Friday, October 12, 2018

Insecticidal Soap Recipe to Control Tree Pests

Tree pest control homemade insecticidal soap spray

Controlling nasty tree pests is easy and you can do it without toxic chemicals. For more than two centuries, variations of homemade insecticidal soaps have been used to control invasive tree and garden insects.

Homemade insecticidal soaps are easy to use and safer than conventional or industrial pesticides. Using them will save you from unnecessary exposure to the components of store-bought pesticides.

In this article, the professionals at explain how to make and apply homemade insecticidal soaps, how they work, and which insects to target.

How to Make Insecticidal Soap

The ingredients to make an insecticidal soap can typically be found in your kitchen or pantry and only require the use of a tablespoon, a measuring cup, a gallon jug, and a spray bottle.

Insecticidal soap recipe Marietta Georgia

This recipe yields 1/2 gallon of solution.

You will need:

Regular liquid dishwashing soap (Dawn, Lemon Joy, Ivory, etc. but not the ultra or special formula varieties)

Vegetable oil (peanut, corn, canola, sunflower, etc.)

Warm water (preferably filtered or soft water, but tap water will do)

Step 1 – Pour 1/2 cup of the vegetable oil In the measuring cup, and mix 3 Tbsp of the dishwashing soap with it. Mix well.

Step 2 – Pour the oil and dishwashing soap into a 1-gallon jug, then fill the jug with water to approximately the halfway mark.

Step 3 – Shake well and fill your spray bottle. Keep the remainder (left in the jug) in a cool, dry place. It will get used.

That’s it. You’ve made a basic insecticidal soap. Read on to learn how to apply it and what variations are needed for different insects.

How to Use Insecticidal Soap

Using these soaps is as easy as making them. Follow these steps to apply your homemade insecticide effectively.

Step 1 – Locate the infested or troubled area of your tree.

Step 2 – In the early morning or late afternoon, spray the solution directly on the insects and surrounding foliage.

Step 3 – Repeat Step 2 after one week. And again one week later.

Throughout this process, keep an eye on the foliage that is being treated. Some tree and plant species are more sensitive than others and may slightly wilt or change color. If this is the case, add more water to the solution to dilute it.

If the infestation persists after three weeks of treatment, call on a professional tree service to evaluate the severity of the infestation and what further steps should be taken to halt it.

Tree Bugs – Which Ones Are Affected?

The recipe above works best on soft-bodied insects which include:

• Aphids
• Scales
• Mealybugs
• Spider Mites
• Whiteflies
• Psyllids

Insecticidal soap tree pest control Marietta Ga

The solution is also effective against Boxelder bugs.

Control of the above insects typically results from either a disruption of their cell membranes or the removal of the waxes that cover the insect, resulting in death by dehydration.

Add 2Tbsp of peppermint oil to your mixture for hard-bodied insects such as:


Beneficial insects like Lady Bugs, bees, and lacewings are not typically affected by soap sprays.

Tree bugs insecticidal soap spray Marietta Ga

When the invading insects are beetles, the following recipe will help discourage them from burrowing into your tree.

Tree pest control insecticidal soap recipe Marietta Georgia

This recipe yields 1 gallon of solution.

You will need:

1 cup dried cayenne peppers
1 cup rough chopped fresh jalapeño peppers
1 gallon water

Step 1 – Add the cayenne, jalapeño peppers, and 1/2 gallon of water together in a pot.

Step 2 – Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes.

Step 3 – Allow time to cool before straining out all of the solids.

Step 4 – Add the strained solution to a 1-gallon jug, then complete the jug with water.

Step 5 – Carefully pour the desired amount into a spray bottle. Keep the remainder (left in the jug) in a cool, dry place. (read below before use).

When applying this “pepper” solution to trees or plants, it is strongly advised to wear protective gloves and eyewear. Once applied, reapplication is only necessary after rain.

Homemade Bug Spray for Trees and Outdoor Plants

The recipes and application methods for the homemade insecticides above can be used on garden plants as well as trees. This easy to use alternative allows you to avoid using chemically produced and potentially hazardous pesticides.

In this article, we’ve detailed two basic homemade insecticide recipes and several variations to help you combat infestations from beetles, soft-bodied insects, and hard-bodied insects.

The benefit of using a homemade insecticide is that you can control pest issues while avoiding exposure to the harsh chemicals used in the production of industrial or commercial insecticides.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Thursday, September 13, 2018

How to Identify a Tree Emergency

Marietta Georgia emergency tree removal

Tree emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. Many times, there is an emergency situation brewing underneath the surface and goes unnoticed until it’s too late and catastrophic damage is done.

Part of being a responsible and prepared property owner is learning to identify the warning signs of a tree emergency and how to take preemptive action.

In this article, the professionals at explain how to identify tree problems which constitute an emergency, and what proactive measures to take to avoid expensive damages and repairs.

Tree Emergencies in Marietta GA after Severe Weather

Marietta Georgia is no stranger to storms that swoop in with damaging rain and winds. Trees are vulnerable and may sustain injuries in such weather events. After the storm has passed, one of the first things to do is inspect your trees and look for the following:

My Tree Is Leaning – When a tree suddenly leans, there is much to be concerned about. At the very least, the roots have lost their grip in the ground, and the weight of the tree is no longer balanced.

Emergency tree removal leaning Marietta Ga

Depending on the size (height) and age of the tree, corrective measures may solve the problem. Taller and older trees will likely require emergency removal to avoid catastrophic property damage or loss.

Action Required: Immediately contact a professional tree service to evaluate the tree and offer a solution.

A Large Branch is Broken and Hanging – While this may seem like a simple problem to solve, it may be an indication of underlying health issues.

If your tree is located in an area that has been affected by prolonged periods of drought, the tree itself may be brittle, posing the threat of other falling branches.

Many species of fungi are able to invade a tree and cause the slow deterioration of the heartwood. If this is the case, the tree may very well be dead and at risk of collapsing under its own weight.

Trees grow based on symmetry and balance. If the branch in question is large enough or contains a significant portion of the crown, the stability of the tree may be compromised. In severe enough cases, emergency tree removal may be the only viable option.

Action Required: DO NOT pull or tear the branch down – this may cause irreparable damage to the tree. Contact a reputable tree service to properly remove the branch and ensure that the tree is stable and in good health.

Sections of Bark Are Missing – During severe storms, the wind may carry unsecured objects as projectiles and launch them into a tree trunk, damaging or stripping the bark away.

Tree emergency bark damage Marietta Ga

Just below the bark is the xylem and phloem which transport water and nutrients throughout the tree. If large portions of the bark have been damaged or are missing, this may girdle (strangle) the tree.

Action Required: This is a serious situation requiring immediate attention which the tree may not recover from. Call in an arborist to evaluate the tree’s condition and prescribe the necessary action.

Learn about tree preparation for storms

Signs of Tree Health Problems

When a tree’s health is compromised, one or a combination of the following signs will be visible (outlined after the below signs are the necessary actions to address and resolve them):

Wilted or Discolored Leaves – If the wilting or discoloration is in the entirety of the canopy, it could mean that the tree is suffering from drought or soil compaction.

However, if the symptoms are confined to a section of the canopy with no physical bark / branch damage or beetle infestation, it is likely a tree disease.

Mushrooms Growing on The Tree – This may be an intriguing visual, but it is a symptom of a grave issue within the tree.

Tree emergency Marietta Ga

Mushrooms require rotting tissue for their growth. If you see mushrooms sprouting from your tree, you can assume that heart rot is the front-runner of potential culprits.

Dieback – This symptom becomes evident when the extremities of a tree wilt and die, working its way to the center.

Dieback occurs when a disease has infected the tree, or the environment has changed to unfavorable and damaging growth conditions.

Insect Infestation – Trees in good health are typically able to resist insect infestations. That said, boring insects such as beetles may still be able to attack a healthy tree.

Look for webs in the tree, sooty mold on or under the leaves, leaves that have been eaten (chewed up), or entry holes and sawdust from burrowing insects. These are all signs that insects are using your tree to propagate their species.

Actions Required: Addressing the above tree health problems can be divided into three categories:

1 – Burrowing Insects – Seek immediate assistance from a tree service to determine the extent of the damage, to exterminate the insects (if possible) and to contain the infestation from spreading to other trees.

2 – Wilt, Dieback, and Mushrooms – These signs indicate serious health problems within the tree and require a professional approach to either bring the tree back to health or remove it to avoid spreading the problem to neighboring trees.

3 – Non-Burrowing Insects – Neem oil or a homemade insecticide (basic recipe below*) can be applied to the infected and surrounding areas of the tree to halt their activities. If this approach does not resolve the pest issue, or the tree is presenting other visual symptoms, call in an arborist or reputable tree service to evaluate the tree’s health.

Insect infestation tree emergency Marietta Ga

*Basic Insecticidal Soap Recipe – This recipe requires three ingredients: dish soap, vegetable oil, and water. Add 2.5Tbsp of dish soap and 2.5Tbsp of vegetable oil to 1 gallon of warm water and mix it well. Apply as needed.

Identify and Correct Tree Health Emergencies in Marietta Ga

With the above knowledge, you will be aware of the signs of a troubled tree, the potential results of inaction, and the best course of action to take. Take the time to examine your trees with a renewed perspective.

Everything from insect infestations and invasive fungi to compacted soil, damaged roots, and severe weather events can cause the decline of your tree’s health. Identifying the warning signs and taking action is a crucial step toward its recovery or a required emergency removal.

To help prevent tree health issues, schedule an annual inspection with a professional tree service, and keep proper pruning activities limited to late winter or early spring.

Tree emergency Marietta Ga pruning

Turning a blind eye to your tree’s declining health can result in the death of the tree. If that tree falls, your home, vehicle, and everyone within the fall radius is at risk of costly damages or severe injury. Beware, when a tree falls it does not choose where it is safe to land.

Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Friday, August 24, 2018

Azalea Planting and Care for Your Marietta Yard

Azaleas blooming in Marietta Ga yard

Azaleas are one of the most beautiful perennial shrubs you can have in your yard. They are also one of the most poisonous to people and their pets, yet they remain one of the South’s favorites to plant.

Planting azaleas in your Marietta Georgia yard will give a springtime color show with their signature blooms year after year. Closely related to rhododendrons, this easy to care for shrub is a slow grower but well worth the effort and wait.

The team at collected the following planting, blooming, toxicology, and care information for those wanting to add azaleas to their yard or landscape.

Azalea Information

Azaleas are a member of the genus Rhododendron, which comprises well over 800 species and upwards of 10,000 named selections. Azaleas thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 9 and are capable of reaching several feet in height and width depending on the species.

Rhododendrons and Azaleas – While the two belong to the same family (Ericaceae), it is not difficult to tell them apart. Azaleas have much smaller leaves and funnel-shaped blooms, while rhododendrons have bell-shaped flowers and much larger leaves.

Azalea rhododendron red blooms in Marietta Ga

Evergreen or Deciduous – Depending on the species, azaleas can be evergreen or deciduous shrubs. Those of the deciduous species will lose their foliage and begin dormancy in mid to late fall.

Spring Flowers – Azelias bloom in early spring and continue to do so through late spring. Varieties such as the encore azalea will bloom a second time, extending the blooming period into the summer.

Planting and Caring for Azaleas

Planted in the right location and given the proper care, azaleas will thrive and will provide onlookers with a springtime show of color year after year.

Yellow azalea blooms in Marietta Ga garden

Planting Season – In most areas, fall and spring are the best times to plant azaleas. In colder regions such as USDA Hardiness Zones 4 and 5, planting may occur in summertime. In warmer areas like zone 9, planting may even happen in the winter.

Planting Location – Azalea sun tolerance varies by species and selection. When planting azaleas, look for areas that are partly shaded, near hedges, under tree canopies, or the east and north side of a home or structure. Locations sheltered from heavy winds are best.

Soil Type and pH – Well-drained, humus-rich, moisture-retentive soil offers the ideal conditions for growth. Soil with heavy clay or sandy properties needs significant amounts of organic material, such as compost added to it to provide the same conditions.

Azaleas thrive in acidic soil. A pH level of 4.5 to 6.0 should be maintained to provide optimal health and growth conditions.

Azalea blooming purple flowers Marietta Ga yard

Planting Instructions – One of the keys to successfully growing azaleas is proper planting. The following will help you get it right:

  • Dig a hole 8 to 10 inches deep.
  • The hole should be three times as wide as the root ball.
  • Mix in copious amounts of organic material to the removed soil.
  • Add enough of the mixed soil back to the hole so that the top of the root ball is approximately 2” above ground level.
  • Replace and mound the amended soil in the hole until level with the edge of the root ball.

When planting in soil with high clay content, make the hole four to five times wider than the root ball and plant the azalea so that the top of the root ball is 3 to 4 inches above ground level.

When planting in sandy soil, the top of the root ball should be level with the surrounding land.

Watering Your Azaleas – After planting azaleas, water them thoroughly. For the first 18 months after planting, avoid frequent short watering. Deep watering at least once per week will keep the root ball from drying and allow for better root growth.

During late fall be sure to frequently deep water your azaleas and all other deciduous plants and trees. They handle the winter months and dormancy much better when well hydrated.

Azalea in winter Marietta Ga yard

Fertilizers – Early spring and early summer are the best times to apply organic fertilizers. Avoid the use of chemical fertilizers as azaleas are not as nutritionally needy as other plant species.

Do not fertilize after mid-summer. Doing this will encourage new growth, which will not have time to “harden” before the winter months.

Mulch – After deep watering a newly planted azalea, apply a 3-inch layer of porous organic mulch around the plant. Keep the mulch 2 to 3 inches from the stem to avoid rotting and decay.

Reapply mulch in late fall, maintaining the 3-inch depth, thus keeping the roots sheltered from the cold or freeze.

Pruning – For small or younger azaleas, tip pruning in mid to late spring will encourage thicker and more compact growth.

When pruning more mature azaleas, do not remove more than one-third of the foliage. Removal such as this will stress the plant and leave it vulnerable to infestation and disease. If heavy pruning is needed, do it in annual stages allowing the plant to recover between each stage.

As pruning activities encourage new growth, do not prune after mid-summer.

Toxicology of Azaleas

Like the rhododendron, azaleas are highly toxic. The leaves and nectar contain andromedotoxins which act to lower the blood pressure of the person or animal that consumed it.

Mad Honey – In parts of Turkey, bees are deliberately fed nectar from azaleas and rhododendrons to produce what is known as “mad honey” or “Deli Bal.” This occasionally lethal treat contains a naturally occurring neurotoxin called grayanotoxin which may result in blurred vision, numbness, nausea, fainting, seizures, and in rare cases, even death.

Azalea nectar grayanotoxin Marietta Georgia yard

Grayanotoxin Poisoning – If you suspect that a child (or adult) has consumed azalea leaves, stems, or flowers, seek immediate medical attention. Depending on the quantity consumed, symptoms such as respiratory distress, hypotension, bradycardia, constricted pupils, salivation and muscle twitching, or seizure may occur.

If your pets have consumed the leaves, stems, or flowers, seek veterinary assistance immediately. Symptoms from grayanotoxin poisoning include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, and anorexia.

If you suspect that your pet has consumed a poisonous plant or substance, you can call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or visit

Insect Infestation and Illness

Insects and diseases tend to avoid vigorous plants. However, when azaleas are stressed, they may fall victim to lace bugs or Phytophthora.

Lace Bugs – We do not recommend the use of insecticides. They can kill off the lace bug’s predators leaving the plant defenseless against them. Insecticidal soaps or neem oil sprayed on the plant every two weeks is an effective measure in controlling this pest.

Phytophthora – This soil-borne fungus thrives in poorly drained soil and is very difficult to treat. Symptoms of Phytophthora fungus infection are:

  • Reduced growth.
  • Any new growth will appear smaller than usual.
  • Leaves will shrivel or droop.
  • The bark at the base will turn dark red or brown.

Protecting azaleas from this pathogen begins in the planting stage. Avoid planting in poorly drained soil and keep your plant healthy. Pathogens like this are less likely to affect healthy plants.

Once infected, your best course of action may be to remove the entire plant and the soil it grew in, destroying or disposing of both. Any attempts to prune affected regions of the plant may serve only to propagate the spread of the pathogen to other plants.

Before replanting in that location, it should be treated with a fungicide and verified that other plants in the same area are not afflicted. Remember that this is a fast-moving root fungus that thrives in poorly drained soil. Adding organic material to the soil before any planting will help protect the roots of your plants.

Azalea Care for A Beautiful Marietta Georgia Landscape

Azaleas can be a gorgeous addition to any landscape. However, before planting them, it is vital to know not only what you are planting, but also how to plant it and care for it.

Azalea with orange blooms in Marietta Georgia

In this article, we’ve discussed how to properly plant and water azaleas, as well as how to choose the right location for them. You’ve learned about their toxicology and how the consumption of the plant by animals or children may lead to serious health problems up to and including potential death. Finally, we’ve presented how to treat and contain instances of infestation and illness.

Without the proper planting and care, your azaleas will struggle to reach maturity and become susceptible to infestation and disease. By following the above guidance during and after planting, your plant will respond with robust growth and beautiful blooms in the spring.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Friday, July 20, 2018

How Do Trees Grow?

Tree meristem tissue new growth Marietta Georgia

Simply put, trees grow up, trees grow out, and trees grow down. In one form or another, trees are always growing throughout their lifecycle, and do so until their death.

Knowing how they grow can improve your landscaping and gardening practices. Our team at Todd’s Marietta Tree Services constructed practical information below about tree growth and will dispel some common myths.

Do Trees Grow from the Bottom Up?

Yes. Trees do grow from the bottom up in the sense that the roots are transporting the “growth” building blocks up the trunk, through the limbs, and to the extremities of the tree.

However, the answer is NO when considering that tree growth occurs from its extremities. Consider the following:

Root Growth – Roots grow outward and down from their tips (similar to how limbs and branches grow longer). As roots grow and age, they thicken (much like the trunk does).

Tree root growth fall and winter

The roots of a tree are able to spread out and grow far beyond the tree’s dripline (the outer edges of the canopy).

Root activities almost exclusively support the growth of a tree. Four primary functions of tree roots are:

  • To seek out sources of water and nutrients.
  • To store glucose in the colder months (when growth is all but halted).
  • To participate in the underground ecosystem through mycorrhizal associations or root grafting.
  • To anchor the tree to the ground.

Trunk Growth – The trunk doesn’t stretch or grow upward. It does thicken though, and it adds two rings as each year passes. One light ring during the growth period and one dark ring as it slows down for winter or dormancy.

When looking at a cross-section of a cut down tree, you can tell how old the tree was when it died by counting one light and one dark ring for each year from the outside inward.

Tree trunk cross section age rings

A common misconception is that tree trunks stretch upward as they get taller, when in fact they do not. If you were to pin a medal on the trunk at exactly five feet up from the root flare, it would still be exactly five feet up from the root flare fifty years or one hundred years later.

Branch and Limb – Growth in length happens within meristem tissues located at the tips of branches, stems, and twigs. These specialized tissues facilitate the upward growth of the tree, as well as the expansion of the tree’s canopy.

Tree growth new limb with meristem tissue

Branches and limbs grow in diameter through the vascular cambium within the bark. Very similar to how a trunk grows in diameter.

Do Trees Grow All Year?

While different species of trees will follow slightly different growth patterns, the answer is yes. Trees are continuously growing throughout the year.

Springtime – Foliage, limbs, and branches grow at high speeds in the spring.

Spring tree growth in Marietta Ga

Summertime – This is when trunk and limb diameter growth takes place.

Fall and Wintertime – As the trunk, branches, limbs, and foliage stop growing, the roots continue to expand outward and down throughout the coldest months of the year.

How Do Trees Get Their Mass?

It’s principally carbon. Without carbon, trees could not exist. Every time you exhale, you are providing the building blocks for a tree’s mass. Carbon dioxide (captured from the air) and water (sent to the leaves by the roots) bond together within the leaves of a tree to form carbon molecules.

During photosynthesis, energy from sunlight is transformed into chemical energy and captured within the bonds of those carbon molecules.

Photosynthesis in leaves for tree growth

Those carbon molecules along with hydrogen and oxygen comprise the tree’s food source known as glucose. Each glucose molecule contains six oxygen atoms, six carbon atoms, and twelve hydrogen atoms.

Once a tree has satisfied the activities which keep it alive (cellular respiration), whatever carbon molecules (glucose) are left over are used in the growth process, adding to its mass.

Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus together comprise nearly all of a tree’s mass.

Tree Growth, Sunlight, Balance, and Longevity

While there are many facets that comprise a tree’s mechanisms, it is sunlight that is the driving force behind it all. Throughout the entire lifespan of a tree, it will depend on the sun for energy to grow and thrive.

Tree growth requires sunlight Marietta Ga

Tree growth is symmetrical by nature. Throughout the life of a tree, its growth is consistently seeking balance. Trees will not grow beyond their capacity to support themselves. When stressed they will shed leaves, flowers, fruit and even drop entire branches.

Speaking of thriving, the lifespan of a tree depends primarily on its species and the environment it is growing in. While some palms live to about sixty years old, some pine species make it to well over five thousand years old. And there is increasing evidence that an ancient clonal grove of aspen trees called “Pando” is upwards of eighty thousand years old.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tree Protection Instructions During Construction, Landscaping, and Hardscaping Projects

Construction and landscaping equipment parked by tree

Construction, landscaping, and hardscaping projects all involve some level of planning and in many cases, the acquisition of land disturbance permits. Part of the planning for such projects should include the protection of existing trees on the site.

Nearly every municipality and county (nationwide) has created, adopted, or adapted a set of ordinances or codes which regulate how existing trees should be protected during land disturbance activities.

These ordinances serve to protect the health and vitality of trees, which is optimal when a tree’s roots and trunk are kept from being damaged and soil compaction is avoided.

The team at Todd’s Marietta Tree Services has compiled the following information to help you better understand the need to protect your trees, the ordinances that require it, and how to go about it during a construction or landscaping project.

Tree Ordinances Mandate Protection

Embedded within the municipal ordinances of nearly every city and county, you will find verbiage addressing tree protection, preservation, and removal. You will also find ordinances which address land disturbance activities, typically including the same concerns.

A great example can be found in the Marietta, Georgia Code of Ordinances under Zoning Ordinance in Division 712 section 8. The following are relevant tree protection excerpts from the section:

712.08 – Tree protection and landscaping.

… “D. Tree Preservation and Replacement.
A tree protection and landscaping plan shall be submitted with all other permit drawings as part of the building permit process on any non-exempt parcel of land.”…

… “All tree protection measures shall be installed prior to land disturbance and no land disturbance permit shall be issued for full site development without it being determined that the proposed development is in compliance with the provisions of these regulations.”…

… “E. Methods of Tree Protection.
1. The protective zone for designated tree save areas shall include no less than the total area beneath the canopy drip line of the tree(s).
2. Construction site activities such as material storage, concrete washout, burnhole placement, etc., may not encroach into designated tree protective zones.”…

… “F. Protective Barriers.
1. Prior to any land disturbance, active tree protective fencing shall be installed so that it surrounds the critical root zones of all protected tree zones, which is defined as the area beneath the canopy drip line”…

For a land disturbance summary and Marietta, Ga ordinance see:

Tree Root and Trunk Damage

Depending on soil conditions and the species of the tree, some roots will grow very close to the ground surface. Over time, they may protrude or be partially exposed.

Damage to these roots by vehicles, lawn mowers, or improper root cutting exposes the tree to fungal infection and pest infestation.

Likewise, damage to the trunk of a tree that cuts through or removes its bark may result in the same type of infections or infestations. Furthermore, if enough of the bark is removed from around the tree, girdling is likely to occur leading to the death of the tree. No equipment should ever be parked or stacked against a tree.

Tree trunk used to stack construction equipment

Girdling occurs when enough of the phloem (thin layer of sugars and nutrients beneath tree bark) is either removed or compressed to the point that it can no longer transport its sugars and nutrients throughout the tree.

Soil Compaction and Root Death

Tree roots depend on 3 components being present in the soil; nutrients, water, and air. When deprived of any of these components for long enough, the roots will die. The death of roots in this manner seriously compromises the health and stability of a tree.

Soil compaction occurs when heavy equipment, vehicles, or containers are stored, parked, or driven over the dirt. Compacted soil does not allow air or water to penetrate it, thus rendering the soil a sort of “death trap” for the existing roots within it.

Protective Barriers around Trees

Before the beginning of any construction, landscaping, or hardscaping project, protective tree fences or barriers should be properly erected around existing trees on the site.

All specifications within your local ordinances and permit should be adhered to at all times. Failure to properly protect trees may lead to the cancellation of your permit, fines, and/or the need to reapply for a permit.

The process of acquiring a tree permit from your local municipality is outlined in detail here:

Barrier Placement – Barriers should be placed just outside the drip line (outside of the extremity of the canopy) all the way around the tree. While feeder roots extend far beyond the drip line, it is the roots from the drip line to the trunk which must be protected from soil compaction and physical damage.

Tree canopy and drip line Marietta Ga

Types of Barriers – While specifications may vary from ordinance to ordinance, some of the common barrier attributes are as follows:

  • Barrier fencing must be at least 4 feet in height, entirely encompassing the tree.
  • Barrier material should be either wood and post, polyethylene fencing, chainlink, traffic barriers, or interlocking temporary fencing.
  • Fencing should be labeled “Tree Protection Zone” or “Tree Protective Zone”.
  • Tree barriers should be erected before any activity begins and removed only after all site work has been completed.

In addition to erecting the barriers, all contractors and sub-contractors should be notified of tree protection zones on the work site. Their blatant or inadvertent encroachment on these zones may constitute an ordinance violation which could potentially void your permit.

Watch this video to learn more about soil compaction at construction sites and how to protect tree roots.

Tree Health and Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility

The trees within a city help to reduce air pollution, slow soil erosion, provide shade, filter impurities from ground water, promote a heathy ecosystem, and provide shelter for wildlife.

Tree ordinances and codes are written to offer guidelines for the proper care, preservation, or removal of trees when necessary. Ultimately, these codes are in place to preserve the overall canopy of a city.

Whether it be pruning, watering, mulching, fertilizing, or building a barrier around trees on a construction site, taking steps to keep trees healthy and safe is a responsibility that all residents share.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Tree Root Killing, Removal, and Cutting

Killing tree roots, removing them, and cutting them are three ways to control the growth of roots, and the damage they can cause to driveways, retainer walls, and home foundations.

Invasive tree roots growing on ground surface

Each of these actions has the potential to solve your principle problem, while creating another one. In this article, we will discuss each option and how it affects your tree and landscape. We will also provide several alternatives which could potentially solve your root problems.

Identifying Your Root Problem

In their constant quest for moisture and nutrients, roots will grow in some inconvenient places. Depending on soil compaction and quality, they will adapt and change growth behavior. The following are common scenarios of root damage and undesired growth:

Roots Growing on Ground Surface – As tree roots mature and as natural soil erosion or compaction occurs, the roots may become exposed along the ground.

Roots Growing Under Foundation – When roots grow under a home’s foundation, they will thicken as they age and continue to grow. This growth exerts an upward force on the foundation, partially raising it, bending, or warping it until it cracks.

In the event you are dealing with a mature tree planted too close to your home, this page offers further insight into resolving your problem.

Roots Buckling and Cracking Sidewalks and Driveways – The way roots grow under and damage a structure’s foundation, they can efficiently do the same to a concrete driveway or sidewalk.

Tree root buckled and cracked driveway

The Tree Root System

Whether surface roots or underground destructive roots are the issue, take a moment to learn the importance of the roots in relation to the tree’s health before killing, removing, or cutting them.

  • More than 25% of a mature trees’ mass is found in its root system.
  • The majority of those roots remain from 6 to 18in below ground surface.
  • Injured roots are susceptible to disease or infestation. This directly impacts the health of the tree, potentially leading to its decline and eventual death.

The two types of roots found below ground are:

  • Feeder Roots – which transfer and store moisture and nutrients from the soil.
  • Structural Roots – which stabilize or anchor the tree to the ground (these are the larger of the roots)

Killing Tree Roots

Option 1: Cut Down the Tree

Kill tree roots by cutting tree down

“Once a tree has been cut down, roots can no longer grow.” The idea here is that they are dependent on the leaves photosynthesizing the fuel that drives their growth. Two potential exceptions to this are:

Tree Sprouts (Suckers) – These look like seedlings or offspring but are “clones” of the tree growing from the roots. With enough foliage, the roots may survive.

Neighboring Tree Association – There is evidence that shows the possibility of neighboring tree roots making associations with each other. This occurs through root grafting as they run into one another. This association has the potential to sustain the felled tree’s roots for continued growth.

Option 2: Use Herbicides

A very effective way to kill more of the root system (than simply cutting down the tree) is through the use of herbicides. The following video demonstrates an effective herbicide delivery method.

In the summer or early fall, when the tree still has leaves producing food, cut notches around the lower portion of the tree trunk. You only need to cut deep enough to reach the phloem (phloem is the tissue responsible for transporting food to the roots).

Apply the herbicide to the notches and allow two to three weeks before having the tree removed.

This type of herbicide can be found at your local gardening store and will come labeled specifically for this purpose. As with any chemical, be sure to read and follow all use and safety instructions.

Killing roots through the use of herbicides may cause serious collateral damage to neighboring trees. If their root systems have made associations with each other. The herbicide could potentially travel from one tree to another resulting in the decline or death of the other (otherwise healthy) tree.

Live and cut tree with grafted root systems

If there are several trees in your yard or landscape, have them evaluated by a tree service professional before using herbicides in this manner.

Tree Root Removal – How to Safely Do It

There are two principle lines of thought for root removal:

Tree Has Been Removed – In this scenario, after the stump has been removed or ground down, simply follow the path of the roots. Dig them out and cut into sections (for larger roots).

Tree stump grinding for root removal

Removing Disruptive or Damaging Roots – In this scenario, you do not want to lose the tree. Only the roots that are either growing on the ground surface or interfering with a foundation, retainer wall, or other structure.

This video shows how tree roots interact with a barrier like a retaining wall.

Once you have selected the roots to be removed, the following steps will help you safely and efficiently get the job done. See also “Cutting Tree Roots – Planning” below for further tips and advice.

Tools – The tools you will need to safely do this job include but are not limited to:

  • Spray Paint
  • Shovel
  • Spade
  • Sharp Hand Saw
  • Cloth
  • Alcohol
  • Soil
  • Mulch
  • Seed

Mark Your Cuts – Using spray paint, mark protruding roots to be cut or spray the ground where you intend to dig to the roots.

Clear The Surface – Using the shovel, carefully dig around the area of the root where it will be cut. You will need enough space to safely work with a saw.

Tree root removal dig to expose roots

Remove Soil Around Root – Using your spade, remove the soil from the sides and from underneath the root. Again, leaving enough space to safely use your saw.

Sterilize the Saw – (for live roots) As open or wounded roots are highly susceptible to disease, you can minimize exposure by sterilizing the saw with an alcohol drenched cloth.

Make the Cut – Saw through the root just below a secondary or side root growing downward.

Finish the Job – Once the root is cut, pull up the remainder of the cut root. (for live roots) Quickly replace the soil around the remaining root. Fill in any holes with soil and reseed the area if needed. Water the tree well within the dripline (under the canopy).

Mulch – When all is done, spread a loose 2-3 inch layer of mulch over all of the root area in the dripline.

Cutting Tree Roots – Planning and Execution

Properly cutting tree roots can help achieve a deeper, stronger, and healthier root system.

Also known as Root Pruning, this process should never be approached without a plan. We advise hiring a professional tree service, but the following will educate and help you to understand the process and goal:

Leaning Trees – Stop here. Do not cut the roots of a leaning tree. In this case, you will need to call a tree professional to assess the safety of the tree and which roots (if any) may be cut.

Season – Unless the situation is absolutely necessary, tree root pruning should only be done in late winter or early spring when the tree’s functions are still slow. This is the time of year that the risk of dehydration is at a minimum, thus less risk of damaging your tree.

Distance – When dealing with a mature tree, measure the DBH (Diameter at Breast Height). You will want to avoid cutting any roots within a distance of 5 times the DBH from the tree trunk.

For example, if the DBH is 12 inches, you will only want to make cuts to roots that are outside of a 60 inch radius from the tree’s trunk.

Younger Trees – Young trees have a better chance of recovering from root pruning and can be pruned closer to the trunk (3 times the DBH). However, in any situation, the farther away from the trunk you can get, the better and safer it will be.

Cut In Quadrants – Never remove more than 25% of a tree’s roots at one time. Divide the area around the tree into four quadrants and carefully cut roots in 2 quadrants opposite each other. After 2 years, it should be safe to cut the roots in the remaining 2 quadrants.

Avoid the Largest Roots – The larger roots are structural roots, they are the ones that begin at the base of the tree and flare out. These are the ones keeping the tree anchored in its place. If one of these roots is to be removed, make sure the cut is made as far from the trunk as possible.

When a cut to one of these roots needs to be made closer to the trunk, a tree professional should be called to assess the potential effect on the stability of the tree.

Mark Your Cuts – Using spray paint, mark protruding roots to be cut or spray the ground where you intend to dig to the roots.

Cut Below Secondary Roots – Your cuts should be made below a secondary (or side) root growing downward. This will not only improve the chances that it will continue nourishing the tree, it will likely guide root growth into deeper soil.

Finish the Job – Once the root is cut, pull up the remainder of the cut root. Then quickly replace the soil around the remaining root. Fill in any holes with soil and reseed the area if needed. Water the tree well within the dripline (under the canopy).

Mulch – Once finished, spread a loose 2-3 inch layer of mulch over all of the root area in the dripline.

Root Cutting and Removal Without Killing Your Tree

Root cutting and removal can indeed be accomplished without crippling or killing your tree. It is a process that must be precise and taken slowly to preserve the integrity of the tree. Keep the following in mind:

Poor Pruning – A bad prune job in the crown or in the roots can severely compromise the health of a tree, eventually leading to its death.

Trunk Proximity – The closer to the trunk that roots are cut, the more significant and severe the damage will be to your tree.

25% Rule – Never remove more than 25% of a tree’s roots. The tree will likely die or fall, or both.

2 Years – A tree should be given two years to recover between root pruning.

Spring Time – After bud break, tree roots should not be pruned. This is the time your tree is most reliant on them.

Alternatives to Root Cutting, Killing, and Removal

The idea of cutting your tree roots may seem less appealing now. If you find that the risk of losing your tree is too great, here are some potential alternatives:

  • Add soil over the roots that have surfaced and reseed.
  • Design your landscape around the tree root spread.
  • In hardscapes, use reinforced cement.
  • Install root barricades.
  • Replace a broken or buckled cement walkway or driveway with a gravel one.
  • When planting new trees, make sure the soil is appropriate for the species and water it well for deep root growth. Click here for more on watering and soil.

The following video demonstrates how root barricades are installed.

Regardless of the solution, Look after the health of your tree! And when in doubt, call a professional to evaluate and assess what actions should or should not be taken.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Ways to Repurpose, Recycle, or Leave a Fallen Tree

Trees live, they grow, and they eventually die. Throughout their life cycle, from seedling through their decay, trees play an important role for wildlife and plant life.

Dead fallen tree decaying in water

Once a tree has died, fallen, or been professionally removed, its journey is far from over. If the tree is free from disease and infestation, there are several ways it can be upcycled or used in your landscaping.

The following will offer a look into the life cycle of a tree and present ways to maximize their benefits, even after they have died.

My Tree Was Cut or Fell Over, How Can I Upcycle It?

Depending on the size of the tree and its branches, a fallen tree can offer several innovative ways to decorate your landscape, serve as pieces of furniture, or be made into decorative wall pieces:

  • Stumps, smaller branches, and pieces of the trunk can be used or woven into seating fixtures along a path or in front of a garden.
  • Trunks and larger branches can be cut into thick discs and in the place of stones or bricks to create pathways.
  • Slabs can be cut from trunks and combined with ecopoxy to create stunning tables or wall art.
  • Carved out sections of the trunk can be used as planters.
Fallen dead tree repurposed for planters
  • Branches and stems can be used to create trellises and fencing.
  • Cut and painted logs can become end-tables or coffee tables.
Fallen tree repurposed into table and log seats
  • Smaller branches and twigs can be woven into frames for wall pieces.

There are countless uses, and the more creative you are, the more you will be able to upcycle a fallen tree. In this video, see how resin is combined with wood.

Tree Logs for Landscaping

Tree logs and larger limbs may serve a greater purpose in your landscaping by slowing the effects of erosion by enabling you to create tiers along sloped areas. They also make incredibly effective garden barriers, or when stacked can make a raised flower bed for the garden.

When placed along cemented, paved, or block pathways, not only are they visually appealing, but they impede erosion and protect the pathway’s physical integrity.

Turning Trees Into Mulch and Fertilizer

Another use for a fallen tree in your landscaping is to have the tree chipped and turn it into mulch. Mulch is extremely valuable and beneficial when properly used around the base of trees. It will not only help the soil by retaining moisture, but also by delivering nutrients as the wood chips slowly decay.

However, note that this option is not viable when a tree falls as a result of or is removed due to disease or infestation. Otherwise, the pathogens and diseased matter get exposed to and infect your healthy trees and plants. Learn the signs and symptoms of a troubled tree here

Leave a Fallen Tree Where It Lies

When a tree falls or it’s time to be cut down, consider preserving the ecosystem and leaving it as a part of the landscape. It has the potential to serve a greater purpose than if it’s removed. Here are some benefits of allowing a fallen tree to remain:

Light – When a tree comes down, its canopy comes with it. Introducing direct sunlight to the ground that was previously shaded will spark the growth of dormant seeds and other plant life.

Leaving the tree in the area its canopy once covered will help the soil to retain moisture and provide a sort of shelter for the new budding life.

Dead fallen decaying tree in landscape

Food and Shelter – Deer and other bark eating animals will have a lasting food source, while smaller animals like rabbits and squirrels can take advantage of the shelter the tree provides.

Natural Fertilizer – Perhaps the greatest benefit of all is that as the tree decays and breaks down, it is adding natural nutrients to the soil. This benefits all of the surrounding plant life, and is “nature’s” perfect ending to the life cycle of a tree.

Nothing is wasted when left to nature. Thus, learn the life cycle and benefits of allowing Mother nature to care for her trees.

A Tree’s Life Cycle Stages and Benefits

The life cycle of a tree begins as a seedling and ends after its last remnants have decayed or been eaten. Below are a few of the benefits a tree offers during each stage of its life cycle:

Living Trees – While living, trees are able to offer support to large wildlife. Providing shelter, food, nesting sites, and locations to hunt from.

The benefits to your landscape are as follows: they shade and keep property cool, they can serve as landmarks or property line markers, they help soil remain fertile, they filter water and air to reduce soil erosion, and provide a barrier from cold winter winds.

Dying and Dead Trees – It’s common that a tree sporadically falls when not cut or removed in time (learn what to look for and when is the right time here

Often referred to as “snags”, these trees draw the attention of birds and smaller animals during their nesting periods; likewise, they provide a haven for food storage, and as nurseries for the animal’s young.

In forests and larger landscapes, “snags” will often fall into waterways. When this occurs, they help to purify the water, regulate water temperatures, delay floodwater, and even control erosion.

Dead trees fallen and decomposing in river

Decaying Trees – The moisture and nutrients retained by a decaying tree provides food for plant growth and greatly benefits the soil.

Sometimes referred to as a nurse log, a fallen tree or limb may have young trees growing from or through it. This is a result of the dead tree providing ground cover which slows erosion and keeps wildlife away from the seedlings.

The wood eventually softens, breaks down, and decomposes as wood-boring insects eat through it. Once ripe for invasion, bacteria or fungi further advance the trees’ decomposition, and it returns to the soil as part of natures perfect plan.

This video shows how fungal decomposition benefits an ecosystem.

Before Tree Removal and Hauling Away, Consider Your Alternatives

So, your tree fell or was cut down. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have it removed. Have the tree professionally evaluated, and if it poses no threat to people or structures, consider leaving it. Birds and smaller animals will thrive from the shelter and storage it provides.

If the tree has fallen or is threatening to fall, the prudent choice is to have it brought down. In this case, consider repurposing the tree or finding a location for it to quietly decompose while enriching the soil, plant life, and wildlife.

In the case of infestations or disease, the tree should indeed be removed and professionally disposed of. Repurposing these trees will only serve to further propagate the infestation or disease.

Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on: