Archive for the ‘root damage’ Category

Money Grows on Trees

Friday, March 12th, 2010


I never planned to be a “tree man.”  I used to climb trees as a kid, but only looked at them as some kind of jungle gym; not a living, breathing, life supporting entity.  My first knowledge of destructive insects in trees came when my father found some tent caterpillars in our apple tree.  He took a stick, wrapped the end of it with a towel, soaked the towel with gasoline, lit it and the burned the crap out of those caterpillars… as well as many limbs on the trees.  No light went off in my head… no thoughts of this will be my profession someday.  Oh, by the way, the few nests that didn’t burn well, my father tore out of the tree and brought to the street.  There, he poured more gasoline on them and lit them up.  These poor tortured insects wriggled to their death.  It’s no wonder that I was to go through therapy in my twenties.

Now I make a living keeping destructive critters and diseases off client’s trees.  Of course 90% of it is done not by the torch, but be feeding soil microbes that, in turn, recycle nutrients to the roots of the trees and shrubs that we care for.  A well fed, happy tree will actually repel many of the insects and diseases that would seek to harm it.  I kind of fell into this trade because of my discontent of working inside a stuffy, pretentious, back stabbing, apparel showroom in NYC.  I took a 70% pay cut and started working for a nationally known tree service.  My brother-in-law gifted me a money clip (I’ve lost it) that had a tree with money growing on its branches… an omen.

These days, we are pretty darn good at what we do and charge accordingly.  We just did a bid for a billionaire’s property in the Hamptons that priced out over $100,000.  We care for properties of world renowned celebrities and other prominent people and institutions.  Our business is growing, the trees are growing and so is our knowledge… it’s fun.  Who would have thunk that I would end up in the trees viewing life and liberty from a totally unique perspective?  At least I’m saving some caterpillars from a remake of “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Roger Feit

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Soil Geek talks about root damage

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Soil Geek

Just last week I found myself at a clients’ home where several trees had been damaged during a construction project.  As a person that takes care of trees for a living, I have a tendency to think that everybody is aware of how delicate trees are despite their rugged appearance.  This is very rarely the case though.  Interestingly enough, a very reputable landscape firm had been trusted to protect the trees during construction, and were under the impression they had done exactly that.  The homeowner was actually the party that was thinking that there might be damage to these big beautiful trees.  I love clients that love trees, by the way! The representative of the landscape firm (who was comfortable throwing around his credentials) assessed the site with me and was sure there would be minimal damage.

We both (along with the concerned client) looked on as a 10-wheel dump truck, loaded with soil, drove over the roots of two 50+ foot tall trees.  One tree with a trunk not 4 feet away from the tire of the truck that weighed easily in excess of 15 tons.  This was one of a few hundred trips driven over the badly crushed roots of these trees.  I cringed as I watched this knowing it would take a tremendous effort, and a very carefully crafted plan (and some good karma) to save these trees.  My counterpart shrugged it off and said the trees should be fine.  Over 50% of the roots of these trees had been impacted by construction, how could he say that?!  Especially since he holds some of the same credentials I hold!  I couldn’t believe we didn’t see the same thing.

This was only one of several insults trees had been subjected to during this project. Although I love a challenge, it would have been so much better for the trees (and the client) to prep for construction and steward the trees through the project, rather than have to put on my Superman cape and come to the rescue!  Trees are rugged and delicate simultaneously.  This is kind of like football players.  They all have that rough and tumble appearance until they are at the podium announcing retirement.  The delicate side shows up when they are a bit vulnerable.

Paul Wagner….Soil Geek

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