Featured Posts (30)


"Hurricanes topple plenty of trees, but when you think about it, the more amazing thing is that many trees can stand up to these 100-mile-per-hour winds.

Now a French scientist has come up with an explanation for the resilience of trees. And astonishingly, the answer was first described by Leonardo da Vinci 500 years ago.

Leonardo noticed that when trees branch, smaller branches have a precise, mathematical relationship to the branch from which they sprang. Many people have verified Leonardo's rule, as it's known, but no one had a good explanation for it.

French physicist Christophe Eloy wasn't particularly interested in trees, but he does specialize in understanding how air flows around objects — objects like airplane wings and such. So he decided to see whether he could solve the mystery of the branching trees."

Read the complete story or listen to the audio on National Public Radio at http://goo.gl/JPikT

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Reading the leaves

As a backyard tree grower I am always looking to the leaves for clues to the current condition of the tree. Leaf curl on some of my “canary” trees will tell me that the trees need watering. Brown margins on the leaves might indicate too much fertilizer was applied. Chlorotic (yellowing) leaves, I’ve read, can be caused by too much or too little of one nutrient or another. My current quandary: What’s causing new growth to be pale? (I wish I had paid better attention in HORT101.) 

It’s interesting to me that just as annular rings of a tree trunk indicate growing conditions over the life of the tree, the series of leaves in the current year often reflect growing conditions and nutrients applied (sometimes mis-applied) in the current growing season. A second flush of growth often show "forgiveness" for a mistake made in the spring.

One thing I find appealing about growing deciduous trees: they drop their leaves after they’ve left their clues to the over-all tree health. New growth promises to be better than the previous year, assuming I’ve read the leaves correctly.
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Monetizing Ecosystem Services

Monetizing ecosystem services of trees might be in the near future.  The City of New York spent $1.2 billion dollars (over ten years) to restore and protect watersheds in effort to avoid spending $8 billion dollars on a new water filtration plant.  Last week, California regulators adopted a system combating climate change that sets limits on greenhouse gas emissions and creates market incentives to encourage oil refineries, electricity generators and other polluters to clean up their plants.  Trees are an important part of ecosystem services, especially since the net primary productivity of carbon removal of forests have been found to exceed original estimates.  Is a market for the purchase of forests or trees to offset climate change far behind?  The ecosystem values of urban forests are already being calculated by combining GIS and iTree in innovative programs in San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia.  It is yet to be seen how these markets will form and how challenges will be overcome thru the rest of this century, but it appears early signs of monetizing ecosystem services is on the near horizon.  

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The Lorax Move

There’s a Lorax movie coming out.  I watched the trailer with my kids last night.  If you haven’t seen this, check it out (Danny DeVito is the Lorax, and watch until the end, it’s pretty funny).  Enjoy!






Ian Hanou

Senior IM Project Manager

AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, Inc.

2000 S. Colorado Blvd, Ste 2-1000, Denver, CO  80222

(303) 742-5320 (office) – (303) 503-4846 (mobile)


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Can a street tree be too big?

Municipalities often wonder how big their street trees will become and if they will create damage to surrounding infrastructure, however New Orleans seems to have different ethic, let them grow! As a result they have one of the most amazing urban forest in the country. We know the the issues surrounding an uneven sidewalk, but have we considered the advantages? Perhaps with an expectation of uneveness, there would be more awareness and less accidents. Humans did not evolve walking on flat surfaces. Anyway, below is a picture of street tree that has exceeded all expectations, one example of thousands in New Orleans.

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10 Biggest Myths about Christmas Trees

This article written in collaboration with the National Christmas Tree Association and Sarah C. Gracey, Kentucky urban forestry coordinator.


If you have been around me at all during the holidays, you will know I am a fan of real Christmas trees (I am also a fan of not putting up the tree until Santa’s toy factory is in high gear and almost ready to pack the sleigh). I grew up going to tree farms and selecting our tree as part of our family tradition. While it is still great to visit local tree farmers,  Kentucky Christmas Treesanother option is to buy a cut tree from an American tree farmer. Yes, real holiday trees are grown on family owned tree farms. If that isn’t enough reason for you to consider giving up your non recyclable plastic “tree” from overseas, let’s look at the biggest myths about holiday trees. Wherever you find your tree - on a farm, in a store or a natural cedar like I will have this year, I hope you will consider a real tree.


Photo - It was 1984 and another successful tree hunt with Dad.


Myth 1: Real trees are cut down from forests. While the US Forest Service allows a very small number of permits to cut wild trees (to allow for fire breaks), trees are grown on a farm, just like any other agricultural crop.

Myth 2: You save a tree by using a fake tree. Because these trees are grown as a crop, you are buying a harvested product grown for this purpose. In fact, fake trees are shipped in cardboard boxes (a forest product) and are non- recyclable, so you aren’t saving anything by using one.

Myth 3: Real trees aggravate allergies. Evergreen pollen is not a known allergen causer. Of the tens of thousands of tree species, less than 100 are known to cause allergies and only a few of these are conifers. Even if a tree was an aggravator, it is unlikely to produce pollen in December. If you are sensitive to allergies it is not a bad idea to hose down your real tree before bringing indoors, because of course, it could have collected dust and pollen while growing. Also, note if you are sensitive to these things anyway, a plastic tree over years will continue to collect dust and molds as well. Google the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology for ideas on how to prevent holiday allergies.

Myth 4: Fake trees are better because you can re-use them. At some point, a fake tree will end up in a landfill where it is not biodegrade, it makes a very unfriendly option for the Earth. Most fake trees are used only six to nine years before being thrown away.

Myth 5: Christmas trees are a fire safety hazard. The reality is that the chances of a real tree being accidentally ignited are extremely rare. Keep your tree freshly watered every day, use new lower heat LED lights on them and keep open flames away from them.

Myth 6: Real trees cost too much. In Kentucky, most trees cost between $20 and $45 for locally grown trees and in that same range for trees shipped from other states. If I spend $25 on a tree each year, and a plastic tree guardian spends $300 for a tree, they would have to use it for 12 years to break even. This length of time is over the average that most people keep artificial trees.

Myth 7: Fake trees are fire proof. This is simply false information - plastic trees catch on fire every year. According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association, 28% of home fires involving a tree were artificial ones.

Myth 8: Real trees have pesticides and chemicals on them. Myths such as this often get a foothold due to the disconnect that many people have with agricultural practices. Chemicals are used by farmers only when needed and only according to the specified instructions of the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. There has never been a research article suggesting that harmful levels of chemical residue exists on real trees. On the flip side, there have been studies showing a potential health danger of lead dust coming from plastic trees. In fact, the state of California requires a warning label on plastic trees and wreaths.

Myth 9: Real trees end up in landfills. A natural tree is 100% biodegradable, unlike an artificial tree, so even if it did end up in a landfill, it would break down. However, there are real tree recycling programs nationwide. If you live in a rural area, you can put your tree in a farm pond to help build fish habitat, or toss in to woods for small game habitat. When you see trees waiting on the curbs to be picked up for recycling, they are waiting for their next phase of life and will be reused as a natural product. They are not going to waste.

Myth 10: Real trees are a hassle and a mess. Yes, when you move the tree in and out of the house, you will need to vacuum. Hey, you probably needed to do it anyway, right? Yes, they do need to be watered each day, but what is a half of a minute between friends? Other than that, I am not sure why it would be a hassle…..get the kids off the couch and go get some fresh air and get a tree.

Real trees are a renewable, recyclable natural resource. Plastic, artificial fake trees are none of these things. Go green this holiday season and celebrate in style with a real tree. Visit Christmas Tree for more information.

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More Non-Timber Ecosystem Services of Trees

Earlier in the year at Georgia’s Arbor Day celebration at the  Capitol, a “check” for $37.2 billion dollars in ecosystem service value provided by trees was handed to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, the result of the study “Quantifying the Benefits of Non-Timber Ecosystem Services in Georgia” conducted by the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia.  That check is looking better all the time.  Scientist are discovering that the net primary productivity of forests which measures how much CO2 plants take in during photosynthesis minus how much CO2 plants release during is respiration is much higher than was originally believed.   Be sure to read the full article with an informative interactive map.

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Pruning Practices That Harm Trees

There are many reasons you might want to prune your tree. Maybe some of the branches have storm damage or the tree has simply grown too tall. Or maybe you just want to trim it to be more aesthetically pleasing. These are all perfectly good reasons for pruning a tree, but before you do, be sure you’re doing it properly. You wouldn’t want to cause unnecessary stress for your tree or even worse, make it susceptible to disease and even death.


Two unadvisable pruning practices are tipping and topping. The method of tipping involves cutting lateral branches between nodes to reduce crown width while topping is the pruning of large upright branches between nodes—a method often used to reduce the height of a tree. Improper pruning leads to bark damage and unnecessary injury to your tree, and has been known to foster the growth of fatal fungi and other unwanted defects.


When done correctly, pruning controls the appearance, shape and growth patterns of the tree and keeps branches from harming structures or people. The best time to prune trees is in the late winter through early spring before leaves emerge. You should remove dead, diseased, dying, broken and crossing branches as soon as you notice them. If branches have broken, stubs remaining on the tree should be pruned back to the next largest branch.


Pruning mature trees may require special equipment, training and experience.  If the pruning work requires climbing, the use of a chain or hand saws or the removal of large limbs, personal safety equipment, such as protective eye wear and hearing protection, is a must. Certified Arborists can provide a variety of services to assist in performing the job safely and reduce risk of personal injury and damage to your property. Trained crews will have all of the required safety equipment and liability insurance and can also determine what type of pruning is necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance and safety of your tree.


Avoid using the services of a company that advertises tree topping or uses tree climbing spikes when pruning. Climbing in this way can damage the trees, and as a result, should be limited only to trees that are being removed.


Visit the websites below for more information on how to properly (or improperly) prune a tree. http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/howtos/ht_prune/harm.htm http://www.gfc.state.ga.us/CommunityForests/Treecare.cfm#Pruning


[Photo credit: www.na.fs.fed.us]
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Vote to plant a tree in your state parks!

The Odwalla Plant a Tree program is back, bringing welcomed funds to state parks across the country to be used for any kind of trees at the state’s discretion! Beginning May 30, 2011, the Plant a Tree website will be active and taking votes! Help your state Parks plant trees by voting for your own state. Visit Plant A Tree to vote and thanks! Your vote and spreading the message helps greatly.
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By Gail Meads, Soil Scientist, GSM Services and Thomas Macfie, Soil Scientist, Soil Science, Inc.

(reprinted with permission from Tree Talks, Georgia Urban Forest Council's monthly newsletter)


Soil Scientists and other outdoor professionals in Georgia are exposed to deer ticks for many months of the year. Walking about in dense woods, briars, old fields, and kudzu patches are obvious places of tick infestations. However, relaxing in the backyard or working in the garden also expose us to many of nature’s little creatures.

The Deer Tick is the carrier for Lyme Disease. The disease is actually caused by the bacteria Borrelia bugdorferi which attacks the central nervous system. The tick usually takes 24 hours to attach and another day or two to feed. The bacteria is transmitted towards the end of this feeding period. An unattached or flat tick does not transmit Lyme disease. The infection does not show up immediately. Sometimes, but not always, a distinctive bulls-eye circles the tick bite.

Another two to six week into the cycle takes place before medical tests can detect Lyme Disease. Often, medical personnel do not detect Lyme’s Disease until later stages when it is much more difficult to control and cure. Early symptoms are fever, malaise, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint aches.  Typical later symptoms may mimic multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalalgia, fever and even Alzheimer's Disease.

Feeding Deer Ticks, top.  Note larger mouth parts


  • Tick checks when coming in from the outdoors
  • Bathing with a washcloth to dislodge ticks
  • Insect repellent
  • Protective clothing such as high socks, long sleeved shirts, and long pants.

Safe Tick Removal

  • Use fine tweezers to grasp tick as close as possible to the skin.
  • Pull backwards gently but firmly, using an even, steady motion.  Do not jerk or twist.
  • Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick as body fluids transmit.
  • Wash the skin wit soap and water
  • Leave Remaining body parts alone, the skin will naturally expel them.  Removal may cause signsignificant skin trauma.


  • Seek professional medical help immediately and point out possible Lyme Disease exposure.  Be persistant! Igenex Testing often finds infection that other tests miss. There are over forty types of Lyme Disease and they vary in available detection and severity.

For more information, visit http://www.ilads.org or contact Gail Meads at gm@plantationcable.netGail is the secretary for the Soil Science Society of GA.

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