Trees are valuable assets, both for private property owners and the Arlington community. A few tips:
Prune. For the safety and visibility of our sidewalks and streets, private trees and shrubs overhanging public property, the community expects the homeowner to maintain the following clearance guidelines, using proper pruning. This will simultaneously help prevent damage to private plants by reducing breakage and accidental collisions.
- Trees and shrubs that overhang into the street past the curb and lack a clearance height of 10 feet.
- Trees and shrubs obscuring street and traffic signs.
- Trees and shrubs overhanging sidewalks lacking a clearance of 7 feet.
For more information on pruning, visit this guide from the United States Department of Agriculture.
Mulch. Grass competes with the tree for water and nutrients, so use mulch to enrich the soil. Apply organic mulch over tree roots – 2-4 inches deep under the crown. Avoid piling mulch near or around the trunk (no ‘volcano mulching’).
Water. A thorough soaking once a week is much better than frequent but light applications of water. Water should penetrate the top 12-18 inches of soil, covering most of the roots. In dry periods, even mature trees need to be watered.
Remove invasive plants. Keep English ivy and other invasive plants away from trees, which will weaken or die as ivy spreads over the crowns. Even if you keep invasive vines off the trunk, their presence above the roots can damage your tree.
Avoid topping. Topping means cutting off a large number of branches and leaving the stubs. This is an extreme form of pruning that severely damages trees, making them vulnerable to insects and disease. Trees should not be topped, and tree care firms that suggest topping should be avoided. To limit the height or spread of a tree close to buildings or utility lines, engage an ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) Certified Arborist or a Consulting Arborist (American Society of Consulting Arborists).
Consult an arborist. Get objective advice about tree maintenance when it comes to dealing with branches that appear to be dying; fungus growth on the base or trunk; planned construction activities that may encroach on tree roots; excavation for utility lines; and finding a competent tree care company. Consulting Arborists should also recommend competent tree care companies to carry out needed work. Find an ISA Certified Arborist: www.goodtreecare.com. Find a consulting arborist: www.asca-consultants.org.