Managing Mature Willow Oaks in Burlington, NC

We were called in to a long established neighborhood in Burlington, NC to help achieve two tree management objectives:

  • Minimize liability and expense by using an inventory with specifications.
  • Maximize volume, value, beauty, and benefits.

We completed a full inventory of the street-side trees in 2012 and wrote specifications for how they could be managed. You can see our inventory through the link below:

Burlington W Davis Street – Inventory and Specifications 120420

The slideshow below summarizes our work at this Burlington neighborhood, including: job history, flare & root inspection, pruning specifications, and options for addressing abnormalities.

Managing Mature Willow Oaks: Minimizing inputs and maximizing returns in Burlington, NC

We monitored the site in 2016, three years after pruning was completed. The objective was accomplished.

Putting NERC to Work: Standard Utility Pruning

Trees under transmission lines get pruned.  Like the old days  By the books:


Branch tips were sizzling in contact with the transmission wires when the wind blew.

Metasequoia, bought for $1500 and planted 18 years before.  Owner chose not to allow utility to remove it.  He hired an arboristt.  The arborist pruned the tree.










After pruning, south view.






After pruning, looking up!






IMG_2582Some branches remained under the lines.







Sealing the 4″ cut on top.




IMG_2577Reducing sprawl reduces sway.






449Pruned to allow 10′ sag, 5′ sway.






IMG_4055Interpreting the A300- and NERC-compliant pruning process for the utility’s attorney.

Mossy Oak Nature’s Golf Tree Care 2015

December 2015 work done to improve tree conditions around a new golf course in West Point, Mississippi.  6 landmark trees received a thorough pruning, cleaning and clearing of trunk flares, growth regulation, weeding, and lightning protection systems.   Soil modification will coincide with the spring flush of growth.  It was a privilege to work with these trees, and for owners who are committed to retaining their contributions, nature’s way!

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Armillaria scavenging, Quercus regenerating.

Here’s a Quercus alba, Armillaria conks and mycelia rolling through the middle.

Got the call to refer a removal company. Wound up selling 1.5 hours root collar work and 2 hrs pruning. Told them the work was good for 10 years. Got paid in cash and got a nice dinner as well.

Columns grafting across the hollow in 2 locations. The fungus appears to be in scavenger mode; sapwood is largely intact. Fungi are considered beneficial associates, unless and until pathogenicity is demonstrated.
Pruned some girdling roots (the white root was from the nearby ash) and redirected others (buried and held down by bricks).

Got my tie-in point on the 2nd shot with the slingshot. While ascending, i noted that the branch my rope was around was long dead.
I’ll get an after shot of the crown soon.

tied into dead branch.
tied into dead branch.

Girdling Strap Removal and Compacted Bark Tracing

After a windstorm shifted its tilt, this Morella cerifera was fit to be tied.  But the tie was untended, so the tree ate some of it, and got indigestion.   We removed all of the strap that we could, traced away the compacted bark so the phloem can expand, reduced a branch that was girdled by included nylon, and wished the tree well.

The hypothesis is that the exposed phloem, the whitish area in the middle of the girdle where the chisel was more aggressive, will expand outward at a faster rate.  After we chipped away the blackened, compacted bark, the phloem on either side may still be relatively inhibited by the layer of bark remaining.  What do you think will happen?

At 26′ tall, 29″ girth, and 21′ average spread, this bayberry aka waxmyrtle is a contender for state champ, just 6 points off the lead.  With the girdling mitigatedIMG_2931 IMG_2932 IMG_2933, it might outlast or outgrow its competition, and someday reign supreme!

Managing Veteran Trees: A Comprehensive Approach

Ooze in the News from TCI Magazine 09-04

Mike O’Ryza and the Case of the Vexing View 111020(1)

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Bolts from the Blue


Higher Education TCI March_07


Restoration Pruning_Branches, Stems, Roots 0711


Retrench cherries morris arb aiello

Japan arb trip

Dankers Doug-fir mgt 1308

ted greenTREE_FODDER_97_2

ted green The_first_landscaper

ted green SoilReserves 1108

The Dynamic Forest Frans Vera

ted green Value of tree and shrubs to wildlife

Ted Green The_Wind_Doth_Blow_0705

Ted Green open-grown trees09

Value of Different Tree & Shrub Species for Wildlife – Ted Green

usfs decay 1998


usfs storm_tree_response

usfs ice damage survey

ted green fungi, trees and pollards

Taichung standard mandarin

Dendro 1008 Lost Laurels

BS3998 Pruning 110830 Jon Kiely

Global View of Trees and Risk (1)

Reduction Size Matters g&g 0711

Eiche_Ohio 131204

del tredici aging-and-rejuvenation-in-trees 1999

Advanced Structural Pruning

Japanese Tree Doctor Training Manual

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Tearing Tilia

Hollow tree sealing fay

pvw retrench

Ancient Tree Guide

Tree Risk Management Form 130405

Read et al Arb Journal 2013 cass nutrient bed


DD 1204 Ionized Slater – The Failure of Forks


AN 1008 aerial

Decay Boddy_and_Raynor_1983[1]

mature tree management matheny clark


immortality del tredici 1999


immortality osnabruck

immortality torino 2004

decay study finland

pruning collar dujesieffken

habitat creation

Vines in Trees

Hazard & habitat2 NF

This post lists some resources illustrating a comprehensive approach to managing veteran trees.  This approach should not conflict with assessment schemes like QTRA, VTA, or TRAQ.  When these assessments lack a comprehensive specification of management options, it’s difficult for tree owners and managers to make decisions.  Historic Tree Care’s policy is to avoid the separation of assessment and management, and allow responsible decisions.

AREA 140801 is the poster presented at ISA International last year.

DD LLL 1406  is a story written to dramatise the assessment and management of one such tree.

Pruning for Preservation 1106 AN speaks for itself!

Kvill Oak Report 140610 copy suggests some management options for the fattest oak in Europe.

US Champion White Oak 140320 looks at the largest Quercus alba in the US.

GFCA_Report_121018final-1.pdf  one more case study of prominent trees near Washington DC, US.  Both are gone now, victims of faulty consulting and destruction by contractors.

ISA CEU Basic Tree Risk Assessment complete describes an early look at the process of integrating assessment and management.

Mitigation or Death was an earlier look, published in advance of a talk at TCIA Expo.

Goodfellow Branch Failure demonstrates the increase in branch stability by small doses of reduction pruning.  Many subsequent studies by North American researchers further establish the effectiveness of reduction pruning.

RETRENCHING HOLLOW TREES FOR LIFE 131226 tcia is the handout from a 2013 talk on this topic.

Retrenchment Fay ITMP is Neville Fay’s general look at planning for this type of work.  My approach is influenced by many arborists around the world, too many to list here.  Neville’s work early on confirmed, supported and informed my work on preserving veteran trees, for which I am most grateful.

I welcome any feedback, corrections, and suggestions to improve this approach, advance our industry, and preserve more trees.  2/15/2015:  Adding more links as requested.

Valuing Vets AA Aug-Sep 2014

Metzger Historic Tree Collection Management 1501

Wessolly How hollow may a tree be

Valuing Vets AA Aug-Sep 2014

Swage research auf 2011

TCIA Biomechanics nov 2010

Tree Risk Management Form 130407

rigenerazione inglese correttopdf

Ooze in the News from TCI Magazine 09-04

Lightning TCI 2007

LBG III Managing Stem-Girdling Roots1.doc

Detectives Guide to Report Writing 1008 AA

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Fearsome Fossil

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Fantastic Fans

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Disheveled Michauxii

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Detectable Decline

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Detectable Decline hilights

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Deathly Hollows

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Charismatic Carya

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Bolts from the Blue

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Arrested Araucaria

Detective Dendro – The Bumpy Blackness

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Wonderous Washboard

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Terrible Tar

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Tearing Tilia

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Suspicious Specks

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Spurious Spikes

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Insidious Interceptor

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Ill Illionotus

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Fearsome Fossils


DD Disheveled Michauxii

DD 1412 Heartless Hedge

Cavity wildlife 2013 bunnell pnw

AA Oct-Nov 2014 – turin

AA EAC 1410

AA Car Canopy

Dendro 1108 Mutilated187kb

DD 1310 Alder Alternatives 130910

DD 1306 Ficus 130501gm

Dendro 1306 Ficus

Regenerative Pruning Case Studies

Detective Dendro – The Case of the Lonely, Lashing Leader

This Detective Dendro story was about diagnosis, but the solution relied on standard tree care, like regenerative (retrenchment) pruning:

“Retrenchment pruning lessens lever-arm length and fruit loading, while interior laterals develop.  But most of the current growth is at the ends, so reduction of each leader must be carefully specified… reducing lengths from 3 to 9 feet, with cuts 2 inches or less…”

ISA Biomechanics Week 2013

I gathered with some amazing arborists from around the world at this year’s ISA Biomechanics week. This time, many of the studies focused on pull tests, while other studies involved root architecture and the crown of the tree.  There was a great spirit of cooperation among researchers,  technicians, and support staff – almost like a summer camp for adult arborists.


Thanks to ISA, Davey, and other sponsors and of course the participants for advancing arboriculture, one research study at a time.

Above:  Buttress roots sliced in 2010. Tree responds by snaking new root into the earth.

Above: These buttress roots were sliced in 2010. The tree has responded by snaking new root downward into the earth.

Below:  A tree grows within the tree.  Pith trail downward connects to a branch which dies,coloration forming a stem, but decay is compartmentalized.  Pith trail to the left runs out of juice.  Pith trail to the right carries the dormant bud to the surface, awaiting awakening.

Above: A tree grows within the tree. The downward pith trail to a branch which has died, coloration forming a stem, but the decay is compartmentalized. The leftward pith trail runs out of juice. The pith trail to the right carries the dormant bud to the surface, awaiting awakening.