Living with Trees

Living in the South Cowichan Valley, I think we can all agree that this is a beautiful place to call home. From this great location, we have an opportunity to experience some breaktaking views, whether it be Mount Baker, Salt Spring Island, Shawnigan Lake, Baldy or Cobble Hill Mountain or just some plain old blue sky. In this geographical location, with the amount of sunshine and rain that we get, the trees around us love it here too! We can be in control of maintenance of the trees on our own property, but we often wish that we could do something about a limb or tree top or a neighbour’s property. This is just another good reason to have good relations with neighbours.

Fortunately, there is a win-win solution for both you and your neighbour, in terms of tree maintenance.

There are methods to thin the crown (upper live foliage of tree) for views through the trees that will actually improve the health, safety and longevity of trees.

By crown thinning, we mean removing selected branches, including dead twigs and branches, in order to improve light penetration and air movement through the crown.Thinning toward the tips of a branch makes a tree safer because it can reduce the wind sail effect in the crown and relieve the weight of heavy limbs. We all have seen first hand the possible dangerous effects of heavy winds on the trees in the Cowichan Valley! Proper thinning should maintain the structural beauty, retain the tree’s natural shape as well as ensure that the tree is safe in all seasons and weather scenarios.

If you maintain a friendly relationship with your neighbours, it is possible to maintain your views or the amount of sunshine or light on your house and garden. With the right type of maintenance to your trees, everyone can equally enjoy this beautiful part of Vancouver Island, and at the same time, ensure that their trees are healthy and safe.

Did your trees survive winter?

After such a long winter with several snowfalls and a few nasty wind storms, it might be a good idea to assess the damage done to the trees on your property. In doing so, it is wise to look at potential targets (dangers?), paying close attention to power lines, out buildings, parking areas, play areas and of course, all immediate areas surrounding your house. It is always a good idea to identify potential hazards as early as possible, before further structural damage to the trees can occur, which may cause damage to people or property.

Broken branches
Some obvious things to look for are dead or broken branches hanging or hung up in the trees’ canopy. These have to be safely removed because they could fall unexpectedly and hurt people or damage surrounding trees or buildings.

Crack in stems
Other observable signs of danger to look for are cracks or splits in the main stem or in the area where two or more stems are joining. These have to be taken care of to minimize potential damage to the tree and surroundings.

Change in the shape
Has one of your trees lost its roundedness or common shape? If so, it might represent an internal problem in the tree, a potentially dangerous situation that needs attending to.

Decay or fungi
Can you see conks or fruiting bodies attached to the bark or outside of your trees? This might be an indication of decay of fungi inside the tree.

An open wound or cavity in your tree may be the starting point of decay. Also, dead branches may contain decay, which can spread into the tree.

Cracks in the soil
Cracks or separations in the soil around the base of the tree might be signs that the roots are not secure and is a warning sign, especially if the tree is leaning.

One should be aware of any changes to the environment around the trees, i.e., new construction, grade changes, trenching (damaging the roots from digging or changing the water course). All these factors could create potential problems for the health and safety of your trees.

Hopefully, this information can help you identify any potential hazards in your trees that might have been brought about by such a variety of winter weather. It is advisable to spend a bit of time each spring to assess the possible damage that has occurred over the past few months so that you and your family can enjoy a safe and worry-0fee environment to live in.