Tree Removals ~ Eucalyptus Shallow Root Danger

If youOld Eucs can be dangerous remove a Euc as we call them here at Greene Tree Care for whatever reason, be sure to have the root system thoroughly ground out as it will rejuvenate rather rapidly and you will have to repeat the whole process again. Eucs are survivors! They are native to Australia, but have adapted to climates all over the world. These trees have a shallow root system, which developed as a way to survive in a harsh native environment, where accessing a limited amount of rainfall is crucial to survival. It’s this shallow root system that can make eucalyptus trees a danger. About 90 percent of a eucalyptus tree’s roots grow in the top 12 inches of soil. This shallow root system grows rapidly, and along with a strong taproot, the lateral roots are vital to keeping a eucalyptus tree upright. A eucalyptus tree’s taproot must grow down into the soil at least 6 feet to ensure good anchorage. The lateral roots spread out for up to 100 feet to help support the rest of the tree, and this can be an issue for nearby buildings and structures. The roots and rootlets of eucalyptus trees planted in a yard can grow into ditches, clog water pipes, and crack septic tanks and cisterns. The roots of eucalyptus trees planted in an urban environment can damage sidewalks, curbs and gutters. As the shallow eucalyptus roots grow and produce secondary thickening growth, they can heave up paved surfaces above and around them.

In exposed locations, where eucalyptus trees are subjected to strong winds, a shallow root system presents a hazard to people, homes and other structures. If the root system is not well established, winds can cause the tree to sway, which loosens the soil around the root collar. This causes the shallow roots to tear and the tree may fall over. Newly planted eucalyptus will show a cone-shaped hole around the base where the soil is lost around the root collar, which indicates the tree is at risk of uprooting.

Reducing the Dangers

If you choose to plant eucalyptus trees, you can limit some of the dangers associated with its shallow root system with proper planting and maintenance. Plant eucalyptus trees so the distance away from buildings, structures and roadways is equal to two-thirds the potential mature height of the tree. If you plant your tree in clay soil, plant it further away because clay soils shrink when dry, increasing the risk of uprooting. Coppice the tree regularly to restrict growth, particularly when it grows too tall, is top-heavy or unstable. Coppicing is the process of cutting a tree down to allow the stump to regenerate. Eucalyptus roots grow rapidly, and coppicing serves to reduce the overall size of the tree, and restricts root and branch growth by stopping the food supply of the tree temporarily. This prevents the tree from storing up nutrients to build a bigger root system.


Trees need TLC in this drought


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Trees need some help during a severe drought like the one we are experiencing in Southern California. Long term dry conditions can be detrimental to the health of both young and established trees. Even very old trees are not immune to lack of water.
Water under the drip line which is where the foliage falls as that is where the roots are beneath the ground, avoid watering the trunk unless the tree is very young. Apply water slowly as this helps to saturate the soil enabling it to move deep down to the roots and avoids illegal run off. Soaker hoses and drip system work well. Having water spray all over the foliage is never a good idea as it can promote diseases and pest infestations.
“The Las Virgenes Water District has the following mandatory restrictions now in effect:
* Irrigation is prohibited between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
* Irrigation water may not run off property into streets, gutters or onto adjacent properties.
* Irrigation is prohibited during rain or in the 24 hours following rainfall of an inch or more.
* The washing down of sidewalks, parking areas and driveways is not permitted.
* A trigger nozzle is required on hoses used for home car washing.
Spreading at least a three to four inch layer of wood chips around the base of trees as mulching can slow down evaporation, provide beneficial microorganisms, protect the roots from extreme heat and prevent weed growth.
Do not disturb the soil around trees by digging as this damages the delicate roots preventing them from absorbing water.

Let Us Make a Difference

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Plant Trees! This is one thing we can all do.  One of our employees, Kevin sent me  this information about a young boy who has a worthwhile goal to plant a trillion trees by the year 2020. Check out this website for more information

California’s Thriving Illegal Underground Economy

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tree trimming is a dangerous job. Worker’s comp insurance is very costly in CA which has created a thriving shadowy trade in which unlicensed tree businesses or individuals are able to undercut legitimate companies by charging way less. These people are breaking the law and putting you at risk. If they get injured they could sue you. Also, if they damage your neighbor’s or your property, you could be responsible and they would disappear. These companies hire illegal workers, paying them minimal wages and they do not know how to trim trees. We call them hackers and butchers. They often destroy trees, structurally weakening them at worst and destroying their great looks at best. We are often hired to try to trim a tree back to a good shape. This takes years and a lot of money. Please do not support these renegades; ask for proof of liability and workers comp insurance and for their contractors license, bother to check to see if the information is valid. By the way, bona fida landscapers need workers comp. insurance too, their coverage will only cover tree work if performed from the ground, as soon as they step up on a ladder or onto the tree it goes from about 13% to 25% of their employees salary.

In the tree business if a proposal sounds too good to be true believe me it will be.

Why Topping Trees Destroys the Aesthetics and Structure of Trees


Look at the sucker growth on this topped tree, these branches are weak and when filled with leaves and larger after a few years are hazardous.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Because we are in the tree business and obviously care about trees, it annoys us intensely when we see trees which have been ruined by topping. Topped trees have had their top branches sawed off, leaving stumps.

I would guess that the average home owner would never elect to have their trees destroyed by a tree hacker but once topped and destroyed there is nothing you can do. The structure of the tree could be permanently undermined at best and many die at worste.  This type of tree hacking often occurs when people choose bad tree trimmers, often those who undercut legitimate tree businesses by hiring cheap, inexperienced labor and don’t bother purchasing expensive insurance comp coverage They are less expensive as their overheads are minimal but what is the point of paying someone to destroy trees which have been growing and a part of your landscape for many many years? There are legitimate tree businesses who also do a terrible job and top trees as well, so do your homework, ask for references, check up on licenses and insurance. It is worth it as the job cannot be redone and too late is too late forever.

Is your tree too large, or is it blocking a great view?  Whatever the problem, tree topping is not the solution.   Although tree topping won’t kill a tree right away, it does weaken the tree and increase its susceptibility to insects and diseases.  Tree topping begins the slow but steady death of a tree. It may take many years for a topped tree to die. But, when a topped tree dies from root rot, or does not survive a drought the reason is not so obvious. Because it has taken years for the topped tree to die, the death of the tree is not connected to the cause of the problem. Topped trees are damaged trees. If you are tempted to top a tree because you fear it will fall on your home during a storm you may want to find another solution.  Most trees respond to topping by sending out not just one new branch but scores of weak shoots to replace the one removed.  Because of this growth pattern, tree topping actually increases a tree’s susceptibility to windstorms. The thick re-growth of branches catches even more wind than before it was topped.

A tree does not fall over because it is too big.  A tree falls over because it is weak and structurally unsound.  A healthy tree is designed to withstand even the worst storms. If you are worried about a large tree in your yard there are signs to look for that can tell you if the tree is weak. Is the tree leaning?  Does the tree canopy look yellow and thin?  Are there deep and rotted hollow areas on the trunk? Were roots cut during construction?  Do mushrooms grow on the trunk of the tree? These are all signs that a tree may be a hazard.  Certified arborists, such as Jon Greene are trained in hazardous tree evaluation. If you think a tree is a problem call Greene Tree Care and request a hazardous tree evaluation.

A good professional arborist will not top a tree but will try other techniques to scale it back. There are several alternatives to tree topping. First, pruning is an option.  A tree can be thinned to reduce its bulk. Removing a few carefully chosen branches may be enough to open the canopy to maintain a view without removing the tree. Removing a few lower limbs is all right too. Second, if a tree is truly hazard it is really best to remove it, but this can only be determined by a hazardous tree evaluation. The third option is to learn to love the big trees which are healthy, this might be the least expensive option in the end.

What Kind of Trees Have Roots That Damage a Side Walk?


Any tree’s root structure can do damage to walks if the structure poses a barrier to the plant’s survival. In addition to providing support for a growing leaf canopy, aging trees must compensate for depletion of nutrients directly underneath the tree, so they grow new roots outward near the surface of the soil to find new nutrients and collect moisture.

Shallow Roots

As the tree’s crown the branching structure under its leaf canopy grows larger, its underground structure of roots must grow, both to find moisture and nutrients and to support all of the weight above ground. Heart roots — the main support roots for many trees such as elms and maples – grow away from the trunk. The heart roots spread out while staying near the surface, sprouting threadlike roots that gather moisture and nutrients. These roots grow downward only as long as they find water, so unless there’s a high water table or city water and sewer system underground, tree roots have little need to grow more deeply than 18 inches. Occasionally, roots will even grow above ground when wet, heavy soil or rainy, foggy weather encourage them to become “superficial.


Maple (Acer spp.), ash (Fraxinus spp.) and poplar (Populus spp.) trees all grow wide, fibrous root systems. As the roots grow, older sections of roots become woody, just as happens in the tree trunk and branches above ground. Nutrient-gathering takes place primarily in the ever-expanding root tips, or meristems. When roots grow under a solid surface, they absorb moisture and the dry soil contacts. Whatever is above must settle downward in a process called subsidence. As more roots crowd the soil, seeking moisture, their growing volume can push upward, stressing overlying concrete in the opposite direction. As more soil is scoured out by roots, the cycle repeats itself until eventually, the concrete fractures.


Trees with superficial roots that grow along the surface pose an additional risk to sidewalks and driveways. It’s difficult to tell where the trunk ends and the roots begin on a Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla); trees planted within 30 feet of pavement will eventually lift it. Plant maples and oaks well away from sidewalks, too; these large deciduous trees tend to grow over sidewalks as heart roots on the surface near the trunk thicken underneath them. These big trees can tilt concrete sections by pushing laterally as their trunks grow and their heart roots, growing thicker as they burrow underneath, lift one side.


Some trees are simply not fit company for pavement because they send up new plants, called suckers, along the length of their roots. Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), eucalyptus and cottonwood (populus trichocarpa) can become invasive. Their roots dive under sidewalks but may set up suckers as they emerge on the opposite side, creating more roots to burrow under and crowd or create subsidence to stress the walk until cracks develop.

City of Los Angeles- Planting 100 Trees in Honor of Arbor Day and Earth Month


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Today we woke up early and went to The Home Depot on Figuroa Street, where we jointed up with other tree planting volunteers. We had fun planting Southern Redwoods along the sidewalk of a concrete jungle.  This is part of MTLA which stands for Million Trees Los Angeles. LA is committed to planting a million trees in the future in order to have our tree canopy spread to 29% from the 21% coverage which the city has at present. This will help to reduce carbon emissions and help to get rid of the “concrete jungle” and ugliness of many parts of the city.  This is a plan which we plan to support. GREAT IDEA LA!  We love trees so it was a pleasure, we will do it again. If you would like to donate or volunteer, here is the link ~