Article Archives

July 2014 (Volume XXV, Number 7)

Beech Nut – Understanding, Appreciating and Caring for Fagus sylvatica
By Howard Gaffin
The European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is native to parts of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Some research suggests its spread through continental Europe is linked to agricultural patterns. The purple variety was found growing naturally in three or four places in central Europe, the first written accounts appearing around 1680. While there is no record of the date of introduction to the U.S., it was noted in both George Washington’s and Thomas Jefferson’s plant lists.

Arborist Weigh in on One-Handing a Chain Saw
Chain saw one-handing is controversial practice among professional arborists. We can make two points about it that shouldn’t be that controversial: It’s epidemic in our industry, and it’s NOT allowed by the industry’s standards for safe work practices. What is your company’s position on it? Do you allow it? Disallow it? Permit it in certain situations? Or do you ignore that it’s happening?

First Aid: What's in your kit?
By John Ball, CTSP
First-aid kits are as essential to tree care and removal operations as the personal protective equipment (PPE) we wear during the work day. The latter helps keep you from getting hurt; the former helps you if you’re hurt.
Unfortunately, too often first-aid kits are regarded as talisman, a mystical box that wards off all evil. The kit sits unopened for years, often stuffed under the truck seat buried beneath the accumulated debris of countless jobs and breaks. Then one day, in an emergency of course, the rusted kit is pried open and mysterious packages that have yellowed and become brittle with age appear, or the box is empty – so much for any aid.

Matching Stump Grinders to Your Business
By Rick Howland
Right off, most manufacturers will tell you that even the smallest stump grinder will do the job of making stumps disappear. If you do only one or two here and there, or have a lot of close-in work in highly populated areas, the basic stumper is fine.
But if you are getting busy, as so many tree care businesses are as the economy picks up, finding yourself doing more than a few stumps a week, or you’ve started to take in subcontract work or begun small lot clearing, the basic machine won’t “cut it,” at least with respect to cost effectiveness.
That’s when you need to know all that’s available to you. (Some manufacturers call them stump cutters, others say stump grinders, while some use the nomenclature interchangeably, and they are one in the same.)


June 2014 (Volume XXV, Number 6)

Single Rope Ascent and Work Positioning
By Odis Sisk
Single rope technique, or SRT, is a set of methods to ascend or descend on one part of a rope. You are moving up one tail of the rope, while the rope is stationary. That is a single rope system in its most basic form.
SRT has been the accepted method for many types of industrial rope access for as long as there has been industrial rope access. It is also very common in cave exploration and rock climbing. However, there are many differences between those and arboricultural SRT.

Five-Year Analysis of Fatal Tree Care Accidents
By Peter Gerstenberger
In 2009, the TCIA began compiling information on tree care-related accidents as reported in the media through its “Accident Briefs” feature in TCI Magazine. Typically, the accidents we report are those covered in the news media, and conveyed to us by a “Google Search” on selected keywords. Occasionally a member sends us a newspaper clipping from their area, or we find an account of a fatal accident on OSHA’s website.
In five years (2009-2013), we compiled information on 408 fatal accidents that we determined to be “occupational” in nature, tree care-related and occurring in the U.S. As far as we could determine the victims, regardless of their professional background or title or employment status, were engaged in tree trimming or removal operations for pay at the time of their demise.

The Science, Politics, and Art of Urban Tree Selection
By Bob Polomski, Ph.D.
When I was asked to present a topic on urban tree selection at the 2014 ISA Southern Chapter Annual Conference in Myrtle Beach this past February, I was honored – and humbled – by the importance of this task. The trees you select, plant, and maintain now become your legacy in the future.
I did not provide the participants with a list of 25 urban trees and expect them to look at it like a restaurant menu and pick their own favorites. I chose to reacquaint the audience with the “Species Selection Model” discussed in the Municipal Specialist Certification Study Guide (Matheny and Clark 2008), and added a few other factors not included in the model. I concluded with a collaborative effort that will enhance our ability to select and acquire appropriate species and cultivars to create a healthy, diverse, and multifunctional urban forest.

Grapples Let You Get a Better Grip on Business
By Rick Howland
It’s not difficult to see that the word “grapple” is derived from the French word “grape.” It harkens to the days of grape harvesting and vintners working with primitive tools attempting to efficiently grasp those awkwardly shaped fruits at harvest time. From grape harvesting then to tree care now, the word still applies. When we use a grapple, the tool from which the word derives, we are trying to gain control, get a grip of something so we can manage what we move and how we move it.
There are basically two kinds of grapples used in tree care. For want of other definitions, there is the overhead, or bypass grapple, and the bucket or ground-level grapple.


May 2014 (Volume XXV, Number 5)

The Current State of Tree Injection Methods and Materials
By Patrick Parker, CTSP
Last fall, in response to a growing interest in the subject, TCIA organized a tree injection summit aimed at “combining cutting edge presentations, demonstrations, and practical application discussions related to tree injection ... covering everything from the deeply scientific to the practical.” For all intents and purposes, the November 13, 2013, event, held in conjunction with TCI EXPO in Charlotte, North Carolina, and hosted at the Bartlett Tree Research Lab in Charlotte, did just that.

Origin of Buds, Branches and Sprouts
By Kevin T. Smith, Ph.D.
Recent research shows that survivor trees in rural, managed forests rebuild broken crowns with new branches and foliage after ice storm injury. Veteran trees in historic parks and landscapes show repeated cycles of crown loss and recovery. Crown rebuilding or reiteration from sprouts is a physiological response with architectural effects that occur after crown injury or as part of tree aging, or senescence. That a tree would form new shoots and branches to replace lost foliage and photosynthetic capacity makes sense. However, arboriculture and the public sometimes seem divided on what to do with branch and stem sprouts.

Forces in Rigging
By Todd Kramer, CTSP
Myself and one of our crews had a pretty challenging day a while back.
I received a call from Juan Yepez, one of our top-performing crew leaders, on a gorgeous summer day. I was out pruning trees on a residential job enjoying the day. He mentioned he was on a crane job (we own two smaller boom trucks, 18 and 23 ton) with a broken branch on a house. He mentioned he could get the brush off the limb but not the wood at the contact point on the house. The butt of the limb was still attached to the trunk with a little wood holding, I was told.

TCIA Launches Arborist Safety Training Institute
By Tamsin Venn
Access to local, affordable, high-quality safety training has been a challenge for arborists for decades. TCIA has launched a new initiative that will, once fully underway, provide cost-subsidized safety training and education for tree care companies nationwide. The initiative launched last fall and fundraising for the Arborist Safety Training Institute, or ASTI, is now well underway.

Chippers Unlocking the Door to Mulch and Biomass Markets
By Rick Howland
Chippers can be a gateway to profitability in the emerging mulch and biomass markets.
With a chipper, the small- to mid-size tree care professional can do more than reduce waste volume. They can join the “big boys” and actually make money in the waste-to-mulch or waste-to-biomass markets.
The opportunities are somewhat limited compared with grinder capabilities. Chippers can’t do much of the finish work to create custom mulch or biomass feed stock, but they can produce the starter material and that’s a growing need; in some cases, they produce a finished product.


April 2014 (Volume XXV, Number 4)

Soil Tree Treatments – Lessons learned from invasive insect control
By Phil Lewis, Ph.D.
When they write the history books for destructive tree pests for the 21st century, there will be two extensive entries for the emerald ash borer (EAB) and the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). Both insects are thought to have first arrived in the U.S. in the 1980s or so, when both our economy and our trade with China experienced exponential growth.

Useful Tools in Plant Health Care – Phenology and Degree Days
By Sylvia McNeill, BCMA
Caught up in the depths of winter, we hold fast to the knowledge that spring will indeed come. We know it will … it’s on the calendar. It appears every year on the exact same day with the exact same circumstances. Or does it? Calendar-wise it can vary just a couple of days, but climatically, it can vary a lot. We know buds will start to swell, birds become active and insects start to develop. In addition to providing pleasing fragrance and visual appeal, those beautiful blooming plants offer an opportunity to assist plant health care (PHC) professionals in predicting the emergence of insects.

What’s Behind the Mini Lift’s Growing Popularity?
By Rick Howland
When the mini lift arrived on American shores a bit over a decade ago, it would have been difficult to see how quickly they’d grow into such a key part of the tree care equipment fleet, overtake climbing and challenge the venerability of the bucket truck. After all, these mini lifts were just re-purposed aerial units designed largely for building maintenance. However, as soon as the mini lift started reaching into the branches, it became clear that they would be here to stay, based on two business needs: safety and productivity. If you’ve been in business for any period of time, you’ll recognize that safety and productivity are often at odds. Will safe practices slow productivity (and thus impact the bottom line), or will increased productivity threaten safety (and drive up labor costs)?

Aerial Rescue: The Complexities of Preparation
By Sam Kezar, CTSP
During my presentation on this same subject at TCI EXPO in Charlotte last November, I asked the audience how many of them practiced aerial rescue. Most raised their hands. Then I asked, “How many of you do crane removals?” A handful raised their hands. Then I asked, “How many of you practice an aerial rescue for an accident involving a crane?” No one raised a hand …
Emergency response takes a lot of careful planning for it to work effectively if the need arises. This article outlines those challenges, and the planning, preparation and protocols needed to be ready for a rescue.

Mr. Arborist, Save My Ash
By Howard Gaffin
Although it was a sad sight to see, I cannot deny the delight I took in calling this one. A virtual classroom of cracks, included bark, and excessive end weight, a main scaffold of a white ash tree had ripped out of its defective attachment point during a late summer weather event.
I had been to this property a few years earlier after an almost identical event took place on another white ash. It is a duty as a professional arborist to notify the property owner when potential high-risk situations are noted. Beyond the obvious ethical reasons, an arborist may even find themselves liable for injuries associated with trees they’ve worked on or were in the vicinity of.



March 2014 (Volume XXV, Number 3)

Proper Maintenance on Compact Loaders and Skid Steers Pays Dividends
By Rick Howland
What kind of skid-steer or compact loader user are you? The kind who takes great care of the equipment, able to get right to the job? Or one of those who treats machines like disposable tools, running them until they need to make repairs (and they always seem to be making repairs)?

Chain Saw Safety: Keeping the Fundamentals in Mind
By Keith Norton
Chain saws are important, everyday tools for arborists, used for any number of felling, pruning or crane jobs – and sometimes it can be easy to forget a few simple safety measures that can lead to injury or tragedy.

Pruning For Performance
By Tyler Altenburger
Developmental pruning is the art of training a tree to grow as a single stemmed structure through the practice of pruning. If left untouched for many years, trees will often develop problems for the next generation of homeowners and arborists that will be difficult to solve or mitigate. Although there are other reasons for developmental pruning, we will mainly focus on one, the future structure of a young deciduous tree.

CNG for Tree Care Fleets
By Mike Ingles
President Obama, in his State-of-the-Union address in January, extolled the benefits of compressed natural gas (CNG) technology and explained, “Businesses plan to invest almost a hundred billion dollars in new factories that use natural gas. I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built and put folks to work, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas.”


April 2012 (Volume XXIII, Number 4)

Asian Longhorned Beetle: The Threat in Black and White
By Joe Boggs and Amy Stone
This article reviews key Asian Longhorned Beetle diagnostic features. ALB myths are addressed and an update on the ALB status on Ohio is addressed

Chipper Safety in Ground Operations
By Dane Buell, CTSP
For the past 25 years, Dane Buell has been working with chippers and ground operations. This month, he takes a look at his personal experiences and reviews what can happen while operating a chipper.

Spar Pole Rigging - Mitigating the Hazards
By Anthony Tresselt, CTSP
This article looks at climber tie-in points (TIPs) for both-single and doubled-line climbing systems. The variations are numerous, so the article focuses on the basic benefits and application of a few simple set ups.

Aerial Lifts Are Going, Going, Gone Hybrid
By Rick Howland
The concept of a hybrid lift may be difficult to wrap one’s head around, but this article highlights the myriad of options that may spark ideas about customizing a piece tailored to your business.


March 2012 (Volume XXIII, Number 3)

Getting to Know ANSI A300 Part 9:Tree Risk Assessment
By Eric Wiseman, PhD.
ANSI A300 standards are the generally accepted industry standards for tree care practices. Eric Wiseman explains Part 9 Tree Risk Assessment, whichaddresses tree structure assessment practices, including: levels of tree risk assessment, target identification, risk analysis and reporting, owner determination.

Loss Control: Reflecting On Safety Provides Better Financial Health
By David Rattigan
The net result of a safer workplace is a healthier bottom line. This article explains how Loss Control Surveys – part of an insurance program for companies that qualify – are one tool to help companies get there.

Tents, Cankers and the Return of Spring
By Michael J. Raupp
Michael J. Raupp explains why the return of tent caterpillars, cankerworms, and other early season defoliators provide incentive for arborists to redouble monitoring activities on a wide variety of landscape trees and shrubs for symptoms and signs of pesky early season caterpillars.

Bad Weather Ahead? Time To Load
By Rick Howland
Selecting a loader for maximum productivity isn’t as simple as choosing one with the most horsepower. With so many different sizes and options of loaders available, horsepower is only one consideration, explains Rick Howland.


February 2012 (Volume XXIII, Number 2)

Can Stump Grinders Really Go Green?
By Rick Howland
Rick Howland explains how the biggest thing stump grinders have been doing to be green is to maximize productivity while minimizing fuel consumption.

Organic Land Care: Healthy Soil for Happy Trees
By Bill Duesing
Organic land care encourages diversity and avoids harsh fertilizers and toxic chemicals. This article is an excerpt of the NOFA Standards in Organic Land Care, Practices for Design and Maintenance of Ecological Landscape.

There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute: A whirlwind tour of sucking insect pests of woody plants
By Michael J. Raupp, Ph.D
This article reviews how sucking insects attain epic densities on woody trees and shrubs.

A Preview of Changes in the New Z133
By Peter Gerstenberger
The ANSI Z133 is a comprehensive safety standard written by arborists for the arboriculture profession that applies to employers and employees engaged in arboricultural operations. Since the last revision of the Z133 was six years ago, Peter Gerstenberger previews the standard’s upcoming changes.

ROW Equipment Has a Green History
By Tamsin Venn
This article explores how Right of Way (ROW) mechanical equipment consists of some of the biggest toys in the tree care industry and yet, these rugged monsters can still be environmentally friendly.


January 2012 (Volume XXIII, Number 1)

Diary of a Storm Chaser
By Michael Roche
Michael Roche of TCIA member company Stowe Tree Experts tells the story of how he drove to Connecticut in October 2011 to aid in the recover from the catastrophic “snowtober” that devastated so much of the landscape across the state.

Insect Vectored Plant Diseases
By Gary W.Moorman
When plant pathogens and insects work together, the results can be devastating – Oak wilt, Dutch elm disease, bacterial leaf scorch, elm yellows and thousand cankers are five such diseases. This article explores these damaging diseases.

TCI EXPO 2011 Photos and Wrap Up
Despite an unprecedented snowfall that wreaked havoc on the region, nearly 2,000 attendees enjoyed three days of workshops, seminars and  demonstrations focused on the tree care industry. Take a peek at what happened at the world’s largest tree care industry trade show and conference in 2011.   

Rigging: Mechanical Advantages for Arborists
By Anthony Tresselt
Mechanical advantage is the amplification of input force gained by using a tool, devise or machine. This month, Anthony Tresselt explores this useful art and science.

Keep on Truckin’: New Trucks Are Lighter, More Fuel Efficient and Customizable
By Rick Howland
This article talks about the new trucks on the market with a body manufacturer, a truck/chassis maker and companies that custom build trucks for tree care.