Connecting Greater Phoenix gardeners with information that helps put xeriscape principles into action.

Bad Staking Practices on Good Trees

Bad Staking Practices Can Wound TreesMy husband has a mad passion for our native desert trees, especially Mesquite and Ironwood.  Because of that, we have landscapers dropping off the trees they remove from their clients’ homes so he can turn them into lumber.

We often get trees that look like this one…and you can see why they were ultimately removed.  See where the homeowner once staked this tree using what looks to be barbed wire?  Of course, it was never removed and the tree grew around it, leaving just these two ends sticking out…and the diseased part of the tree as a result.

The thing is…it’s really not that hard to stake a tree without damaging it.  Just slip some wire through a piece of rubber hose, wrap it around, and tie it off at the stake.  (Old hose, for those of you who still wear them, work well, too!)    Keep in mind that some slippage is good.  The idea is to allow the tree some give so that it learns how to stand up on its own.  And then remove the stakes after a growing season or two.

It’s kind of like putting training wheels on a kid’s bike.  They need to learn how to balance so you don’t want all wheels on the ground at once.  And you want them to ride on their own, not spend five years “training”!  Same with trees…they just wanna learn how to ride!

Next time you see a staked tree, check it out…the ones in parking lots are especially bad.  See how the staking was done and if the tree can stand on its own.  Careful, though…you might start engaging in tree amnesty!


3 Quick Tips for Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Even though I’m a Certified Desert Landscaper, I still take classes to refresh my learning and stay ahead of the latest stuff.  That’s how I landed in a classroom down at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix for a “Pruning Trees & Shrubs” class on Sunday.  From certified arborist John Eisenhower of Integrity Tree Service, we received some great pruning tips:

  1. Select plants carefully.  Planting trees and shrubs where they can freely grow to their mature size will reduce the amount of pruning that you’ll need to do later on.  
  2. Define your pruning goal.  Pruning should be done for safety reasons, to improve the health of the plant, or for aesthetic reasons.  Pruning should not be done when armed with a lopper and sporting a crazy look in your eyes.
  3. Less is more.  As a general rule, no more than 25% of a tree or shrub should be removed during pruning.  A tree trunk with three stubs where branches used to be is…well, it’s just over the top.

But there’s so much more.  Check out the “Pruning Trees and Shrubs” class (and all the classes) at the Desert Botanical Garden.  Even if you don’t intend to do the pruning yourself, you’ll learn enough about pruning to know what to look for and to hire knowledgeable professionals.