December 31, 2008

2008 Tree Season in 40 Seconds

Norwegian photographer Eirik Solheim:
...I started shooting images...from the same spot each time, but not through my window. I found a spot outside that gave more or less the same framing each time I placed my camera. So, I went out on our balcony snapping some images at pretty irregular intervals all through 2008 .

One year in 40 seconds from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.

November 7, 2008

Marietta Initiates Long-awaited Tree Planting

The City of Marietta has begun the first phase of its 500 tree planting project. This week alone, 230 trees were installed in the downtown district of the Cobb County seat. Marietta's tree committee, city staff, and some outside experts banded together to determine where the trees would be planted.

The city identified approximately 10 general locations in Marietta that were lacking in adequate canopy cover.

The current plantings are part of a greater master plan the city and community developed two years ago. The master plan targets the main entrance corridors to Marietta, such as the 120 loop where there aren't many existing trees in proximity to the road. The second phase includes installing replacement trees where there are already over-mature trees, such as Church and Cherokee streets, and Kennesaw Avenue.

The city was ready to move forward two years ago, but with the rain deficit and waning water resources Marietta officials decided to wait until the region's rainfall stabilized somewhat. To ensure that supplemental water is available the city will reuse rainwater collected off rooftops of city-owned buildings.

October 30, 2008

Readers Vote Hickory Trees for Best Atlanta Fall Color

Our poll ends with Hickory receiving the most votes for best fall color in Atlanta. Second place is awarded to Sugar maples for their yellow and orange displays. Red maple came in third, noted for its variety of reds, purples, and golds.

October 24, 2008

Fall Linkfest

Stoke up your outdoor experience with these autumnal tree links

Planting is the most rewarding time to plant trees, and these guys agree with me:

• Augusta Chronicle planting article
• Bill Lamson-Scribner of the Charleston Courier - article meanders a bit, just read the last paragraph
• Lee Reisch at the Hickory Record.
• Even the Canadians agree.

Walter Reeves answers a question about planting Japanese maple seeds.

Fall color is soon to reach its peak here in Atlanta, judging from this article at The Franklin Press Online (NC).

October 6, 2008

Tree Maintenance Workshop Announced

The Georgia Arborist Association has announced a new workshop for municipal government staff: Tree Maintenance for Local Governments. The course will be taught by Connie Head of Technical Forestry Services, and is scheduled for Friday, October 24, 2008.

This offering will be for municipal staff only. Topics will include: Tree Biology, Tree Protection, Pruning, Tree Planting, and basic hazard evaluation. Lunch included!


White Oak Park, Dallas GA
9:30 AM to 3:00 PM

Contact the GAA for more information or call 770-749-0444.

October 3, 2008

How to Identify Georgia Trees (What Kind of Tree is THAT?)

Puzzled by the staggering legions of oaks, hickories, and little shrubby things in Atlanta's forests, nature enthusiasts and professional arborists alike have been caught more than once scratching heads and cramping necks in an attempt to identify a favorite tree.

Trees of Georgia and Adjacent States, by Brown and Kirkman, has been helping would-be-dendrologists solve this problem for decades. It is a well researched, crisp tome, that is also easily digested. The book succeeds because it has one major goal: to serve as a resource in identifying the species of native trees and woody plants in Georgia and the Southeastern US.

Special features of the book:

Dichotomous key (although it is worded a bit too concisely)
• Winter key to flowering trees
• Leaf, leaf scar, bud, flower and fruit diagrams
• Color photographs of leaves, flowers, fruit, and bark
• Tree descriptions
• Explanations of the difficulties in specific species recognition (is it Black willow or Coastal plain Willow?)
• Range maps

October 1, 2008

Trees Squelch Bad Odors

New research shows that trees can reduce emissions of dust, ammonia, and odors near poultry farms. In some cases, the emissions were cut by almost half.

The study was presented at the 236th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The report suggests that planting vegetation could reduce ammonia and particulates that degrade air and water quality. Research began in 2000, when residents near poultry farms in Maryland and Virginia complained about nasty odors from chicken houses. The research lead, Dr. George W. Malone of the University of Delaware said "We were aware of the concerns locally. We looked at what we could do to address them and the whole area of air quality as it relates to the emission of ammonia from poultry houses."

Researchers proposed planting trees to serve as a filter. In this six-year study, Malone found that a three-row plot of trees of various species and sizes reduced total dust by 56%, ammonia 53%, and odor 18%.

Not all trees function the same. In the Delaware area, Malone recommends the first row of trees be either a deciduous tree or one with a waxy leaf, and the other two rows be an evergreen.

The trees also improve water quality around farms because they can filter pollutants from soil and groundwater.

American Chemical Society (2008, August 22). Trees Kill Odors And Other Emissions From Poultry Farms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2008, from­/releases/2008/08/080820163010.htm

September 15, 2008

Linkfest - grab bag

I found these links while "Stumbling" today:

ScienceRay posted a quick primer on leaf physiology. The science part is not nearly as interesting as the photography.

As fall approaches, many shade trees begin to produce their mature fruit. Local Ecologist hasn't forgotten the Ginkgo.

Sweet, sweet imagery from John P Sercel.

August 29, 2008

Mountain Park Proposes New Tree Ordinance

Google just sent me this tip, but it looks like the proposed tree ordinance for the City of Mountain Park was posted way back in April 2008. Mountain Park has an html version on their website.

Reading through the ordinance text it appears that the criteria for specimen trees is based on the City of Alpharetta's tree ordinance.

The proposed ordinance requires that a minimum tree density be retained on residential sites following tree removal activities. Density minimums are an un-grandfathered 400 inches per acre. I also found an unusual component stating that it is a violation to "Attach any sign, notice or other object to any tree or fasten any wires, cables, nails or screws to any tree in a manner that could prove harmful to the tree, except as necessary in conjunction with activities in the public interest."

The penalties section is interesting too. Illegal removal of, or damage to, specimen trees requires replacement equal to five times the value in inches.

August 26, 2008

President Carter's Home Damaged by Tree

Wind and rain related to Tropical Storm Fay may have contributed to the failure of a large oak that crashed into the Plains home of former President Jimmy Carter. The incident occurred Saturday night.

Carter's son, Jeff, told the AJC that the tree fell into the house just above the living room. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were at home at the time. No personal injuries were reported.

August 20, 2008

Webs in Tree - Its Time For Fall Webworms

I'm getting reports from farther south that fall webworms are active in their favorite trees: Pecans.

Hyphantria cunea is not particularly damaging to trees, but the webs are considered unsightly in the landscape. The insect is a leaf-feeder and does not directly injur other parts of the host plant. I don't recommend any treatment. By the time the webs are noticed, the caterpillars probably have had their fill of leaves.

Other trees considered delicious are persimmon, black cherry, Yoshino cherry, sourwood, sweetgum, willow, and red mulberry.

August 8, 2008

Linkfest - big trees

Today's links fall under the category of largest mass - whatever that means.

• ScienceRay posts 11 More Spectacular Trees From Around the World. The last tree on the page he names the "Square Knot Tree," but it's actually a Granny knot.

• The California Register of Big Trees is a chart with factual information about individual specimens growing on the left coast.

• Similar to the above link, American Forests publishes a national register of big trees.

• Georgia has its own registry, but there are no photographs online.

Big Trees Forest Preserve is located in Sandy Springs, Georgia. It does in fact have big trees, but they aren't the largest.

July 27, 2008

Top 10 Trees - Know Them or Suffer

The late Dr. Shigo once professed to me "If you want to be an expert, find the 10 most common trees that grow in your region and get to know them. Really, really, get to know them." Being a smart-aleck I asked him if this was some kind of contest or something. Having no sense of humor for my shenanigans, Dr. Shigo explained that I should make a list of the most common trees on my customer's properties and get to work at discovering what makes these trees tick.

So here is my top 10 for the Atlanta region:
  1. Tulip poplar

  2. Sweetgum

  3. Water oak

  4. Willow oak

  5. White oak

  6. Southern red oak

  7. Post oak

  8. Red maple

  9. Flowering dogwood

  10. Loblolly pine

What trees would you add to the list? What trees would you subtract?

July 18, 2008

Live Oak - a forgotten Atlanta landscape tree

Though it is the colossus that shades the streets of Savannah and is the state tree of Georgia, the Live oak Quercus virginiana continues to be overlooked as a potential landscape or specimen tree in Atlanta. Live oaks embody many of the sentimental qualities that are often associated with a southern oak: expansive, rich with character, and hauntingly lyrical with tales to tell of children and families meeting beneath the shadow if its weathered limbs.

Its popular detraction is also its greatest asset. Slow growing, but conservative.

Yet given the right conditions of bright sunlight, moisture, and well-drained soil, this tree is moderately, even fast-growing, in youth. Over time, this tree can outperform and outlive some of the more cosmopolitan oaks such as Willow oak and the newest urban dweller Nuttall oak.

It is a recommended southern landscape tree by Michael Dirr.

July 14, 2008

And the winner is... (Guess the Tree's Age contest)

Congratulations to Nonot, who's estimate came the closest in May's contest. The Scarlet oak, located just a few miles north of Atlanta, is 42 years old this year.

Here is the story of the tree, as told by the woman standing next to the oak:

When Fulton County installed the sewer line my children told me to come down and look at the creek where they cut down all the trees. When I walked down there I saw this tree that had been pushed over but the bark wasn't skinned off of it so I dug it up and brought it home and planted it and the other one over there.

My neighbors made fun of me and wanted to know why I planted a switch in my front yard. When I planted it, I could reach around it with my thumb and finger like this: [overlapped at first knuckles]

So we estimated the tree was about 3 years old when she planted it. That was 39 years ago!

tim the shrubber came close, with his guess of 39 years old, which is the age when it was planted. Randy gets special mention for several stabs, but never really making an exact guess...and 'anonymous' and 'Steve Pettis' were the closest in accuracy.

Thanks for playing!

July 7, 2008

Some Tree Species are Exempt in Atlanta Tree Ordinance

Here is a neat little Atlanta Tree Ordinance hack of which you may not be aware.

Most people know, to remove any healthy tree 6 inches or greater in diameter requires cash recompense be paid to the city (or tree replacement), along with a city-approved tree removal permit. Fewer people know that the minimum size for pines is 12 inches in diameter. But what most residents don't know is that there are several tree species that are considered so heinous, so undesirable, so horrid...that they do not require paid recompense, replacement or posting.

And they are:

• Mimosa Albizia julibrissin
• Tree of heaven Ailanthus altissima
• White mulberry Morus alba
• Paper mulberry Broussonetia papyrifera
• Chinaberry Melia azederach
• Princess tree Paulownia tomentosa
• Carolina cherry laurel Prunus caroliniana
• Bradford Pear Pyrus calleryana
• Leyland cypress Cupressocyparis leylandii -x

In addition, if any of these species are over 12 inches in diameter, they are still exempt as long as the subject property meets the required tree coverage for its respective zoning class. If there is not enough canopy coverage, the permit applicant must replace enough tree coverage to satisfy the zoning requirements.

June 20, 2008

Quick Links for Tree Aficionados

I couldn't pass this link without sharing it with my readership. Its certainly not definitive, but fun nonetheless.

Magnificent Trees of the World

If you like wallpapers and trees, but haven't been able to reconcile the two, try nature wallpapers.

June 13, 2008

ScienceNews Erroneously Reports Germination of a 2000 Year Old Tree Seed reported on Thursday that Israeli botanists helped Bar-Ilan University germinate a 2,000 year old date palm seed. The seed was part of an archeological collection, discovered when excavations in the ’60s uncovered five date pits in the Dead Sea region of Israel at Masada. The age of the seed was theorized through calibrated radiocarbon dating.

The erroneous reporting came through the term "tree" and "sapling," when ScienceNews incorrectly classified the ancient plant as a tree. Palms are not trees. They are monocots, being more closely related to a grass. Totally different.

Full story...

Storms Cause Scattered Tree Damage

Trees came down across several roads in the spotty Wednesday night storms across Atlanta metro. Although lightning was the cause of several power outages and an apartment fire, WXIA reported two arboreral incidents: a tree along Beckwith Street near the Atlanta University Center fell and landed on a car, and a huge tree limb near Glenwood Avenue came down and blocked the street.

Neither tree was a pine, of course. How is that possible?

June 7, 2008

Tree Reading for this Week

Here is a great article about Greg McPherson, a project leader for the USDA Forest Service. It discusses Greg's recent experiences in urban tree research. Climate change ranting is kept to a minimum. Some of the highlights:

- Greg's research relies on systematic cost-benefit models [Persuasive!].
- Planting tree varieties that require little irrigation will generate benefits many times the initial investment.
- Tree planting efforts should not focus on the number of trees, as this can lead to putting trees in the wrong place. Maximally functional canopy is much more important.

He also reveals some of the more practical benefits of urban tree planting, in addition to the usual ho-hum carbon sequestration and property value figures. Read the full story...PDF

The Greening of America
This Washington Post article investigates the difficulties of finding planting spots for trees in dense urban areas. Full story...

On the flip side
There are well-researched methodologies for uncovering the potential spots for reforestation in urban areas. The paper...PDF

June 4, 2008

Blueberries are ready for picking. NOW.

The weather has been sweetly perfect for berries this year, and Tree News just received a tip. The Thoms family farm in Griffin is ready to unleash blueberry mania. We found the big, plump, early berries that everyone craves. The prices are the same as last year: you pick a gallon for $10.00. The place is the same, also: 175 Chappell Mill Rd Griffin, GA. Betsy Thoms recommends that you call 770-461-6013 for updates on blueberry availability.

This week they will be open for picking: June 9th Monday 6-8 pm; June 11 Wed. 9-11 am; June 12 Thursday 6-8 pm; June 14 Saturday 9-11 am.

Pass this information on to your friends and family, web pages, and any where else that you think folks might like non-chemically altered, fresh blueberries.

Remember these freeze well and easily. Don’t pre-wash the berries. Just put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer long enough to freeze the berries individually, then put them in freezer bags. You will be able to enjoy the berries all year.

We look forward to seeing you on the Thoms family farm!

May 27, 2008

Plants and Groundcovers for Shade

Trees making it difficult to plant grass? Join the club. A love affair with big shady trees makes it frustrating to find sharp-looking plants and groundcovers that will thrive in the shade. It is one of the most often asked questions that my customers ask.

Try these on for, size:

• Southern shield fern Dryopteris ludoviciana
This deciduous native fern is tall -- it grows up to 4 feet with 1-foot wide fronds. This fern will tolerate more sun than most ferns, if moisture levels are adequate. Cut it back in August. Also known as a wood fern or Southern maiden fern.

• Spreading sword fern Nephrolepis cordifolia
Great ground cover for moist shade. Grows into spreading masses.

• Crested iris Iris cristata
A spreading evergreen that has pale flowers in spring, and of course, loves shade.

• Walking iris Neomarica gracilis
Prefers good morning sun with afternoon shade. Produces white blooms with yellow, blue and brown markings.

• Pigeonberry Rivina humilis
Produces small flowers and red berries. Good for growing under trees and tall shrubs. Likes moist, productive, and well-drained soil. Not good in droughts (oh well).

• "Katie's compact" ruellia Ruellia brittoniana "Katie's compact"
A top choice. Forms clumps with dark green foliage, and has purple flowers. Not particularly cold-hardy but will come back.

• Australian violet Viola hederacea
Evergreen and spreading. What else do you need?

• Creeping jenny Lysimachia nummularia
Especially good for areas that stay rather wet. Good for sun or shade. Has yellow flowers in summer.

• Ajuga Ajuga reptans
Fast growing and has dark blue flower stalks. Will grow in deep shade but requires decent drainage.

Not a comprehensive list, by any stretch. If you have a suggestion, share it with us by commenting below.
Special thanks to Landa Gay, from the Houston Chronicle and

May 15, 2008

GAA Announces "Hands-On" Ground Worker Training

The Georgia Arborist Association is continuing their vision for high-quality training for the tree care industry. This particular seminar is designed for participation, meaning that a number of activities will actively engage each person in “doing” as opposed to “watching.”

The targeted number of instructors for each learning station is 2, creating a 5:1 instructor/student ratio. A Spanish translator will be available for each group of 10 Spanish speaking participants. A brief written test at the end of the seminar and certificates of completion will be awarded each participant. These subjects will be offered:

1. Electrical Hazards
2. Ground Safety
3. Ground Operations
4. Hazard Assessment
5. Knot Tying
6. Throw Line

Six I.S.A. Continuing Education Credits will be offered

Office: (770) 554-3735
Fax: (770) 554-2022

Saturday, May 31, 2008 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

United Methodist Children’s Home
500 S. Columbia Drive
Decatur, GA 30030

May 13, 2008

City of Milton Passes Tree Ordinance Resolution

On May 6 the Milton City Council gave a nod to a future revision of the current Tree Conservation Ordinance.

When the City of Milton incorporated in late 2006, it adopted the Fulton County Tree Conservation Ordinance which was used in the area prior to the City's formation. Now, as the new city is maturing, council has approved a resolution to establish a citizens' participation group to revise or create a new Milton Tree Preservation Ordinance. The city of Sandy Springs, incorporated a year prior to Milton, successfully implemented a whole new ordinance in early 2007.

When a community decides to adopt a new or revised tree ordinance in Georgia, the creation of a citizen's participation group or task force is a common procedure in Georgia.

May 7, 2008

Guess the Tree's Age and Win!

MikeB over at RegularDad gave me a great idea for this month's contest.

Can you correctly pin this tree's age?

Here is what you need to know:
• The tree is in the Red oak family, most likely a naturalized Scarlet oak hybrid.
• It is growing in the Atlanta area.
• The photographs were taken last week.

Make your guess by post a comment below. The person who comes the closest will receive a winner's link, with anchor text, to their blog or website of choice. Multiple winners are possible, so get at it!

May 6, 2008

Reader Speaks Out

Today I was talking to Harefoot, a daily reader of Tree News. He was commenting on how much he enjoyed reading the articles, but he had one concern.

This is how the conversation went:

"I check your blog every day, but I've been a bit bored with it lately."

Really? Do you want more content...more posts...maybe another Tree Care Handbook?

"No. I'm bored from that insipid map of Atlanta quadrants."

Now it is true that the Arborist Quadrant Map does not exactly meet the quality control guidelines of Tree News. It is also true that this graphic element is a bit too dry for us drought-weary Georgians. But the map does clearly and succinctly illustrate the bold numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Understand that Harefoot does not live in Atlanta and does not fully appreciate how exciting the organizational structure of the City Arborist Quadrants can be. So I politley laughed, gave an accepting nod, and quickly changed the subject.

April 22, 2008

City of Atlanta Updates its City Arborist List

The Arborist Division of the Atlanta City Government regularly updates a list of their city Arborists. There are four municipal field personnel, each responsible for a quadrant. They are:

Area 1: Tom Coffin 404.330.6077
Area 2: Janell Bazile 404.330.6071
Area 3: Paul Lewkowicz 404.330.6882
Area 4: Michael Franklin 404.330.6079

For final inspections, contact Stanley Domengeaux 404.546.1047

The Arborist Division is esponsible for reviewing and approving all building permits and tree removal plans.

April 18, 2008

How To Measure the Height of a Tree

On September 7, 2006 the San Francisco Chronicle reported that researchers had just discovered a 378 foot (113 meters) tall tree that is probably the world's tallest living tree. If you think you can find a tree that can break that record, or just want to measure that tree in your backyard, try these techniques. These methods can also give you a good approximation of the heights not only of trees, but also of telephone poles, buildings, magic beanstalks—pretty much anything tall.


Shadow Method

  1. Know your exact height in the shoes you will be wearing to perform this method.
  2. Stand next to the tree or the object to be measured. For best results, do this method on a bright, sunny day. If the sky is overcast, it may be difficult to tell exactly where the shadow’s tip is
  3. Measure the length of your shadow. Use a tape measure or yardstick (meter ruler) to measure your shadow from your feet to the tip of your shadow. If you don’t have someone to assist you, you can mark the end of the shadow by tossing a rock onto it while you’re standing. Or better yet, place the rock anywhere on the ground, and then position yourself so the tip of your shadow is at the rock; then measure from where you're standing to the rock.
  4. Measure the length of the tree’s shadow. Use your measuring tape to determine the length of the tree’s shadow from the base of the tree to the tip of the shadow. This works best if the ground all along the shadow is fairly level; if the tree is on a slope, for example, your measurement won’t be very accurate. You want to do this as quickly as possible after measuring your shadow, since the sun’s position in the sky (and hence the shadow length) is slowly but constantly changing. If you have an assistant, you can hold one end of the measuring tape while he or she measures the tree’s shadow, and then you can immediately measure your shadow.
  5. Calculate the tree’s height by using the proportion of your shadow’s length to your height. Since you know the length of the tree’s shadow, and you also know that a certain height (your height) produces a certain shadow length (the length of your shadow), you can determine the tree’s height with a little math. Multiply the length of the tree’s shadow by your height, and then divide the resulting number by the length of your shadow. For example, if you are 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall, your shadow is 8 feet (2.4 meters) long, and the tree’s shadow is 100 feet (30.48 meters) long, the height of the tree is (100 x 5) / 8 = 62.5 feet (30.48 x 1.5 meters) / 2.4 meters. Note that the order of your multiplication does not matter.

Pencil Method: Requires an Assistant

  1. Stand far enough from the tree so you can view the whole tree—top to bottom—without moving your head. For the most accurate measurement, you should stand so that you are on a piece of ground that is about level with the ground at the tree’s base. Your view of the tree should be as unobstructed as possible.
  2. Have a friend stand near the tree.
  3. Hold a pencil or a small, straight stick (such as a paint stick or ruler) in one hand and stretch your arm out so that the pencil is at arm’s length in front of you (between you and the tree).
  4. Close one eye and adjust the pencil up or down so that you can sight the very top of the tree at the top of the pencil. This is easiest if you turn the pencil so that the sharpened point is pointing straight up. The tip of the pencil should thus just cover the top of the tree in your line of sight as you look at the tree “through” the pencil.
  5. Move your thumb up or down the pencil so that the tip of your thumbnail is aligned with the tree’s base. While holding the pencil in position so that the tip is aligned with the tree’s top (as in step 3), move your thumb to the point on the pencil that covers the point (again, as you look “through” the pencil with one eye) where the tree meets the ground.
  6. Rotate your arm so that the pencil is horizontal (parallel to the ground). Keep your arm held straight out, and make sure your thumbnail is still aligned with the tree’s base.
  7. Have your friend move so that you can sight his or her feet “through” the point of your pencil. That is, your friend’s feet should be aligned with the pencil’s tip. He or she may need to move backward, sideways, or diagonally. Since, depending on the height of the tree, you may need to be some distance away from your friend, consider using hand signals (with the hand that is not holding the pencil) to tell him or her to go farther, come closer, or move to the left or right.
  8. Measure the distance between your friend and the tree. Have your friend remain in the place or mark the spot with a stick or rock. Then use a measuring tape to measure the straight-line distance between that spot and the base of the tree. If you don’t have a measuring tape you can pace out the distance, although this will not be as accurate. The distance between your friend and the tree is the height of the tree.

Angle of Elevation Method

  1. Measure the distance to a sighting position. Stand with your back to the tree and walk out to a point that is approximately level with the ground at the tree’s base and from which you can clearly see the tree’s top. Walk in a straight line, and use a measuring tape to measure your distance from the tree. You need not stand any set distance from the tree, but this method generally works best if your distance from the tree is about 1-1.5 times the height of the tree.
  2. Measure the angle of elevation to the tree’s top. Sight the top of the tree and use a clinometer or transit to measure the "angle of elevation" between the tree and the ground. The angle of elevation is the angle formed between two lines—the flat plane of the ground and your sightline, to some elevated point (in this case, the tree’s top) — with you as the vertex of the angle.
  3. Find the tangent of the angle of elevation. You can find the tangent of an angle using a calculator or table of trigonometric functions. The method for finding the tangent may differ depending on your calculator, but usually you just push the “TAN” button, enter the angle, and then press the “equal” button (=). Thus if the angle of elevation is 60 degrees, you simply push “TAN” and then enter “60” and then press the equal sign.
  4. Multiply your distance from the tree (measured in step 1), by the tangent of the angle of elevation. The resulting number is the height of the tree minus your height.
  5. Add your height to the height you calculated in the previous step. Now you have the height of the tree. You need to add your height because you measured the angle of elevation from eye level, not from the ground.

Fixed Angle of Elevation Method

  1. Fold a square piece of paper in half so that it forms a triangle. The triangle will have one right (90 degree) angle and two 45 degree angles.
  2. Hold the triangle near one eye so that the right angle faces away from you and one side is horizontal (parallel to the ground, assuming the ground is level).
  3. Move back from the tree until you can sight the top of the tree at the top tip of the triangle. Close one eye to sight the tree’s top. You want to find the point where your line of sight follows the hypotenuse of the triangle to the very top of the tree.
  4. Mark this spot and measure the distance from it to the base of the tree. This distance, plus your height(because you used the angle of elevation from eye level, not from the ground)is also the height of the tree. This works because the angle of elevation using your triangle is 45 degrees, and the tangent of 45 degrees = 1.


  • Realize that many times using DBH (diameter at breast height) is a more useful and much easier way of assessing a tree's size and age.
  • For increased accuracy using the shadow method you can measure the shadow cast by a yardstick or similar straight stick of known height instead of a person’s height. Depending on how you are standing, your height may vary (i.e., if you are slouching or tilting your head slightly).
  • You can improve the accuracy of the pencil method and the angle of elevation methods by taking several measurements from different points around the tree.
  • Be consistent with your units of measurement (multiply and divide feet by feet or inches by inches, for example.)
  • Clinometers and transits are tools which allow you to measure the angle between a horizontal plane and the object you are looking at (the transit, in particular, also is used to measure angles between vertical planes). You want to measure the angle between the ground and the tree’s top, but the clinometer or transit will measure the angle between the horizontal plane at your eye level (since you look through the instrument), and this is why you need to add your height to the calculation. Some clinometers and transits, however, allow you to adjust for your eye height. If you have already adjusted for your height do not add your height at the end of the calculation.
  • Many trees are not perfectly vertical—they don’t grow straight up. Using the angle of elevation methods you can adjust for an angled tree by measuring the distance between you and the point on the ground that lies directly below the tree’s top, rather than measuring the distance between you and the base of the tree.
  • You can make a simple clinometer very easily using a protractor. Check out the related wikiHow for instructions.
  • This can be a fun activity for 4th to 7th grade kids.

Things to Consider

  • These methods do not work well if the tree is on sloping ground.
  • While the angle of elevation methods, if used correctly, can calculate the correct height within 2-3 feet, there is abundant opportunity for human error, especially if the tree is angled or on a slope. If precision is absolutely necessary, consult your local extension service or other such agency for assistance.

Things You'll Need

  • A friend (optional for three of the methods, but a little help makes the process easier and more fun)
  • A pencil or ruler
  • A tape measure or yardstick/ meter ruler
  • A clinometer or square piece of paper

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Measure the Height of a Tree. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

April 9, 2008

Amazing Flowering Dogwood Tree is Now Historic

Think you've seen some awesome Dogwoods? Try this one out. Athens, Georgia is home to a monster Cornus.

I first saw this specimen in 1996, when I was touring the Hospital grounds in preparation for some tree pruning. I remember thinking that it should be on some kind of "Big Tree List" or something, but I was too preoccupied (lazy) to do anything about it.

The Georgia Urban Forestry Council inducted the tree into its own Historic Tree Register this year. It is located directly beside Prince Avenue at Athens Regional Medical Center. It measures 24" inches in diameter at the base and it is in perfect condition. Next to the tree is a plaque noting its date of planting as 1951, by Charles L. Pope. The majority of the residents regard this tree as one of the largest Dogwood trees in the state of Georgia.

If you would like to write the tree a letter, its address is 1199 Prince Avenue, Athens GA. Or you can just take a trip and see it at Athens Regional Medical Center. Please observe regular visiting hours.

April 3, 2008

Tree Care Handbook Vol. 1, Flowering Dogwood

Onebark Consulting Arborist has announced the pre-release of the Tree Care Handbook, Volume 1, first of a series of free technical manuals on the care of specific tree species. This particular release covers crucial instruction for the care of the Flowering dogwood Cornus florida.

How is this handbook different from other related articles? The Tree Care Handbook series contains aggregate information from treatises, US government publications, and forestry texts; and most importantly, draws upon the profound knowledge of experienced professional tree care practitioners.

The handbook series is designed to:
Weed out erroneous and generic advice from the art of tree care
Highlight best management practices for trees
Promote strong links between online tree care sources

Please come back and comment here after downloading the handbook. Feedback regarding the handbooks will be considered for future volume releases.

Download Tree Care Handbook Vol.1, Flowering Dogwood.

March 31, 2008

Bare Root Trees Are Easier Than You Think

Planting bare root trees is a fun and economical way to have lush green trees on your property without the higher cost of purchasing established trees. Although it is not difficult to do, it is important to keep in mind some specific guidelines in order maximize your chances for success. By following these easy steps, you can turn your brown thumb into a green thumb in no time.


  1. Carefully unpack the bare root tree from the container or material it came in. Be careful not to damage any of the roots during the unpacking process.
  2. Set the tree into a bucket filled with water. Allow the tree to soak for 4-6 hours prior to planting. This will allow the roots of the tree to soak up water and not dry out during the initial shock of planting.
  3. Dig a hole slightly larger than the diameter and depth of the tree and soil width. For example, if the tree roots and soil are 50 cm /19.6" wide, dig a hole 60 cm /23.6" wide to allow for maximum root spread.
  4. Check to be sure there are no large weed roots in the hole you have dug. If these are left there, they will compete with the new tree and might restrict its growth.
  5. Plant the tree so that where the roots meet the base of the tree. This is known as the "root collar" and it should be level with the ground. Placing dirt around the tree trunk above the root ball will cause the tree to grow in a way that will make it likely to fall over prematurely.
  6. Shovel the remaining dirt from the container. Add more if necessary into the hole, taking care to pack the soil firmly around the tree.
  7. Build a water basin around the outside of the tree. Give the tree plenty of water.
  8. Add a mulch area of a metre /5.4 yards wide and 5 cm / 1.9" deep around the tree base. Be sure not to let the mulch touch the tree itself.
  9. Water the tree again and again. Water it every two weeks, throughout its first summer.
  10. Stake large trees. If the tree is fairly large, it will need to be staked for a year. Hammer a metre-long (39") stake into the ground before planting the tree, at a 45 degree angle and for three quarters of its length, in a position so that the top of the stake is above where the tree is being planted. Then tie the tree stem to the stake with a rubber tree tie.
  11. Remove the stake after a year. After one year, the tree should be securely rooted, and the stake will hinder the tree's future growth. Remove the rubber tree tie, and saw off the stake at soil level. Be careful not to injure the young tree accidentally with the saw.


  • Try to gently loosen the roots of the tree a little bit before planting the tree. Roots that are constricted do not grow as well and are not able to provide as much water to the tree, something that is critical especially during the critical time the tree is first planted.


  • Be sure not to wait more than a day or two to put a bare root tree into the ground after purchase. If the bare root tree is not planted in time, there is a chance it can dry out the roots and kill the tree. If you can't plant it right away, cover the roots fully with wet sand or soil as a temporary measure.

Things You'll Need

  • A shovel
  • Some mulch
  • A watering can or hose
  • Soil
  • A bucket

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Plant a Bare Root Tree. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

March 27, 2008

Cherry Trees in Atlanta Make a Superior Showing

After a dry and dull 2007, it looks as if this year's growing season is commencing with a grand fireworks display. Yoshino Cherry trees are blooming in one of the fullest and consistent displays in recent memory. Just about any asian cherry cultivar or hybrid is glaringly obvious right now. Even the sides of normally drab highway buffers are sprinkled with lavender and nearly-white flowers.

The Yoshino Cherry is the famous tree species in Washington DC, common on US Capitol grounds and around the Library of Congress. In 1909 and again in 1912, the city of Tokyo sent thousands of Japanese cherries to Washington. It is known as Somei-yoshino in Japan, a hybrid of unknown origin that was first introduced in Tokyo in 1872.

Atlanta blogger Judi has a weeping cherry ornamental that is in the spirit too.

March 23, 2008

Pine Tree Looses Needles Early; An Apparent Impostor

In the late 1990's, upscale neighborhoods in the urban center of Atlanta began to treat their cell towers to a bit of camouflage. Imitation needles and branches were affixed to lifeless metal poles. One of the first towers to become 'green' was located at near the intersection of Briarcliff and North Druid Hills Roads. So realistic were the well fashioned duds, that commuters exclaimed that they never realized that such a big Pine tree sprouted up behind the Burger King.

Now, almost 10 years later, it appears that the tree has dropped its drawers prematurely. Exposed for the sham that it is, this is one Pine that now needs a little dressing up again. Or have the Pine beetles become just a bit too aggressive?

March 21, 2008

White Blooms in Atlanta

For those searching for information on white blooming trees in Atlanta, there are several showy woody plants that are flowering right now:
Bradford pear trees are finishing, and now starting to push their leaves.
Wild pears are still flowering.
Dogwood trees are beginning to open up their flower buds, but this will take at least two weeks to get going
Star magnolias are finishing up.
White flowering cherry trees are just starting to open their flower buds.

March 15, 2008

Tornado Appears, Damages Trees, and Leaves

A tornado touched down in downtown Atlanta, sometime between 9:30 and 10 PM, Friday night. As the city's residents go outside this morning to examine what happened, they may find that their beloved trees have been damaged or even toppled. So far the blogs and news sources are reporting that many trees came down onto houses and cars.

Like the tornado of 1998, north of Atlanta in Dunwoody, trees will need to be cleared from roads and taken off houses over the next few weeks. Many more trees, that are still standing, have suffered partial or non-catastrophic damage. All tree owners should take the time over the next week to examine their trees for the following:
- A new, or aggravated, lean
- Broken, hanging branches teetering in the tree canopy
- Large cracked limbs still attached to the trunk
- Broken roots near the soil surface
- Heaving or mounding soil near the base of the tree

If there is any question as to whether these failures are hazardous, a qualified tree risk assessor should be contacted to inspect the storm damage. Most practicing certified arborists can make a good call in these cases. Tree consultants at Onebark specialize in storm damage assessments. Member companies of the Georgia Arborist Association are a good resource for tree restoration services.

Trees that pose an imminent danger to people and essential property are always a priority for cleanup, and most tree services will be concentrating on making things safe, rather than cleaning up messes. Tree services have many customers that rely on them in emergencies. Those who have debris in their yard or that need branches pruned over low-use areas will usually be low on the priority list. If you have low-priority tree damage, be patient! It will all get cleaned up soon.

March 9, 2008

Pear Tree, Part 1

My son and I have been watching a Kieffer Pear tree around the 'hood. In a previous article I mentioned that this tree was to be our subject of study this year. The tree's buds have erupted.

The sepals and flower petals are clearly visible.

A few young leaves can be seen as well.

The creamy white color of the petals will develop within the next few days.

March 7, 2008

Greenspade Shovels Up Some Unique Information

Greenspade, a horticultural and tree blog, deserves a look. Although the author is not local, Atlanta tree enthusiasts will find the site interesting. The author, Chris Welch, puts a new twist on blog presentation by organizing article titles as horticultural definitions. If my explanation leaves you puzzled, then visit Greenspade and check out the format. The photography is very good. Graphic elements are pleasing.

Chris is an ISA Certified Arborist and urban horticulturalist.

March 6, 2008

Trees Fall, Drought Blamed Yet Again

The flurry of storm activity over the past week has focused attention on big trees - especially the trees that have fallen. News outlets have produced a stream of reports mentioning the damage caused by tree failures. The AJC, WDUN, The West Georgian, WXIA, and WGCL, all ran mainstream stories just in the past few days.

Because the drought is still in people's minds, it has become a catchall scapegoat for a number of tree-related problems. It is easy for people to grasp for a connection between drought stress and trees falling, but it is somewhat rash to do so without fully analyzing each case. Catastrophic tree failure is an event that involves the interaction of forces upon a very complex tree system. There are few resources and tools available to diagnose drought-related failures.

Of the catastrophic failures that I have recently observed in Atlanta, drought has not been the primary or secondary cause. Rather, each case involved serious structural problems such as decay. These problems predated the drought by many years.

Quick diagnoses of 'drought stress' will only confuse homeowners and could lead to poor and expensive decisions. Comprehensive evaluation of large trees is recommended prior to removal, and only by a person fully qualified in tree risk assessment. Hopefully, mass tree removal will not become the solution of choice.

February 19, 2008

February is a Time to Teach

This year, I have decided to teach my son the complete seasonal cycle of a tree. I picked a fruit tree for the following reasons:

- Fruit trees bloom early
- They set a tangible, recognizable fruit
- The qualities of the tree will stimulate the senses: smell, taste, touch

The victim, er uh, subject, is a lone Kieffer Pear at the bottom of a short road embankment near our neighborhood. The tree is in the street right-of-way, making the pear a 'public' tree. We don't want to be trespassing, now, do we? Since we roll by the tree regularly on both walks and drives, my son and I will be able to monitor the tree as it blooms, breaks leaves, produces fruit, and turns color. The grand climax, of course, will be picking some pears and feasting on the fruits of the tree's labor.

Creating an extended relationship between a student and his subject of study is one of the most effective and exciting teaching methods. It is far better than the typical institutional model, where a kid's exposure to outdoor plants and trees consists of a few crammed field trips to an urban nature center.

February 12, 2008

Tree Climbing Championship Draws Near

Registration for the 11th Annual 2008 Georgia Arborist Association Tree Climbing Championship is filling up fast. The event, to be held Saturday, March 1, is at:
The United Methodist Children’s Home
500 South Columbia Drive
Decatur, GA 30030
As always, admission to the event is free and the public is encouraged to come and experience the thrill of competitive tree climbing. These types of events are a great way to see the skill and professionalism required in tree work.

There will be sponsors and prizes for the event. Companies such as Vermeer, Premier Tree Care, Davey, Bartlett, Stihl, American Chainsaw, Rayfield Tree Care, Bishop co., and Baileys have either donated resources or have offered valable prizes to the contestants. Anyone interested in sponsoring or donating can do so online at the GAA website.

Much preparation of the event site is required. Trees need to be pruned, blocks set in trees, ropes run, and competition areas delineated. Anyone interested to volunteer for the Site Prep Day should block out time on February 23.

Potential competitors, sponsors, and volunteers can register online.

Questions or concerns about the events and activities, can contact Executive Director Donna Rayfield at 770-554-3735.

February 8, 2008

Trees Recommended for Screening

Erica Glasener is recommending the perfect trees for screening in the Atlanta area. As homes get larger and lot sizes seem to shrink, there is less space between houses to plant. Glasener, writing in an article published today in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, recommends some unusual exciting varieties and some old favorites that will work in small and medium-sized landscapes. Her hot list of trees includes:
'Little Gem' Magnolia
'Bright N Tight' Cherry laurel
Hinoki cypress
Italian cypress

For smaller, narrow spaces, Glasener recommends:
'Stricta' Norway spruce
'Sky Rocket' Rocky Mountain juniper
'Fastigia' Japanese plum yew
'Sky Pencil' Holly
Bamboo planted in large pots (to avoid spreading)

Deciduous trees are often forgotten. Varieties of European Hornbeam and European Beech, closely spaced, make dandy lattice-like barriers in the winter, and transform into dense walls in the summer. For the full article, go to