Tropical Storm Isabel damaged a number of trees in our yard. We cleaned up the fallen branches, but it looks like the trees need some pruning. How can we select a good tree company to do the work?
The cleanup and repair of trees damaged by Isabel is keeping every tree company in the area busy. The best companies will likely have a long waiting list to get non-emergency work done. If you value your trees, it will be worth waiting for them to get to your work.
I would select a tree service in much the same way I would select a new auto mechanic, plumber or other skilled tradesperson. Just as a good auto repair shop or plumbing shop employs certified mechanics and plumbers, a good tree company will have one or more certified arborists on its staff, and I would first limit the search to companies that have a certified arborist.
The most recognized organization that certifies tree care workers is the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Tree-care workers must have at least three years' experience and must pass a comprehensive examination to become an ISA certified arborist. You can find a complete listing of ISA certified arborists by city and state or by zip code at the Web site www.treesaregood.com.
Or you may call the society at 217-355-9411, and ask that a list be mailed to you. Please keep in mind that the ISA only certifies that the individuals on its list have acquired the knowledge and experience necessary to do good work. It does not oversee their work or guarantee their integrity.
You will need to rely on work references for that assurance. I would start by asking friends and neighbors for recommendations and I would ask any tree company for several references before hiring them.
Parts of our neighborhood were flooded by Tropical Storm Isabel. How will this affect our lawns and landscape plants?
Rushing waters could physically damage your plants, but the greatest harm would occur if your plants were covered with water for a prolonged period and suffocated from lack of oxygen.
On the other hand, if the water receded after a day or two, I doubt that any permanent damage would occur to your trees, shrubs or lawn. As the soil dries out, more oxygen will become available and these plants should be fine.
Smaller plants, such as annuals and perennials, are more likely to be affected, particularly if the soil stays wet for an extended time. I would rinse off the leaves and stems of any dirtied plants with clean water, and clean any debris that has collected around the bases of your plants. Also, should the soil remain wet for an extended period, some plant species may have increased disease problems. There is little you can do to prevent this.
1. Do not prune back landscape plants hard now. Hard pruning of most plants is best done in late winter or early spring.
2. To ripen late-picked tomatoes, wrap them in newspaper and store them in a cool, dry place.
Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Services. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site www.hgic. umd.edu.