEUs: States offer licensed pesticide applicator credits for arboriculture seminars. View the current listing at


The TCI Expo job and internship fair on Saturday, Nov. 4, is a valuable opportunity to meet and recruit some of the best and brightest new talent in the industry. Students in attendance are career-focused, motivated and want to meet prospective employers. Contact Mai Chen at today to secure your booth.

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