Tree tips for landscape pros

October 15, 2020 -  By
Person doing tree maintenance (Photo: Cagwin & Dorward)

Tap an expert Having knowledgable tree care employees on board can help ensure a tree division’s success. (Photo: Cagwin & Dorward)

Tree installation and maintenance is no walk in the park. Landscape professionals must consider several factors before adding a tree care branch to their company.

To get a grasp on tree care, Landscape Management spoke with Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president of U.S. Lawns, which has more than 250 locations nationwide and ranked No. 12 on the 2020 LM150, and Jeff Englehart, owner and department manager of the tree care division of Cagwin & Dorward, a full-service landscape firm in Petaluma, Calif., that brought in $48 million in 2019 revenue and ranked No. 41 on the 2020 LM150 list.

Q: What do landscape professionals need to keep in mind when installing trees?

Jeff Englehart: The location, size, type of tree and water needs. Water is a big issue out here in California. (You must ensure) the tree has the right irrigation and is in the right location.

Mike Fitzpatrick: You want to consider what your goal is. You might be looking for something that blooms or doesn’t bloom, something that’s deciduous or that’s evergreen year-round. You’ve got to know what horticultural zones things will thrive in. If I were to plant the wrong tree in the wrong place, it wouldn’t last one season. If I’ve got a tree that requires a lot of moisture, and I put it in an arid environment without irrigation, it’s not going to survive.

Local nurseries may have a guide, and there are some apps to tell you where certain plants grow best. You need to know what horticultural zone you’re in.

Also, you’re always going to want to make sure you know what the tree is going to be like at maturity. A lot of times, a tree may grow a 10-foot-diameter canopy, and they brush up against a building, or they get too tall.

Q: What types of tree maintenance would you recommend landscape professionals do?

Englehart: It entails keeping it healthy, whether it’s disease and insect control or fertilization. It also entails pruning. A big thing out here, because the properties are smaller in California, they’re more jammed together, and you’ve got trees on top of trees on top of buildings on top of hardscapes. So, there’s a lot of potential root issues and the need to be aware of overplanting.

We also follow International Society of Arborist guidelines. The main thing is you have to have the right person and right team in place that has experience working in the industry. They need to know the right practices to keep trees healthy.

Fitzpatrick: You need to be using proper pruning techniques. We’re always looking to remove branches that have disease or insect infestation.

You’re also going to want to understand the fertility requirements, so they are being properly fed. When trees are mature, they don’t need much, but during their growth phase, they do.

Q: How do you market tree care services to your customers?

Englehart: One of the things we offer companies is that we do everything as one contractor. You have people on-site daily or weekly doing the landscape maintenance and that provides an extra set of eyes on the job. Then, you also have the maintenance guys, installation guys and tree guys all working together, so when we look at somebody’s property, we’re considering everything. It’s not just about the trees or the landscape maintenance or installation; it’s about what’s best for the property and what’s best for the customer’s needs.

A lot of it is also building a reputation and doing a good job over and over again to make sure customers are happy. It was a natural tie-in because our customers all had trees, and we didn’t already offer that service. It’s been going well ever since (we incorporated the tree care division in 1999).

This article is tagged with , and posted in From the Magazine, Mowing+Maintenance, October 2020
Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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