Wood Waste Considerations

Wood Waste Considerations

It’s a question of mindset, really — is all wood debris generated on tree care jobs a waste or resource? Do you dispose of it or take advantage of it? Of course, every situation is different and sometimes the philosophy is driven by financial implications involved. “In part, it’s a game of how we can get rid of the material as quickly as possible, as cheaply as possible,” says Ben Heslep, owner of Old Town Tree and Landscaping in Winchester, Virginia. But, like many tree care professionals, when given the choice, Heslep tries to make sure that wood waste is repurposed somehow. “I like to find a better spot than just taking it to a dump where it will sit forever,” he emphasizes. “We’re not unique, but I think we’re passionate about trying to find uses for the waste instead of just getting rid of it.”

“We’re getting rid of our waste and it’s being repurposed.”

One growing outlet for Old Town Tree and Landscaping has come through an increased demand for loads of natural wood chips from people who are knowledgeable about horticulture. “[The chips] are better for the soil…once that wood decomposes, it turns back into soil. So instead of buying mulch, they’re taking wood chips and using it for their gardens,” Heslep explains. While not necessarily profitable, knowing who might want chips often provides a relatively convenient and productive way to get rid of the material. Heslep tries to ensure the gardeners get good chips, rather than a lot of stringy material. But he cautions that, depending on the tree species they came from, the chips need to sit for a time to reduce acid content.

“[We look for] ash in particular because it splits well. Also, red oak, white oak, even cherry and maple — if we get good rounds of these, I’ll take them back to my lot and store them, and we’ll split and sell them by the cord as firewood,” says Ben Heslep, owner of Old Town Tree and Landscaping in Winchester, Virginia.

Image Courtesy Of Old Town Tree and Landscaping

In some cases, Heslep’s able to drop off larger wood to those who want it for firewood. “A lot of people will call us and ask for just rounds of wood. If it’s close by, we’ll just give them away — we won’t split it for them, but we’ll drop it off,” says Heslep. The property owner just needs to mark a spot where they want the wood dropped. “I like doing that; it’s a symbiotic relationship, where we’re getting rid of our waste and it’s being repurposed.”

When it comes to split firewood, there’s at least a little bit of a profit to be made — Heslep looks for good hardwood. “[We look for] ash in particular because it splits well. Also, red oak, white oak, even cherry and maple — if we get good rounds of these, I’ll take them back to my lot and store them. Then, we’ll split and sell them by the cord as firewood,” Heslep explains. Old Town Tree and Landscaping will deliver and stack the wood for customers, for a fee.

When these outlets aren’t available for lower-grade wood waste, Heslep’s last resort it to bring it to the local wood dump. That doesn’t mean it’s landfilled and forgotten, though. “They reprocess everything in big drum grinders; they grind everything up a couple of times, turn it into mulch, dye it and resell it,” he says. “And some of the chips are sold to power plants for clean energy.” That local wood dump used to be free, but now charges for drop-offs. “But it’s not that bad,” Heslep explains. “My dump bill averages about $150. It’s not a big deal and it helps ensure the longevity of our dumping spot.”

The highest purpose for the best wood is lumber, says Heslep. “If it’s a nice walnut or a veneer-grade poplar or something like that, I have a few woodworkers who come get the logs,” says Heslep. Even if it’s the type of log that might be worth money, he’s happy to give them away so that the wood will go to some better use, like for cabinets or furniture, as long as the woodworker can come and pick it up without damaging the yard where it came from. “So, it has to be the right scenario where they can get a big tractor, loader, trailer or grapple truck onto my site without doing more damage,” he adds.

Heslep has developed a relationship with one particular company, Bent River Woodworks, that picks up quite a bit of wood from him. “They make beautiful, stuff. It’s cool to scroll through their website and think that some of the wood I gave them might have produced a table or piece of furniture,” he says, noting that this relationship is also symbiotic. It means that Heslep doesn’t incur the effort or expense of hauling away or somehow processing large logs. “They get a free piece of wood and it saves us a little time and energy,” he states.

“I’ve been surprised to learn how many small, custom sawmill operations there are just here in the Chicago area.”

This is exactly the type of relationship building that Rich Christianson is hoping to achieve in the Chicago area. He’s the communications director of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team, a group funded by the U.S Forest Service and others with a mission to “encourage the harvesting and use of wood from urban and community trees felled in Illinois.”

Illinois has recently joined forces with neighboring Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri to form the Urban Wood Network, which is also geared toward the utilization of trees from urban forests. “While this isn’t a new concept, it’s one that I think is starting to get more legs,” says Christianson. And tree care companies, he adds, “are on the front lines — they often know of desirable trees that are coming down for whatever reason, whether it’s emerald ash borer, storm damage or utility work — so we’re trying to get them more involved.”

The hope is that tree care contractors will tip off a sawyer in their local area who could, for example, bring out a portable mill to process that tree. Or a woodworker interested in purchasing the log. Not every arborist or tree care company is interested in ensuring that urban wood is put to good use whenever possible, “but a lot of them do,” says Christianson, whose group tries to spread the message. “It’s a lot of missionary work,” he adds.

The first step is just letting those in the industry know that there are many woodworkers, furniture builders and others out there who want good urban wood. “I’ve been surprised myself to learn how many small, custom sawmill operations there are just here in the Chicago area,” says Christianson. Once there’s a recognition that there are outlets for the wood, the next step is to help build relationships, so the tree care company knows who to call in a particular area when they have a certain kind of tree with potential.

Christianson feels that the market for urban wood is growing. He cites not only demand from niche woodworkers wanting to market products made from urban wood, but also national companies such as Starbucks, which has built the interior or more than 100 stores using urban wood. People are increasingly seeing not only the value from saving a tree from going into the landfill, but that there’s sometimes a financial value in the wood itself, he notes. The tree care company might be able to profit by selling certain logs to a woodworker who can make money from selling a product made from reclaimed or urban wood.

“We sell it at the end of the year as seasoned firewood, so we get a little extra money.”

At Woodworks Tree Service in New York’s Hudson Valley, owner Michael Powell is always looking for ways to make the best — and more efficient — use of wood debris. His clients often want wood chips. But if they don’t, he tries to maintain a list of others in the area who would take them. “The last resort is that we have to pay to dump them, so we try to avoid that if we can,” he explains.

Much of the company’s larger wood (too big to fit through the chipper) is brought back to the shop for processing into firewood. As other tree care pros also point out, Powell says there’s a lot of labor and trucking/handling involved with firewood, so it isn’t extremely profitable. But it does generate some revenue. “We sell it at the end of the year as seasoned firewood, so we get a little extra money. And we don’t have to pay to get rid of it, which is a good side-benefit,” he states.

Recently, Woodworks Tree Service has begun doing more milling of large logs. “That’s been tricky, because you have to transport the log, which requires heavy machines. Or you’re bringing the mill to the job site. So, it’s a little harder to get that product produced. But if we can, we’ll do it,” Powell explains. The company recently purchased a jig for a chainsaw that allows it to saw lumber without an actual mill. “That’s been really nice. We don’t have to bring the log anywhere, we can do it right there on the site,” Powell says. The boards are then brought back and sold as lumber. “Lumber is really the top echelon of the continued-use wood product chain,” he says. Powell jokes that he’s not yet large enough to compete with Home Depot on the lumber front, “but it produces some really nice material for artisanal woodworking and things like that.” He’s had success in showcasing and marketing the lumber via social media avenues like Instagram and Facebook.

Old Town Tree and Landscaping, in Winchester, Virginia, delivers and stacks firewood for customers, for a fee.

“You have to find places where you can dump it, you have to find people who will take it.”

Dusty Burmeister, owner of Meister Tree Care in Dixon, Illinois, says that he didn’t have all the answers to dealing with wood waste when he started his company, and still doesn’t, but little by little he’s found productive outlets for it. “You have to find places where you can dump it, you have to find people who will take it,” he says. “We still sometimes go into areas where we don’t have good contacts for reusing the product, but over the last 10 years we’ve made a lot of progress.”

When it comes to chips, Meister Tree Care’s customer list includes many homeowners who want them for mulching around landscapes. The company also has developed a market for firewood. “People are heating with wood a little bit more because of the cost of utilities. Also, people just seem to love a fire,” says Burmeister. “And we’ve made connections with a few people in our area that have sawmills for some of our clear and straight wood that can be turned into board; they get used for anything from framing to fences to artistic décor, benches and tables — we’ve made a ton of things with the wood. And some people have made some really fine furniture out of our walnut, oak and cherry.” He points out that it’s sometimes the wood that’s really disfigured or “featured” wood that ends up being the most beautiful: “When you open some of that stuff up, it just has so much character.”

Burmeister says his mind is constantly running out on the job, pondering different ways that wood material might be used. He’d love to find a way to produce a wood fuel from the chips that could be used in small-scale applications like homes, rather than just in large commercial applications. “It’s a resource,” says Burmeister, “so to just landfill it or burn it frivolously isn’t the best use of that resource.”


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7 Steps To Follow When Inspecting For Tree Decay

Inspecting for Tree Decay

By itself, tree decay can be a major concern, especially if found in a soft-wooded tree species such as silver maple or poplar. Fortunately, some species are quite resistant and if other stressors aren’t present in a significant capacity, it may not be as worrisome as other problems such as poor location, planting errors, overfertilization or drought. A step-by-step approach works best when inspecting trees for decay:

  1. Use your eyes. Look for rot pockets, oozing, weeping, conks and different colors on the bark and branches.
  2. Walk the property extensively and identify possible targets. Interview the property owner and neighbors to get a handle on the frequency of use on the site.
  3. Use your experience. Certain tree species in certain locations are likely to develop decay. Locate tree parts that could fall on a target.
  4. Look closer using probing tools: golf club, rebar or irrigation flag. Use a rubber mallet or the butt of a hatchet to tap the tree trunk where you suspect decay is present.
  5. If necessary, use invasive tools such as a resistograph or core sampler. Reserve these for important tree specimens. For example, inspecting an oak at the entrance to the “Harvard Oaks” subdivision or a memorial tree. If the property owner has plenty of money to spend on inspection, consider the use of a sonic tomograph, a device that can illustrate the inside of the tree without cutting into it.
  6. Consider the potential for each tree defect to cause failure in conjunction with the proximity of an important target.
  7. Put it all together in the form of a relative hazard assessment, combining the presence and extent of the decay with other defects.

Editor’s note: These steps were taken from an article by John Fech in the November 2012 issue of Tree Services.


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Understanding Internal Tree Functions

Look At What You Can't See

When looking at your customers’ trees, what do you see? Leaves. Branches. A trunk with bark. Flowers and fruit. Sometimes, surface roots, especially if you’re looking at a baldcypress or silver maple.

But, what don’t you see?

On average, you don’t see at least half of the tree. What’s missing from the visual? In most cases, lots of tree tissue isn’t visible — sapwood, heartwood, most of the roots, cambium, soft inner tissues of unopened flowers and leaf buds — yet, just as important as the structures that you can see.

Why focus on the unseen? Several reasons. First, new tree workers usually don’t know much about the inner tree tissues and certainly not how they function and why they’re critical to overall tree health. Secondly, your customers usually know even less than new tree workers. Third, it’s key to the success of an arborist’s business to explain their significance to both groups and perhaps get a refresher, as well.

Red stain indicating movement in the normally unseen sapwood.

Name the parts

A highlight of one of the educational activities I’m involved with targets fifth-grade students, teaching them about the importance of trees in urban landscapes and natural areas. One of the core concepts is the parts of a tree and their function. I really enjoy quizzing the kids on this, holding up wood slices and pointing to various tree tissues to encourage discussion.

I use the discussion to point out the importance of bark and what’s underneath … using the opportunity to tell them not to run a lawn mower into the base of a tree, telling them to stop when they start driving over mulch; before, not after they hit the trunk. Most of the fifth graders can relate to this concept, as this seems to be the time that kids start mowing lawns these days.

Because it’s hard for fifth graders to name too many parts, I usually limit it to just four: bark, cambium, sapwood and heartwood. In many cases, curiosity gets the better of them, and they start asking about other structures, tree planting and even uses for the wood when trees die.

I’ve found after 30 years of doing this, one thing has stayed the same: No matter what part of the city/country the kids are from, how much money their parents make, how many other family members they have or any other demographic, the more their teacher works with them and the more mutual respect the student and teacher have for one another, the better the learning and more behaved the students is. So, hats off to good teachers out there!

Moving parts

Some tree parts move and some don’t. The time-honored tradition of carving initials in a tree when it’s young and expecting them to move upwards over time as the tree grows taller is an apt description of those that don’t.

So, which ones do? Actually, most of them, both visible and nonvisible. Many tree parts move over time, such as roots and shoots growing longer and thicker.

The effects of storm damage often reveals the sight of heartwood, which is usually out of sight.

This is one of the relatable elements to my presentation to the fifth graders. When I’m pointing to the wood slice, inevitably, one of the kids gets a pondering look on his or her face and then enthusiastically raises their hand and asks how old the tree is and, if I don’t know, offers to help count the number of annual rings to find out.

Thankfully, Mother Nature made most tree parts with flexibility to move in rain and windstorms. It’s amazing to watch the canopy of a tree whip and bend back and forth as the forces of nature rail upon it.

Of course, in some cases, the force of the storm exceeds the capacity of the tree to recover, and roots become loosened and branches break off.

Short of a root observation chamber, washed away soils provide the best insights into “the other half” of a tree’s parts.

While these occurrences may seem tragic, they can also be a profit center for tree care companies to inspect for loosened roots, leaning potential and hangers in the canopy. As well, damage repair can often be provided for clients, with appropriate associated charges.

In addition to the tree parts moving themselves, water and nutrients move in the tree – in soft tissues – from roots to shoots, flowers and fruit. As with the inner tissues themselves, it’s pretty hard to see the movement, unless you happen to cut a branch off and the sap flow is strong at that time of year. In order to illustrate the movement of injectable fertilizers and pesticides, university researchers and product manufacturers sometimes hold workshops and demonstrations to show how the equipment and products work. In order to make the invisible visible, colored dye is mixed with water to replicate movement of the actual injectable product and tracks the movement inside a tree from initial injection to the likely endpoint.

Most products tend to be translocated more thoroughly on warm, dry days in spring when evapotranspiration is high and soil moisture is adequate.

When can you see them?

Seeing the dye stain in the sapwood and cambium above the injection point is great on the day of the demonstration, but what other times or locations are the nonvisible tree parts available to inspect? The most common and accessible is the aforementioned opportunity of the aftermath of a storm. In extreme cases, all inner tissues are exposed, including the inner workings of the buttress roots and root hairs. When restorative work is being accomplished, and you have a little time to rest, direct your attention to identifying various inner tree parts.

Four less-than-obvious opportunities are when smoking meat (my personal favorite), cutting firewood, during woodworking and after a baseball bat is broken. Maybe you didn’t think of it this way, as the primary focus of these activities and objects are for other purposes, but anytime you get the chance to see the unseeable, it should be taken advantage of. Splitting logs open and cutting them to size is a big help in getting the glimpse inside. If working with another person, challenge each other to identify various parts and the relative strength associated with each one.

Another less-than-common opportunity to look at tree parts that normally aren’t seen is in root observation chambers at research field days. Actually, there are more such facilities than you might think. I first became acquainted with the concept in graduate school with observation of turfgrass roots after various herbicide, plant growth regulator or fertilizer treatments were applied. If you want to know the full effect of these products on plants, it’s wise to look at all parts, over time, without disturbing them. One of the more famous tree root observation chambers is in Houghton, Michigan, at a U.S. Forest Service facility. A variety of root expansion and development experiments are conducted at this laboratory and others in Florida, Minnesota, Vermont, Maryland, Canada and Europe.

Finally, the unfortunate occurrences of erosion and trenching exposes roots and the base of trees to those willing to pay a little attention. With a little patience and an inquisitive mind, information about what these structures look like in the real world and how they compare to the drawings in textbooks can be of present and future use.

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What’s New: January 2018

Wood rings

Earth & Turf Attachments
Mini Skid-Steer Attachment
Earth & Turf Attachments recently introduced a snow plow blade to fit on various mini skid-steer loaders. This 60-inch, manual-angle blade is designed to fit on the common mini skid-steer mounts for the following brands: Toro Dingo, Ramrod, Boxer and others that utilize the same mounting system, Earth & Turf says. The blade has a 19-inch high moldboard, full spring trip, bolt-on, reversible cutting edge and its full-blade trip can be locked out for light grading or moving loose materials, according to the company.
Sterling Rope Company
Arborist Rope
Sterling Rope Company developed a new approach to rope construction using mixed materials, the company says. With a polyester sheath and nylon core, the Sterling Rope WorkPro offers a balanced elongation in the core and sheath so the two share the load evenly, according to the company. This makes the WorkPro series stronger than other ropes of similar diameters, while retaining a small but important amount of elongation, Sterling Rope says. These kernmantle ropes are dual-certified to EN 1891 Type A and NFPA 1983. They also meet ANSI Z133 standards. The WorkPro series of static ropes are available in 0.375-, 0.4375- and 0.5-inch diameters. Each model comes in multiple colors and lengths.

Liquid Micronutrient
Arborjet recently announced the release of its Mn-jet Fe liquid micronutrient solution for trees, palms, shrubs and groundcovers. According to the company, Mn-jet Fe alleviates interveinal chlorosis. Interveinal chlorosis in plants is the result of micronutrient deficiencies, specifically iron and manganese. This is a common condition throughout the U.S. that affects a number of species including oak, sweetgum, birch, pine, maple and azaleas. Mn-jet Fe may be applied as formulated or diluted with water. Its liquid formulation mixes easily into solution and can be applied through both micro and macroinfusion equipment, or as a foliar spray for shrubs and groundcovers, the company says. Mn-jet Fe is available in 1-liter containers and in case quantities. One liter treats 20 trees (10-inch DBH) at the low rate.



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


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Register for the TCIA Winter Management Conference

Register for the TCIA Winter Management Conference

Are you a tree care business owner or manager interested in fi nding workable and realistic solutions for your company in today’s complicated world? If so, the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) Winter Management Conference (WMC) is an event you’ll want to look into attending.

The 2018 WMC will be held Feb. 4-8 in Hawaii, at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, located on Ka’anapali Beach.

Attendees will participate in poolside forums, roundtables and receptions to network with some of the industry’s more notable names. The laid-back, island atmosphere is an ideal place to establish new connections and make new friends, as well as network with old friends.

“For the last two decades, WMC has provided me with more successful networking opportunities than any other meeting, conference or trade show that I’ve attended,” says Dennis Beam of Altec Environmental Products.

“WMC has been a great experience for us for the past three years,” adds Joe Pipitone of Top Notch Tree Care (Milford, Pennsylvania). “The programs and presenters are fantastic. We fi nd the real value we gain is the tremendous relationships that develop. Strangers become friends and mentors, and that alone is worth the trip.”

Topics include safety and leadership, business processes, brand messaging and more. WMC offers both CTSP and International Society of Arboriculture CEUs. The WMC is also home to the Robert Felix Memorial Golf Tournament and the Voice for Trees Political Action Committee Cocktail Party & Auction.

Visit TCIA.org for more information and to sign up for WMC 2018 (register by Jan. 5 to qualify for special pricing).


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Protecting Trees From Winter Damage

Protecting Trees From Winter Damage

Winter weather — you know it’s coming, but there’s no stopping it. Even in the South, the impact of winter can take a toll, especially where poorly advised homeowners plant trees in USDA Zone 7 that are best suited for Zone 9. In the North, extreme fluctuations in temperature and moisture can wreak havoc with the survivability of valuable specimens. The question is, since it’s inevitable, how can we at least slow it down or lessen the effects?

The best way to address winter protection is with the mindset that it’s much easier to prevent than cure. Actually, this is also true for lots of tree maladies, including fungal infections, planting errors, soil compaction, irrigation equipment installation and most insect infestations. Putting toothpaste back in the tube after it’s been squeezed out, or in this case, water back into the tree after winter, is much harder than preventing it from being lost in the first place.

As we all know, there are many parts to a tree, all of which would benefit from protection, or at least, prevention of damage in winter. Many of these parts are seen — bark, leaves, trunk, limbs, flowers and fruit, and many are unseen — roots, heartwood, sapwood and cambium. In terms of protecting them, focusing efforts on three main tree structures will yield positive results:


  • The goal for root protection is centered around hydration; we want them moist, not soggy or dry heading into winter. As summer turns to fall, and fall produces the glory of colors and textures that it’s known for, monitoring for soil moisture is a key stop in winter protection. While your customers’ kids are making piles of leaves and jumping in them in autumnal bliss, digging a few holes or simply poking a piece of rebar into the soil in various locations of the root system will provide a good snapshot of how moist the soil is at any given time.

Compaction from small or large vehicles is an issue when wet soils are compressed.

  • There are several reasons why soil moisture monitoring is important. First, most homeowners don’t know how to do it themselves, what “moist” actually means or where the roots are.
  • Second, all the above-ground parts of the plant depend on soil moisture for continued hydration throughout the winter. Third, it allows the tree care provider an opportunity to strengthen the client relationship and provide instructions on how to water trees properly in fall.

Dehydration of conifers in winter is a considerable concern.

  • No question about it, watering trees in fall is more difficult than in spring and summer. In most cases, in mid to late fall, customers ask their sprinkler service provider to blow out their system to prevent damage from freezing of water in the lines once temperatures plunge into the mid 20s. Once the sprinkler system is nonoperational, one valuable tool has been removed, requiring watering to be done with hoses, temporary drip lines and ad hoc sprinklers drained after each use. These devices can be quite effective, but they’re less convenient to use.

Leaves and buds

  • For most clients, leaves are the symbol of tree health they see every day. From a plant healthcare standpoint, leaves are only one of the many important tree parts, but certainly a very important one indeed. For deciduous trees, the focus is on the buds and new twigs as they contain tissues that are ready to push forth leaves and flowers for the following year. Fortunately, these are covered with bud scales that function to retain moisture. But in some severe winters, they may not be sufficiently thick to prevent desiccation. Conifers can lose water through two structures, the leaves/needles and buds. Again, windy days and cold temperatures can accelerate the drying of essential tissues.
  • Two main methods can be utilized for preventing loss of hydration in leaves and buds: the previously mentioned soil moisture monitoring and watering, and applications of anti-desiccant products to coat the needles with a light arboricultural wax in an effort to retain moisture. Though products may vary slightly in terms of application timing and length of protection, a time frame of every six week should be considered. If it helps with marketing, it can be tied to winter holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Be sure to read and follow all label directions when applying these products.


  • Trunks are the sometimes overlooked “prone to injury” tree part. The most common injuries in winter are from rodents and sunscald. Mice, voles, squirrels and rabbits are often frolicking about in December and January, looking for something to eat. They find tree trunks, especially young ones, to be a tasty treat. Typically, they chew bark and cambium tissues, interrupting nutrient and water flow. Installing PVC collars are a good way to prevent this sort of damage.
  • Sunscald occurs on sunny days in winter when the rays of the sun warm the outer bark layers, softening them and the cambium underneath, causing a dehardening of the tissue. The injury occurs when temperatures plunge into the teens and single digits after sunset, causing the moisture in the softened tissues to crystallize. When repeated several times over the winter, the bark and conductive tissues flake off and become nonfunctional.
  • If painted a light color, white or beige, PVC collars work well to reflect winter sunlight and lessen the degree of the injury.

This type of winter protection is good for sunscald but lacking for rodent damage prevention. PVC buried below grade is called for when it comes to mice and voles.

Other considerations

  • During winter thaws, tree roots are especially susceptible to damage from compaction from heavy equipment; even normal-size trucks can impart sufficient compressing force to cause damage to roots. These types of damage are often hidden or removed in the memory of customers when trees fail to perform well the following year. They simply don’t see the cause and effect, as the length of time that has occurred between the compaction and the thinned canopy or stunted growth prevents them from considering it as a contributing factor. It’s the job of the tree care provider to remind them of possible causes when visual symptoms are observed in the growing season.
  • One of the most dramatic influences in winter is wind damage. The forces of Mother Nature are often unpredictable and unrelenting. From a protection standpoint, it’s important to inspect tree crowns and branch attachments in late fall to note any suspect limbs and areas of concern. When observed, create a proposal to convince customers that action is needed to prune and stabilize defects to prevent them from further damage to the tree, the trees around them and from falling on valuable targets in winter.
  • In regions of the country where snowfall is common in winter, trees that are in close proximity to sidewalks, streets and parking lots are susceptible to injury from being struck with a snow plow. The injury from being struck with a fast-moving truck with a snow blade is difficult for a tree to recover from, as bark, cambium and sapwood are usually ripped loose and dehydrate the tree in the process. Installing snow stakes in late fall can reduce the damage, but perhaps the most effective prevention technique is simple and straightforward conversation with the snow removal provider.
  • In these same regions, ice melt products are commonly used to prevent pedestrians and vehicles from slipping on the ice and causing damage to their bodies and cars/trucks alike. Prevention of damage to trees from these materials isn’t easy, as the best (and cheapest) product to remove ice is caustic to cement and damaging to tree and shrub roots, as well. Less caustic options, such as calcium magnesium acetate, are less damaging but more expensive. Another option is to use less ice melt product and mix sand with driveway salt for traction. Of course, then the undesirable result is the need to sweep up the sand, as well as the possible negative effects of mixing sand with clay soils where tree roots are growing. Sand and clay mixtures are not desirable for root growth, as they provide less capacity for oxygen exchange, water penetration and root expansion.

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Looking To Upgrade Your Mini Skid Steer? Keep This In Mind

Talking Skid Steers

We asked experts from three leading equipment manufacturers: “What’s one thing tree care professionals should keep in mind when looking to upgrade their mini skid steer?”

Here’s what they had to say:

Austin Bonnema
Commercial Business Manager/ Vermeer

The operating specs and performance of mini skid steers have only improved over time. Companies are continuing to launch what the market is after: more lift capacity and horsepower in the same small footprint. When looking to upgrade, tree care professionals should take into consideration the type of work they’re performing and how versatile the machine can be in different ground conditions. When considering a new mini skid steer, customers should look at specs such as the hydraulic flow capabilities and lift and tip capacity. This will give them an idea of what types of attachments can be used to finish the job. Another feature to keep in mind is whether or not the machine is equipped with a universal mounting plate. This gives the operator the convenience to work on various jobsites with the same machine. The last consideration should be overall fuel usage within their fleet. There are a variety of gas and diesel options in the market today, which can help make it more convenient to keep the fuel type consistent.

Jukka Lyly-Yrjanainen
President/Avant Tecno USA

Avant articulated loaders are popular among tree care professionals as a small and powerful workforce, offering a full line of tree handling attachments. The grapple, log grab, stump grinder, grapple bucket and tree shear attachments provide versatility, eliminating the work of multiple workers to save time and money. Tree care professionals report saving one day on every job due to Avant’s low impact on grass, eliminating the cleanup time or turf repair. Avant is powerful enough to lift heavy logs, yet compact enough to fit in tight nooks, small yards and narrow pathways. Additionally, 360-degree visibility from the operator station allows for safe and efficient work for the crew.

Jason Showers
Boxer Product Manager/ Morbark

When looking to upgrade a mini skid steer, there are several considerations. Some will depend on the length of time between upgrades. If it’s been several years since the last equipment upgrade, there’s likely many technology improvements that may be of benefit. The user should know and understand the job they’re trying to accomplish, which will aid tremendously in the search for a new piece of equipment. Take an assessment of current equipment and formulate a wish list for a new unit, looking at items such as lift height, dump height, operating capacity and auxiliary hydraulic flows. It may also benefit users to envision what they plan to do with the machine a few years into the future. This ensures the purchase will fit any needs until it’s time for the next upgrade.


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Aerial Lift Safety 101

Aerial Lift Safety 101

Aerial lifts aren’t just limited to bucket trucks anymore. These days, they’re are available in a wide variety of configurations and power packages, ranging from the traditional truck-mounted lift (center or rear mounted) all the way to self-propelled units with four-wheel drive or even leveling, spider-like appendages.

Aerial lifts allow operators to put themselves in a safe, stable position to make chain saw cuts aloft.

While the options and choices have increased for tree care companies interested in purchasing an aerial lift, one thing hasn’t changed – the importance of operating these machines properly and safely. With this in mind, we’ve combed through our archives and compiled some helpful safety tips and pieces of advice for staying safe while operating aerial lifts. Though many tree care workers have this information memorized, it never hurts to have a refresher course or be reminded of what to do and what not to do:

  • An aerial lift, regardless of size, configuration or power source, is an expensive, complicated piece of equipment. Such a significant investment should not be put into the hands of your least-experienced and least-trained crew members.
  • A simple safety and function check should always take place prior to aerial lift operation. This check will vary depending on the type and capabilities of the lift, but should include an inspection for loose pieces/parts, cracked or leaking hoses and wear on metal/fiberglass components. The device should also be tested with no one in the bucket or on the platform to ensure that it’s functioning correctly.

  • Cleanliness does have an impact on the performance and safety of aerial lifts, particularly in regard to electrical conductivity. Regular cleaning with the appropriate products is recommended.
  • Almost all lifts create more noise in an already noisy work space, thus knowing what’s going on in it, and controlling access in and out, becomes vitally important.

  • Roadside operations, which are commonly carried out with aerial lifts, require another layer of work site precautions. Federal/state DOT regulations should be followed in regard to signage, flaggers, high-visibility apparel, cones, etc. The noisiness of aerial lift work sites means pedestrian approaches often go unnoticed, so flagging, perimeters and even spotters may be required.
  • In addition, noise levels will require that an effective communication system between the ground crew and the operator be in place.
  • Options such as whistles, radios or hand/arm signals are all acceptable as long as all crew members are familiar with their meaning and use.

  • Setup choice and location are key to safe aerial lift use — these factors can influence how quickly or slowly a job is completed. The lift will only be as stable and dependable as the ground it is set up on.
  • All required outriggers should be extended as fully as needed and placed on secure positions. Pads, cribbing or other methods will often be needed to ensure stable outrigger placement. A lift’s boom extension will create a great deal of pressure on the outriggers, so skimping on pads or cribbing is nothing more than a recipe for disaster. In addition, tires should be properly chocked with something more substantial than a chunk of wood or a hard hat.
  • The bottom line can be affected when a lift has to be moved continually throughout the job. As much as is possible, the lift should be positioned to carry out the maximum amount of work with a minimal amount of repositioning.
  • Basic personal protective equipment for aerial lift use remains the same as climbing operations: hearing, eye and head protection. The operator is required by federal standard to wear a body belt and fall-restraint lanyard, though some states require more, so check your local and state standards.
  • A full-body harness and decelerating fall-arrest lanyard are much safer and will provide a gentler stop should an operator fall from the lift. The use of a longer, non-fall restraint lanyard with a body belt negates the whole purpose and allows the operator to get into a position where they can fall, so operators should ensure they are matching up their pieces of equipment properly.
  • The dielectric capabilities of some lifts can lead to operators being a bit casual around energized conductors or utility wires. Minimum approach distances must be followed by all arborists. Those working within them must be line clearance arborists or arborist trainees with the required knowledge and training of electrical hazards.
  • The insulated or dielectric capabilities of lifts need to be inspected regularly as part of a maintenance plan, typically by the manufacturer or their representative, to ensure that they are still functioning correctly.

A prepackaged aerial lift evacuation system manufactured by Buckingham Manufacturing.

  • Bouncing large, woody debris off what is keeping one aloft is always a bad idea, and aerial lifts are no exception. If necessary, rigging systems should be used to avoid or minimize impacts on the lift and its structure. Even minor impacts will, over time, take a toll on the structure of the lift and could lead to catastrophic failures.
  • Emergency preparedness plans are vital in aerial lift operations. All crew members should be familiar with the lower controls of the aerial lift and be trained in the proper actions to take in the event of an injured or incapacitated operator. In addition, systems that allow the operator to evacuate or regain the bucket should be present and the operator trained in their use.
  • There are a number of scenarios that can result in the need for an aerial lift operator to carry out a self-rescue or evacuation, but in general the operator is unhurt or mildly injured and the lift is disabled. The situation could be created by a hydraulic or electric failure in the lift, an engine fire in the truck that prevents usual use and descent, or even an operator thrown out of the bucket dangling from their harness and unable to regain the controls. Many different systems are available for these situations, even ones that allow the operator to get back in the bucket after being ejected, but none of them will work if they are not present, connected properly and the operator is familiar with their use and operation.

Pushing an already cut and rigged piece off from the bucket, which allows easy movement to better spots on the piece for leverage and safety.

  • The majority of the systems are “all parts included,” meaning they typically include some form of descent device and their own rope, most often a light smaller-diameter line meeting the strength requirements. Operators should examine, once again prior to an actual emergency, the method in which they are going to anchor this escape line, not only for safety and security but also to avoid chafing and rubbing against sharp edges of the lift. Also, it’s crucial to make sure that the chosen anchoring system doesn’t put the operator in a difficult body position to exit the lift.
  • An evacuation system can certainly be simply a climbing system in the bucket. Keep in mind, this will take up much more space than one of the manufactured systems. Therefore, users should make sure that it works with the harness they wear in the lift and that appropriate anchors are available.
  • Dangling in a five-point/full-body harness from the dorsal attachment point, though more comfortable than hanging with a body belt lodged in one’s armpits, is not only uncomfortable and painful after a short period of time, but it can be physically dangerous. A condition called suspension trauma can sometimes develop where blood gathers and pools in areas where full circulation is restricted by the harness. Straps are available that live in a belt pouch on the operator’s waist and allow the user to step up periodically, relieving the harness’ pressure.


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Celebrating Veterans With An Annual Day Of Service

Celebrating an Annual Day of Service

The tree care industry is chock-full of examples of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. Take the Saluting Branches program.

This wonderful, heartwarming program, is a partnership between Rainbow Tree Care and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a day of volunteer tree care — Sept. 20 this year — for veterans’ cemeteries across the country.

“The tree industry is passionate about honoring our veterans and doing what they can to improve the veterans’ sites and it’s really a way to communicate the benefits of trees and how arborists can help,” Debra Peterson, the person responsible for starting Saluting Branches, told The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Saluting Branches started in 2015, when on Sept. 23 that year, more than 1,000 volunteers in 20 states spent the day climbing and strategically trimming trees to ensure the safety of visitors at national cemeteries.

This year, participation was even better than in the previous two: over 1,600 volunteers, at 39 cemeteries in 34 states, donated their time to honor our veterans. (Planned work at six cemeteries was postponed or canceled due to Hurricane Irma). The estimated value of the work this year, according to Saluting Branches, was $1.6 million – just for the man hours. This figure doesn’t include any costs for cranes or other equipment that was used at the cemeteries.

“A lot of the veteran cemeteries do not have the staffing or the funding needed to take care of their trees,” Patrick Platenberg, Saluting Branches site leader at the Fort Harrison Veterans Cemetery (Helena, Montana), told KTVH-TV on Sept. 20. “Arborists who are visiting the cemeteries, who have family or friends buried, they noticed and got together and decided that this is a good thing to do as a tree worker.”

Many volunteers have a personal connection to this annual day of service. “My father was a veteran; this was a way to participate in a day of service and honor veterans,” volunteer Betsy Nordell told KTVH-TV.

At Baltimore National Cemetery, volunteer arborist Steve Castrogiovanni explained to WBFF-TV, “we wanted to give back to those that served that paid the ultimate price. It’s the least we could do to make the cemetery a little bit prettier.”

On Facebook, the Saluting Branches page displays hundreds of photos of the work volunteers did across the country on Sept. 20. The Facebook page shows many appreciative comments left by people who participated in the program, work for the cemeteries involved or simply have loved ones buried there.

You can also follow Saluting Branches on Twitter @SaluteBranches.

The Saluting Branches program is truly a fantastic endeavor. Let’s hope that in 2018, even more arborists and volunteers participate and join in on this special day of volunteerism and remembrance.

I’d like to thank these thoughtful and selfless arborists — and all participants – who decided to use their talents, skills and resources to improve and make better where our late veterans are laid to rest.

Once again, we salute you.


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New Product Roundup: December 2017

Wood rings

Barko’s recently released Strong-Arm grapples provide a solution for log handling and delimbing applications, the company says. Designed to optimize the performance of Barko B-Series loaders — including all trailer/truck mount, tracked, rough terrain carrier and stationary loader models — the grapples deliver desired rotator torque, clamping force and arm speed. The Strong-Arm 4250, 4850 and 5250 grapples have maximum openings of 42, 48.1 and 52.1 inches, respectively, with each rated for up to 50,000 pounds of lift capacity. A compact rotator allows for hoses to be contained in a single bundle between the boom and grapple, providing better hose protection, Barko says. Other features include 360-degree continuous rotation and a fully supported rotator drive pinion gear. The grapples are constructed of high-tensile, wear-resistant steel and include hard face welding on the arm tips to extend working life, according to the company.
Stump Cutter
Rayco recently added electronic fuel injection (EFI) to its compact, self-propelled stump cutters. The new models — RG37 Super Jr and RG37T Trac Jr — are powered by Vanguard 37-hp Big Block gasoline engines, with EFI. Vanguard designed the new Big Block EFI engines to have more reliable starting characteristics and improved load pickup and fuel economy, according to Rayco. The RG37 Super Jr is available in two- or four-wheel drive versions, while the RG37T Trac Jr rides on rubber tracks. Both models come standard with Rayco-exclusive features such as swing-out operator control station and hydraulic backfill blade, the company says.

Chain Saw
ECHO recently introduced the CS-2511T top-handle chain saw — the lightest gas-powered chain saw in North America and the most powerful in its class, according to the company. ECHO says the CS-2511T is ideal for the professional arborist looking to increase maneuverability and productivity — also, it comes in at over one pound lighter than the ECHO CS-271T. “With a lighter product, end users have less operator fatigue which equals greater efficiency. A more compact saw gives users more maneuverability around tightly woven branches,” says Joe Fahey, ECHO’s vice president of product planning. Among the CS-2511T features is a top-mounted bar oiler, located on the top of the chain saw as opposed to the bottom. This allows for easier access by the operator, the company says. The feature also prevents the oiler adjustment screw from getting clogged with wood chips and debris.



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


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