Monthly Archives

October 2015

Hearing Tests

By | Arborist Insights, Company News, Education, Videos | No Comments


I had my first hearing test in 2014 and I was worried about entering a claustrophobic box inside a mobile truck. Now I am glad I did it. After sixteen loud seasons in the field, always diligently wearing ear protection, it was nice to get a picture of my hearing. That first 2014 test became my baseline. The 2015 test also showed normal hearing. Great! (Only my wife questions the results.)
The few lines below normal range (see picture) could be caused by machine noise exposure for hours before the test; and, possibly, by the friendly, heavy-set female technician coughing and moving about in the mobile truck.

Action steps:

1) Always wear ear protection!

2) Get tested – best through your employer- to establish a baseline for your hearing.

3) Do NOT abuse your headset. I use Peltors and my bad habit is sticking goggles inside them. Just like resting the headset at the top of your front truck seat, this reduces the headset’s effectiveness.

photo 4

Bad habit: goggles inside my headset

Atsushi in Kyoto

By | Arborist Insights, Company News, Education, Interviews, Landscaping, Plant Species Information | No Comments

tokyo_and_kyoto_highlightsI met Atsushi, a 20-something Japanese guy, at a Burnaby landscape company and we did a few weekend sessions together. He went through years one and two of the apprenticeship program which I thought was a great idea. Then, he surprised me (and his boss!) with his decision to move back to Japan. Specifically, to ancient Kyoto to work for a great company. Kyoto is a must-see place with its many temples and shrines. The fall colors are so spectacular, my in-laws visit there every fall! And rumor has it that Kyoto gardening companies are a bit high on themselves because they operate in such a spectacular setting.


I took the liberty of asking Atsushi a few questions.

V: What are the biggest differences between your Burnaby landscape company and your new one in Kyoto?

A: We don’t use hedge trimmers and prune with hand pruners instead. We also don’t use blowers. We climb trees even if they are over 10 meters high. We prune and take care of our trees; we don’t call tree service companies for help.

V: What does your typical day look like? Hours, breaks, etc.

A: I work 8hrs. 10 min breaks at 10am and 3 pm. 45min lunch break.

V: Who are your clients?

A: Residential, temples

V: Are young people entering the trade in Japan?

A: Yes, there are many young people in the trade.

V: What is the average monthly salary?

A: The average is lower than in Vancouver.

V: Are jobs available?

A: It depends on the company.

V: What is your biggest challenge right now?

A: To work in a completely different environment.

V: What is it like living and working in ancient Kyoto?

A: It’s only been two months so I don’t know yet.. but I’m very happy to be able to work in Kyoto.

Line-edger Head Maintenance

By | Arborist Insights, Strata Maintenance | One Comment

If you are like me, you concentrate on production and let your line-edger do its magic. Most attention goes to the engine. Re-fuel with a Proper gas and oil mix,
check the fuel and air filters, and spark plugs.

But let’s not forget about the head down below. Let’s take my commercial Stihl machine as an example.

Use good Lithium grease and Proper tools


Carefully remove the bolt and note the gears.


Pump in good Lithium lubricant and spin the head slowly as you do so


All done!


Re-check periodically, depending on how much you use your edger. A happy, well-maintained machine will allow you to provide good service all year!

Stealing Cherries?

By | Plant Species Information, Quizzes | No Comments

This always happens in the field. A resident walks up to collect his mail and wonders what the tree next to his super mailbox is? He sees Europeans in his neighborhood collecting the red ripe fruit and he wonders what they do with it. Is he missing out? Or did he avoid certain poisoning?

You, as the green professional are left to provide the answers, on the spot, no BS, Proper answers. So let’s look at the tree and the other plants in this small park.
But first a TEST. How many can you identify? Bonus point if you know what to do with the fruit in number 1.





Show Answers!

1) Cornus mas (Cornelian cherry)
The fruit is edible when it’s dark red; it’s used for jams and sauces with orange and sugar
according to the Kwantlen Plant Database

2) Sorbus aucuparia (European mountain-ash)

3) Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’

4) Viburnum tinus
Nice and healthy. In some places the bug Pyrrhalta viburni destroys it by chewing the leaves



Book Review: How plants work by Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D.

By | Plant Species Information, Reviews | No Comments

1As a fan of Linda’s work my book review is bound to be slightly biased. I had this book in my wish list months ahead of publication. As the back jacket says, if you read and study the book, you will

understand your garden and landscape better. You will learn how to weed less, how to fertilize and prune more effectively and you will see reviews of products that could potentially save you money.

Linda shows you the inner workings of plants. The magic happens when hard science is written for gardeners and green professionals in easy to understand language.

Now, a warning. I said easy to understand but you will have to make your way through some biochemistry. Just go over the sections twice, like I did. It’s fascinating stuff. The most interesting part of the book is the chapter on how, HOW, plants tell time, how they know it’s time to push out their leaves or pack it in for the winter. It’s all about phytochrome, a pigment for all seasons. If I said any more, I would ruin it for you.

There are many side bars. Some I already knew about, like what a waste of cash installing landscape fabric is; and how we should water even in the fall; and how to bare-root trees and shrubs for planting. Other side bars were new to me, like aeration tubes.

Another warning: you will get inspired by Linda to try new stuff, like bare-root tree planting I did as a helper with a municipal gardener. Not only was it a fun experience, the trees are doing well.


Wash off the root ball and inspect the roots


Ensure proper planting depth


Don’t throw away the soil from your root ball


Done, staking may or may not be required. This dogwood (Cornus) required staking.

Don’t forget to check out the suggested reading list on pages 219-220. I want all of those books in my library!

My only complaint would be the length of this book. I wish it was ten times as long, fat enough to press flowers with. Second edition perhaps?

Five stars!