Plant Care

Planting

We love to plant. Nurseries are our equivalent of the corner candy store. In a typical planting season, we will visit at least 15 in-ground nurseries and 3 wholesale yards, in search of the very best plants for our clients. Though we are often seduced by the beauty of plants, we are very careful to recommend the right plants for our clients' conditions and needs. We choose not only the right species and variety, but also the right form for the place the plants will live.

From March through May and from October through December, we plant at every scale, from a single backyard specimen, to a whole garden of woody plants, to a street allee of half a dozen trees, to plantings of hundreds of trees meant to reduce Urban Heat Island Effect. Urban Arborists has been instrumental in the effort to replace trees lost to the Asian Longhorn Beetle.

Our clients include individuals, Business Improvement Districts, block associations, municipalities, institutions, and public agencies.

 

Design

Although we refer clients who need whole gardens planned to several designers whom we admire and trust, Urban Arborists loves to do our own woody plant design. Bill Logan's experience writing about gardens—together with his two decades of experience caring for gardens and trees—has given him skill in fitting beautiful combinations of trees and shrubs into existing settings, whether woodland gardens, city spaces, or suburban landscapes.

 

Pruning

There are many reasons to prune: to make a tree safer, to repair damage, to get branches out of the way, to improve a tree's structure or health, to improve a shrub's flowering or its shape, to please the neighbors. But in every single case, pruning is an art. We make the tree or the shrub more fitting for its place and purpose. We make it a part of the genius of its place.

Before we touch any plant, we discuss the purpose with our clients. We prune the minimum necessary to achieve that goal. We follow the physician creed, First Do No Harm.

 

Treatment

Urban Arborists will never place cover sprays to attack unspecified pests on a large number of trees and shrubs. We target specific treatments for specific pests on specific plants. We only treat when we observe that the antagonist is present in sufficient numbers to cause harm. We treat only at the time when that pest in vulnerable.

Every action we take comes from a diagnosis. In some cases, we will suggest doing nothing at all. Where treatments are necessary, we look for the least toxic alternative available. Pine bark adelgid, for example, is a pest commonly found on white pines. There are oils, soaps and more serious pesticides that can treat it, but a good jet of plain water will do the job as well. For Dutch elm disease and the insects that spread it, on the other hand, only a relatively toxic systemic will do.

 

Cabling

Cables and braces in trees can help to prevent failures of weak or very large branches in wind and storm. Urban Arborists knows which cable to use in which conditions and on which trees. We also know when cabling is not a good idea at all.

Once, all cables were made of 7-strand, galvanized steel and fixed to the tree with J-shaped screws or with through-bolts. Now, there are other kinds of steel cable, as well as several kinds of synthetic cable that may not require drilling into stems. Different cables are appropriate for different situations. Once a cable is placed, it must be periodically inspected.

We are also skilled at placing brace and cable combinations to repair weak crotches that have begun to crack. By this means, we can often save trees that would otherwise be lost. We are also good at making props - often out of wood from the same tree or at least the same species - to preserve long, low branches that cannot be effectively pruned and that would otherwise be liable to break.

 

Tree Removal

Although we are not fond of removing trees unless it is truly necessary, we are unusually good at difficult removals in tight spaces. As an urban company, we are all too familiar with large dying or dead ailanthus trees, locusts or silver maples located in tiny backyards surrounded with windows, with fine gardens, with prize plants, and with fishponds. We pride ourselves on our ability to extricate such very large and dangerous trees while doing no damage to the fine surroundings.