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Category Archives for Tree Care

Tree Care Guide for Property Managers

apartment building exterior landscape

Whether managing a single property or a portfolio of properties, your daily array of tasks is dizzying, to say the least. It could be easy to overlook or delay evaluation of the trees on commercial properties. It is important to note that proper maintenance and care of trees is essential to limit your liability and boost the value of the property.

To assist property managers, I will lay out a quick guide to help with planning arboricultural (This is a nerdy way to say tree) decisions. Trees are difficult to predict, but Arborists have gathered methods of inspection to discover problems before they arise. This is done through proper planning and maintenance especially when building structures are involved. An arborist can also help balance between what needs to get worked on immediately vs later.


Importance of Safety

Tree risk assessments are used by an arborist to determine whether a tree or group of trees are safe. With most decisions, safety outweighs everything else. It is especially important to maintain a safe environment in high traffic areas. This means that playgrounds, walkways, parking lots and other areas high frequented areas should be pruned for deadwood. Deadwood is the usual suspects when limbs fall because they are losing structural integrity.

The physics behind gravity and weight means falling tree limbs can cause serious injury and damage. For example, a 3” maple tree branch that is 5 feet long could weigh up to 12 pounds. But if it falls 6 feet, then it can have an impact of over 80 pounds. Imagine 80 pounds falling on your head. I know it seems alarmist, but there are incidents and cases where this has been the focal point.

It is also important that large trees with large trunks that go straight up are checked up on a routine basis. In my experience with tree climbing and storm damage, I can attest that trees exposed to high winds or severe storms can cause major damage. This is because the added momentum when they fall increases the force of impact. Think about the example of the 12-pound tree branch. Now contemplate the damage from a 2,000 to 20,000-pound tree. Dead trees are obvious candidates for damage, but it is equally important to evaluate trees that appear healthy.

It is also important to evaluate what less obvious factors. Tree stumps might not be readily apparent and therefore pose a trip hazard. Consider that children like playing on the grassy areas and often don’t pay attention to their surroundings. A tree stump could cause a skinned knee or worse, a broken arm if they tripped and fell. Tree roots on some species of trees can grow into pipes and sometimes foundations leading to serious structural damage.

Another key consideration is personal safety of residents and visitors. Tress provide great shade during the day. Unfortunately, they can also create dark places at night that lead to undesirable circumstances. Making sure that branches don’t block parking lot or street lights is important. Property security is improved with well-lit walkways and parking lots.

GV Tree Crew working on site
Multifamily Apartment Units in the City with landscaping
GV Tree and Landscaping Wood Grapple Truck
Modern Apartment Buidling with Landscaped trees and flower bed

Curb Appeal

A tidy property can make or break a decision for a prospective tenant or renter. Landscaping does play a huge role in this discussion but today I will highlight tree pruning for aesthetics. On larger trees you want to go beyond removing dead or dying limbs. Lower water sprout or sucker growth often looks out of place so those too should be removed. Thinning overgrown trees can boost the appearance of a canopy. These regular prunings make the trees and property more attractive.

Vista pruning is also important if the property is near water or other natural views. This is where we remove select limbs to improve the view of the surrounding area. Whatever tree operation is performed the timing of pruning and clean pruning cuts are a must. Poor pruning cause can cause more harm than good.


Planning

I often see issues with improperly placed trees. Therefore, planning before planting new trees is important. Having a tree in the wrong place will end up costing you more in the end. The result being a tree dies or doesn’t live to its full potential.

It’s also important to mitigate any risk that current trees pose to a property. It’s important to handle any tree issues before they start while maintaining optimal canopy coverage. An arborist can create short terms and long-term assessments. This helps with setting the priority of tasks needed to have a safe and maintained area. They can even recommend removing and replanting younger tress before they pose a threat.



Beyond the initial evaluation, an arborist should perform follow up assessments every two years. Having a continuous plan for tree maintenance is vital. There are so many positive benefits to us from trees that we must preserve them while handling safety concerns when they come up. GV Tree and Landscape Services has an overwhelming amount of experience working for both commercial properties and local governments. Let us help you embrace the benefits of trees while protecting your property from tree damage as much as possible.

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Utility Tree Pruning and Tree Care Near Power-lines

utility tree trimming | G&V Tree Service

Trees and electric power lines are vital to society. They provide great benefits that are obvious like shade on a hot day, amazing colors in the fall or the ability to surf the internet and binge watch our favorite show. Trees provide additional benefits that are often unseen. They produce oxygen, filter pollutants, help prevent erosion, and control storm run-off. In urban settings, you need the right tree in the right spot.

Therefore, it’s important that trees and electrical power lines coexist. Trees and power lines can be friends. Problems in their relationship happen when weather gets involved. Heavy winds, ice, snow, cold temperatures and persistent wet soil cause damage. To prevent a bad breakup and permanent damage, we must be proactive in caring for trees around power lines. 

Electric companies have systems in place for handling trees around power lines. The utility will make sure the homeowner and a contractor are involved in resolving any issues. In this article, I will explain how tree services and the power company work together. I will also discuss methods used by climbers and bucket operations for safe work around trees.

Homeowner Tips for Trees Next to Power-lines

Do you have a tree that looks like it’s too close to a power line? My first suggestion is don’t touch it, don’t go near it, don’t even think about going near it. I cannot say this enough, it is a matter of life and death.

On many electrical poles, the high voltage wires are on the top. Below are the communication wires and the house drop. House drops are the wires supplying electricity to the house. It is often carrying 240 volts of electricity. To put that into perspective that is twice the voltage going to your toaster or TV. It’s also more than your dryer or stove uses. The house drops have protecting shielding around the wires, but it is not insulation like on an extension cord. If you touch the house drop, the shielding will more than likely not protect you and you will probably die.

Therefore, I urge the importance of not performing work around powerlines. The professionals take many precautions and equipment for safe operations next to high voltage powerlines. This work is extremely risky, so please contact professionals to handle the work.

Another aspect to remember is now many neighborhoods have underground powerlines. Those lines are within 2 feet of the surface. So, before you decide to plant a tree or build a fence, it’s important to call Miss Utility. They will come and mark the lines for free. This could save you a lot of headache, expense and possibly your life.

It has been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is truly the case with trees and powerlines. Proper maintenance and planning can avoid tree damage and major problems. When planting, knowing the mature spread and height is vital for trees around utilities.

Perform routine visual inspections of your trees. If a tree limb is too close to a high voltage line, contact your power company. Your power provider will send out an expert to deem whether there is an issue. If needed, they will come out and clear the portion or temporarily shut off the power if need be. This will prevent damage caused by obvious dead or hanging branches during inclement weather. It is generally a good idea to have a tree company inspect and prune your trees every year for their overall health. If there is an issue, they can contact the power company for you.

Tree work next to powerlines
Aerial Bucket Operation Tree care
tree trimming in fairfax va and washington dc
utility tree trimming | G&V Tree Service
Tree climber pruning a tree

Tree Climbing and Bucket Operation Next to Power lines

In the tree work industry, there is a certification called EHAP which stands for Electrical Hazard Awareness Program. It was created by the Tree Care Industry Association (TICA). This program teaches tree workers techniques how to work safely around powerlines.

For example, when climbing and pruning a tree, there must be careful planning. Positioning is key as well as confidence. We are taught to even manage the tail of our rope with a redirect, so the rope doesn’t touch the wire. We make smaller cuts when working over wires. Rigging is also an option so a limb can be hoisted up out of the tree instead of falling down.

Another option instead of climbing is using a bucket or cherry picker. These are great for getting the perfect position in a tree. Even the most challenging terrain can often be overcome with the right equipment. The power company has an amazing 4x4 bucket truck that almost look like a monster truck. Whether they are using a bucket or climbing, the workers are keen on safety, because one false move could be your last.

We also use specialized equipment. The pole saws are made of fiberglass and they are filled with foam. This limits the ability of the electricity to be conducted. Older fiberglass poles are not used because vertical cracks can be conductive. Buckets or aerial lifts used for tree care are also made from fiberglass. Bucket operators use fiberglass power poles that have a chainsaw attachment.

Trees can live and serve the community next to powerlines. The key is proper planning before planting and continued tree maintenance. GV Tree Service is no stranger to utility pruning or tree care next to powerlines. For 25 years the City of Manassas has been an Arbor Day “Tree City” and we are proud to care for the Utilities Tree Pruning citywide. Whether it’s the trees on Main Street or the white oak in your front yard, we have the experience to handle the toughest situations.

Winter Damage on Trees and Shrubs

Evergreen Trees Covered With Snow

During the winter, trees survive by going into dormancy. This is like hibernation where everything in the system slows down and the tree conserves energy. Yet, trees and shrubs are still susceptible to harsh winter conditions. Freezing temperatures, wind, snow, and salt are some of the culprits of winter damage. Depending on the species and vigor, severe weather can affect bark, moisture, roots, and other vital parts.


While weather is impossible to predict with one hundred percent certainty, it looks like the DC area will see more snow than last year. This will probably be via a series of smaller consistent weather events rather than one huge storm. How your trees and shrubs are affected will depend on not only the amount but the type and timing of winter weather we receive.

For example, wet snow will stay on a tree and adhere to all the surfaces. 1 inch of snow weighs 1 pound per square foot. A typical 30’ to 40’ foot tree has a span of around 900 square feet. 2” of snow multiplied by 900 square feet would give you 1800 pounds.  The weight increases as the amount of snow and the dimensions increase. A typical tree can withstand the normal snow but a tree with defects could pose a problem with the added weight.

Dry snow will not have that adhering effect thus weight is less of an issue. However, the timing of the storm could still have a negative effect. One year, there was an early snowstorm on Halloween. The leaves were still on the tree and could not support the weight of the snow. The tips of the trees broke and trees with poor root systems gave out.
Trees Along A Snowy Road
Deciduous Tree in a Snowy Field

Deciduous Trees

Deciduous trees are large flowering plants with a woody stem that shed their leaves during the fall. Not all species are alike, and some are more susceptible to winter weather than others. Thus, it is important to check the structural integrity of the tree before winter. Flaws could indicate whether a tree will fail or not.

Branch unions play a key role in holding branches together. The added weight of snow and ice could put a problematic tree in quite a predicament. A thicker tree doesn’t allow wind to pass through thus increasing the sway of the tree. A defective tree would therefore be more susceptible to high winds.

Another issue is frost cracks. These are caused by temperatures quickly fluctuating from above to below freezing. The sudden change in temperature causes the outer layer of wood to contract faster than the inner layer. This results in a vertical crack at the weak points of the bark. Sunscald is an elongated canker found along the trunk of thin-barked trees such as beech, dogwood and fruit trees. Sunscald develops often on the south or southwest side of a tree following exposure to the immediate sun. The temperature on the sun side could be as much as 20° higher. The warm temperature causes the tree tissue to become active and break dormancy. When the temperature drops at night, the active tissues are killed, injuring the tree. Further damage can occur because insects and diseases can now enter the tree at the injured location.  This danger continues even into early spring as temperatures continue to fluctuate. Once the tree buds are starting to bloom, a sudden freeze could be problematic with certain species.

Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees are trees that stay green throughout the year. The winter can prove especially harsh on shrubs due to the thickness of their structure. Ice and heavy snow could break stems with the extra weight. This is especially true with azaleas and boxwoods.

Evergreens tend to have a shallow root system. Trees with a poor root system or a lean will uproot in wet conditions. One species that especially has this problem is the Leyland Cypress. Wind and a poor root system are a deadly combination for this type of tree. That was made abundantly clear by Hurricane Isabel in 2003.Evergreens can also be affected by winter burn. This is the browning or scorching of leaf tips on evergreen foliage in the late winter or early spring. This is attributed to the desiccation or loss of water through leaf transpiration or wind. It then dries out because it lacks moisture. Vigorous or healthy evergreens will re-sprout growth during the spring. It’s important not to prune off the affected areas until it has had time to bounce back. Evergreens could also be affected by snow removal and the salt used on roads. Evergreen ground-covers could also be affected by snow being piled up or the application of salt. Sometimes when snow is on the ground it is hard to tell what’s snow or what’s concrete. Salt could be applied by mistake to a ground-cover. The run-off of that salt and snow can also affect an evergreen if it settles along the base.
Evergreen Foliage With Snow
Snow Covered Street

Minimizing Winter Damage
Here are some ways to prevent some winter damage to trees and shrubs:

•Water trees and shrubs especially evergreens during dry periods
•Apply anti-desiccant to evergreens to prevent winter burn
•Use wrapping to prevent frost cracks on young trees
•Do not pile snow on evergreens or ground-covers
•If possible, knockoff snow with smaller trees and shrubs
•Remove dead limbs before heavy snow months
•Allow time for trees and shrubs to bounce back

It is important to know that when dealing with something as unpredictable as trees and weather, definitive answers cannot be given. Throughout the years, Arborists have gained experience from prior snowstorms. We understand what trees and defects could be affected by a heavy winter. GV Tree and Landscaping is eager to help you with determining problematic trees and potential issues. Contact us for a free estimate if you have any concerns with landscaping or trees on your property.

Have questions about your Landscape or Trees?

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Our Company’s Approach to Tree Service Safety

GV Tree Crew working on site

It’s obvious that working in trees is dangerous. Really any activity dealing with heights is risky. Even climbing a 6’ ladder can lead to injuries without the proper safety precautions. The danger increases exponentially when chainsaws, heavy or dead wood, power lines and homes are added.  

We here at GV Tree & Landscaping devote considerable time and effort to the training of our employees. That not only brings us home safe every night, it also improves the quality of our service. We find it paramount to train and retrain all employees in safety protocol. The feeling of accomplishing a nearly impossible task in a safe manner is amazing.

In the past, safe practices were simply learned from more experienced employees. Good and bad practices were passed on from one group to the next. Fortunately, now there is an abundance of safety training material. Safety training now includes videos and seminars. Safety has now become the nature of the industry and those who do not respect it, will suffer.

GV Tree and Landscaping Employee Moving Wood with a Dolly

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The first rule of safety is using personal protective equipment. These are hardhats, rated safety glasses, earplugs, chainsaws chaps and safety vests. With little particles flying everywhere during cutting, safety glasses can save your eyes from tragedy. I can attest that even on the ground, walking into a tree bud can ruin a person’s week.

We also train our employees on road safety and setting up a safe work zone. It is important that signage, cones, and vests meet all industry requirements. We don’t want to see anyone hurt or any property damaged at the end of the day.

Safety for Both Climbers and Grounds Men

In the tree world, we use phrases like ‘baby steps’ and ‘low and slow’ when training new climbers. Before learning to climb, it is necessary to understand the ground operations. On the ground, awareness is key. Both climbers and grounds men are always in constant communication with each other. Climbers check and communicate with the ground crew before dropping branches.

The novice must learn knots before ever stepping foot in a tree. A beginner climber must master the use of a chainsaw and chipper. Then more experienced climbers show beginners how to climb using ropes. Once all these safety methods are internalized and they show promise, we put them up a small tree.

Experience is great, but we also use material that helps us adhere to industry guidelines. These manuals are in both video format and print material in numerous languages. There is no excuse for not having proper safety training. Our experienced climbers retrain by attending safety meetings and seminars. Additionally, trade conventions and climbing competitions provide great learning environments for all skill levels. This is where we learn new techniques and share experiences.

Every quarter we hold aerial rescue training. We place a dummy in the tree and have our climbers rescue it safely. Part of the training is to practice giving the proper information to emergency services. Then we get the climber down without causing more damage. We have never had to perform an aerial rescue, but we are glad that we train for it.

tree service and tree trimming | G&V Tree Service

Equipment Safety Training

The equipment we use in the industry can be unforgiving if not used properly. Our experienced employees along with instructional DVDs help train our new employees on the proper use of equipment. When we purchase new equipment, the dealer gives us hands-on training on how to operate it. We not only focus on the use of equipment but also the placement of the equipment on the property.

GV Tree and Landscaping - Live action shot of a chipper in use
GV Tree and Landscaping Wood Grapple Truck

At the end of the day, we want our employees to come home safe and exceed our customers' expectations. The owners give every employee the proper training and gear for safe operations. They promote a culture of safety every day. Safety first is our way of doing business.

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How Arborists Observe Trees

Maple tree with an external wood defect

Trees can make a lovely addition to your landscape, but they often come with their own set of risks. To ensure that your property is safe, personally inspect your trees every year. If you have large trees next to your house, hire an Arborist every two years to perform a site inspection. We also recommend an Arborist inspection before any tree removal or pruning of a tree with questionable health before. This prevents removing a possibly healthy tree or tree pruning that might prove fruitless.

A formal risk assessment, performed by an arborist, is the best way to guarantee your trees are safe. The arborist will check your trees for risk and health. The assessment is based on ANSI A300 Standards, Part 9. During the
assessment, the arborist will observe your trees, identify defects, then judge how likely that defect is to cause tree failure.

Mushroom sprouting from Tree's root zone

Methods of tree assessment:

Light Observation:

This is just a basic overview of your tree and its health. The arborist will observe the tree from all available angles. This includes viewing the tree and the site in relation to any structures. Observing the tree is not as detailed as a tree risk assessment. The perceived risk in relation to any structures is the primary focus with light observation.

Tree Risk Assessment:

This is a detailed assessment of a tree or group of trees. Arborists view soil conditions, growth patterns, soil moisture, wind patterns, and other factors. Using a checklist, an Arborist will note defects in the crown, trunk, roots and any other issues. 

To test the internal wood structure a rubber mallet is often used. A resistograph is also used at times to measure wood density. This tool detects internal cracks, cavities, and decay. It’s done by measuring the density of the tree using a drill bit and electronic sensors. Arborist then form recommendation based on the scientific evidence. 


Lab Testing:

This may include extracting samples for lab analysis. Scientists can test every part of the tree. They can detect fungal growth in stem tissue to root rot in root hairs. They will also perform a soil analysis around the base of the tree.

Documentation:

The cost and depth of documentation will be different from project to project. Projects vary from observing one tree to a group of trees. A report will include recommendations for the mitigation of risk and status of tree health.

Some tree removal and pruning will require permits from the local municipality. When a permit is needed, some form of documentation is often required. If legal documentation is required, consult a certified consulting arborist. This is different from a regular arborist or even a certified arborist. A certified consulting arborist has received specialized training and testing.

Make sure to follow the recommendations made by your arborist or consulting Arborist. Continue to check your trees for future defects throughout the year. Even if your tree appears safe, it’s always best to verify their health especially if the tree is overhanging valuable property.

We here at GV Tree and Landscaping are more than able to handle your regular tree assessment. For any lab testing or documentation, we have a consulting arborist who works with us on a routine basis. We can handle an array of assessments and are ready to take on new projects.

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How Tree Services Climb Trees

GV Employee Removing Tree

This has been a popular question from many clients. People often think that we use cherry pickers or ladders and then scurry out on to the limbs like a squirrel. We do walk out onto limbs but it's more controlled than what most people realize.

There are different methods for climbing, but really two primary categories - old school versus new school techniques. Often most climbers use a bit of both. No matter which technique is used, one thing remains the same. You have to get the rope up the tree.  

A Tree Climber ascending up a tree

To do this, we use a thin nylon cord that is very light and attached to a weighted sack. It is thrown into the tree with the goal of hitting above the 'V' or crotch of a sturdy branch that will hold you. Usually a 3-inch diameter branch can hold the weight of a person. However, experienced climbers will use 2-inch diameter branch if the limbs are vigorous. A rope is attached to the cord and then pulled over the branch through the “V”. It is amazing how accurate you can be with a sack and a nylon cord over time.

Old school climbers don't use gadgets when they climb. They use the term, KISS (keep it simple stupid), a timeless classic in the industry. The old school climbers use the end of their rope to tie a knot that holds their weight. Like everything it becomes second nature to them over time.

New climbers are very different. With today's modern advances in technology, climbing equipment has progressed as well. They use tools such as the rope branch, dog bone, and Petzl's mechanical knot. The ropes have gotten thinner and stronger. There has also shift from double to single rope techniques. For assent, a single rope is very efficient and fast but takes time to set up.

Once we are up the tree it’s important to be able to move around quickly and easily. Variables are in play all the time when tree climbing. One has to plan so that time is not wasted. Often our main focus is on how to access all parts of the tree. However, when working on large trees, we divide it into sections and prune one section at a time.

An obvious concern is if the branch will hold your weight. Experience with reason and creativity quells initial fears. When I first started climbing, walking out on limbs was the worst. You get an immediate butterfly feeling in your stomach when you overstep your balance point. Your legs may even shake. I heard it called, 'sewing machine leg'. It's not because you're nervous per se, but rather the angle of your weight. Your mind is not accustomed to climbing angles at first. Eventually after years of repetition, it becomes second nature. 

Proper safety gear is one of the most important aspects of tree climbing. Professional tree services, supervisors and safety training coordinators inspect their crew’s climbing equipment. It is the responsibility of the climber, of course, to inspect their gear daily. Sometimes a solid 3 years will do your gear in and boots will wear out even faster. Boots to a tree guy are like erasers to pencil, they get used.

We check ropes daily for any structural defects. We also review our carabiners for cracks and to make sure that the gate works well. All carabiners used in the industry must be double locking. This prevents the carabiner from accidentally opening and sending you crashing to the ground.

In closing, most tree climbers take extreme care of their climbing equipment. We take pride in our work and we love what we do. Where else can we get amazing views of Washington, D.C. or of Old Town Alexandria.

Picture taken from high up in a tree of Old Town Alexandria, VA

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GV Tree & Landscape Has You Covered

All about the owners of G and V

Two of the four owners of GV Tree and Landscape

In 2001, four brothers decided that it was time to go into business together. GV is a close-knit family business, we bring a high quality of work. We care about the environment and our role in protecting tree health. GV is more than a tree work company, we specialize in tree care.

The name GV is a mixture of the two families: Galo and Velazquez. Today, many of the staff are part of the family. The family is close knit and often hold large gatherings. Mario and Jamie both spend time with the business community around the Nation's Capitol. On their off time, the brothers are musicians who play for the love of music.

Through the years we built a patronage throughout the northern Virginia area. We are very grateful to all our past and present clients. We serve many municipalities, counties and government entities throughout the nation's capital. We thank all our clients.

The right tool for the right job is essential.  We have invested in the right equipment so that we can ensure that we are providing the right service. Our large wood grapple has the ability to carry tons of mature hardwood. Our Bobcats and Kubotas serve us well when dealing with moving dirt or debris. The owners want to take care of all employees while providing a high-quality service. It helps when the equipment takes the load away from the worker.   All the while, we are ready to get the job done any means possible.

What separates us from the herd is that we are a cohesive unit that strives to perform at our best every day. Customer satisfaction is our top goal. Our employees learn in all aspects of tree and landscape industry standards. A mixture of industry knowledge and experience helps when tackling tree care. Both estimators and the crew strive to learn more about their trade. This isn't a job for us, it's a lifestyle. We wake up every morning to serve mother nature while running an honorable company.

If you’re looking for Tree Removal or Tree Trimming services, then we need to tell you a little bit About Us.  G&V Tree and Landscaping Services is a family owned & operated business that has provided tree care service for over 16 years in the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC area.

We specialize in Tree RemovalStump GrindingTree TrimmingCrown ReductionTree ThinningPruningCabling, BracingLawn Mowing, Mulching, Seeding, Sod Installation, Landscaping DesignSnow Removal, in addition to so much more. Our tree care personnel are trained to manage everything from basic tree services to emergency tree removal, in addition to spending the least amount of time while using the proper equipment.

G&V Tree and Landscaping Services is associated with ISA, TCIA and BBB. Our company is licensed and insured and therefore very reliable and trustworthy.  We have worked hard to earn our impeccable reputation while delivering great customer service.

Customers picture of owner of GV, Mario Galo

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