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Say what part of the country you live in. And try to find out exactly what type of tree you have before sending a question. It really does make a difference. Itís like talking about your car troubles to a mechanic. The first thing he/she will want to know is what kind of car it is. Same thing goes with trees.


These Trees Need a House Call

The following questions will need the assistance of a tree expert making an onsite evaluation of your trees. There are many things that could affect the health of trees, and a House Call from a local tree expert will help determine what to do. Please contact one of our tree professionals in your area for an on-site evaluation of your tree troubles. Click here to see if your tree, like these others, might need a house call.


Recent questions and answers:


Hi Tchukki, and Thank you for being here.

We have a cottonwood that is about 15 feet in circumference or about 6 feet in diameter. Actually it is 3 trees that have grown as one. that’s what it looks like.
We live in Michigan.

My question is that we have myrtle and ivy growing as ground cover and it has started to grow around and up the trunk of the tree.  I've pulled off the ivy that I can but at the base it is getting pretty thick.  Will it damage the tree if we let it grow up? and should I clear it away from the base of the tree? or just keep pulling off the ivy shoots?
It's a great tree when it's not dropping it's cotton (what a challenge that is).  We estimate the tree to be over 50 years of age. We have had it pruned but I forgot to ask the people this question.
Thank you for your help
Wendy H.


Hi, Wendy. Any plant that grows up and into trees will eventually be detrimental to the tree health. You are wise to continue to remove the ivy and myrtle from around the tree base.


As long as the undergrowth plants are not too thick so as to choke out air and water from the tree, they should be able to live in harmony with each other. Keep the lower plants thinned somewhat so the tree doesn’t have to struggle to compete for air and water.


Good luck with your project!  J


Dear Tchukki;

I just planted a crab apple tree that is about 3 yrs old and after planting it I noticed a fine crack in the bark of the main trunk of the trre about  1 1/2  ft long. We tried to handle it by the root ball and not the tree itself, it may of came from transporting it ?? My main concern is that it does not get diseased, is there anythig that  i can put on the bark to protect the tree??




Hi. Thanks for your inquiry. It is important that there is no dirt or mulch on the stem of this tree. Pull the mulch about 6” inches away from the stem. Do not let irrigation sprinklers hit the trunk.


Wounding of a tree cannot be treated to keep diseases away. The tree will have to seal itself over time, if it is healthy enough to do so. Keep the tree healthy with the mulch layer (3”), the right amount of irrigation (do not drown the rootball), and prune out any dead or broken limbs.


The rest is up to the tree.  J


Dear Tchukki;

There is a 60 ft spruce tree in our yard in Ann Arbor, MI. We will have to replace the sewer line that runs next to the tree sometime in the next year.


Is there a certain time of year that would be best, to reduce shock to the tree, and allow the roots to regenerate?



Bill N.



Hi, Bill. Thanks for your inquiry. The best time to do any type of root disturbance would be in the winter when the tree is dormant. If possible, try to have the line trenched in under the roots rather than cutting the roots.


If the roots need to be cut to place the trench, any closer than 10 feet to the trunk will likely harm the tree in an irreparable way. You would benefit from the expertise of a qualified tree professional regarding this project. Contact a tree expert in your area here:


Make certain you get your tree professional out for an onsite evaluation long before your project begins. Good luck with your project!  :)



Dear Tchukki;

I have drilled two 1" holes through an 16" diameter pine to support a tree house with 3/4" all thread.

Will this kill the tree? What may I fill the holes with to save it?




Hi. Thanks for your inquiry. The 1”  holes are plenty big. Depending on how close the holes are, i.e., if they are on the same stem, you may have compromised the strength of the tree. If the holes are closer than 12 inches, you will need to keep a good eye open to watch for cracks or any dark decay spots that might generate.


There is nothing you can put in living wood that will help seal up the holes any faster. The best thing you can do is to keep the tree as healthy as possible so it will be able toward off any insects or diseases that may come into the open wounds. Apply a 3” layer of organic wood mulch from the base of the tree out to the drip line,. This will keep the root zone hydrated and nourished, which will help in it’s efforts to maintain health.


Apply irrigation once per week, even if it rains.


You might benefit from an onsite tree examination from a qualified tree professional in order to assess how much, if any, damage was incurred. Find a tree care professional in your area here:


Good luck with your project!  J



Dear Tchukki;


I have an Ash tree that was planted by the builders landscaping company 15 years ago. The issue is the tree was planted 9 feet from my home. Over the years the tree has grown considerably and is now touching the structure. Racoons and squirrels use this tree as a raceway to roof seeking refuge from the onset of winter, and yes there has been damage to the soffits and siding. My other concern is down the road there will be foundation issues, not to mention roots clogging the sewer etc. So you are probably asking, why I don't have it cut down and removed. Unfortunately, that decision does not lie with me, but with the Home Ownners Association. On April 13, 2010, I submitted an application for a permit and they have stonewalled me until this month where with persistence I was able to appear before the trustees and presented my case. Naturally, they gave me the run around and hid behind the by-laws and told me it was not permitted. I informed them the tree was planted too close to the structure to begin with, and that my home has already sustained damage as a result. Unfortunately, my testimony was ignored. From everything I have researched on Ash trees, the distance should be 20-35 meters from the home. What I would like from you if you are willing to provide it, is not only your expertise but a written letter stating the issues with Ash trees planted so close to the structure and the consequences. Also, there are a couple of things I forgot to mention is, the tree has the ash gall flower diesease. Secondly, the forester from my village had already approved it to be removed, but he Homeowners Association will not sign off on it. I guess they know more than the forester. Sorry for the long rant, preferably would like to speak to you by phone if possible. Please feel free to contact me or have me contact you at your earliest convenience.
Thank you,


Hi, RM. Thanks for your inquiry.


It sounds as though you would benefit from the expertise of a consulting arborist who could write a professional report for you. A consulting arborist can act as an expert witness in mitigation regarding tree disputes. You can find a professional tree consultant in your area here:


Your consulting arborist should be able to educate the Homeowner’s Association Board about the inherent risks to their community by having large trees that were planted too closely to structures. Take photos of the tree and any damage it has caused, and continue to take photos of the tree until this gets settled. That way, you will at least have a photo history of the tree’s condition and how it may be progressing as a threat.


Good luck with your project.  J



Hi, Tchukki;

I live in the north west corner of Illinois. What are the millions of things falling off of my trees now. They make a mess and I would like to eliminate whatever trees are causing them. They are not whirlybirds. They are about two and a half inches long, single, greenish color. It is early June.



Hi. Thanks for your inquiry. There are many types of tree species, and most of those species usually drop leaves or needles or twigs at some time of the year.


Without knowing exactly what type of tree you have, it would be difficult to offer a remedy. If you could get me some good digital photographs of the entire tree, the pieces that have fallen off, a picture of some healthy leaves, the place where the trunk goes into the ground, and any of the problem areas on the tree then I could probably better assist you.


I look forward to your reply.   J



Dear Tchukki;

I live in Olympia , WA and my acre yard is full of mature fir trees...there are also very healthy cedar, hemlock, and hawthorn trees.  I have one poplar tree that is as tall as my fir trees, at about 60 feet, and it has a diameter of about 2 feet.

I would like to take advantage of the little bit of area in our backyard that is fairly open, and run a clothes line on a set of pulleys that would be attached to a post (that goes between our deck and the roof overhang) and the poplar tree.  However, I want to be sure to not damage the tree.

Would it be okay to fasten a pulley to a strap onto the tree if we were to have a tension adjustment so we could relieve the tension when not in use?  Or would even the weight of the pulley and line cause damage to the tree?  Can you recommend a way to do this so it would have little, if any adverse effect on the tree?

Thanks for your help!


Hi. Thanks for your inquiry. If you have a tension adjustment system on the line around the tree, there shouldn’t be any real harm to the tree. Just make certain not to overload the line (like, don’t air dry your car on the line) and the tree will be ok.

Check the tension frequently to make certain the tree is not growing over the line. If the tree grows over it, the line will girdle or strangle the tree, and the tree could likely break in a wind and fall.

Good luck with your project!



Thank you for your prompt reply...the tension adjustment system I was referring to was a turnbuckle that would be fastened at the deck end of the line - the strap around the tree would basically be held in place by light tension and perhaps the crook from a branch below the strap.

I want to be sure this arrangement would be ok and understand that it may require an inspection every few years to ensure it doesn't girdle the tree.  Your thoughts?


Inspect your tree at least twice during every growing season to be certain that the tree is not growing over the materials. It sounds like your project will not harm the tree. Happy laundering!  J




Dear Tchukki;

I live in the country in central New York, near Cooperstown.  A contractor doing some work in my yard for some unknown reason sprinkled a few cans of lime on the grass about ten feet from the base of one of my mature sugar maple trees.  Can this harm the tree? 

Thanks very much for your attention. 



Hi. Thanks for your inquiry. It is very possible that the soil pH around the tree will be out of balance due to the lime spillage. The tree will likely react unfavorably to the higher pH.


Contact your county extension office about getting your soil tested. Take samples from the limed part of the tree and on the opposite side where the lime did not reach. You will want to know how far out of balance it has gotten in order to see how much treatment needs to take place.


Recommended treatments for over-alkaline soil are to irrigate the lime through the soil profile. This will require one or two heavy waterings per week until the soil tests back to a lower pH level. This may take a couple go growing season, depending on the quantity of lime. Then, add a three inch layer of wood chip over the rootzone as far out towards the dripline as tolerable. The mulch will slowly release nutrients over time that will strengthen the root zone. Slow release is the key here: adding any fertilizers or plant food at this time will stress the tree; likely causing it to decline.


To help you with the ongoing maintenance of this tree, contact a tree professional in your area here:


Good luck with your project!  J



Dear Tchukki;

First, I must commend your website - so much reliable information.  I have one slight suggestion, however:  the video links do not match up with the actual videos.  I managed to find what I wanted by watching all of them, but it was a bit confusing.


Second - We live in the Northeast (Teaneck, NJ), an area that was hit by a number of high-wind storms this past year; during one, 250 trees came down in the town's 4 square miles, and 2 people were killed by a falling tree. 


Today, I noticed a crew working on trees in my neighbor's yard today.  The owner of the tree company pointed out a number of issues with various trees on my property that he thought were a problem.  We ended up circling my house, as he made recommendations about pruning various branches, etc. in order to (a) lessen the growth of moss on the roof, and (b) minimize the possibility of falling branches or trees in the event of a bad storm.  The estimate totaled some $1500. 


Later, I called a different tree company that we had used in the past, and they came to assess our trees.  They said they didn't see anything that needed to be addressed now - other than removing the moss on the roof and spraying it with something that is supposed to prevent re-growth, although unlike the first company, this company does not do that work itself. 


How do I know who is right?  As far as I can tell, neither is a member of TCIA.  Is that my first mistake?  Should I only consult with someone who is?


Thank you.




Hi, Charel. Thanks for your inquiry. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether or not a contractor is actually trying to help or is only after your money. J


You were wise to contact another tree care company for a second opinion. In this case, you should get a third opinion from a qualified tree care company. You can find one in your area here: . You may even choose two or three companies from the list in order to get a better idea of exactly what your trees need or don’t need.


TCIA warms homeowners of the “door knockers”, or unscrupulous contractors who offer their services door-to-door, especially after a storm. To find if they are reputable tree professionals, ask them for proof of current insurance, referrals from other customers that you can call, and have them show you proof of tree industry association memberships and certifications.


Hiring a tree company is similar to hiring a qualified mechanic: the amount of money you would put into a car can be significant, and you want to guarantee that the mechanic was qualified and reputable. Same with tree care professionals. Do your homework and your trees (and wallet) will appreciate the effort. J


Good luck with your trees!  J



Hello, Tchukki; 

I have a question about my peach tree. I weed-eated too close to the tree and took off the bark all the way around about an inch tall. So is the tree gona make it?? and what can I do to help/save it, if posable??

thank you for  your time!

G. kemp 



Hi, G. Thanks for your inquiry. When the bark around a tree is wounded or torn, it can cause undo stress on the tree. In your case, with the bark separated completely all around, the tree will likely die. The only possible chance the tree might have would be if you applied a bark graft, but it might be too late for that.


You can find a tree professional to assist you with a bark graft, if you choose that, at this location: The tree professional will also be able to help you replace the tree once it dies.


To protect your tree from weed eater activities, apply a 3” layer of mulch in a ring around the tree. Start it no closer than 6” to the trunk and extend it out to the dripline. This will keep weeds down, keep the soil over the root zone moist, and will be a good mechanical deterrent.


Good luck with your project!  J