How do you know if you’ve got the right guy at your corporate door to preserve your tree?  Well, you either got a word-of-mouth referral or you saw his advertisement somewhere; perhaps on the web, perhaps you googled, tree preservation; perhaps you found the guy in print somewhere.  But you’re a smart guy yourself.  You did not get to where you are by not asking the right questions.  If you did marry the boss’s daughter you earned your position.

You already know that the 1st question you should pose regards the ANSI standards.  If the guy looks at you with a blank stare you’ve probably got the wrong person.  Remember please, the 1st rule of tree preservation, or for that matter any assignment, is to protect the client.  You cannot protect the client from tree failures, wrongful death, personal injury, or breach of contract by not 1st covering your posterior with national standards.

But what about after national standards, what comes next?  Well, the tree care practitioner in front of you should at a minimum present to you some testing to be conducted on the tree you are considering to preserve.  Recall what happens when you go for your annual checkup.  Does the doctor take blood work?  What would your reaction be if the doctor came into the office, sat down, and started telling you what was wrong with you?   No bloodwork.  No x-rays.  No type of testing whatsoever.  Just started to diagnose your problem by looking at you.  How would you respond?  Seriously.  After the initial shock you most undoubtedly would leave his office never to return and never to have forgotten the experience.  Yet you’re ready to do that with the important tree which you hope to preserve.  Right?  Right.

The arborist at your proverbial tour should be recommending to you soil testing and tissue testing.  Think of a buffet table.  As you walk down the endless array of choices before you, do you take a little bit of everything that’s offered?  Of course not.  Now think of the soil in which your tree is growing as the buffet table.  You need to know what’s on that table before you make a selection.  You need to know what’s in the soil before you start the preservation protocol.  But what’s in the soil is only part of the story.  You also need to know what the tree has taken up from that which is being offered.  That’s tissue testing.  The soil may, but certainly will not, have an abundance of nutrients in it but the tree will not take up all of those nutrients.  Just like you did not take a sampling from the buffet table of everything that was being offered.

Once your arborist has both of these tests they should be placed in a juxtaposition for analysis.  There is a plethora of diagnostic information that must be known before a tree can be successfully preserved.  As an example, probably the most important component is the soil ph.  PH, the power of hydrogen, tells you if the soil is “sweet” or if the soil is “sour”.  Why?  Because it affects the ability of taking up certain nutrients from the soil profile into the tree.  PH affects a number of other things including microorganisms and their activity in the soil.  For your purposes, you want to know about the up take phenomena.  There’s also the cation exchange capacity which will tell you what nutrients will leach out of the soil profile which in turn will enable you to create a maintenance regime that will keep the tree healthy in the after situation of the preservation effort.  The estimated nitrogen releases another important component of soil testing.

More easily explained are “danger words” or “quack-talk” that is certain to come from the person in front of you should they not know that of which they speak.  Some of these bad words include organic inoculations, liquid organics, mycorrhizae injections / inoculations, deep-root fertilization, and fertilization itself; especially bad, nitrogen.  Should you hear any of these words please let them serve as danger signal to you that the person in front of you knows not of tree biology or meaningful tree preservation?   They are quacks.  Sometimes unwittingly; sometimes not.  But it doesn’t make a difference.  Get them out of your office as quickly as possible.  If they sit there too long they may talk you into buying their service.  And that would be a mistake.



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Samnik & Ballard Preserve Four Grand Oaks

Samnik and Ballard were selected to preserve four highly visible grand oak trees in the cities of Sarasota, Florida and Tampa, Florida.  Their technique of applying soil on top of existing roots to regenerate and grow new roots is beyond cutting-edge technology and will be implemented on these subject trees.  The old dirt, aged over a century, is first removed as part of the overall treatment plan; much like repotting a houseplant, except the soil required is typically 50 cubic yards.   Tissue tests reveal to the parts per million what nutrients are and are not present inside the tree biology.  Deficient nutrients are then added to the tree in chelate form.  The most recent and highly publicized use of this technique was the historic Baranof oak in Safety Harbor, Florida.  This unique improvement approach to tree preservation was discovered accidentally by Joe over 20 years ago.  He and Lori have perfected this approach now used on highly visible and valuable trees throughout the southeastern United States.

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TREE PRESERVATION Joe Samnik, Consulting Arborist

Different people have different perspectives on tree preservation.  The first thing a client, typically a developer thinks about regarding tree preservation is money; nothing wrong with that, and it’s perfectly understandable.  The first thing a tree colleague thinks about when preservation is the subject is tree biology.  Nobody is right and nobody is wrong.  It’s always a matter of emphasis. But what should be the first thing the consultant thinks about regarding tree preservation or its kissing cousin, tree transplanting?

The Golden Rule at Samnik and Ballard is:  Protect Your Client.  The first thing that ought to come to mind as a consultant is how many national standards, best management practices, or other treatise must be considered to protect the client from litigation or claims if something goes wrong.


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Successful Tree Inventories Start With…

You have just acquired a large piece of land for your new development with trees as far as the eye can see; now what.  There are strict tree ordinances and you know that you are going to have to pay for those trees, money; lots of money.  You have decided to conduct a tree inventory to lower your mitigation costs but you are not sure where to start.  What will you need in order to conduct a successful tree inventory?  The answer to that question starts with a certified arborist experienced in tree inventories, knowledge of tree ordinances and finally, a tree survey showing the location of the trees, boundary limits and limits of improvements.  By utilizing a skilled professional the end result will be a successful tree inventory and money saved.

A significant amount of knowledge is required to conduct a professional tree inventory and save money in tree mitigation.  The arborist not only needs to know how to assess trees based on health and structure utilizing basic tree biology they will need to be able to identify pests, disease and nutritional deficiencies.  They have to be skilled in utilizing special equipment to take necessary measurements to determine tree mitigation.  The certified arborist should also have the skills necessary to identify negligence issues as they relate to hazardous trees in the after situation of construction.  Once the inventory is complete they should have the ability to write an affective report identifying trees to be removed and trees to retain as a viable element in the landscape in the after situation of construction.

Tree ordinances can be very convoluted with information pertaining to those trees that will have to be mitigated.   Included is information relating to size in determining at what size is a tree considered a tree that must be included on the survey and in the inventory.  Most importantly, this size information may identify at what size mitigation starts.  Ordinances also contain information relating to a trees current condition and how that information may affect your mitigation costs.  Finally, important information about protected trees and grand trees are included in tree ordinances.   A certified arborist’s knowledge of the local tree ordinance ensures that you are only mitigating for those trees necessary.

A tree survey in of itself does not provide enough specific information to determine tree mitigation costs.  The tree survey becomes the map in order to conduct the tree inventory and creates a tool for communication in the future.  The arborist utilizes the survey to ensure all trees are accounted for in the inventory and annotates the survey accordingly to accompany the report.  The survey also serves as a picture of the after situation by including the limits of improvements, therefore; making realistic decisions about tree removal and preservation easier and more effective.

A tree inventory conducted by a qualified person with the necessary knowledge and tools will produce permitted projects with lower mitigation costs.  The data collected can be utilized by all the members of the team to make important decisions pertaining to trees to create a sustainable landscape.



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