Jay Maize from Davey's Northwest Seattle office talks about what should be on your tree care checklist this winter to make sure your landscape is ready to take on the cold!
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Doug: Welcome to the Davey Tree Expert Company's Podcast Talking Trees. I'm your host, Doug Oster. Each episode showcases one of Davies certified arborists sharing advice with everyone about caring for your trees and landscapes. We'll talk about everything from introduced pest, seasonal tree care, deer damage, how to make your trees thrive, 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 Jay Maize. He's a district manager for the Davey Tree Expert Company in Seattle, Washington. Today Jay. It's all about a winter checklist. Well, what kind of winter is there in Seattle compared to what we have here in Pittsburgh?
Jay: Well, it's most likely going to be warmer for the most part. We get a lot of rain. The last three years we've had snow in February, so an interesting twist. They're predicting a La Niña year, which means generally colder and wetter this year, is what I've heard.
Doug: Predicting for us is supposed to be a brutal, cold winter over here in Pittsburgh, but you never know. When you're thinking about a winter checklist, you're on the ground, you're working at these different properties, looking at them, what would be the first thing you would think would be on that list?
Jay: Well, I would say inspecting the canopy, looking for dead branches, broken branches, weak attachments. Those things are going to be more noticeable for deciduous tree in the wintertime when the leaves have fallen off.
Doug: Well, that was my question, because my local Davey Tree arborist is coming out. I was wondering because we have oak wilt here in the east, you can't touch those oaks until they go dormant. I was wondering if he should look at them while the leaves are on, but you're saying that, as a trained arborist, you can tell by looking up at that tree without the leaves on. It's actually better to inspect the tree under those circumstances.
Jay: As far as hazards go, so when we're talking about big branches that's what we're looking for. When you're talking about oak wilt, you may actually want to inspect those in this growing season while the leaves are on so you can determine the health of the tree.
Doug: Well, don't worry, he's been here. Like I always say on this podcast, I'm keeping Davey Tree in business with living in an oak forest that has oak wilt. [chuckles]
Jay: There you go. [chuckles]
Doug: We have our arborist come out, inspect the canopy, take a look at what's going on there, looking for hazards. What else are you thinking when we're we're getting ready for winter?
Jay: Well, we want to make sure we were doing annual fertilization and wintertime is a good time to do that around here. Well, I'd say typically fall and then early spring. Our temperatures so moderate, that we can pretty much do it all year round.
Doug: When we're in a climate where the ground is going to freeze solid, we can fertilize until then? Does that sound about right?
Jay: That's correct. Once the product is in the ground, it's going to stay there available for the trees to use throughout the year.
Doug: I ask this question a lot when we get to fertilization and I get different answers. How do you know how much fertilizer to put on? Is that a formula or do you look at the tree or how does it work?
Jay: It's a formula that Davey has perfected so the tank mixtures formulated, and then the technician knows how much to apply to individual trees.
Doug: Just guessing, I would say that a lot of people are not fertilizing their trees, especially big trees, but they should be, right?
Jay: You'd be right, Doug. I would say that the fertilization mimics the natural leaf recycling in nature. If you're in a forest, where you're not cleaning up the leaf litter, you may not need to fertilize, to be honest. When we're dealing with landscapes that are groomed, all the leaves are raked up, there's no nutrient recycling happening.
Doug: I'm excited to hear another Davey Tree arborist tell me I don't have to rake up my leaves. I should leave them at the base of my trees when possible.
Jay: Absolutely, Doug, that's one of the best things you can do for your tree. In fact, if you can cover those leaves with arborist chips would be even better.
Doug: How about watering? Is that something we do before the end of the season?
Jay: Oh, yes, absolutely. We've we're actually experiencing a drought here for the last, I don't know how many years, several years. We've been preaching watering all throughout the summer, basically, three or four months of no rain, no precipitation. We're getting it now. I just came out from the rain [chuckles] this morning, but we're promoting watering. Almost at every stop I go to I'm talking about watering trees and the benefits of that.
Doug: When I think of Seattle, I think of a moist, rainy climate. Is that what it's usually like or what you're saying you're going through a couple of years of drought and we've seen it certainly on the east, too.
Jay: Yes, we are experiencing the drought. Right now we're getting a lot of rain but, rain that comes all at one time doesn't help when you're going months without rain.
Doug: How do you know how often to water? When you're thinking about trees?
Jay: Well, it'd be best to be able to check the soil moisture. If you can do that with a simple soil probe, then you'll know, when it's time to water. Basically, what you want to do is saturate the soil completely with a slow watering, and then let it dry out. You don't want to just continually keep it wet in other words.
Doug: That could be just as bad, right, if it's too wet? I know I've talked to arborists about that too where they have a season that's super rainy and then you start looking at fungal issues and root rot and all sorts of stuff. In an ideal situation, a nice drink for that tree, really soak it in, and then let it dry out.
Doug: Let's talk a little bit about pruning. Is this the time of year where you guys are doing some pruning?
Jay: Yes, this is a good time of year to do pruning, while the trees are dormant. It's also again since we're able to see the branch structures a good time to do cabling bracing in anticipation of severe weather.
Doug: Is that just in general, like we know, there's going to be severe weather or am I calling I think my arborist and saying, "Hey, man, it's going to be a big storm. Can you guys come out?"
Jay: I've been here 25 years, and there's been severe weather every single year.
Doug: It makes sense. Tell me a little bit about what got you into this line of work, and why it's right for you?
Jay: Oh, well, I had a forestry degree it's working with, for the government in the forest. Actually just stumbled into this urban forestry and I've loved it ever since. I really liked the interface between the forest and in the city.
Doug: Looking from the outside to me, it just seems wonderful to be able to go to a property and tell the homeowner, "It's not that big of a deal. I can save your tree." Talk a little bit about that feeling.
Jay: Well, it's a great feeling to know that we're making a difference and making people happy and making their trees happy. Then also identifying those trees that aren't so good and maybe that people didn't realize the issues that they had. That's satisfying as well.
Doug: When we're talking about a winter checklist, if you could just talk about the importance of having somebody come to your property at least once a year to take a look at what's going on so that you're not waiting so long. Just like you just said there, you get to the property and it's gone three years where they've looked at it slowly declining and finally, at the last minute say we better get somebody out here.
Jay: Yes. Basically if you can catch a problem early on in the process, you have a much better success rate at turning the situation around versus for instance, a diseased tree that could have been saved that maybe that had been let go too long into the point where it's either just too far gone or it's just going to be astronomical to try to save it at that point.
Doug: Now we can see each other but people are listening to the podcast can't and in the background, this is the perfect thing to have an arborist's office, a giant Norfolk pine. Is that what that is?
Jay: It is. [chuckles]
Doug: That thing is doing good. You got to give us the low-down on how you keep that thing growing so well. What's the trick because I've killed two of them?
Jay: Honestly, Doug, it's neglect. This tree, I hate to say it, but basically, I remember to water it every two to three weeks. I suspect I might have someone else coming in here to water it. It gets good early morning sunlight if I remember to keep those shades up. Honestly, I don't do much.
Doug: I think I killed mine with kindness then.
Jay: That might be.
Doug: Too much water. I know you don't have oak wilt out in Seattle, but there's all sorts of different problems for different trees. Out here in the east, we don't touch those oaks unless they're dormant. Do you have certain trees that could only be pruned at certain times of the year?
Jay: We still have some very majestic elm trees in Seattle, and those trees we can't prune in the growing season because it would coincide with the beetles that carry the Dutch elm disease. We can only really prune those in the wintertime.
Doug: With an elm tree, if it has to be removed, I'm guessing it would be similar to an oak wilt tree. You want to get all that wood out of there so the beetle doesn't--
Jay: Yes, absolutely.
Doug: Before we go, Jay, I just want to ask you, tell me a little bit about the best parts of your job, what you do.
Jay: Oh, I just enjoy meeting with all kinds of different people and talking to them about their trees and their landscape, as well as being a manager for helping my people out with their careers and seeing them succeed. It's all very satisfying.
Doug: That sounds great. I appreciate your time. I've got my winter checklist ready and I'm going to make sure that I am ready for the winter. Thanks again for your time.
Jay: Thank you, Doug.
Doug: Tune in every Thursday to the Talking Trees Podcast from the DV Tree Expert Company. I'm your host, Doug Oster. Do me a favor and subscribe to the podcast. We're having fun and learning a lot too. I can't wait to talk to Luke Warner next week about trees and shrubs with winter interest. This is the time to get them in the ground for seasonal beauty. As always, we like to remind you on the Talking Trees Podcast, trees are the answer.
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