At Mirage Landscaping of Calgary, for over three generations of service to our residential and commercial clients, we have seen many trees and shrubs toppled by wind, snow and severe weather of all kinds. So because we really like trees, we do our best to protect against these circumstances. To keep our commercial and residential clients’ trees standing regardless of what Calgary weather throws at them, we follow three main guidelines.
1. Tree Selection And Planting
There is no question about it, all trees, (and taller shrubs), present a series of trade offs that need to be considered by purchasers. Some species, like oaks (hardwoods), are slow growing and send out deep tapping roots. Others, such as pines (softwoods), grow rapidly but send out wide ranging and shallow roots. Tightly grained hardwoods are more structurally stable then more rapidly growing softwoods are.
There is more to picking a tree or shrub than durability, however. Birches are reasonably tough in their main trunk and major branches, but their lesser branches are notoriously brittle. Some evergreens, such as red cedars, are heartier than is a typical fir tree, so consulting with us about your choices is always a good idea.
Another factor in your tree staying upright in adverse weather is how it is planted. A tree planted in an area that limits the growth of its roots will be structurally compromised compared to one that can establish its root system freely. By the same token, many DIYers make a fundamental mistake when planting young trees with bound root balls. Traditionally, the root balls were bound with burlap, a material that will decay when buried during tree planting, allowing the root system to freely expand. As with many things today, there is a synthetic version of burlap used by more cost conscious nurseries to bound tree transplants. If the tree is planted with this material intact, it will not decay, severely inhibiting the expansion of the root ball, compromising the tree’s base of support. If in doubt, set a burning match to the binder. If the “burlap” melts, it needs to be wholly cut away prior to transplantation.
2. Growth Patterns and Maturity
As common sense would dictate, a very young tree that hasn’t established itself is like a toddler—easy to topple. Species that grow rapidly lend themselves to temporary external support systems – like stakes – while young.
Mature trees in their prime are less susceptible to being knocked down by weather, but you should watch for upper branches budding off from the main trunk at angles 45 degrees or greater, which as they gain weight, are not well suited to withstanding wind, or the added weight of snow or ice for that matter.
Older trees have the benefit of well-developed root systems anchoring them to the ground. Despite this, older trees are also heavier and more susceptible to insect or fungal infestations that compromise the tree’s structural integrity. If you suspect an older tree is dying, you have a potential weather-related time bomb on your property and should get it professionally inspected.
3. The Quality of Upkeep and Pruning
A tree with access to adequate sunshine, nutrients and water will be a tree that establishes itself better than a similar example struggling to survive. A healthy tree in a residential or commercial property is one that is not in constant competition for survival. Also a healthy tree that will stand for decades is one that is not damaged by sloppy mowing or weed whipping practices.
Finally, judicious seasonal pruning is key in two respects. A tree well-shaped by good pruning grows to be weight balanced and structurally sound when mature. As with a vessel under full sail, a tree with a wild canopy catches more wind during storms than one that is trimmed.
Mirage is your one-stop Calgary commercial landscaping resource. Contact us for a free quote.