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Be Tree Smart !! for landscape work

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by mdvaden, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,944

    Landscapers need to know just as much about trees as arborists.

    There ain't no middle ground.

    One good free resource is Online Seminars for arborists.


    That's 10 new, easy to read articles every 2 months.

    Skip the quiz, or take them for fun. I go for credit to get ISA CEUs

    Check it out.

    Isn't a landscaper in town that should know less about a tree than an arborist. And almost vice-versa.
  2. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    Thanks for the info.
    In Atlanta they actually have arborist involved in new construction inspections.They have to sign off on the property before you get a CO.
    It is much neede information.
  3. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,944


    I hate laws myself, but if people are going to frequently and needlessly destroy soil and trees, that's virtually the option they invite.

    Basically, it's a mandate to do what they already should have done.

    Hey... Enjoy those articles, I've been reading them for 2 years. Even wrote one.

    Today, later, I'm going to add a sub-forum at my new horticulture forums (signature) for the online seminars just to add comment about what I gleaned, or others gleaned.
  4. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    What is happening here Atlanta inside the perimeter is an influx of rich people who are tired of commuting.
    We have tons of houses that were built in 40's through the 70's that are being demoed and large house put back in there places.
    The lots also many trees that old and older.
    These trees some have a drip line of 50 + foot diameter.
    Well have several trees,a half acre lot and a 5000 sq/ft house and something has to go.
    For a while it was the trees.

    So the city stepped in.
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    Not that I disagree. But I'd like to play Devil's advocate for a little bit here;

    So why should a landscaper have to be fully educated about trees? If I am installing paver patios, new lawns, planting shrubs and trees, gravel pathways, rock walls, etc. why is it so important to know as much as an arborist does about trees? As long as I am smart enough to know where my limits are and refer my customers to a certified arborist when I run into a tree issue or question, then why is it necessary for ME to also be totally educated in arbor culture?

    I can see where there are certain knowledge of trees would help. For instance, not trenching through big stabilizer roots on trees when I am installing a sprinkler system. Understanding how important those roots are to the stability and viability of the tree helps preserve the tree. I get that.

    I can also see where it's important to know about the trees you are installing as well. Knowing specifics like sun/shade, eventual mature size, common diseases or problems, special planting needs, etc. That information is important to a landscaper.

    But beyond fairly basic stuff like this, why do I need to fully educate myself about things like tree cabling? As long as I don't do tree cabling and refer that to arborists, why must I also know about it in detail? Why do I need to understand how to thin out a large old-growth tree. I never ever plan on doing that for any reason. And why would I need to know the correct method for falling a big tree and grinding the stump? Again, if I never have any plans to do that, and would just refer it to an Arborist, where's the benefit for me knowing exactly how to do it?

    And in my line of work, why is it important that I be fully educated on the Mountain Pine Beetle or the Asian Longhorn Beetle? If a customer has a problem with their pine, I would just refer them to my arborist. Why must I know about every such problem as well?

    I mean, looking through the past topics that have been covered, I can't see why I'd ever need to know anything about:

    • Tree Roots in Sewers
    • Resistograph
    • The Kentucky Coffeetree
    • Emerald Ash Borer
    • Salt Tolerant Trees
    • Rubber Sidewalks
    • Felling Techniques
    • Compost Tea
    • Rigging Rope
    • etc.

    Again, just playing devil's advocate a little bit. But I think these are probably thoughts that are going through a lot of landscaper's minds who might be reading this thread. If there is really an important reason for a landscaper to know all about trees, then I think a better explanation of why is important to discuss. Otherwise, I think a lot of people would just blow off this suggestion as something they feel is irrelevant to them.
  6. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    I would lean towards gaining Knowledge but would feel that knowing everything would be overkill for a Landscaper.

    But what if you do not know an Arborist and you are in need of one for subcontracting work too how will you know if he is doing the right thing?

    True story.

    A property scheduled for demo has what I estimate a 40 year old beautiful Water Oak that has been Cabled and has a massive dripline.
    The Builder decides to take precautions as too not stress the tree during construction.
    He gets refereed an Arborists and the guy talks a good game and recommends some limb removal too allow truck entry and some other limb removal.
    The job is completed and the Builder goes by to check the work and sees spike holes all in the trunk.
    Logistics required that the limb removal be done during the summer.
    The climber used spikes to get in the tree to prune it.
    Is this a problem?
  7. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,944

    We went back and forth with this on the arborist board for a year. I think the co-skill concept won in the end.

    Arborists must know about co-dominant leaders for removal, pruning and tree selection.

    Landscape must select trees, and must know the same thing, to avoid damage like the huge sweetgum I removed in Sherwood while working up there about 2 weeks ago. Big 12" leader peels off and destroyed the entire forty foot tall tree.

    The whole problem started with the landscaper who did not snip the 1/2" extra stem off at planting time.

    Hey Jim I just posted a video of that kind of tiny stem removal at my new forum in the pruning forum - it's a sticky. My signature, or...


    And that's exactly why I'm starting a "horticulture forum" - it's the missing link between what landscapers should be doing, and arborists should be doing. They should all be using the same set of science, knowledge and skill, but geared to their facet.

    I did a paver driveway in Medford as a landscaper project. But I had to know about root pruning and tree root barrier panels to do it - normally associated as an arborist skill. But you have to know how much root to remove or how little to remove.

    To lay irrigation, a landscaper should think like an arborist and not trench across the roots. They need to trench out away from the tree, and bring a line in roughly parallel with some roots toward the trunk to get a sprinkler closer. Same knowledge and skill set.

    An arborist should not remove a tree that can wait for winter, if the neighbor's, or that home's plants beneath are shade plants, or, if they are evergreens not acclimated to direct sun. A winter removal does less damage. That's where an arborist should use the same knowledge as a landscaper.

    At several board meetings, this is exactly what I mentioned the "landscape contractor" board members, only in far greater detail.

    Thats why its tough when designers work in just design, arborists just with trees, and landscapers not so much with trees (or they do, and don't realize the missing link)

    But I do design, certified tree care, and landscaping, and I find that I'm using exactly the same knowledge to do every single one of those facets.

    Without the missing link, it does not mean that "decent" or "good" work can't be done - it's just not exactly "horticulture" which is the best possible way to do it.

    It's just that most of the "horticulture" type folks don't like contracting and they are out working on university campuses, botanical gardens like the Oregon Garden, or arboretums.

    I just happened to get trained that route myself.
  8. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,834

    Thanks for the link I was thinking about this today.....
  9. Focal Point Landscapes

    Focal Point Landscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 401

    Yeah , thanks for sharing the info - I want be well read on all aspects of the green industry , this is good stuff.
  10. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,406

    Education is the key to professionalism. The more you know, the more valuable you as an individual become. If you are representative of your company, then that ability becomes the companies reputation.

    Landscapers should have knowledge and understanding of everything that makes up a landscape. Trees are a major part of any landscape and some understanding of them is imperative, but we should all know our limits and when it is time to bring in someone with more knowledge and understanding. Knowing who and when to call for help, maybe the most important lesson learned.


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