Guy Meilleur (May-er’) is an ISA Board-Certified Master Arborist, and author of 34 episodes in ISA’s Detective Dendro series. He is a former curator and lecturer at NC State University, Instructor at Duke University, staff arborist at the University of North Carolina. Chairr of the ANSI A300 Root Management Standard for tree inspection, Guy serves as a US contact for the Veteran Tree Network.
Historic Tree Care offers tree care, consulting, witnessing, and reporting services. Guy reports that tree climbing is an antidote to aging, and manages trees with flare care, soil building, support and lightning systems, pruning, and community education,
Below are a dozen indoor topics. Most have outdoor options, from 2 hours to 2 days and facilitated with local BCMAs and other experts.
VETREE: Valuing and Managing Veteran Trees
There’s a world of difference between the US and the rest of the world when it comes to respect for older trees. If a tree inspection is competent and objective, it identifies strengths and weaknesses, response growth and defects, assets and liabilities:
Ecological contributions of the tree and its associates; Cultural connections to a region, its people, and its history; Compartmentalization and Response Growth, making ‘defects’ stronger than ever; Potential treatments that are common in Europe and Asia, and Mitigation Options that comply with international tree care standards.
Standards and practices from older cultures in Europe and Asia inform specifications for older trees. We’ll review and apply some of VETree’s e-learning tools, video, graphics, and highlights from their three-day training, and use the Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) form in a sample activity. (Presented at ISA-Europe in 2014 and PAA-Mississippi and Virginia in 2015)
Diagnosing with Detective Dendro, and Telling the Tale, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4
Detective Dendro is a popular feature of ISA’s Arborist News magazine. I had the pleasure of writing 34 episodes. This series started as a traditional mystery format applied to “fact sheets” with a tight focus on individual tree problems. Over time, Dendro and Codit have evolved into multidimensional characters with a worldly command of tree problem and solutions. They also get lucky sometimes. Systematic diagnosis is too serious to be taken seriously!
The problem typically comes to Dendro from a tree owner. After a detailed inspection, he mulls over various hypotheses. False clues are ‘red herrings’ that confuse Codit, and threaten to throw him off the scent. Some questions are basic, and some advanced. The solution leads to specified arboricultural treatments. Some are straightforward prescriptions, others more complex. Something of interest is aimed at all levels of education and experience.
Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 describe the development of 8 different episodes, from brainstorming AND editing to monitoring the trees’ progress after publication. Everyone wants to know what makes trees tick! Following diagnostic deductions and inductions can expand our daily dealings with trees.
Detective Dendro and the Seven Scenarios: Solving Trees’ Mysteries is an outdoor field training with questions based on selected trees on site, modeled after ISA’s Board-Certified Master Arborist test.
Decay, Risk, and Standard Flare Care: Using ANSI Tree Inspection Standard
The trunk flare is a very accessible, but rarely managed, part of the tree. Buttresses flare out. Sinuses curl in. Bark gets included. Things happen. Burls and bulges and furrows and holes and lesions can baffle even the seasoned pros. ANSI A300 Part 8 is the place to go for guidance on inspecting the trunk, flare, and roots.
Diagnoses and treatments all involve cleaning, to see and gather fundamental facts from the tree. Standard flare care detection work is demonstrated with Suspicious Specks, Stubborn Streaks, Spurious Spikes, and a Wondrous Washboard. Tricks from orchardists and gardeners and grafters are applied. Now’s the time to touch and treat the tree’s foundation! A systematic approach to risk management is detailed, as in my Arborist News CEU article in 2006, and our translation of Matheny & Clark’s municipal version into four CEU articles for the general arborist audience, April through October 2007 Arborist News. (Delivered at TCI Expo in 2005 and 2009, and ISA-Michigan in 2010.)
Girdling Roots: Severing Subterranean Stranglers
When roots girdle stems, bad things happen. We’ll look at the ins and outs of pruning stem-girdling roots. Dozens of case studies, pictures, video and other documentation from arborists around the country will be included. Included are descriptions of: the process, from excavation to regarding to monitoring, the tools needed and how they are used, and a protocol for deciding which roots to cut and how and where and when to cut them. By practicing this radical tree surgery, we can deliver a more sustainable urban forest, instead of watching trees decline before their time.
The original article can be seen at http://www.tcia.org/PDFs/TCI_Mag_July_07.pdf and the peer-reviewed version is http://www.historictreecare.com/wp-ontent/uploads/2012/05/LBG-III-Managing-Stem-Girdling-Roots1.doc.pdf. Excerpts from the ANSI A300 Root Management Standard will be used to inform responses to root damage, and invigorate future growth. (Presented at 2009’s Landscape Below Ground III symposium and 150 minutes’ worth at ISA-Ontario, 2012!)
Report Writing for Arborists: KISS and Tell
The case of the Suspicious Specks turned on the mysteries within the tree. The one-page appraisal report was finished and faxed during a lunch break. Fearsome Fossil countered nine points raised in favor of executing a ginkgo, and convinced an historical commission. Detectable Decline banished myths and reversed a condemnation by a rival. We’ll extract elements of writing from these mostly true tales, turn some grammatical nuts and bolts, and rebuild the real-life reports.
Background, Assignment, Observations, Analysis, Discussion and Conclusions can flow as smoothly as any conversation. Templates will be provided, to use on your trees tomorrow! Cultivate the critical skills of forensic diagnosis. Unlock the potential in basic cut-and-paste and advanced editing. Use new tricks to adapt these templates to tomorrow’s job. Simply speaking, develop and deliver defendable opinions. (Presented at ISA-Michigan 2010 and ISA-Midatlantic, 2007)
Restoration Pruning: After the Storm, Head for Better Form
This presentation illustrates restoration pruning of storm-damaged and topped pecan, oak, maple, birch, and eucalyptus trees. Since 2002 I’ve written and presented on Restoration Pruning from the commercial arborist’s point of view. I now have 12-year data, and fresh samples of branch ends that were selectively pruned after a 2002 ice storm. These dissections show solid regrowth and well-developed branch protection zones. I also have fresh research on the physiology of these zones, and the reference list has doubled.
Insurance companies can be an arborist’s best friend. When they get the information they need, everyone’s needs can be met. Find out how to make them your client, how to define your assignment, and where your work has value.
Tree triage is about efficiently inspecting tree damage, specifying treatments, and prioritizing actions. Gear like telescoping pole tools keep the cuts small. A survey of 23 tools from 7 manufacturers was covered in the June 2008 issue of Arborist News, (Presented at ISA’s 2008 International Conference). http://www.historictreecare.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/restore_2010_06.pdf
Regenerating Hollow Trees for Life,:via the International Pruning Standards
Myths abound around hollowness in trees. Arborists are taught to manage decay with fear, loathing, and engineering formulas. But the hollowing process actually benefits trees by recycling waste products, losing weight, and gaining flexibility. Above and below ground, aging trees are rejuvenated by shedding their outer parts, and growing new branches and roots closer to the core.
We’ll look at many examples of professional tree crown regeneration, from Sweden to China to Australia and see what we can bring back home: The biology surrounding this practice works. The budget works too. Seeing trees respond with rejuvenation, tree owners and managers learn to work with, and trust, the tree. (Presented at TCI Expo in 2013 and ISA-Europe and ISA International in 2014, PNW-ISA in 2015)
Detective Dendro and the Wild Life: Managing Arboreal Habitat
Integrated Wildlife Management (IWM) is all about improving habitat for beneficials associates, and keeping the others from being too bad. Detective stories about Deathly Hollows and an Ionized Eyeful advanced association with animals. Stubborn Streaks, Disheveled Michauxii, and Pestilent Procession pursued parasites. Endangered Species Act! Politics and biodiversity and tree care interact in a win-win-win way? What about the beings in the nothingness of hollow trees? When is deadwood good?
Innocent until proven guilty—most associates like insects and fungi are beneficial, and some are only pests under certain conditions. Tree pruning by its nature damages diversity. Adding back some benefits feels good, and it’s billable! That plungecutting chainsaw can also create bathouses and birdnests, platforms and hollows. Discover new ways to harmonize wildlife with clients and regulators. Talk up the animals—they have friends in high places! (Presented to the National Audubon Society in 2014.)
APPRAISAL and TESTIMONY: Money Grows IN Trees: Appraising Economic Value
The climate is a-changin’, society is urbanizing, and trees are increasing in value. Everyone benefits when tree value is appreciated. Using reliable references and proven expertise, arborists can appraise a tree’s worth in dollars. This presentation looks at a dozen case studies covering a wide range of appraisal assignments: storm casualty, condemnation, trespass, damage to and by sidewalks, fire, collisions, and poisoning.
Detective Dendro’s case of the Suspicious Specks turned on the mysteries within the tree, and the one-page appraisal was finished and faxed during a lunch break. Bolts from the Blue lit up the benefits of aerial assessment, and the report quadrupled the insurance settlement.
Clear communication of the facts makes a report defendable, even under cross-examination. We’ll consider tips for providing expert witness testimony, as explored in Tree Care Industry’s August 2008 issue. http://www.treecareindustry.org/PDFs/TCI_Mag_Aug_08.pdf
(Presented at ISA-Michigan in 2010, Duke University Gardens, 2008)
Lightning Damage: Battling Bolts from the Blue: Repairing and Preventing
When lightning strikes a tree, comprehensive diagnosis leads to realistic prognosis, to aid the owner’s decisions. Arborists can quickly assess damage—we can and must do more than “wait and see”—and provide timely treatments that help wounds close, and damaged roots grow. Assessment and management of lightning damage was covered in http://www.tcia.org/PDFs/TCI_Mag_June_07.pdf
We’ll also look at how protection systems affordably prevent damage for a wide variety of tree owners and managers. Historical trees at the Andersonville National Cemetery that had systems installed at their Arbor Day in 2008 will be featured. Marketing, installation and maintenance was discussed in the June 2008 issue of TCI magazine. TCI_Mag_June_08.pdf (application/pdf Object) (Presented at 2007’s Intl Symposium on Trees and Lightning, and ISA-Florida in 2011.)
We can furnish:
- Ready-to-use digital handouts (printed on request)
- Articles in advance to stimulate interest, and CEU tests after.
- Trenchcoat, fedora, and audio for presentations by Mike O’Ryza, ArborEye.
Sample Blurbs The combination of a pre-conference workshop, a field day, and an indoor talk worked for the 2015 Pacific Northwest ISA Chapter meeting.
Tree Academy (Largest ever signup for a preconference workshop; capped at 60.)
Forcing Change to Large Trees: Smaller, Safer, Natural
Can we preserve the dignity of large-maturing trees while maintaining them at a smaller size? When should these trees be removed or retained, kept or killed? Restoration pruning after the storm has taught us that in many cases we must ‘head’ for better form. Veteran trees have historically been managed by pollarding and other crown reduction pruning. Bonsai have been managed for centuries by specified pruning of branches and roots. We will see how these and other experiences can inform size control of trees in several different scenarios.
Field Day – Drake Park Kick Butt Rot! Decay and Tree Risk Management
Decay at the lower stem, flare and roots, aka “butt rot” can be managed by inspection, treatment and monitoring. Follow the ANSI A300 tree inspection standard as we assess big old trees in the park. Use the TRAQ and other forms to organize your observations. Enhance compartmentalization by surgery, sanitation, and heat treatment. Build long-term recovery with specified soil modifications using calcium, ‘good-guy’ microbes, and porous aggregate. Document strength gain on monitoring visits. Give trees a chance to adapt to their environment and our management.
Changing Views of Hollow Trees: Forces within the Standards (Grateful feedback from dozens)
Myths abound around hollowness in trees. Arborists are taught to manage decay with fear, loathing, and engineering formulas. But decay is beneficial – it recycles waste, decreases load, and improves flexibility. Aging trees naturally shed unneeded branches and heartwood as they grow new branches and roots closer to the core.
When in doubt about tree care, we read the directions! The German, UK, and US standards will be used to establish the objective and write specifications that fit on a notecard. The arboreal response teaches tree owners and arborists how to work with, and trust, the tree.
Recent Selections of Topics:
Changing Views of Hollow Trees: Forces within the Standards, Making Trees Smaller, Safer, Healthier, Cheaper…and Immortal. Trunk Decay and Crown Reduction, half-day workshop. PNW-ISA, Bend OR, September 23, 2015
Response Growth, Reiteration, and Compartmentalisation, ISA International Conference,
Detective Dendro’s Diagnosis, Valuing and Managing Veteran Trees, Mississippi, February 2015
Regenerating Trees: An International Perspective, International Tree Care Standards: A Review, ISA International Conference, Milwaukee WI US, August 5, 2014
Detectives do the dirty work: diagnosing and managing the interaction of urban trees with associates, Valuing and managing veteran trees: the VETree Project, Retrenching hollow trees for life: fitting smaller and stronger trees into cities. ISA European Conference of Arboriculture, Turin, Italy, May 26, 2014
Retrenching Hollow Trees for Life, Using the New A300 Root and Soil Standards, Diagnosing with Detective Dendro, Report Writing, Illinois Arborist Association, October 23, 2013
August 6, 2014: Retrenching and Regenerating Trees: An International Perspective ISA International Conference, Milwaukee WI US
As trees grow large, they no longer fit around urban infrastructure. Roots and branches are often harshly reduced to make room for human activities. Retrenchment pruning is a phased form of crown reduction that retains biomechanical integrity by shedding small branches and developing a lower crown. International pruning standards agree, with some variation, that specifying this work can meet the objective of sustaining the substantial benefits from older trees. Systematic specifications for retrenching the branches and roots of trees with hollows and other perceived hazards have maintained reasonable costs and risks on trees around the world.
May 28, 2014: Detectives do the dirty work: diagnosing and managing the interaction of urban trees with associates, pests, and other humans ISA EUROPEAN CONFERENCE OF ARBORICULTURE Turin, Italy
May 27, 2014: Valuing and managing veteran trees: the VETree Project. ISA EUROPEAN CONFERENCE OF ARBORICULTURE Turin, Italy
May 26, 2014: Retrenching hollow trees for life: fitting smaller and stronger trees into cities. ISA EUROPEAN CONFERENCE OF ARBORICULTURE, Turin, Italy
November 22, 2013: Veteran Tree Care, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Tree Matters Symposium, Silver Springs MD
November 15, 2013, 8 a.m.: Retrenching Hollow Trees for Life, at the Tree Care Industry Association Expo Charlotte NC. Hollowness occurs naturally, as taproots and heartwood are shed. Buttresses and adaptive growth provide needed support. Formulas for tree structure devaluation ignore strengths and dwell on defects. Interior trunk decay is the reason for many tree removals, but trunk failures are rare. We focus on the flare, the forks, and the living tree.
Branch reduction is often avoided because arborists are always told that removal cuts are better for the tree, and heading cuts are bad. But outer branches are naturally shed as trees age, leaving an inner crown. Retrenchment pruning of big hollow trees is responsible risk management, reaching beyond rules of thumb and arborphobic myths.
Even clients with low risk tolerance are willing to retain hollow trees that are conservatively managed. Witness rejuvenation, in retrenched residential and municipal trees. New growth arises from the right places, and the tree lives on. Tomography, Retrenchment, and Hollow Trees
November 5, 2013: “Using the New A300 Root and Soil Standards” at the New England ISA Chapter, Warwick RI
November 4, 2013: Retrenching Hollow Trees for Life at the New England ISA Chapter, Warwick RI
October 23, 2013 Illinois Arborist Association 31st Annual Conference & Trade show. 1:00 pm Diagnosing with Detective Dendro, 2:00pm Standing Taller with Tree Standards. Tinley Park IL
October 4, 2013, Texas Tree conference. Root Management: the A300 Standard meets Florida’s BMP, for Municipal Arborists. 11 a.m. Detective Dendro: PHC Principles and Profits, for Commercial Arborists, Waco TX
July 14, 2013, 10:30 am – 12 pm: Detective Dendro and the Wild Life was a “natural” topic for the National Audubon Society, so we’ll be at their annual meeting at Skamania Lodge in Washington State.
February 15-16, 2013: ISA-Ontario Chapter Annual Conference February 15, 2013: Aerial Assessment & The Migratory Bird Convention & Endangered Species Act. How to comply, plus comparing and contrasting with other countries’ tree/wildlife legislation. February16, 2013: WritingSpecifications and Reports, Detective Fashion, Handout Root Inspections & Treatments Using the ANSI A300 Standard. 150 minutes of root management, by the book.
January 23, 2013, the Idaho Horticultural Exposition in Boise, Wed. Jan. 23rd: “Detective Dendro and the High-Risk Trees,” from 8:00-9:15 am; This talk will offer alternatives to drill-and-kill tree risk assessment. Give trees mitigation, or give trees death! “Restoration Pruning: After the Storm, Head for Better Form,” from 10:25 – 11:30 a.m. Brand new studies from around the world, featuring Idaho species. “Report Writing on Tree Appraisals,” from 4:00-5:00 p.m., from writing the Assignment, to “e-“asy dictation, to revision and completion. Words are powerful tools. With tricks and techniques used by Detective Dendro, you can master the challenge of writing reports!
November 18, 2012 Hong Kong Tree Climbing Championships I was happy to demonstrate the use of the Wraptor motorised ascender, and perform an Aerial Assessment. Mr. Don Picker assisted with translation, and with son Jon did an outstanding job organising the following Summit.
November 19-21, 2012 Hong Kong http://www.ias.hk/ International Arboriculture Summit on Trees: The Mysteries Within I’m honored to be on a program with Frank Rinn and Neville Fay. Monday I presented on The Epicormic to Endocormic–Transition to Stability Tuesday was a practicum on writing specifications for Restoration Pruning Wednesday closed with Detective Dendro and the High-Risk Trees
November 12, 2012 Sacramento, California US, the Society of Municipal Arboriculture, http://www.arborday.org/shopping/pcf/2012/sma.cfm Using A300 Specifications to Mitigate Risk together with Gordon Mann of Mann Made Resources, on the beautiful State Capitol grounds. Using sample forms based on the Tree Care Standard, our group of forty strong wrote specs to manage challenging scenarios. The A300 format literally keeps administrators, staff, and contractors all on the same page!