arbor information

The Benefits of Trees

Trees can do amazing things for our environment. A single tree will sequester a tonne of carbon dioxide in its lifetime, but that's not all trees can do! Trees can be used to prevent erosion, reduce cooling costs, act as windbreaks and filter dirty water. If trees were an invention, they'd be the best one.

The above-mentioned benefits may influence you to grow a tree or two. Some folks are handy enough to plant trees and maximize their benefits; while keeping those same trees from destroying the patio, interfering with power - lines, dropping branches on the roof or encroaching on the neighbour’s property. A well-maintained tree is a happy tree and we have the experience and expertise to help.

10 Great Reasons to Hug a Tree

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Trees Provide Oxygen and Reduce Climate Change

The equation is fundamental: During a process called photosynthesis, a tree "inhales" CO2 from the air and then separates the carbon from the oxygen molecules O2. The carbon is absorbed by the tree, which then "exhales" through its leaves pure oxygen into the air. In the process just described, trees also serve as carbon sinks. Trees naturally absorb carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, sequestering the carbon and storing it for an indefinite period, while releasing the oxygen back into the atmosphere. Such carbon sinks offset carbon dioxide emissions and reduce climate change.

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Trees Provide Food

Trees provide an important source of food such as nuts and fruits for mankind and other creatures. Many animals eat leaves and berries for nourishment, flowers are eaten, and the nectar is a favourite of birds, bats, and many insects. Wildlife and Insects eat much of the same fruit that we enjoy and help disperse the seeds over great distances.

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Trees Provide Shelter

Each tree supports an incredibly vast, thriving eco-system in and of itself, from nearly microscopic insects to our fine feathered friends, to a multitude of wildlife, the destruction of even a single small tree not only disrupts its biodiversity, it also renders countless creatures homeless.

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Trees Provide Medicine

Although numerous medicines which came from trees have been replaced by synthetic ones, certain varieties remain as a source for drug ingredients. Extractions from wood, bark, roots, flowers, fruits, seeds or leaves are a fundamental part of our well being. However a strong market demand poses a significant threat to many trees. Overexploitation must be managed carefully in order to conserve forests and the medicinal trees inside them.

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Trees Provide Shade and Protection

Large deciduous trees planted in the right location of your home creates shade from hot summer days and can reduce air conditioning cost. Wherever trees are planted, wildlife and other plants are sure to follow, as they provide shade for cattle and other livestock to reduce heat stress or cold stress. Trees also provide protection for the growth of plants that otherwise would not be there and contribute to the ecosystem by providing shelter, food, and habitats for aquatic species like Beavers, Fish, Otters etc.

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Trees Provide Energy Savings

You have probably noticed in your travels that many farmhouses and acreages are surrounded by trees? Planting trees in the right place is not only good for a home, it's also good for the land to keep valuable topsoil in place. Trees conserve energy costs and help fight climate change. They act as windbreaks and keep snow from drifting up against houses. In our Urban communities we can use the same principals to make our houses more energy efficient with proper tree placement.

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Trees Provide Pollution and Noise Reduction

Trees absorb and filter out pollutants like sulphur dioxide, ozone and nitrogen oxides through the stomata in the surface of their leaves. A considerable reduction in airborne pollution or street level particulates have been found on tree-lined streets. By strategically planting certain Tree varieties near noise sources, we can muffle urban noise pollution.

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Trees Provide Erosion and Flood Prevention

Trees help prevent erosion by slowing down water flow and by decreasing wind speed; which is another form of erosion caused from dry soil. Trees planted along riverbanks stabilize the soil and help prevent soil erosion from fast flowing water.

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Trees Provide Soil Enrichment

Fallen leaves make excellent compost which enriches the soil. When leaves and needles fall they do not need to be wasted. As they decompose, they replenish the soil with nutrients and make up part of the spongy soft layer of the forest floor which absorbs and holds rainfall. Fallen leaves and needles also become food for numerous soil organisms vital to a forest ecosystem.

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Trees Provide Natural Beauty and Health

Some folks look at Trees and see only lumber and profits. By combining the beauty of Trees with the numerous environmental benefits they provide, Trees can directly influence the quality of people's lives.

Common Issues

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Topping Trees

Topping is often done to reduce the size of a Tree. Some folks feel that a tree has become too large or that tall trees pose risks. Topping hurts trees and is not a viable option to control a Trees' height nor will this indiscriminate method of pruning reduce future risk; in fact, topping will increase risk of failure in the long term. It is perhaps the most harmful of all tree pruning practices; by cutting tree branches to stubs or to lateral branches which are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Other names for topping include; tipping, heading, and rounding over.

Here are reasons NOT to top a Tree.

  • Topping causes Decay
  • Topping is Expensive
  • Topping creates Hazards
  • Topping causes Stress
  • Topping can lead to Sunburn
  • Topping makes Trees look unsightly
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Alternatives to Topping

If you feel a Tree must be topped, there are other methods to control the height and spread. We have recommendations for doing so; by pruning branches back to their point of origin and if a limb has to be shortened, it should be cut back to a lateral branch that is large enough to assume the terminal role. A rule of thumb is to cut back to a lateral that is at least one-third the diameter of the limb being removed. This type of branch/limb reduction will at least help preserve the natural shape of a Tree. Our Certified Arborists can ensure that your tree will still look attractive and under control.

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Improper Pruning

Proper pruning is vital for the development of a tree with a strong structure and desirable form. A tree which receives the appropriate pruning technique when it is a juvenile will require little corrective pruning as it matures. Improper pruning practice could cause damage that lasts the life of a tree. Trees do not heal the way people do. When a tree is wounded, it must grow over and compartmentalize the wound, this wound will stay contained within the tree forever. Each cut has the potential to change the growth of a tree and leave it susceptible to disease, breakage and insects. It is important to note, we must prune with a purpose; to remove dead or diseased wood, provide clearance or improve the structure of a tree. Selecting what and where to prune involves an understanding of basic tree biology, proper tools, and a talented eye. Our Certified Arborists know where to make the proper cut, so your trees remain healthy.

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Lack of Water

Keeping the soil moist is essential, however, oversaturation can have adverse effects. Water trees at least once a week, or more frequently during hot summer days. A good “rule of thumb” is; when the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch or below the soil surface, it is time to water. Water trees around the drip line (edge) of the tree canopy, not at the base of the trunk, as feeder roots absorb the water and carry it up into the canopy. In turn, over-watering causes leaves to turn yellow, wilt and eventually fall off. Continue the watering schedule until mid-fall, tapering off for lower temperatures that require less frequent watering.

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Trees and Grass

A green lawn can provide many of the same ecological benefits as trees, which is good. We have to pay a bit of extra attention when grass and trees live together. It is essential we make efforts for trees and lawns to grow compatible, it is important to keep in mind that mechanical tools like lawn mowers and weed trimmers are necessary components to lawn care. Improper use of these types of tools around the trunk of trees can cause badly damaged trunks leading to possible disease, insect infestation and general weakness of the tree system, at worst death of a tree is a possibility. Providing distance between the grass and the trunk is a good idea to prevent damage to tree trunks. Creating tree wells with an application of natural mulch not only looks attractive but is also beneficial to prevent damage while maintaining moisture for longer.

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Planting Floral and Plants around the Trunk of Trees

It might look appealing to the eye, however, planting flowers and plant material too close to the trunk area of a tree deprives fine feeder roots close to the surface of essential nutrients and moisture. Very rarely do you see any kind of plant material growing around a trunk of a tree in a forest. It is wise to alternatively apply a layer of mulch around the trunk area. Ensure that the mulch is 2 inches away from the trunk to prevent trunk rot.

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Rodents and Common Animal Species

It is important to pay attention to the trunk and lower branches of your trees. Depending on where you live, your yard is vulnerable to Mice, Voles, Rabbits, Squirrels, Deer and others. They could be marking their territory or looking for food; especially in the winter months, mice for example will burrow under the snow close to a tree and chew the bark, which in turn causes damage to the trunk. Deer will eat young shoots and Rabbits gnaw or nibble on bark. Come spring the tree is forced to compartmentalize that area to protect the rest of the tree from decay, insects etc.

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Insects and Disease

Insect Pests and disease can threaten tree health. Some Pests are beneficial to trees, but many are not. Identifying the symptom early is the first step in understanding the cause. Stress can play a large part in plant health, there are basic elements that influence the health of a tree and are vital; such as sufficient water, light and proper balance of nutrients. If there is too much or too little of these environmental conditions present, plant stress may occur. When you notice a change or abnormality in your trees' appearance, a careful examination should begin to identify the concern. By doing regular inspections of trees at least once per year, you can reduce or prevent the severity of future insects, diseases or environmental problems.

  • Accurately identify the tree or shrub
  • Look for a pattern of abnormality
  • Carefully examine the landscape
  • Examine the roots
  • Check the trunk and branches
  • Note the position and appearance of affected leaves and or tree bark
  • Once the abnormality has been diagnosed a plan of action can then be implemented.

Common Insects, Diseases & Fungus of Alberta

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  • Black Knot Fungus
  • Bronze Leaf Disease
  • Canker
  • Fire Blight
  • Oak Wilt
  • Rhizosphaera Needle Cast
  • Western Gall Rust
  • Ash Bark Beetle
  • Ash Borer
  • Aphid varieties
  • Birch Leaf Miner
  • Bronze Birch Borer
  • Cooley Spruce Gall Aphids
  • Elm Scale
  • Leaf Roller
  • Mountain Pine Beetle
  • Poplar Borer
  • Poplar Gall Mite
  • Psyllid
  • Sawfly
  • Oystershell Scale
  • Spruce Budworm
  • Spider Mite
  • White Pine Weevil/Spruce Weevil


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Apple Trees

Crab Apples/Eating Apples

Many varieties cultivated for their small to medium size apples. They are used primarily to make preserves and apple jelly. Various clusters of flowers in white, pink and red. Ornamental Crab Apples and Flowering Crab Apples are desirable for their large blossoms in spring and contrasting foliage of some varieties. These trees produce small, ornamental fruit which stay on the branches through the winter.

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Ash Trees

Fallgold Black Ash

Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, fast narrow growing habit. Easily managed tree. 12-15m height/9-11m spread

Green Ash

Hardy drought tolerant tree, used on the prairies, great shade tree. 15-18m in height/ 10m spread.

Manchurian Ash

Tolerates drought or excess moisture, upright growth pattern with a full dense canopy. 12-15m height/ 6-7m spread

Patmore Green Ash

Fast growing and hardy tree for Calgary and surrounding area. Leafs out early and drops leaves later than other Ash varieties. 15-18m height/10-12m spread

White Ash/Biltmore Ash/Mountain Ash

Resists heat, grows rapidly and is adaptable to a wide range of soil and climate conditions. The autumn foliage is spectacular and the tree is widely used for shade in parks and large landscapes. The tree is famous for one of its basic wood products, the baseball bat. 30m height

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Aspen/Trembling Poplar

Bark is smooth at first, greenish-white, becoming rough and dark grey with age, terminal bud is sharp and pointed, all buds are dark brown. Leaf-stems flattened causing fluttering in wind. Widespread throughout Alberta. Up to 30m in height

Swedish Columnar Aspen

Compact, columnar habit, great as an accent tree or privacy screen. Highly recommended for the prairies. Best if planted in groups.

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Birch Trees

Clump Paper Birch

Bark is ornamental white, peeling with age. Adapts well to most sites, 3 trunks are the usual rule for this type. Must be well watered in the Fall prior to freezing. 12m height/6m spread

Cut Leaf Weeping Birch

This tree needs a moist site as it is intolerant to drought. Lacy foliage on weeping branches. Brown bark when young, and whitens and peels with age. Must be well watered before Winter freeze. 15m height/6m spread

Paper Birch

Attractive peeling; light brown and white bark, turns chalk-white with age. Golden Autumn color. Must be well watered in late Fall before Winter freeze. 12m height/6m spread

White Birch

Whitish or silvery grey bark in thin sheets, long, dark green leaves, requires moist soil, grows along river banks and moist wooded areas throughout central and northern Alberta. 20m height

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Buckeye Trees

Ohio Buckeye

Neatly rounded tree and dense foliage with compound leaves. Upright clusters of yellow flowers in spring. Interesting, slightly spiny husks contain a seed becoming more obvious mid-to-late summer. 10m height/10m spread

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Sutherland Caragana

Provides a formal look with its upright form while being very low maintenance. Their branches are lined with a profusion of bright pea-flowers in late Spring. They are very fast growing and make wonderful privacy screens or shelter belts. 5m height/2m spread

Fern Leaf Caragana

Top grafted, upright with yellow pea-like flowers. Very hardy, drought resistant. Weeping form with small feathery leaflets, that give the plant fern like foliage almost reaching the ground. Bright yellow pea-like flowers in the Spring. Tolerates drought, poor soil and cold. 1m height/ 1.5m spread

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Cherry Trees ( Ornamentals)

Amur Cherry (Ornamental)

Fast growing tree with white blossoms, small black fruit in autumn, bark is polished looking with copper to golden brown color, peeling with age. 6m height/5m spread

Mayday Cherry

This tree is fast growing, of medium height, low-branched and has a compact, rounded canopy. It is one of the first trees to leaf out and bloom in the Spring. Fruit is nearly black and cherry-like, inedible to humans but birds love it. It can leave stains on concrete. 6m height/8m spread

Pin Cherry

Requires well drained soil, intolerant of wet. Clusters of small, milky-white flowers in the Spring. Bright red edible fruit in the Fall. Their bark is shiny bronze-red. 5m height/3m spread

Shubert Choke Cherry

Small tree, the inner bark has a bitter cherry flavour and aroma. Covered in small white clusters of flowers during Spring. Foliage is green in Spring, burgundy-red in summer and deep purple in Fall. Small black fruit can be used for jellies, wine and juice making. Popular tree for birds. Chokecherry is the most widely distributed tree in North America. 8m height/4m spread

Western Choke Cherry

Generally described as a native tree or shrub with green foliage and white flowers in the Spring. Extremely hardy, looks most attractive in multi-stem form. 5m height/ 3m spread

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Linden Trees

Dropmore Linden

Upright growth pattern, with compact crown. Hanging clusters of yellowish fragrant flowers. 10m height/7m spread

Greenspire Linden

Oval growth pattern, dense foliage, drought resistant and fast growing. Small flowers in late spring. 10m height/5m spread

Little Leaf Linden

Pyramid shaped dense tree with clusters of yellow-white flowers in late summer. 12m height/9m spread

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Poplar Trees

Balsam Poplar

Preferring more saturated soils, bark is greenish grey at the top becoming more grey and deeply furrowed at the base; winter buds are large and curved with a sticky balsam-smelling gum. Simple, oval or heart-shaped leaves. Commonly seen on river banks throughout Alberta. These trees can grow up to 25m high with stout spreading branches

Tower Poplar

Columnar Poplar, fast growing hardy tree. Great as an accent tree. 15m height/2m spread