Talking Trees with Davey Tree

Why It’s Important to Prepare Your Trees and Gardens for Winter

November 03, 2022 The Davey Tree Expert Company Season 2 Episode 42
Why It’s Important to Prepare Your Trees and Gardens for Winter
Talking Trees with Davey Tree
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Talking Trees with Davey Tree
Why It’s Important to Prepare Your Trees and Gardens for Winter
Nov 03, 2022 Season 2 Episode 42
The Davey Tree Expert Company

Isaiah Smalt from Davey’s Rochester, New York, office talks about the best practices for preparing for winter, his Davey career and his favorite trees.  

 

In this episode we cover:  

  • The first thing that comes to mind when preparing your trees for winter (1:10) 
  • How watering plays into winter preparation (1:45)  
  • Looking up and down at trees (3:55)  
  • The importance of having a certified arborist look at your trees (4:40) 
  • Can winter be a good time to prune trees? (6:20) 
  • Is winter a good time for fertilization? (7:20) 
  • Should you mulch before winter? (8:10) 
  • When does tree planting stop? (9:00)  
  • Should you knock ice/snow off trees or leave it on? (10:40) 
  • How Isaiah started his Davey career and his passion for tree care (11:35)  
  • What working with clients means to Isaiah (14:48) 
  • Isaiah’s favorite tree (15:55)  

To find your local Davey office, check out our find a local office page to search by zip code.  

To learn more about keeping trees healthy in the winter, read our blog, Tree Care Checklist: How to Keep Trees Healthy This Winter. 

To learn more about winter tree pruning, read our blog, Winter Tree Pruning: Young Trees, Fruit Trees, Spring Flowering Trees. 

To learn more about prepping your trees for winter, read our blog, Worst Mistakes Prepping Trees for Winter.  

Connect with Davey Tree on social media:
Twitter: @DaveyTree
Facebook: @DaveyTree
Instagram: @daveytree
YouTube: The Davey Tree Expert Company
LinkedIn: The Davey Tree Expert Company 
 

Connect with Doug Oster at www.dougoster.com

 
Have topics you'd like us to cover on the podcast? Email us at podcasts@davey.com. We want to hear from you!    

Show Notes Transcript

Isaiah Smalt from Davey’s Rochester, New York, office talks about the best practices for preparing for winter, his Davey career and his favorite trees.  

 

In this episode we cover:  

  • The first thing that comes to mind when preparing your trees for winter (1:10) 
  • How watering plays into winter preparation (1:45)  
  • Looking up and down at trees (3:55)  
  • The importance of having a certified arborist look at your trees (4:40) 
  • Can winter be a good time to prune trees? (6:20) 
  • Is winter a good time for fertilization? (7:20) 
  • Should you mulch before winter? (8:10) 
  • When does tree planting stop? (9:00)  
  • Should you knock ice/snow off trees or leave it on? (10:40) 
  • How Isaiah started his Davey career and his passion for tree care (11:35)  
  • What working with clients means to Isaiah (14:48) 
  • Isaiah’s favorite tree (15:55)  

To find your local Davey office, check out our find a local office page to search by zip code.  

To learn more about keeping trees healthy in the winter, read our blog, Tree Care Checklist: How to Keep Trees Healthy This Winter. 

To learn more about winter tree pruning, read our blog, Winter Tree Pruning: Young Trees, Fruit Trees, Spring Flowering Trees. 

To learn more about prepping your trees for winter, read our blog, Worst Mistakes Prepping Trees for Winter.  

Connect with Davey Tree on social media:
Twitter: @DaveyTree
Facebook: @DaveyTree
Instagram: @daveytree
YouTube: The Davey Tree Expert Company
LinkedIn: The Davey Tree Expert Company 
 

Connect with Doug Oster at www.dougoster.com

 
Have topics you'd like us to cover on the podcast? Email us at podcasts@davey.com. We want to hear from you!    

[music]

Doug: Welcome to The Davey Tree Expert Company's Podcast, Talking Trees. I'm your host, Doug Oster. Each week, our expert arborists share advice on seasonal tree care, how to make your trees thrive, arborists' favorite trees, and much, much more. Tune in every Thursday to learn more because here at The Talking Trees podcast, we know trees are the answer. I'm joined this week by Isaiah Smalt. He's an assistant district manager in the Rochester, New York office of the Davey Tree Expert Company. Today we're talking all about getting trees ready for winter. How are you doing, Isaiah?

Isaiah: I am doing very well today. Thank you, Doug. How are you doing?

Doug: I'm doing good, except you might hear some of your colleagues in the background cutting down a big oak tree over my garage. My local arborist was looking at it and said, "Hey, did that thing leaf out last year?" I said, "Barely." He goes, "It's got to go." They'll be chipping in the background. You might hear that.

Isaiah: No problem. Friendly and welcomed noise.

[chuckles]

Doug: Definitely. Let's talk about when you're thinking about getting trees ready for winter, what's the first thing that comes to mind for you?

Isaiah: Well, I think about a holistic approach to tree care. Getting ready for the fall, there needs to be some things that are happening all year before that, but mainly when I'm thinking about fall time, I think about what the type of tree is, what could be happening over the winter, and what are some treatments or some, let's call it best practices that we can be doing possibly in the wintertime to help out.

Doug: How about watering? Does that come into this, watering?

Isaiah: Yes. Watering will come in. It depends. Do you got new plants that just went into the ground earlier in the fall? Do they need some watering? Do you have some evergreens, something that possibly could dry out over the wintertime that you want to get them a little extra water? It's something to think about. It should be part of the conversation when you're looking at your landscape.

Doug: I always think of young trees getting them ready for winter, that's the first thing I think about is just being sure they have what they need before the ground freezes solid, but as you said, it's even more important for evergreens.

Isaiah: Yes. The way their root system is and they can dry out a little bit over the wintertime. You want to get them some water, especially if they're new plants. You want to think about things as well going into winter like an anti-desiccant, help that tree hold the moisture a little bit longer, help that tree do its best with whatever's going to be coming at it weather-wise.

Doug: Is that something that I should spray onto my rhododendron or what are you thinking about? Tell me about that anti-desiccant, how that works, and why it's important.

Isaiah: Well, it helps the tree not lose its water and evergreen, it's very important because it's an evergreen. Once it dries out and gets brown, you're going to play heck trying to get that ever to come back. That'd be a slow process. The anti-desiccant allows the tree to hold a little bit more of that moisture. When I think about it, I like to do it-- We do it a lot around this area for things like  green giant, things like that, and newer plants. You could do it on your roadies, but for me, it's more of an arb and a new plant.

Doug: Then, of course, before winter, we want to look up and down at our trees to see what's going on.

Isaiah: All the time from the ground up and from the tips down. You got your case with the oak that's being worked on at your house right now. Very important to be checking those trees. Also, very important if you want to do any pruning, especially on oaks, you want to be looking at that in the dormant season. That's another part that goes hand in hand with your watering, your fertilization, your treatments. You always want to be checking those canopies as well.

Doug: Now, here you're talking to the guy who hosts the Talking Trees podcast who didn't notice that his giant oak right over his garage was in severe decline. My point is why you need to have a certified arborist come to your property because even a guy like me, I should know better. I should be looking up. I should be looking down. Thank goodness, my arborist, he was coming here for another job and he pulled me aside. He goes, "That thing, man, it's not looking good. It's going to have to go like we talked about." They're taking that down today and it's a relief, brother. I'm telling you because it's been dropping branches and all sorts of stuff.

Isaiah: Oh, yes. I don't doubt it. That plays back into that holistic idea at least for me. When I'm going out on properties in the fall, heck, I might be talking to somebody about how we did on their lawn that year, but I like to take time to survey the property, walk through it, talk about changes that have been happening, and if you have anything that is quickly catching my eye like a tree that's in decline or like, hey, you got new plants over in the corner, you're starting a privacy hedge, whatever it is, those are the things. That's why you need the arborist. Takes a walk and talk with you, he or she, and you can get some of those problems-- make them near misses.

Doug: You mentioned pruning, and we've talked about this a lot on the show about certainly not touching elms or oaks until they are dormant. In this case, the tree's dead. It was some canker issue or something. It's gone, but we want to wait on certain trees to prune, but winter can be a good time to prune?

Isaiah: Yes. Winter can be a great time to prune your oaks or your elms because you're dealing in those colder temperatures, so there's less of a chance for the transmission of something like an oak wilt, but also when you start looking at dormant pruning just for your landscape overall, it's good for the health of the tree, but hey, it's also okay and great for the homeowner or the client because we're out taking care of things for them during the winter months that now it might not be on the plate for spring. It might not be on the plate for summer for them as well when they want to be out enjoying the yard and having your parties, having your graduations, all that stuff. We take care of it in the winter. You get the enjoyment in the spring and the summer.

Doug: Now, as we're coming into winter, is this a time to fertilize or not or are we done with that?

Isaiah: Well, fertilization you want to be doing in the fall going into winter, yes, you can do it, or also thinking about it in the springtime going into the summer. For where I'm at, we're up in Western New York, pretty far north, right up on the lakes up there. We still do fertilization right up into November. Now, that's all weather depending too. The ground has to be okay, not frozen for you to be able to do any fertilization injection, but yes, you can do them right in the fall.

Doug: Is part of getting trees for winter also involve mulching?

Isaiah: You can. We do a lot of our mulching in the spring, but mulching is a good idea just as another one of those health tips and another one of those best practices that's going to help the tree hold that moisture. The mulch is a little barrier and a little reminder for any work that's happening in those months, say you got some plowing happening, moving snow out of the way, you hit a mulch barrier and that tells you you got trees coming.

Doug: In your climate Western New York, when does tree planting stop or does it? Do you have to wait until a certain time or are you still planting?

Isaiah: No, we're lucky right now. The past couple of weeks have been unseasonably warm and they're also calling that's going to continue for at least another week or so, but we like to get the planting wrapped up earlier in the fall. Right now, we're doing some finishing touches on things, but we like to do the planting a little bit earlier in the fall and then we like to open up the season in the spring with planting as well.

Doug: All the nurseries still have some tree stock. Do you think in Pittsburgh zone 5, 6, I could get away with a tree in just to save some money on it because they want to get rid of them?

Isaiah: I think if you wanted to do that, you're going to want to be hand in hand with your arborist again because you're going to want to be paying attention to the nuances to what's happening with the tree and what type of tree It is. You're going to want to know what type of trees are going to need what tear. If you're putting a tree in later in the season right now, what specifically it's going to need going into the winter? Then also it's important to have that arborist there because you want to have it planted properly as well. You give the tree the best chance going into the winter.

Doug: When we do get into winter and we have one of those snow storms or even an ice storm, what is your opinion as far as knocking that snow off or knocking that ice off? Do you do that or are you going to do more damage by doing that or is it just case by case?

Isaiah: It's really case by case. It depends on whether you're looking at a mature tree in my mind too, versus a tree that you're starting to establish. Those bigger, older oaks, let's say for an example, those are a tree that you're going to want to be taken care of. It's thinned properly, it's pruned properly. If it needs anything else, cabling, bracing. It can take on that weather and that snow load. Your newer plants, let's say at the young evergreen or at the low ground cover. You can monitor that and yes, you can knock some snow off of that if you wish.

Doug: Tell me a little bit about how this job's right for you. How'd you get into it?

Isaiah: I got into this job by pure luck. I was actually a school teacher and I needed a summertime job. I came and got hired at the local office and I got the opportunity to start in landscape. Then one of the sales team came out and said, "Hey, you ever run a chainsaw?" Asked me what I knew about trees, which at that time was pretty close to nothing. He said, "Boy, I think you could be a great asset if you wanted to learn how to do tree work. " After a couple months of landscaping, I switched to tree work and then I fell in love with it. I fell right in love with it.

After doing that for about a month, it was coming to the end of the summer, I called up my principal and superintendent and said, "Hey, I have an opportunity here to do something that I've never felt the passion about anything else, even teaching the way I feel about this." Luckily, that winter, another great break, they had an advanced arborist training, which Davey does a couple of times a year, and my manager said, "I think you should go to that and learn a little bit more." After that, I've just taken every opportunity Davey has given me, I've taken it and said, "Yes, what can I do with it? " I have run with it.

Doug: Is there a way to explain what it is that gives you this passion because that's really cool?

Isaiah: I don't know if I have a good answer for that. Initially, I think it was the guys I was working with and the people who I was working for is what really drew me in. Then as I learned my craft and I started to fine-tune things and I got these other opportunities that almost seemed like a different connection with nature. I don't know how to explain it, but being up in the top of a tree pruning or being up doing a monster removal. I've never had a feeling like it. I think it's the greatest job that exists.

Doug: Isaiah, it's so funny you say that because I went out to talk to the guys that are working on my tree and I saw them up in that bucket. My knees shake just from looking up at the bucket, and the winds are just barely blowing. That's enough for me to have a shiver down my spine. The guys on the ground were both telling me the same thing you just told me how much they enjoy it. We all know with Davey safety is first and I feel so lucky to have these guys from Davey working and to watch them with the ropes and pulleys and a friend of mine came over and I said, "Watch this. It's just amazing." Before I let you go, tell me a little bit about what you get out of working with your clients and with your customers. That part of your job

Isaiah: That takes me back to probably why I initially was teaching. It allows me to develop a relationship with people who want to understand more about trees and want to understand more about the landscape, their landscape. I've been lucky enough that I've gained a certain amount of knowledge that I can help them out. That's where the relationship initially start. Then a lot of my client interactions it's built into other things, where I'm the guy that they want to see. I'm the guy, they want to come out and look at their oak, to look at their grass to be there in the fall and in the spring. It's another connection that it just makes it so worthwhile.

Doug: All right. I like to pick the brains of arborists, and we always preface this with right tree, right place but you got anything in your head there that you're thinking, "Boy, I love this tree and it should be planted more" When you could find the right spot for you?

Isaiah: Ooh [chuckles]. I don't know if I could suggest it, because the tree that I love, just because of the way it behaves is actually a larch. There's quite a few groves of them up here that get the beautiful gold and stuff. I don't know if people would have the same eye and the same appreciation when we get into the winter months of it, dropping needles and things like that. Boy, I think they're just fantastic trees.

Doug: Well, Isaiah, you're preaching to the choir here. I've got a John Redwood out there that's a hundred--

Isaiah: [laughs] Oh, excellent.

Doug: Hundred foot tall. Those needles or whatever you call them, are starting to turn and it's my favorite tree on the property. I think we're kindred spirits when it comes to trees that we love. [laughs]

Isaiah: [chuckles] That is fantastic. That is another great tree.

Doug: All right, Isaiah, I'm going to leave it right there. Thanks for everything. Thanks for schooling us on what to do before winter and just great information. I'm sure we'll talk again. Thank you so much.

Isaiah: Oh, thank you very much. You have a great day.

[music]

Doug: I love that story about how Isaiah found his way to arboriculture. I hope you did too. Now tune in every Thursday of the Talking Trees podcast from the Davey Tree Expert Company. I am your host, Doug Oster. Next week, we're talking all about innovative sustainability initiatives. Being planned for Davey's new SEED Campus, which breaks ground soon. SEED stands for Science Employee Education and Development. It's going to be a fascinating show. Do me a favor, subscribe to the podcast so you'll never miss an episode. As always, we'd like to remind you on The Talking Trees Podcast, trees are the answer.

[music]

[00:18:10] [END OF AUDIO]