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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

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.

Kewanee Maclura, Hedge Tree

Back Camera
The Kewanee Maclura tree after pruning in 2010.
Historic Tree Care specified these pruning locations and the city carried them out.
Historic Tree Care specified these pruning locations and the city carried them out.

A historic Maclura tree overhangs U.S. 58 and Main Street in downtown Kewanee, Illinois, US. It had leaned over the street for decades. Following heavy rains in 2009, it started to lean more. Concerned about safety, city staff considered removing the tree. However, a group of citizens petitioned to retain the historic tree.

The citizens contacted Historic Tree Care to help preserve the tree. We specified reduction pruning, as seen in the image to the right with two goals: improve public safety and preserve the tree. The specified pruning locations are illustrated in the image to the right.

In February of 2010, city staff expertly made the specified cuts, which greatly mitigated the risk of failure. The city agreed with a follow-up plan to clean out dead wood and invigorate the root system.

The plan was set into motion just a few months later when we climbed the tree, removed dead wood and pruned it to further improve the structure. With most of the lean-causing load removed, the city considered the tree’s risk to be acceptable.

Volunteers periodically inspect the tree and inform us of its condition. With its renewed vitality and compact form, this tree’s stability and future are greatly enhanced. In fact, the Maclura stood up to a 70 mile-an-hour windstorm in 2012.

The Kewanee Maclura tree viewed from the West side in 2013
The Kewanee Maclura tree viewed from the West side in 2013.