Acorn Tree Care Learning Center

This is our learning center and blog. We will update this with information about all things related to trees and arboriculture.

Planting Recommendations

Planting recommendations for specific locations:

(A lot of the trees below also are listed above as well; some are added due to their tolerance for challenging growing areas.)

Planting a Sweetbay Magnolia Tree
Planting a Sweetbay Magnolia Tree

EVERGREEN SCREENING TREES (very little canopy when fully grown): Per ordinance, spacing requirement is 15 feet on center, between both existing and replacement trees. Screening trees are eligible for partial recompense credit (based on 15 ft. spacing) ONLY where location conditions do not permit planting of overstory or mid-canopy trees.

  • Cryptomeria Cryptomeria japonica
  • *Holly, American Ilex opaca
  • Holly, Fosters Ilex x attenuata ‘Fosteri’
  • Holly, Savannah Ilex x attenuata ‘Savannah’
  • Holly, Yaupon Ilex vomitoria
  • Magnolia, Southern ‘Little Gem’ or ‘Alta’
  • Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’
  • Magnolia grandiflora ‘Alta’
  • *Pine, Virginia Pinus virginia (5-gal. size best)
  • Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana
  • *Redcedar, Eastern Juniperus virginiana

COLUMNAR TREES FOR NARROW SPACES: (Various canopy sizes with columnar growth patterns).

  • Bald Cypress Taxodium distichum
  • Dawn Redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides (height up to 100 feet)
  • Deodar cedar Cedrus deodara
  • English Oak Quercus robur ‘Rose Hill’
  • European Hornbeam
  • Hornbeam betulus‘Fastigiata’
  • * Redcedar, Eastern Juniperus virginiana

TREES SUITABLE FOR DETENTION PONDS AND WETLANDS:
(See categories above for size of tree.)

  • Bald Cypress Taxodium distichum
  • * Blackgum, Tupelo Nyssa sylvatica, Nyssa aquatica
  • Dawn Redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides
  • Ironwood Carpinus caroliniana
  • *Red Maple Acer rubrum
  • Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana

TREES SUITABLE FOR ROAD FRONTAGE AND PARKING LOTS:

Overstory

  • *Oak, Georgia Quercus Georgiana (soil area >5 ft. wide)
  • *Oak, Nuttall Quercus nuttalli (soil area >5 ft. wide)
  • *Oak, Overcup Quercus lyrata (soil area >5 ft. wide)
  • *Oak Shumard Quercus shumardii (soil area > 5 ft. wide)
  • *Oak, Willow Quercus phellos (soil area >5 ft. wide)
  • *Sweetgum Liquidambar styaciflua’Rotundiloba’ (fruitless)
Planting a Maple Red Acer Tree
Planting a Maple Red Acer Tree

 

Midstory

  • Baldcypress Taxodium distichum
  • *Blackgum (Tupelo) Nyssa sylvatica
  • Elm, Chinese (Lace Bark) Ulmus parvifolia
  • *Hophornbeam Ostrya virginiana
  • *Hornbeam, American (Ironwood, Blue Beech) Carpinus caroliniana
  • Hornbeam, European Carpinus betulus
  • *Maple, Chalk Acer leucoderme (parking lots too hot)
  • *Maple, Red Acer rubrum
  • *Maple, Southern Sugar Acer barbatum
  • *Redcedar, Eastern Juniperus virginiana

 

Understory

(Understory trees do not meet parking lot planting requirements under the ordinance because they do not reach 40 feet in height at maturity).

  • Chinese Pistache Pistacia chinensis
  • Crapemyrtle Lagerstroemia indica (Single stem, non-dwarf cultivars)
  • *Maple, Trident Acer buergerianum
  • Parrotia, Persian Parrotia persica
  • *Redbud, Eastern Cercis canadensis
  • *Serviceberry Amelanchier arborea or laevis

* Asterisk denotes tree is native to the Piedmont region of Georgia (which includes Atlanta).

PLANTING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SPECIFIC LOCATIONS:

(A lot of the trees below also are listed above as well; some are added due to their tolerance for challenging growing areas.)

EVERGREEN SCREENING TREES (very little canopy when fully grown): Per ordinance, spacing requirement is 15 feet on center, between both existing and replacement trees. Screening trees are eligible for partial recompense credit (based on 15 ft. spacing) ONLY where location conditions do not permit planting of overstory or mid-canopy trees.

Cryptomeria Cryptomeria japonica
*Holly, American Ilex opaca
Holly, Fosters Ilex x attenuata ‘Fosteri’
Holly, Savannah Ilex x attenuata ‘Savannah’
Holly, Yaupon Ilex vomitoria
Magnolia, Southern ‘Little Gem’ or ‘Alta’
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Alta’
*Pine, Virginia Pinus virginia (5-gal. size best)
Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana
*Redcedar, Eastern Juniperus virginiana

COLUMNAR TREES FOR NARROW SPACES: (Various canopy sizes with columnar growth patterns).

Bald Cypress Taxodium distichum
Dawn Redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides (height up to 100 feet)
Deodar cedar Cedrus deodara
English Oak Quercus robur ‘Rose Hill’
European Hornbeam
Hornbeam betulus‘Fastigiata’
* Redcedar, Eastern Juniperus virginiana
TREES SUITABLE FOR DETENTION PONDS AND WETLANDS:
(See categories above for size of tree.)
Bald Cypress Taxodium distichum
* Blackgum, Tupelo Nyssa sylvatica, Nyssa aquatica
Dawn Redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Ironwood Carpinus caroliniana
*Red Maple Acer rubrum
Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana

TREES SUITABLE FOR ROAD FRONTAGE AND PARKING LOTS:

Overstory

*Oak, Georgia Quercus Georgiana
(soil area >5 ft. wide)
*Oak, Nuttall Quercus nuttalli (soil area >5 ft. wide)
*Oak, Overcup Quercus lyrata
(soil area >5 ft. wide)
*Oak Shumard Quercus shumardii
(soil area > 5 ft. wide)
*Oak, Willow Quercus phellos
(soil area >5 ft. wide)
*Sweetgum Liquidambar styaciflua’Rotundiloba’ (fruitless)
Midstory
Baldcypress Taxodium distichum
*Blackgum (Tupelo) Nyssa sylvatica
Elm, Chinese (Lace Bark) Ulmus parvifolia
*Hophornbeam Ostrya virginiana
*Hornbeam, American (Ironwood, Blue Beech) Carpinus caroliniana
Hornbeam, European Carpinus betulus
*Maple, Chalk Acer leucoderme
(parking lots too hot)
*Maple, Red Acer rubrum
*Maple, Southern Sugar Acer barbatum
*Redcedar, Eastern Juniperus virginiana

Understory

(Understory trees do not meet parking lot planting requirements under the ordinance because they do not reach 40 feet in height at maturity).

Chinese Pistache Pistacia chinensis
Crapemyrtle Lagerstroemia indica (Single stem, non-dwarf cultivars)
*Maple, Trident Acer buergerianum
Parrotia, Persian Parrotia persica
*Redbud, Eastern Cercis canadensis
*Serviceberry Amelanchier arborea or laevis

* Asterisk denotes tree is native to the Piedmont region of Georgia (which includes Atlanta).

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Planting A Tree

Facts about proper procedures for planting a tree with a nine-step approach to effective planting and establishment.

Buying a tree is really a lifelong investment decision. How well this investment will grow is dependent upon the kind of tree chosen and the planting area, the care offered during planting, and also the follow-up care after planting.

When you should Plant

Preferably, trees are usually selected and planted throughout the inactive season - in the autumn after leaf drop or in springtime just before budbreak. Weather conditions are cool and enable plant life to create roots in the brand new location before spring down pours and summer heat promote new top growth. Healthy balled and burlapped or container trees and shrubs, however, can be grown through the entire growing season if given proper care. In tropical and subtropical climates where trees mature year-round, any time is a great time to place a tree, so long as adequate water can be obtained.

Planting Stress

Balled and burlapped trees shed a substantial portion of their root system when excavated in the nursery. Because of this, trees generally display what is known as “transplant shock.” Transplant shock is really a state of slowed down development and reduced strength following re-planting. Container trees might also encounter transplant shock, especially if they have circling or kinked roots that need to be cut. Appropriate site preparation, mindful handling to avoid additional root damage, and good follow-up care minimizes transplant shock and encourages faster recovery.

Properly stick to the nine easy steps below to help your tree establish quickly in the new spot.
Note: Before you start planting your tree, make sure you have located all underground utilities ahead of digging.

Make use of 2 opposing, flexible ties when staking is needed. Ties must be positioned on the lower half of the tree and allow trunk motion.

2- to 4-inch (5- to 10-cm) layer of thick mulch. Keep mulch one to two inches (2.5 to 5 cm) back from trunk

  1. Determine the trunk flare. The trunk flare is where the trunk swells at the base of the tree. This point needs to be somewhat visible after the tree has been placed. Eliminate extra dirt from the top of the root ball just before planting if the root flare is not noticeable.
  2. Dig a shallow, wide planting hole. Holes must be 2 to 3 times larger than the root ball, but only as deep as the root ball. Digging a wide planting pit breaks up the surrounding earth and supplies newly growing tree roots room to grow.
  3. Get rid of the containers or trim away the wire basket. Check container tree root balls for circling roots. Straighten up, trim, or take them off. Reveal the trunk flare, if needed.
  4. Position the tree at the correct height. Be certain to dig the hole to the correct depth - and no more. The majority of a tree’s roots grow in the top 12 inches (30 cm) of dirt. When the tree is rooted too deep, new roots will have trouble developing due to a lack of oxygen. In badly drained or heavily clayed soils, trees can be grown with the base of the trunk flare 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) above grade. When putting the tree within the hole, lift it by the root ball, not the trunk.
  5. Get rid of containers, wrappings, wires and ties. Set ball on firmly packed soil to avoid settling. Gently pack backfill, making use of water to settle soil around the root ball.
  6. Straighten up the tree within the pit. Before backfilling, have somebody look at the tree from several directions to verify it is straight. Once placed, it is not easy to reposition the tree.
  7. Fill up the opening lightly, but firmly. Pack dirt around the bottom of the root ball to support it. If the root ball is wrapped, very carefully cut and remove any fabric, plastic, string, and/or wire from around the trunk and root ball to stop girdling and to facilitate root development. Fill the rest of the hole, firmly packing the soil to get rid of air pockets that could dry out roots. Further decrease air pockets by watering regularly while backfilling. Steer clear of fertilization at the time of planting.
  8. Stake the tree, if needed. Research indicates that trees establish faster and develop stronger trunk and root systems if they're not staked during the time of planting. Staking may be needed, however, when planting bare root stock or planting on breezy sites. Stakes might also provide protection against lawnmower damage and vandalism. One or two stakes utilized in addition to a wide, versatile tie material on the lower part of the tree will hold the tree upright and reduce problems for the trunk, yet still allow for movement. Eliminate support staking and ties following the first year of development.
  9. Mulch the base of the tree. Mulch is organic matter spread surrounding the bottom of a tree to hold water, moderate soil temperature extremes, and minimize grass and weed competition. Popular mulches include leaf litter, pine straw, shredded bark, peat moss, and also composted wood chips. A 2- to 4-inch (5- to 10-cm) layer is ideal. Greater than 4 inches (10 cm) could cause an issue with oxygen and moisture ranges. Piling mulch right up against the trunk of the tree might cause decay of the living bark. A mulch-free area, 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) wide at the base of the tree, minimizes moist bark conditions and helps prevent rot.
  10. Offer follow-up care. Keep your soil moist, although not water-logged. Water trees at least one time per week, barring rain, and more often during hot, breezy weather. When the soil is dry underneath the top of the mulch, it's time to water. Continue until mid-fall, tapering off as lower temperatures call for less-frequent watering.

Additional follow-up care might include minor pruning of branches damaged during the growing process. Prune sparingly following planting and delay necessary remedial tree pruning until an entire season of growth in the new location has taken place.

Doing these 10 basic steps will increase the likelihood that your new tree will grow and flourish in its new home.

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Pruning Trees Properly

Pruning Trees Properly
Proper Tree Pruning

There are different objectives for tree pruning.

The first one is always safety. Trees in areas around your home or on properties where there is foot traffic or vehicles need to be pruned to remove deadwood. Dead limbs fall from trees frequently and should be removed to reduce liabilities with trees making areas safer. During this type of pruning, it also gives the arborist a chance to view the trees canopy (aerial assessment) to look for any types of stress cracks, hanging limbs, structural defects etc. Another safety issue involving tree pruning is to prune for any type of visual obstructions for traffic areas or low hanging limbs and foliage that people could walk into.

Secondly, trees should be pruned for maintenance concerns with homes and buildings. Limbs and foliage touching and rubbing can damage paint and excessive rubbing can even cause minor structural damage. They can also become an entry point for insects or even unwanted critters. Too much low canopy can start to encroach and present conditions favoring mold or mildew build up from poor air circulation and too much shade. Mosquitoes can also become more prevalent in this environment and fungal problems with trees and plants will become more likely. Thinning tree canopies may be necessary for added exposures to certain plantings or turf grasses.

Thirdly, trees may be pruned to promote overall health and to help encourage proper growth and structural integrity. Generally speaking, healthy trees have good foliage density but are not overcrowded in the interior. Crown thinning can help alleviate the wind sail effect. Trees with good symmetry and scaffold branch arrangement are typically stronger and less susceptible to storm damage. Dead limbs that are removed routinely and properly vs falling off on their own can prevent damaging wounds that can sometimes happen and lead to decay columns. Dead wood removal also eliminates the hosts for wood boring insects and some diseases. Trees in close proximity to one another often times start to conflict; pruning can helps keep separation between them. This helps maintain good air flow, sunlight, and symmetry in their crowns. Structural pruning could be done to help fruit trees withstand the added weight of the fruit.

Finally, trees are pruned for aesthetics. The purpose for this is to help embellish a property, adding curb appeal and accenting architectural features. Properties with poorly maintained trees and plants can detract from the beauty and make them feel less inviting and hospitable. Differentiation between trees and between trees and structures is welcoming and makes the overall look and feel of a property better. Vista pruning could be put into this section as well. This type of pruning is done to gain a sight line or improve a view, typically of a natural feature such as a lake, mountains, or golf course.

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Benefits & Values of Trees

Benefits & Values of Trees
Benefits & Values of Trees

Social Benefits

Human response to trees goes well over and above merely noticing their splendor. We feel peaceful, calm, restful, and tranquil inside a grove of trees and shrubs. We're “at home” there.

The soothing effect of nearby trees and city greening can substantially decrease office stress levels and fatigue, relax traffic, and even reduce the recovery time needed following surgical treatment. Trees also can minimize crime. Apartment buildings with high amounts of green space have lower crime rates than nearby apartments with no trees.

The prominence, strength, and endurance of trees provide them with a cathedral-like value. Due to their potential for long life, trees are often selected and planted as living memorials. We sometimes become personally attached with trees that we, or those we love, have grown.

The powerful tie between individuals and trees is usually obvious when community residents speak out against the elimination of trees to expand streets or move to save an especially large or historical tree.

Community Benefits

Even when situated on a personal lot, the advantages supplied by trees can reach well out into the encompassing community. Furthermore, large-growing trees can come in conflict with power lines, views, and buildings which are past the bounds of the owner’s property. With appropriate selection and upkeep, trees can easily enrich and function on one property without infringing on the rights and privileges of neighborhood friends.

City trees frequently serve a number of architectural and engineering functions. They offer privacy, highlight views, or screen out undesirable views. They decrease glare and reflection. They direct walking traffic. Trees offer background to and also soften, complement, or improve architecture.

Trees provide natural elements and wildlife habitats into city surroundings, all of which improve the quality of life for residents of the town.

Environmental Benefits

Trees affect the environment in which we live by moderating local climate, enhancing air quality, decreasing storm water run-off, and sheltering wildlife. Neighborhood climates are moderated from intense sun, blowing wind, and rainwater. Radiant sunshine is soaked up or deflected by foliage on deciduous trees during the summer and is only filtered by limbs of deciduous trees during winter. The larger the tree, the better the cooling effect. By making use of trees in the metropolitan areas, we are able to moderate the heat-island effect brought on by pavement and buildings in commercial locations.

Wind speed and direction is impacted by trees. The more compact the leaves on the tree or group of trees, the more efficient the windbreak. Rain, sleet, and hail are taken in or slowed down by trees, supplying some protection for individuals, pets, and structures. Trees intercept water, store a lot of it, and minimize storm water runoff.

Air quality is improved by using trees, shrubs, and turf. Leaves filter the air we take in by getting rid of dust and other particles. Rainwater then washes the contaminants to the ground. Leaves soak up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and store carbon as growth. Leaves also take in other air contaminants - such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide - and put out oxygen.

Planting Trees and Shrubs

By planting trees and shrubs, we return developed locations to a more natural environment which is appealing to birds and wild animals. Ecological cycles of plant development, reproduction, and decomposition are again found, both above and under ground. Natural harmony is restored to the metropolitan environment.

    • Lower Crime

The presence of trees in urban neighborhoods has been linked to reduced crime.

Tree Planting Benefits
Understory/Ornamental Crabapple Tree
    • Cleaner Air

Trees provide the oxygen we breathe. One acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe each day and eliminates as much carbon dioxide from the air as is produced from driving a car 26,000 miles. Tree leaves help trap and remove tiny particles of soot and dust which otherwise damages human lungs and tree root networks filter contaminants in soils producing.

    • Clean water

Forty trees will remove 80 pounds of air pollutants annually. That is, 4 million trees would save $20 million in annual air pollution cleanup.

 

    • Energy savings

Trees lower the temperature through shade. The cooling effects of trees can save millions of energy dollars. 3-4 shade trees located strategically around a house can cut summer cooling costs by 30-50%. For one million trees, that's $10 million in energy savings.

    • More public revenue

Studies have shown that trees enhance community economic stability by attracting businesses and tourists. People linger and shop longer along tree-lined streets. 40,000 trees in commercials parking lots would induce shoppers to spend 11% more for goods and services.

    • Higher property values

Property values of homes with trees in the landscape are 5 - 20% higher than equivalent properties without trees. 4000 trees in yards would increase the sales price of homes by 1%, plus increase the property values as much as 10%. That is an estimated annual increase in homes sale value of $10.4 million.

    • More efficient stormwater management

Roots stabilize soil and prevent erosion by trapping soil that would otherwise become silt. Silt destroys fish eggs and other aquatic wildlife and makes rivers and streams shallower, causing more frequent and more severe flooding. Trees along streams hold stream banks in place to protect against flooding. One tree reduces 4000 gallons of storm water runoff annually. 400 trees will capture 140,000 gallons of rainwater annually. That is, 4 million trees would save $14 million in annual storm water runoff costs.

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Proper Tree Care and Maintenance

Proper Tree Care
Proper Tree Care and Maintenance

Acorn Tree Care offers exceptional quality tree care and tree maintenance for Atlanta, Suwanee, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Cumming, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, and other surrounding areas.

We believe that you should have your trees properly maintained each season with routine tree pruning and tree fertilization. Our tree care services will ensure that your tree is free of disease, dead branches, or awkward growing limbs.

Below are some common tree care and maintenance questions that we are asked. Please take some time to read through the questions and responses!

How do I know if a tree is dying or dead?

The foliage will start to turn brown and die back on your tree. Many times there will already be limbs or even sections of the tree that have little or no leaves and/or needles. Often, hardwood trees will lose most of the foliage in the extremities and have a large emergence of sucker sprouts coming from the trunk of the tree this usually means the tree in highly stressed and is probably dying. It can sometimes be hard to identify dead or dying deciduous trees in the dormant season sense their are no leaves any way. Here are a few clues. Bark falling off/blue or grayish looking stained areas on the trunk and limbs/the overall color of the tree appears to be drab and dull. Many times their will be Pieces of limb tips and or sections of the tree starting to break out from the top down and fall.

What should I do if I think my tree is stressed dying or dangerous?

Call a certified arborist and have your trees assessed promptly. Many times people notice decline in their trees when it's already too late, or they wait and see if the tree or trees will simply "come back". This is rarely the case and in most instances by the time a qualified arborist is called out the trees are already in advance stages of decline, and it may be too late to recommend treatment for them. Promptness is also key when dealing with trees you already know are dead to because if a tree service is hired to remove the tree soon after the tree has passed the point where it could potentially be saved it will help their job to be much safer and more efficient. Due to the fact that trees start to rapidly decompartmentalize while they are dying, causing the wood to possibly become unsound and lose more of its structural integrity as time passes. This in turn will make them more dangerous to remove and more time consuming to clean up.

What is the right time of year to have my trees pruned?

Many large woody native or indigenous specious can be pruned year round with few significant detrimental effects. Flowering trees and shrubs may need to be pruned at different times of the year as not to affect their bloom production or cause any damage to new growth associated with frost. There are also certain advantages to pruning trees in the dormant season or winter time. Consult with an arborist for more information on what the most ideal times might be to prune your trees.
What is woodland management?

Selective tree thinning can help your trees grow to their fullest potential. When trees start to grow many times they are overcrowded. If left alone, they will eventually weed themselves out through natural selection. Many trees on properties are capable of getting very large, in turn, dominating large areas and using all the available resources they can get to do so. As a wooded area starts to become established around our homes or on our properties it is important to manage the trees. First, the trees should be identified in order to have a basis as to which trees may be more desirable than others. Diversity is important as well and through knowing what each tree is one can start to make decisions on which ones to cultivate based on a number of factors, such as growth habits, life expectancy, aesthetic appeal, even wild life habit. The reasons go on and on.

Thinning and culling trees, especially early on, will benefit the remaining trees and your property in many ways. Resources will be more plentiful making trees healthier and in turn, more resistant to insect infestation and disease. More space per tree generally means trees tend to grow much more symmetrically and broader rather than linear. Under story trees and plants thrive in shade environments, but not super dense shade were plants become stifled from too much lack of sun and air flow. Having ample spacing between trees also makes wooded areas much more hospitable. Mosquito populations decrease, less moisture and humidity is trapped, and sunlight dapples through. Wooded areas have depth of field rather than looking impenetrable, therefore adding to security around your home making things more visible. Dogwoods and other shade loving plants and trees bloom much longer and vividly in partial shade rather than full shade.

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