Monthly Archives

October 2020

Logger for a day

By | Trees | No Comments

Have some fun

Here’s the problem: a tree comes down at the back of a strata property and ISA certified arborist Vas gets a phone call from a panicked foreman. Yeah, of course I will come take a look. Why let full-time tree dudes have all the fun?

I harp on this all the time: all landscape professionals should get ISA certified so they can do some of their own tree work, add value to their companies and get extra job security. All you need is three years in the field -and you don’t have to work with trees full-time-to sit the ISA examination. Unlike my Red Seal, which is an experience-based examination, the ISA examination tests your knowledge. Then comes experience as trees come down on your sites.

Don’t be a cowboy

Full-time tree dudes have fancy protective gear and cool-looking helmets. Be like them, don’t work like a cowboy. I also made sure my chainsaw had bar oil and proper chain tension. Safety first!

Pro tip:

If you’re freaked out about chainsaws, put the chain on personally.

The problem!

This tree was clearly in the way. It’s always a good idea to clear downed trees quickly and clearing this baby tree was a delight.

If you need chainsaw practice- and many landscapers do!- cut the tree into smaller sections. I like to take slices out of the remaining stump; I just don’t talk about it in front of my boss.

The stump came down very easily which means the base was decayed and the recent wind storm made the tree snap. You can see how the stump cross section sports cavities and it’s brown compared to the upper sections. My chainsaw flew through the stump better than a hot knife through butter.

Decay at the base made this tree snap in a wind storm.

That covers the stump.

As for the trunk, simply remove the side branches and then make cuts into the stem without cutting into the lawn. Then, kick the stem over and finish your cuts. This should give you nice manageable logs to take away.

Easy does it

This clean-up job was actually quick. So quick, I was able to help the crew pick up leaf piles and check their work.

You can do this kind of tree work on your sites as well. You don’t necessarily need ISA certification but I recommend it to all landscape professionals. When you get certified, your company can charge nice coin for easy work that would otherwise be delegated to pricey, full-time tree dudes with fancy bucket trucks, confusing ropes and shiny helmets.

Don’t be intimated. You can do jobs like this. I know you can.

Landscape adjustments to consider

By | landscape maintenance, Lawn Care, Trees | No Comments

100% Vas

With landscape supervisor Vas on site, there are always bound to be adjustments to make because I love to catalogue them. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments on the fly. When tasks get pushed, they may not get done. But not when I’m on site.

Let’s see some examples.

Low branches

Pro landscapers carry good quality snips on their hips for moments like these. As I walked by, I noticed low tree branches. Since we don’t want branches to grow this low, it’s a good idea to remove them.

In the second example, we have a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) branch hanging so low it made it difficult for me to mow in straight lines. The offending branch also affects the shape of the tree, as if it’s attempting to break away from the crown.

Since I didn’t have a hand saw, I had to put this on my list for later.

Aggressive line trimming

These developing ditches scare me. I know vertical line edging is responsible for this because blade edging is sharp and narrow. It would be OK if the crews left it alone but they don’t. They will hit it again next week and the ditch will grow wider. Then we’ll have to pull weeds out of the gap. Use a blade edger, if you can. If you can’t, vertical close to the driveway edge at ninety degrees.

This is the classic “beavered” look and it’s not Ok. You have to slow down and touch the post without chipping it. I know we ask people to get their work done quickly and efficiently but we also need quality. “Beavered” posts invite complaints from clients so take the time to train your crews.

Don’t touch your mow lines

Here the dude was rushing to mow a missed lawn and he took the shortest route right across his mow lines. It’s not a good idea at a high-profile clubhouse used by residents from two different complexes.

Don’t cross your mow lines; and don’t be afraid to make landscape adjustments on the fly. Your site or garden will look much better.

On the art of pre-blow

By | landscape maintenance | No Comments

What’s pre-blowing?

The idea behind pre-blowing is saving man-hours on labor. Imagine you have leaf debris on your site or in your garden and you contemplate raking it up. It can be done easily in your garden; and being outside in fresh air is good for you, especially now, during a pandemic.

But on a larger scale, you can avoid a lot of extra raking by blowing your leafy debris onto your lawns before mowing. Just do it quickly. Remember, this isn’t your end of the day, thorough, clean up blow. All you have to do is push the bulk of your leafiness onto your lawns so it can mowed up.

Don’t crush your mower

Pre-blowing is effective from late summer and into early fall. That’s when the leaf drop is noticeable but it doesn’t require pile making. The idea, again, is to quickly push leafy debris onto your lawns and mow it up so you don’t have to rake.

Making and picking up piles is time consuming so it will delay your mowing. Pre-blows are meant to be quick jobs.

When the amount of leafy debris is significant, give up on pre-blowing. You can destroy your mower by forcing it to mulch massive amounts of leaves. It’s bad for the engine.

Commercial site example

Let’s consider one of my commercial sites as an example. When I pulled up on site one late summer Saturday morning, there was enough debris on site to justify a pre-blow.

I blew off the parking lot and beds full of Rhododendron leaves. Then I mowed it all up. Remember to slow down to give the mower time to shred the debris.

At the end of my service I only did a quick clean-up blow. I didn’t do any raking thanks to my pre-blow. And blowing is easier than raking.

This is how you pre-blow: just enough debris to notice but not too much for the mower to shred. No piles to rake and pick up.

Give pre-blowing a try!