Tree care tips from an expert
Tree service expert
Wanda Hendron, co-owner
Hendron Tree Care Inc.
Newport News, Va.
It may be colder in December, but it's a good time to schedule tree service. Not only is it the slow season for the industry, but many trees should be pruned while dormant.
What services do you offer and what should homeowners know about tree care?
"We're certified arborists and we've been in business since 1989, so we're not your run-of-the-mill tree service company.
"Around here, you can have a pickup truck and a chain saw and offer tree service. We take pride in the professionalism of our company. We specialize in pruning, but we also do tree takedowns, thinning, water-view enhancement, deadwood removal, stump grinding and some landscaping.
"We try to educate everybody we meet about tree care and pruning. People generally prune because they worry about whether their tree will hold up during a storm.
"You should prune regularly. Not only will you make the tree stronger, but you'll also notice changes in the tree, so you'll stand a better chance of saving it if there's something wrong.
"You should have your trees pruned every three to five years, depending on the growth characteristics of the tree. For example, pin oaks, willow oaks and pine trees develop dead limbs quicker than others.
"In addition to maintenance, our most common calls include questions about tree health, taking care of trees that are vulnerable to storms and taking down potentially hazardous trees. We charge on a trip-by-trip basis.
"We offer outer-crown pruning, where we take off some of that excess weight on a tree. When you thin the tree out properly, wind no longer gets absorbed by the tree and it's less susceptible to blowing over. It's not 100 percent protection, but it helps.
Lion-tail pruning is when all foliage is cut away from a branch except for a tuft at the end. This practice results in weakened branch structure.
"Some companies do lion-tail pruning and topping, which should be avoided. Topping is when most of the top of the tree is cut off.
"To combat what's happened, the tree will shoot off little branches, called sucker branches, which make the tree more vulnerable to storms and disease. The lower branches aren't protected and can get sunburned, and then you have a tree that creates more debris when it storms.
"It's a good idea to get a tree inspected by a certified arborist. When you hire a tree service company, make sure the company is licensed.
It's also important to make sure they have enough insurance - not just the state minimum - and that their workers are covered by workers' compensation so you're not responsible if they get hurt on your property. Ask to see a certificate of insurance and take down the information to make sure it's good."