Environmentalists need not be concerned about the upcoming seminar by Mike Hayes – though the title may suggest otherwise. How to Kill a Tree is a half-hour talk given by the Elmira-based arborist and is aimed at teaching homeowners the proper way to care for their trees and shrubs. The Elmira and District Horticultural Society will host the talk at Trinity United Church in Elmira on Feb. 20 starting at 7:30 p.m., and subject matter will range from proper pruning techniques, to why trees can have problems coping in an urban setting.
“Yeah, I throw that out there just to gain a little bit of interest,” said Hayes of the title.
“A tree really can grow on its own in nature without us, but in the design process mistakes are made,” added Hayes, who has about 25 years of experience as an arborist and has been running his own business, AllGreen Tree Service Inc., for the past 22 years.
“It should be the right tree for the right spot. A lot of times I’ll see trees in a location that was not suitable for a tree, or it’s the wrong type of tree, or maybe it’s too large for that area.” He says that selecting the right tree, caring for it, and helping it grow is a lot more difficult than it might seem. He will also discuss threats to older, more established trees – not just newly-planted ones. One of the biggest threats to older trees is damage to the underlying root structure caused by heavy machinery driving over the lawn, during a major renovation for example. The compacting of the soil can damage roots, and make it difficult for them to properly support the tree.
“People don’t realize that the roots spread out over a large area, and if you’re running big equipment over them, years later the tree will struggle and that’s because the soil is compacted.”
He also said that the winter poses an extra threat to trees and shrubs because of the use of salt on our roads and walkways to help get rid of ice, which is toxic to trees.
“The snow guy has to plow it somewhere, but it ends up getting pushed and banged into trees, and a lot of times it’s laced full of salt and concentrated and in the spring it melts right beside the tree.”
The talk is also timely given the township’s renewed emphasis on planting 23,000 trees over the next four years.
Simply getting them into the ground isn’t good enough, as a lot of time and energy is required to keep them alive, particularly while under the stress of being moved around.
“Planting is not a natural process for a tree. It is important for people to be aware of not only the process of planting, but the after care that’s involved. People can spend a lot of money putting in big trees, but not put very much effort in taking care of them over the next few years.”
How to Kill a Tree will be on Feb. 20 at Trinity United Church, 21 Arthur St. N. in Elmira. Entry is free for current members of the horticultural society, or $2 for the general public, and 2012 memberships for the society will also be sold for $10.