Tips on Planting Trees

Friday, April 29, 2022, is Arbor Day, a national holiday to encourage people to plant and nurture trees. This annual holiday, which started in 1872, was the brainchild of Julius Sterling Morton, President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture.

One of the best ways to celebrate Arbor Day is to plant a tree. To get involved, you might find some non-profit groups in your area offering volunteer opportunities and some corporations may also organize tree planting events.

The Value of Trees

Trees are an important part of the ecosystem that provide food and shelter for animals and birds and add beauty to any area where they are allowed to grow and thrive. People simply love trees, and they have a positive effect on our moods and mental health.

Trees are also critical in combating climate change. They eat up air pollution and CO2 and replace it with life-giving oxygen. They reduce surface heat by providing shade, which is necessary in hot cities where pavement and buildings can create dangerous “urban heat islands.”

With all these benefits, trees also boost home and property values, making them an investment that provides tangible dividends.

Tips on Planting Trees

Planting trees is not overly difficult, but do not underestimate the care and planning that should go into your tree-planting venture. Here are a few things to consider when planting trees:

What Will You Plant and Where?

While it takes years for a tree to grow to its full height and width, keep the final size in mind when choosing what to plant and where. You’ll want a tree that doesn’t crowd out the other trees in the vicinity, or worse, grow dangerously close to a roof, power lines or other structures.

The type of tree you plant should be one that can thrive in your regional climate. Ideally, this will be a tree that is native to the area. Bringing in exotic trees could impact the ecosystem, including the insects, although it is now common to plant non-native palm trees in states like Florida and California. Both states have their own native palm trees, but in Southern California, only one palm tree is native, the Washingtonia filifera, and in Florida, many palm trees are becoming endangered due to development.

Palm trees guzzle water to survive, and other types of trees do as well, so keep this in mind when choosing a tree. You don’t necessarily want to plant a palm tree in an arid area where water is scarce unless you plan on watering it regularly.

Taller trees also need more water in general. Hot and dry areas like central Texas tend to have shorter trees because of the lack of water and excess heat.

Selecting a Tree

The best way to shop for a tree native to your area is, of course, locally. Your local nursery should have a variety of trees to choose from. A smaller, younger tree is a wiser choice for planting because larger, more mature trees often need to have their roots cut for transportation. Keeping the roots intact will give your tree a greater chance at success. This is not to say you cannot start with a larger tree, but it may need some additional care.

Preparing the Area for Planting

Once you have selected your tree and the general location, you’ll need to dig a hole. The hole will initially also be a testing hole. You should fill it with water before planting the tree, and if you notice any issues with drainage, the ground in that spot may not be suitable or you may need to consult with a professional landscaper.

The hole for your tree should be two to three times the size of the root ball of the tree.

Planting the Tree

To plant, place the tree’s root ball carefully in the hole and then fill the hole with dirt. Make sure the dirt is even around all sides and that the tree is secured in the middle. The dirt should be tamped down firmly but not packed so tightly that the roots can’t breathe. The tree should be stable in the dirt and not tipping over.

Water the tree immediately after planting. You should use enough water to make the soil moist but not too soggy.

Once the Tree is Planted

After planting, watering is one of the most important things you’ll need to do for your new tree. Depending on the tree, you might end up using five to ten gallons per week or more. Fertilizer for your tree can help it grow, especially if the soil in your area is depleted.

Mulching around the tree can also be helpful, but only if done correctly. Never place mulch directly against the tree’s trunk. This could trap moisture and cause the wood to decay. Mulch should be spaced at least three inches away from the tree trunk.

Finally, don’t forget pruning. Young trees will grow many branches that are in competition for one another as the top dog, but this can weaken the tree. Strategic pruning is the key to a healthy, strong, thriving tree for years to come.

Townsend Tree places a high value of trees. We take the utmost care to carefully trim and maintain trees to support their health while keeping branches away from critical power lines. Contact us today for more information on how we can keep energy systems up and running through smart vegetation management—or, reach out to our sister company, Townsend Arborcare, for help maintaining your residential tree needs.

What Is the Future of Energy in America?

Renewable energy is something that has been discussed for a long time, but will America ever be able to fully embrace it? While it may seem that transitioning away from fossil fuels has been happening at a snail’s pace, the good news is, things are changing for the better.

Where Does the United States Get Its Energy?

The United States currently relies on a mix of various energy sources, including renewable energy and the old stand-by, fossil fuels. Primary energy sources are those types of energy that in essence allow us to create “usable” energy, known as secondary energy.

Electricity is actually a secondary energy source garnered from other energy sources like oil, nuclear energy and solar power. (If we were to someday harness lightning, then electricity could become a “primary” energy source, but the current technology is just not there yet.)

As of 2020, here is the breakdown of energy sources leveraged in the United States:

· Petroleum: 35%
· Natural gas: 34%
· Nuclear electric power: 9%
· Renewable energy: 12%
· Coal: 10%

Here’s how renewable energy sources break down:

· Wind: 26%
· Hydroelectric: 22%
· Wood: 18%
· Biofuels: 17%
· Solar: 11%
· Biomass waste: 4%
· Geothermal: 2%

Thus, wind is responsible for 26% of the 12% total of renewable energy utilized by the United States. You’ll note that “wood,” which is not typically considered a “renewable energy source,” is also in this list. Solar power is actually quite low on the list at 11% of renewable energy, making it only a small portion of the energy generated in the United States as a whole.

As you can see, we’re still quite a far way away from renewable energy becoming the main fuel source in the United States.

The Future of Solar Energy in North America

The good news is, with aggressive action, solar power can dramatically move forward as a leading energy source in the United States. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that solar energy could become 40% of the nation’s electricity source as early as 2035, less than 15 years away. That number could potentially increase to 45% or more by 2050.

Solar energy is cheap and can significantly help carbon emissions. No greenhouse gases are emitted while solar power is being generated, however, there may be some environmental impact in the initial creation of solar power systems.

Photovoltaics (PV) such as solar panels are popular and can be easily installed in a variety of locations, including on the roofs of homeowners, who can potentially sell energy back to utility companies when in excess. But we can also expect an increase in centralized solar power plants using technologies such as reflecting mirrors as well as solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems.

The Future of Natural Gas in North America

With the commitment to renewables, is there any future for non-renewable sources of energy such as natural gas? Natural gas can be a polarizing issue, according to McKinsey & Company, highlighting the odd juxtaposition of new discoveries and technologies providing ample liquefied natural gas (LNG) while decarbonization policies threaten the industry.

Net carbon neutral goals will put a damper on the natural gas industry, especially in states such as Hawaii, New York and California. Hawaii has an ambitious goal to be complete carbon neutral by 2045. California is gearing up to transition to at least 60 percent renewable energy by 2030, in less than 10 years.

Yet, natural gas is still a key energy source, especially in states that aren’t as focused on aggressive carbon neutral policies. While current projections by McKinsey show a leveling off of natural gas demand by 2035, gas still has an important role to play. Why?

Because gas is still a preferable alternative to coal-powered energy, and it is expected to displace coal in the medium term.

While McKinsey places gas ahead of nuclear in the long term, nuclear power is still considered to be a critical strategic energy source in the time of climate change. That said, many environmental activists have very vocal concerns about the long-term safety of nuclear energy.

What Else Is in Store for America’s Energy Future?

Energy generation is only one part of the energy equation. The other side is energy usage. On the one hand, America’s voracious appetite for energy shows no signs of slowing up. But on the positive side, more and more people are seeing the value of energy conservation. With technologies such as smart grids and more energy efficient appliances, energy consumption can hopefully be kept in check.

Electric cars will be an important part of the transition to renewables, so expect to see electric car infrastructure built out significantly in the next two years.

Townsend Tree helps utilities and pipeline companies keep energy flowing safely with services such as tree trimming, line clearing and hazardous tree removal. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you provide continuous electrical service to your customers.

Your Guide to Making the Most of Your Christmas Tree

The holiday season is in full swing, and people are heading out to tree lots in droves in search of the perfect yuletide symbol for their homes: the Christmas tree. This year, however, consumers are finding trees in short supply, in part due to weather fluctuations and supply chain issues, but also due to a marked labor shortage in the tree trimming industry. Christmas tree farming is very labor intensive, with many species of trees requiring pruning and shaping for years to result in that perfect Christmas tree shape. Lack of pruning takes a toll on the beauty of prospective trees, and results in some that are simply unmarketable. Some tree farmers are even having difficulty finding competent tree cutters willing to help with this year’s harvest, making getting trees to market even more stressful.

The message for consumers interested in finding that perfect pine or fir is clear: If you see a tree you like, buy it. There probably won’t be any last-minute deals and, with a shortage of this nature, the nicest trees will sell fast. Since prices of trees will be on the rise because of shrinking inventory, it is a smart idea to take good care of the tree you choose to get the most return on your investment. This article will help you maintain your tree throughout the holidays and touch on the proper disposal of trees when the holidays have ended.

Proper Care and Maintenance of Your Christmas Tree

More than 30 million households in the United States choose a live tree over their plastic counterparts as a centerpiece to their holiday decorating. With trees in short supply — and at a premium price — if you’re one of the lucky families that have sourced a beautiful, live Christmas tree, you’ll want to ensure it maintains its freshness for as long as possible. Here’s how to extend the life of your tree this year:

Start with a Fresh Tree

For best results, source the freshest tree possible. Half of the weight of a cut tree is water, and most species can go eight hours without uptaking more. Choose a tree from a lot where the trees have been recently harvested or where the trunks are stored in water buckets to ensure they are remaining hydrated. Buying from a cut-your-own-tree farm is the best way to ensure optimal freshness.

Get the Right Stand

A reservoir stand is the best way of minimizing needle loss and help your tree to stay fresher, longer. Make sure you have a large enough reservoir for your tree’s size. You will need at least one quart of water for every inch of your tree’s trunk diameter. Also, make sure the stand is a perfect fit for your tree’s trunk — if you whittle the sides of the trunk to fit the stand you are interfering with your tree’s ability to uptake water. Make sure you check the reservoir daily to ensure you have enough water for your tree.

Learn the Proper Way to Cut

Although many people drill holes into the base of the trunk to assist with water uptake, this does not actually help. Instead, cut a disk of wood about .5 inches in size from the base of the trunk. Cut straight across, perpendicular to the axis of the stem rather than angling the cut or cutting a V shape, which can make it more difficult to seat the tree properly into the stand.

Be Aware of Safety Concerns

Keeping your live tree away from heating sources such as heaters, heating vents, fireplaces and even direct sunlight can help preserve the life of your tree and reduce the possibility of fire hazards. When decorating your live tree, use only low-heat lights such as LED lights. Make sure to inspect all electrical items before using with your tree and never leave tree lights on when you leave the house or retire to bed. If your tree becomes very dry, it is best to remove it from your home for optimal safety.

Proper Disposal of Your Christmas Tree

After the holidays, make sure you dispose of your Christmas tree properly. Never burn any part of your Christmas tree in your fireplace — instead, check your local area for specific options for Christmas tree disposal. Here are some options that are typically available:

· Trees can be cut and placed into yard waste containers or tied and stacked for yard waste pickup.
· Some nonprofits will pick up Christmas trees for a donation.
· Some recycling providers offer special tree pickup schedules for a few weeks following the Christmas holiday.
· Many communities offer tree drop-off and recycling centers where you can take your tree for no charge.
· You can participate in a tree recycling program where a provider will chip the tree and make the mulch available for gardens.

Responsibly disposing of your tree helps to reduce safety hazards caused by drying trees and provides a way to give back to the planet through recycling. Of course, if you opt for a living tree that comes rooted in a pot, you can simply plant it outside after the holidays are over and enjoy its beauty year-round.

A Tree with all the Trimmings

For most Americans, a Christmas tree is an important part of the yuletide season. But trees in general are an important part of the American landscape, bringing beauty, nourishment and stabilization to our yards, businesses and roadways. However, proper tree trimming is essential not only for the health of our living trees, but also for the safety and comfort of home and business owners. Trees that encroach on power lines can not only cause power disruption, but they can also be safety hazards in the event of storms and other natural disasters.

At Townsend Tree, we have a team of knowledgeable tree and vegetation experts that use a combination of technology and deep understanding to provide tree trimming and vegetation management services. We support utilities, pipeline companies and transportation departments to help keep power flowing and safety at the forefront for home and business owners in over 30 states — during Christmas and all year long.

The Labor Force: A Serious Issue Within the Tree Services Industry

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused mass disruption to everyone’s lives — and the ways they do business. In June 2021, there were a record 10.1 million jobs available and just 9.5 million people unemployed, which seems like the perfect win-win scenario for both employers and job seekers. Some of the reason for the disconnect between workers and prospective employers is that unemployment benefits have been generous during the pandemic, although those expanded benefits ended in September.

Most unemployed were gaining a $300 bonus from the federal government each week on top of their current state benefits, keeping many from hitting the pavements to find other sources of income. Those that do are being very particular about opportunities. And since there are more jobs than people to fill them, it is a job seeker’s market. What does this mean for the tree services industry?

Companies involved in utility vegetation management have seen a boost in market demand for their services, with a 35% increase bringing market earnings to somewhere between $4-$5 billion. While this seems good on the face of it, the fact remains that since earlier this year, there has been a pressing skilled labor shortage affecting these companies. Growing demand for services coupled with a dearth of qualified labor spells difficulties for tree services companies — and the utilities they serve.

What is Contributing to the Tree Services Labor Shortage?

Since competition is elevated, some companies are poaching qualified labor from their colleagues and suppliers, resulting in high turnover rates and an increase in newer, less experienced crew members. Since the job is physically demanding, many are choosing to find work in other industries that are less so.

Employees Move Where the Pay is Better

Investor-owned utilities often pay better than their public cohorts, including smaller and municipal organizations. For this reason, the workforce tends to migrate where the pay is greater.

Many are Retiring

An increase in retiring tree service professionals is putting a dent in the workforce in two ways: First, retiring employees reduce workforce numbers and they take their expertise with them. Secondly, replacing an employee with 20 years of knowledge is difficult, since younger staff require extensive training to get up to speed.

Company Politics and Stability

As with any industry, some tree service companies may have internal issues that make the workplace difficult to navigate — a problem that can result in employees finding work elsewhere. Employees will gravitate toward positions with well-equipped organizations that offer stability and opportunities for advancement and expansion.

Safety Concerns

The utility maintenance profession — and tree service in particular — is physically demanding as well as potentially risky. To keep these concerns at bay for employees, this means tree service organizations must closely follow stringent safety protocols.

How to Reduce the Impact of the Labor Shortage

There are many things organizations that companies that offer tree services and utility maintenance can do to keep their talent pool healthy.

· Understand the needs and challenges of a younger generation and meet their requirements.
· Offer a career rather than a job position.
· Concentrate on the development of skills and experience rather than simple on-the-job training.
· Ownership and empowerment should be offered all the way down to the crew level.
· Tree service requires much skill; Make pay commensurate with this level of skill.
· Reframe the profession as a necessary component that helps preserve the integrity of crucial infrastructure.
· Focus on creating a safe work environment.

At Townsend Tree, we draw motivated, talented staff by offering comprehensive benefits packages that help support our employees and their families and by creating a safe, positive environment. By focusing on ways to improve both professional and personal quality of life standards, we can maintain teams of highly qualified, knowledgeable staff members to serve our client base.

Get Your Tree Service and Line Maintenance Scheduled Now

For utilities, there is no better way to ensure continuity of services than to schedule them in advance according to a specific schedule. In the fall, many tree service companies are overwhelmed with emergency calls due to sudden storms and weather events and these calls often must be prioritized because of potential safety factors. If the company is already understaffed, it can be difficult to manage the emergency work among last-minute calls for routine maintenance. Additionally, unexpected storms and changes in the weather can halt or stall routine vegetation management, contributing to work delays.

However, if you keep your vegetation properly maintained on a strict schedule, even a slight delay in a routine visit should not result in dangerous overgrowth. And if vegetation management companies have a yearly schedule to follow, it becomes simpler for them to allocate the proper staff to take care of both emergency calls and assigned maintenance tasks.

Electrical Utility Budget Planning for 2022

In 2020, there were 22 weather or climate disasters that impacted the United States, each of which cost $1 billion or more in damages. In fact, all told the storms amounted to $95 billion in total damages. There were a record seven tropical cyclone disasters, 13 severe storms, one drought disaster, and one that was attributed to wildfires.

Not only did these disasters destroy infrastructure and cost lives, but they also impacted electrical utilities across the nation. In Texas, for example, the February winter storm was one of the most expensive in history. The historic freeze took down many of the state’s generators, leaving electricity companies to buy the power they needed at exorbitant rates as natural gas prices rose more than 700 percent as the storm continued. One main reason for power outages from this storm was ice build-up on mature trees that impacted power lines.

While Texas lawmakers look at approving billions of dollars in financial relief to electricity and gas markets, utilities elsewhere in the nation are reeling from the ongoing battery of storms and weather disasters. Hurricane Ida has spotlighted problems with Louisiana’s largest grid operator, Entergy Corp., where slow power restoration is a criticism of the energy giant. Ida knocked down trees across its path — from Louisiana to Mississippi and points north — leaving millions without power.

This scenario is being played out across the country and energy providers are seeking to grapple with growing demands. In the meantime, electrical utility budget planning is commencing for 2022 and there are various decisions to be made.

Electrical Utility Budgeting and Planning: Pinpointing and Planning for the Cause of Outages

Fall is the time when most utilities issue their Requests for Proposal for the following year. When budgets are robust, utilities can invest in a robust vegetation management program that can help prevent the kind of devastation the aforementioned storms caused. Not only do utilities have to increase their focus on bolstering infrastructure, but they must keep a keen interest in preserving and maintaining the infrastructure already in place.

This just makes good fiscal sense.

Trees are the Leading Causes of Power Outages

It’s true. And, if a tree falls on a power line, the utility that owns the line is responsible for the damage. And in fact, the National Electrical Safety Code requires utilities to ensure that vegetation — including trees and branches — are pruned, trimmed, or removed to prevent damage to lines that could create a risk of injury.

But Trimming Trees is One of the Least Expensive Ways to Manage Power

Electric utilities want to deliver power as inexpensively as possible. Harry Ng, a project manager for the Electric Power Research Institute, notes that tree trimming and removal is the fastest, easiest, least expensive way for utilities to supply power to customers. A tree management program costs three to 10 times less than burying existing lines.

The results of a good tree trimming and management program are calculable. Kansas City Power and Light manages to get great results in one of the most treed cities in the nation. They began a serious tree trimming program after a major storm in 1985. Using their tree management program, they have achieved a 90 percent reduction in tree-related outages.

Other power companies such as Arkansas Power and Light have doubled their budget for tree trimming, moving from $6-$8 million to $12 million.

Post-Pandemic Cuts Might Keep Electrical Utility Budgets Tight The operative word here is “might.” Since COVID-19, commercial demand for power has declined while the more profitable residential demand is on the rise. There are many issues facing modern utilities, including replacing or bolstering legacy infrastructure and increasing their ability to meet rising demand.

Continuing Tree Management: The Smart Fiscal Choice for Electric Utilities’ 2022 Budget

It’s simple. Even if budgets are tight, the least expensive way to reduce the potential of costly damage and power outages, not to mention reducing the potential for expensive lawsuits, is to create and maintain a robust tree management program.

Just take a look at California’s PG&E, a power company that is facing numerous lawsuits for failing to cut trees that posed a danger in wildfire-prone areas. This utility has experienced several serious issues that were attributable to inadequate vegetation management activities that led to unforeseen outages. Whether or not your budget is tight, a strong tree management program is an essential element of a smart fiscal program for power utilities.

· Keeping trees trimmed is less expensive than buried power lines.
· Trimming trees reduces power outages and associated damages up to 90 percent.
· Managing vegetation reduces the probability of costly lawsuits.

Notably, staying on top of your current tree trimming program is important. If your tree trimming program is allowed to falter, coming back later to take care of more mature vegetation can end up costing you double — or more.