Administrator's Posts (264)

As the holiday season comes to a close each year, people across the country face an important question: what should we do with our well-loved, and now quite dry, Christmas trees? For the past 28 years in Georgia, the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation and its network of affiliates have provided an answer: recycle them!

Although the popularity of artificial trees has risen over the years, real trees provide a sustainable solution for families and wildlife alike. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, nearly 350 million Christmas trees currently grow on U.S. farms, absorbing carbon dioxide, emitting fresh oxygen, stabilizing soil, protecting water supplies, and providing refuge for wildlife. For each tree harvested, one to three seedlings are planted in its place, making them a renewable resource, and when people purchase them, they also support local economies.

That environmental stewardship continues when individuals make the choice to recycle their trees in January. Through Keep Georgia Beautiful’s “Bring One for the Chipper” program, trees are collected at over 130 locations throughout the state and repurposed in ways that benefit the environment. The program transforms a large number of trees into mulch for playgrounds, city and county landscaping projects, and individual homes, and sinks others into lakes to create fish habitats. Since the program’s inception, communities across Georgia have diverted over 6 million trees from landfills.

“Bring One for the Chipper” has become a widespread environmental tradition in Georgia. Thanks to partners like The Home Depot, The Davey Tree Expert Company, Georgia Forestry Commission, 11 Alive, Ferry Morse Seed Company, Burpee Seed Company, and One Tree Planted, communities have the drop-off locations, media promotion, and chipper services they need to be successful. Participants also receive complimentary tree seedlings or flower and vegetable seeds to take home with them. Along with the enthusiasm and dedication of nearly 1,000 local volunteers, these resources encourage residents across the state to return year after year.

So if you live in Georgia, visit on December 21 to find a ‘treecycling’ location near you. If you reside in another state, check with the nonprofits, local businesses, and recycling providers in your area – although “Bring One for the Chipper” is one of the largest events of its kind in the nation, opportunities for recycling trees are increasing in every city and town. It’s easy to do your part to make the holiday season sustainable!

About Keep Georgia Beautiful

Keep Georgia Beautiful has a 40 year history of doing the little things that make a big difference in Georgia communities. Established as the first-ever state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful in 1978 by Governor George Busbee, Keep Georgia Beautiful became a 501(3)c nonprofit in 2011 and builds sustainable communities through litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling, water resource management, and community greening. Keep Georgia Beautiful provides support to the largest network of local affiliates in the country, and our 78 local programs represent 80% of Georgia’s population. For more information, visit and follow us on FacebookInstagramandTwitter.

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Forest Kindergartens

As babies develop into inquisitive and curious children it is important that as adults we encourage the behaviors that are essential to their growth.  Upon reading Why our kids need forests for true learning by Linda McGurk we took a long thought about America's structured educational system. When children are not old enough to go to school they are taught by the influential adults in their lives. These adults distinctly enunciate the name of the toy or animal they find their children reaching for. As an older sibling with years of babysitting experience- I can confirm that children are more willing to learn when actively engaged in an activity. "Many early childhood experts consider physical activity and unstructured play the two main pillars for learning and a healthy development for preschoolers" McGurk tells us. 

So why is it that when we send our children off to school they are told to sit quietly at a desk and stare at a board for 8 hours a day? 

After spending the month of August committing to the hashtag #healthytreeshealthylives, we were astounded at all mental and physical benefits of forests. Children are the most vulnerable to these positive influence due to the perennial development of motor and personal skills. Parents across the world have begun enrolling their students in classes taught by the most knowledgeable teacher, mother earth. These classrooms without walls are known as 'forest kindergartens', and are revolutionizing the way we think about early education. The intellectual benefits students receive are remarkable. Through outdoor exploration and physical activity children can strengthen their imaginative capabilities, risk judgment, sense of community involvement and much more.

Running Free in Germany’s Outdoor Preschools by Alice Gregory is another important resource that hilights the benefits o forest kindergartens. The implementation of more outside oriented lessons is something The Grove hopes to see more of.  

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Most Dangerous Jobs in the US

I am still unable to wrap my head around the intense damage caused by the trifecta of hurricanes hitting the southern coast of US. I have recoiled at devastating images of islands and cities almost obliterated by tropical storms. As I hug my roommate, I mourn for the people that have lost their lives, or have lost everything but.

As 130+ mile winds hit cement lined structures, trees struggle to remain grounded by their roots in the underlying soil. After camping with a group in Wyoming this summer, I quickly learned that the taller your tent (or tree) the more intense the effects of wind will be. Our coastal states have trees that have become national landmarks and important community members to each of their cities. One may assume that these trees gained their title not only from their age but from their height and resilience.

So that makes me ask: what all does it take to be an arborist in these coastal states?

Upon doing research I soon learned that arboriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the world. Working in potentially bad weather, welding heavy machinery, climbing to high altitudes does not make for safe working conditions.

That being said we are thankful for all our arborist throughout our nation who are still risking their lives to assess and amend the devastating work of natural disasters. Not only is American Grove dedicated to promoting the health of community forests but we want to ensure the health of those who work in the arboriculture industry.

If you are still coping with the aftermath of a natural diaster we have included a few resources from the How to Evaluate and Manage Storm-Damaged Forest Areas and After the Hurricane: Dealing with Damaged Trees as well. Find even more under our Resources tab!

That being said, we would love to hear stories from you! Please use this forum to share any noble, heroic, or typical encounters from your arboriculture job! Just don’t forget to close the story with a happy ending, we are invested in your wellbeing! 

And let us not forget about those heroic firefighter out west who have faced an intense fire season with the dedication and motivation needed to protect our national lands!

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Fire On The Land

“What can we learn from this history?  How difficult it is to invent a new idea and put it in the field.  How hard it is to admit you're wrong.  How critical it is that reforms come from within the ranks rather than be imposed from outside.  How much boldness must meld with humility, and insight with practice.  And, if the past is prologue, as Shakespeare held, how much wildland fire management will likely remain one of American forestry's great experiments.”
-Excerpt from preface by Dr. Stephen Pyne

Society of American Foresters' has published their newest anthology of modern research on fire ecology, policy, and the influence of wildfires in forest management. Fire on the Land is a collection of peer-reviewed scientific articles that provide in-depth descriptions and examples of fire's influence on the landscape of our nation. Researchers who tend these allow insight to not only the history of detrimental fires but current practices and future practices into this fire science. 

Fire on The Land can be purchased on SAF's website here

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Robert Llewellyn's collection of nature photos are nothing short of an adventure. His keen lens captures the interconnectedness of the forest to create a piece of artwork that is truly breathtaking. From the tiny particles of soil to the leaves at the top of canopies Llewellyn captures it all. These photos invite readers to explore their own backyard to find the detailed beauty hiding in plain sight. Scholar Joan Maloof accompanies Llewellyn's photos with narratives that are just as beautiful. This book has 300 unique photos that are sure to entertain and amaze on every page.The complex relationships among forest dwellers are presented in such an aesthetically pleasing way that you'llll want to reread over and over.

The Living Forest can be purchased here

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The USDA Forest Service, Softwood Lumber Board, along with other partners have sponsored a unique exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. This Timber City Exhibit showcases the economic and environmental benefits of using lumber and will be on display until September 10th. Get inspired, attend a workshop, and learn more about the sustainable future of nation's timber practices here.

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Thoreau and the Language of Trees

Rich Higgins has recently published a work of art that explores Thoreau’s deep connections to the trees mentioned in Walden, the beloved classic. Higgins' book is packed with interpretations of the merriment, companionship, and influence of our nation's canopy on Thoreau's unprecedented lifestyle. More information about the 2017 book, Thoreau and the Language of Trees can be found hereThe transcendentalist Henry Thoreau will turn 200 this year, this New York Times article celebrates modern works that explore the naturalist themes that saturate Walden. 

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The Water Environment and Resuse foundation is seeking proposals on research focused on What We Know About Trees, Forests, and Sustainable Water Management.

WE&RF is seeking proposals for Incorporating Forestry into Stormwater Management Programs (SIWM12C15) that examines how forests can help meet stormwater management objectives with attention to nutrient reduction and volume control. Proposals are due by December 19, 2016. 

Click the link below to learn more information about this awesome opportunity.

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The Arborist and the Urban Forester

Is it important to differentiate the role of the arborist and the urban forester? I am an arborist that has worked in Urban Forestry for eight years. I have been an arborist for 13 years. It is only recently that I am really starting to differentiate the perspectives of the two professions. Arborists tend to look at one tree at a time, while foresters are trained to look at trees in groups.  It seems foresters seem to emphasis management of resources whereas arborist are concerned about health of a particular tree.  There are also differences in education.

An urban forester usually has a degree in forestry with an emphasis on urban areas. Arborist certification from the ISA requires that they three or more years of full-time, eligible, practical work experience in arboriculture and/or a degree in the field of arboriculture, horticulture, landscape architecture, or forestry from a regionally accredited educational institute.

Arborist and urban foresters sometimes have conflicting opinions. Some are both arborist and urban foresters. Of course, what both have in common are trees. 

I would be very interested in your reflection on the differences and if the differences can be a cause of conflict.

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What do you know about Biomass Fuel?

The Dogwood Alliance has stated, "Utility companies in the United States and Europe are expanding their use of wood as an energy source despite growing scientific evidence that the large-scale burning of wood for electricity—in particular the burning of whole trees—will accelerate industrial logging, increase carbon emissions compared with fossil fuels, and threaten human health with air pollution similar to burning coal.  While the small-scale use of wood waste and residues for energy could play a role in addressing future energy needs, policies in the U.S. and European Union are setting the stage for the large-scale use of wood as a primary fuel source."

The US Forest service is looking into the impact of small woody biomass harvest on our forests.  “Biomass removal is new for the Forest, and currently there is limited research literature for us to use to help explain some of the environmental effects from this type of harvesting,” said Thomas Bailey, forest soil scientist for the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

The industry appears to be already ramped up with over 100 plants in the US. The Biomass Power Association is the nation's leading organization working to expand and advance the use of clean, renewable biomass power. The Association represents 80 biomass power plants in 20 states across the U.S. They argue, "Increasing America's use of biomass and other renewable energy is the first step in combating climate change and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Biomass power generates carbon neutral electricity from natural organic waste, providing sustainable energy. America can depend on the biomass industry to provide clean, renewable electricity and create thousands of green jobs in communities across the country. Biomass power is the natural solution for energy independence.

Dogwood Alliance which has started the "Forests aren't Fuel" (see graphic) campaign argue that "we need more forests to capture carbon, burning forests for energy will destroy one of our best defenses against climate change.  A major shift to wood as an energy source could likewise undermine efforts to expand clean, renewable and low-carbon energy sources, such as solar and wind, while also rolling back hard-won victories for forest conservation."

What are your thoughts?

Land owners that grow forests could view it as a source of additional demand for their product, hence additional revenue, which is one reason states might be advocating for it. On the other hand, it is not clear what portion of the wood comes from agriculturally grown forests vs. National Forest land. However, traditionally our forests are considered a sustainable resource that are to be used.  There is the additional question whether removing all the biomass inhibits recovery.  In the field of morticulture, a dead tree sustains more life than a live one.

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Volunteer Trees And Fulfilling Dreams

Alliance for Community Trees recently posted an article about Managing ‘Volunteer’ Trees and it reminded of this blog posted over three years ago with another perspective on not managing volunteer trees.

Often I will work in my yard and notice a new tree sprouting up, perhaps a forgotten acorn.  Sadly, more often than not I remove the young tree as it interferes with my overall plan for the yard.  Lately, I have been giving more consideration to the removal of volunteers as they have a potential to not only reach to the sky with their canopy but to also embody the surrounding natural environment.

The Georgia Town I live in, Decatur, is one of the most densely populated in all of Georgia.  Roughly 18K people live in 4.5 square miles, yet our canopy coverage remains around 50%.  Our Urban Forest is changing rapidly as the large oaks slowly succumb to development and storms.  I speculate that most the of these trees, aka, grandfather trees were volunteers that were either encouraged or overlooked over a 100 years ago.  Because summers were hot (AC did not exist), lots were larger, and land was not as intensively developed, owners were more likely to let trees grow.  Today, trees suffer, particularly those placed through non-human means, in an environment where many lots have been subdivided, homes have become larger, and shade is not as relevant.

More and more of our trees are intentionally planted to offset tree removals. In a world where so much retains a human finger print, there is something special about a tree that came up due to forces outside of direct human intervention. Volunteer trees have the advantage to customize their first year to their exact surroundings giving them an ecological edge in adaption over a tree that was transplanted from another location. Volunteers  also will have a genetic connection with the trees that surround them, making them more of a family of trees.

Nurturing the volunteer tree makes you a willing participant in the natural world.  The volunteer incorporates a complex web of interactions and consequences that often express the intelligence of nature.  In participating in that natural world, trees go beyond being a resource and become a source of life and wonderment.  We can take solace in living with the tree's beautiful embodiment of time and nature.  Joan Maloof, author of Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest, states it best when she says; It's good to have dreams, but sometimes it good to let dreams have you too."

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Great American Tree Finalists

Voting is now closed. Thank you to everyone that voted! The five finalists have been determined by your vote and  a national panel is currently reviewing the five trees with the most votes and will select the 2015 Great American Tree. The winner will be announced September 15th. The top five vote recipients are:

  1. That Tree – Platteville, WI (130 votes)
  2. Darien Oak – Darien, GA (75 votes)
  3. Angel Oak – Charleston, SC (43 votes)
  4. Arkansas Champion Bald Cypress- Arkansas County, AK (27 votes)
  5. Morty – Santa Monica, CA (25 votes)

FINAL VOTE TALLY  (Voting ended 7/31/15 @ midnight)

Arkansas Champion Bald Cypress- Arkansas County, AK (27 votes)

American Elms - Johnstown, PA (10 votes)

White Oak Alabama - Morris, AL (10 votes)

Dodge City Red Oak - Dodge City, KS (3 votes)

Longleaf Pine - Garner, NC (20 votes)

Black Walnut - Dickson, TN (3 votes)

The Carrboro American Elm - Carrboro, NC (2 votes)

Homestead Oak – Hall County, GA (19 votes)

Big Oak Alabama – Geneva, AL (23 votes)

That Tree – Platteville, WI (130 votes)

Swamp White Oak – Elmwood Park, NE (16 votes)

Bessemer City Deodar Cedar – Bessemer City, NC (11 votes)

Bebb Oak – Northbrook, IL (11 votes)

Amazing Butternut Tree - Forest Grove, OR (24 votes)

Endicott Park Tree - Danvers, MA (1 votes)

Texas Pecan – Anna, TX (1 vote)

Elma American Chestnut – Elma, WA (14 votes)

Great Oak of Collinswood – Collinswood, NJ (4 votes)

Survivor Tree - Oklahoma City, Ok (16 votes)

Austin Live Oak - Austin, TX (3 votes)

Ancient Tree - Oak Harbor, WA (23 votes)

Sentinel Oak - Waycross, GA (9 votes)

Friendship Oak - Long Beach, MS (16 votes)

Celeste - Celeste, TX (2 votes)

Live Oak – Anna, TX (3 votes)

Angel Oak – Charleston, SC (43 votes)

Moon Tree – Athens, GA (15 votes)

Morty – Santa Monica, CA (25 votes)

Jack’s Oak – Glen Ellen, CA (16 votes)

The Birthing Tree – McMinnville, TN (6 votes)

Darien Oak – Darien, GA (75 votes)

American Chestnut – New York, NY (2 vote)

Florida Ficus - Coconut Grove, FL (6 votes)

Wiltondale Oak – Towson, MD (14 votes)

Champion Osage-orange – Charlotte County, VA (8 votes)

Alwood Oak – Blacksburg, VA (8 votes)

Yarbrough Oak – Oxford, GA (6 votes)

Allegheny Chinkapin – Tallahassee, FL (6 votes)

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Arkansas Champion Bald Cypress Tree

Contributed by Alison

#greatamericantree This is the state of Arkansas Champion Bald Cypress Tree. the tree has a circumference of 516 inches, a crown spread of 93 feet, height of 120 feet, with a bigness index of 638. The land is owned by U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. This tree is special due to its size, age and the tree is majestic, photos do not do it justice. The Tree is located in Arkansas County on US Fish and Wildlife property. Think of the stories this tree could tell. This tree likely survived the logging in the past from being in a swampy location.

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Fusiform Rust Never Sleeps

Disease of slash and loblolly pines persists in the southeastern United States

by Zoё Hoyle, SRS Science Delivery Group

Fusiform rust, a fungal disease caused by Cronartium quercum f. sp. fusiforme, is the most damaging disease of slash and loblolly pines in the southeastern United States. There are currently over 60.3 million acres of slash and loblolly pine timberland in the Southeast, some of the most productive forests in the world. Forest managers rely on continued fusiform rust risk monitoring to choose which slash and loblolly pine stock to plant to avoid losses from the disease.

Newly published findings based on U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data show that though fusiform rust levels in slash and loblolly pine stands in some areas are lower than observed in the 1980s, in other areas the incidence of rust has changed very little in the last 30 years.

In 1972, annual South-wide losses from fusiform rust were estimated at around $28 million. Since then, millions of research dollars have been spent developing methods to select, breed, and outplant rust-resistant slash and loblolly pine stock.

Part of this effort included developing hazard zone maps for both slash and loblolly pine based on the analysis of FIA data. Published in 1997 in a report by Forest Service researcher Dale Starkey, the maps were widely used by forest pathologists, tree improvement specialists, and forest managers to make decisions about which planting stock to use on their lands.

As a result of decades of effort, productivity on pine plantations has doubled from what it was in 1940, and there’s been some evidence that rust incidence and tree mortality from the disease has been greatly reduced in areas once deemed “high hazard,” and especially on commercially owned lands where the best available genetic sources of resistance to fusiform rust have been planted.

Prompted by questions and statements from the field, KaDonna Randolph, research mathematical statistician with the Forest Service Southern Research Station FIA unit, was asked to update Starkey’s rust hazard maps using FIA data and evaluate changes in regional rust incidence between the late 1970s and the early 2010s.

Through the analysis of FIA data, Randolph and fellow researchers Ellis Cowling and Dale Starkey found that despite some decreases in fusiform rust incidence over the last 30 to 40 years, rust hazard remains high throughout much of the southeastern United States. They also found that rust incidence was about equal in planted and natural loblolly stands but was higher in planted versus natural stands of slash pine.

The results for slash pine were surprising. The reasons were unclear, but one reason may be the origin of planting stock, which was unknown and may be highly variable in terms of rust resistance.

Data from the analysis was used to update Starkey’s 1997 disease risk maps. The updated maps are included in the article and can be used to guide the planting of rust-resistant stock appropriate to specific areas.

“Because rust hazard remains moderate to high throughout much of the southeastern U.S. for both slash and loblolly pines, continued deployment of rust-resistant seedlings is recommended,” said Randolph. “It’s also necessary to continue rust research and monitoring programs so that the gains in genetic resistance achieved so far are not lost.”

Read the full text of the article.

For more information, email KaDonna Randolph at

Access the latest publications by SRS scientists.

Multiple branch cankers such as those pictured above are symptomatic of fusiform rust disease. Photo by Robert L. Anderson, U.S. Forest Service, courtesy of

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The 2015 Great American Tree Competition

Help us find the Great American Tree for 2015! 

Everyone has a favorite tree. It’s a landmark to your community, has a compelling story, or makes a huge environmental contribution. It personifies perseverance or is a testament to history. It’s grand and noble or small and dignified. Whatever statement your favorite tree makes, nominate it - in the first annual Great American Tree Competition.

Guidelines for nominations:

Nominations must include a photo (high resolution preferred), a description of why the tree is special, tree species, tree size (height and/or diameter) and the tree’s location (GPS or address). Nominations may be posted to any of the following: On your state grove, Facebook, Twitter (@plantyourlegacy), or as an attachment to an e-mail. You may also go to your state grove by using your "state name" domain name (e.g.

All trees, no matter how they are submitted, will be posted to American Grove Great American Tree Page, where they will be voted upon. After winners from each state and/or territory are determined, an “all-star” urban forestry panel will cast its votes and The Great American Tree will be named. 


April 30: Contest Begins. Submit by commenting on this blog or post (must be a member) or via our Facebook or Twitter Accounts by clicking on the links below.
June 30: Deadline for Nominations
July 31: Voting
August 1 - August 30th: Review of the top five trees and selection of the Great American Tree by a national panel
September 15th: Winner Announced!


The first place winner of the Great American Tree contest will receive $500 and a complimentary scholarship to the Partners in Community Forestry (PCF) Conference in Denver, CO, November 18-19, 2015. Second place is $250 and a PCF scholarship, and third place is $100. The PCF Conference is designed to provide inspiration and tools that help strengthen community forests.

Share your enthusiasm for America’s appreciation of trees by posting the tree that you think should be the Great American Tree! #greatamericantree

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From in Dallas, TX

We know it can be tempting to take care of much needed tree pruning on your own. Often, we just hire the guy down the street that's "handy with a chainsaw". Who doesn't want to save some money? Problem is, poor "cheap" pruning can permanently ruin the look of your valuable trees and often leave them susceptible to storm damage, disease and ultimately decline and death. Here are five of our top common pruning and trimming mistakes we see on trees around the DFW area.

  • Topping: This is usually one of the most obvious and ugly of tree pruning mistakes. It happens a lot with crapemyrtles (known as "crape murder") and other trees that were too large for the place they were planted. With crapemyrtles, it's also done because people think it will get them more blooms (it won't). Topping involves cutting away a large section of the top of a tree's crown, or all the leafing branches across the top half of the tree. What you're left with is a very ugly deformed specimen with severely weakend branch structure.
  • Bad Timing: There are good times to prune and bad times to prune; it depends on the species and condition of the tree. In Texas, for example, oak trees should not be pruned from February through June, due to the spread of oak wilt disease. If a tree is already stressed, it should not be heavily pruned. You should always have your trees inspected by a certified arborist before you let anyone take a chainsaw to it, unless you're willing to lose the tree completely.  Pruning west-facing branches isn't a good idea in the heat of the summer; when you remove large limbs that shade the tree from the hot western sun, you can cause sun scald on red oaks, maples and other susceptible species. Sun scald results in wounds and damage to the trunk bark that can severely damage your tree.

Oak Wilt Disease

  • Improper Cuts: A very common tree trimming mistake when removing branches is to cut them off too close, or flush, to the main trunk. By doing this, you remove the branch collar; an area of tissue with specialized cells that help heal the wound. You'll recognize it as a small swelling, or bump, right where the branch meets the trunk. The callous that the branch collar cells creates will prevent disease from entering the trunk. When you cut that branch off flush to the trunk, you're opening a wound that can allow in disease and pests, putting your tree on a path to an early demise. Bark tears can occur when the proper steps are not taken when removing large branches. If you make the wrong cut in the wrong order, you can end up with a large branch falling and tearing or splitting your main trunk.
  • Over Pruning: No more than about 15% to 20% of a mature tree's foliage should ever be trimmed off at one time. In fact, 5%-10% is usually adequate. When you remove too much of the canopy, you'll leave the tree unable to produce enough food, transfer nutrients and structurally support itself. People often over trim and thin their trees in hopes of getting the grass beneath to grow properly (which rarely happens).  If you have multiple trees in an area where you'd rather grow turn, often a better practice is to remove selected trees to let in more light, and perform structural pruning on the remaining trees so that you can have both healthy trees and turf.

Broccoli Tree

  • Raising the Canopy Too High: Otherwise known as Lion's tailing, or as we like to call them "Broccoli Trees". Again, unskilled labor often removes far too many large lower branches in an effort to raise the canopy and grow more turf grass. What you end up with is a very tall bare trunk with a small amount of foliage canopy left at the top. It looks like a lion's tail, or stalk of broccoli. You can read more about this pruning mistake and the problems it causes HERE.
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