Post date: February 26, 2016

February provided a hiatus from the heavy early season rains and snow we hoped might free us from the grips of our five-year drought. According to KQED Science,
“the abnormally warm water along the equator that defines El Niño probably peaked in December… but still has some steam left in the boiler, seen in the rapid upward movement of warm, moist air over the ocean.”
 
So, as we bask in record temperatures and abundant sunshine, we’re still hopeful that March will deliver much needed rain and snowpack to the Sierra Nevada.
 
Unfortunately, hope and prayer alone isn’t a strategy for managing our drought. Federal climate scientists say the near-record El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean have peaked and are slowly waning. Forecasters now say conditions are likely to flip to their opposite phase, known as La Niña by late summer or early fall, which could set the stage for another drier-than-normal winter and prolonged drought in California.
 
What does this mean for you?
The bottom line is that we all need to continue our heightened water conservation efforts.
 
On February 2, 2016, the state Water Resources Control Board adopted an emergency regulation that, pending approval by the Office of Administrative Law, extends existing conservation regulations through October with a few limited adjustments. The state board promises to revisit the regulation by May 1 to address any changes in water supply conditions.
 
On February 25th EBMUD provided the following water supply update: total system water storage is 52% full and rainfall precipitation is 102% of average for the new rainfall year that began July 1.
 
To learn more from about mandatory restrictions, rate information, and ways to save, please visit:
 
EBMUD
http://www.ebmud.com/water-and-drought/drought/
 
Zone 7 Water Agency
http://www.zone7water.com/index.php/conservation-rebates/water-conservation/36-public/content/203-drought
 
SF Water
http://sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=872
 
Contra Costa Water District
http://www.ccwater.com/148/Conservation

Post date: February 26, 2016

With the exception of the warmest summer months, the mild climate of the Bay Area allows for successful planting nearly year round. Though we can plant year round, early springtime (or late winter) is the ideal time to plant summer flowering bulbs.  Shrubs with shallow root systems that require regular moisture (Azalea) are easier to establish if planted at this time of the year. Mild temperatures and regular rains allow the roots to expand and search for moisture before high temperatures begin to slow their growth.
 
Early spring is also the best time of the year to plant cold sensitive trees and shrubs like citrus and other subtropical plants. These plants will be able to take advantage of six to eight months of mild weather before cold temperatures begin to introduce stress.
 
Spring planting can be successful if proper planting guidelines are followed. If you are itching to get out in the garden, feel free to contact us to learn more about your options for springtime planting.
 
We encourage you to consider supporting one of the many outstanding local Bay Area non-profit organizations by attending a spring plant sale. For more information on two local organizations who hold their own spring plant sales the first weekend in May, please visit: 
 
http://merrittlandhort.com/community/plant-sales/  or  http://www.sfbotanicalgarden.org/plant-sales/annual-plant-sale.html

Post date: January 25, 2016

Proper planting depth is important for all plants; especially trees, which grow large and have the potential to damage homes and properties. We commonly see trees that are planted too deep and subsequently have health problems. In fact, most trees are planted too deep at the nurseries from which they originate. These trees are purchased, taken home, and planted even deeper. Construction activities may cause a change in soil level, which could bury root crowns even further.
 
The root crown, the natural margin where trunk wood meets root wood, is commonly referred to as the “Achilles Heel” of trees and woody plants. The root crown is the point at which gas is exchanged (through phloem) between the roots and tree canopy. When the root crown is buried, less gas exchange occurs: this is further reduced if the soil is moist. Over time, the phloem declines and the tree’s uptake of water and growth is stunted. Decay may begin to occur in the basal trunk area and large anchoring roots. This stress causes the tree to be more susceptible to attack from other pests and diseases. The result, if untreated, can be tree decline or even toppling. The best corrective measure is to remove the soil that is built up around the root crown.
 
Care must be taken when excavating at the root crown to avoid damaging the roots.  In the past, this meant using picks and shovels to remove the soil. Even when using precaution, important roots will be damaged if the soil is manually removed. Excavating with an air pick (also known as an “air knife”) is a much safer and quicker alternative to manual excavation.  An air pick uses a stream of highly pressurized air to fracture and blow the soil away from the root crown. Though the air pick can pulverize the soil, it is completely harmless to roots.
 
At Tree Sculpture, we have a deep understanding of plant physiology and health. If we kept track of every tree we encountered that was planted too deep, we would have lost count years ago. For this reason, one of the services that we offer is root crown excavation and examination. If you feel that your tree is planted too deep, or if you’d like to have your root crown inspected; contact our office today to schedule an appointment with our certified arborist.

Post date: January 25, 2016

El Nino has delivered much needed rain and snow throughout California. The good news, according to scientists at NOAA, is that forecast models indicate there is a 96 percent chance that El Nino conditions will remain through March and a 62 percent probability they will continue through May.
 
However, it’s still too early to celebrate by removing those low-flow showerheads. We have considerable ground (or acre-feet of water) to make up for the previous years of historic drought. We must continue our conservation efforts. 
 
According to Inside Bay Area, the government's recent weekly "drought monitor" update showed that 69 percent of California remains in extreme drought, barely changed from three months ago, when it was 71 percent.
 
One of the biggest challenges we face as a state is water storage after four very dry years.
 
California's largest reservoirs have slowly begun to fill, but remain low. In the last five weeks, Shasta Lake has added 218,000 acre-feet of water, enough for 1.1 million people for a year. But the reservoir was so low it has only risen to 34 percent full. Historically, it's averaged 66 percent full on this date.
 
While El Nino continues to provide reasons to be hopeful about our drought stricken state, it is unlikely to fully erase the water deficit caused by years of drought. Therefore, despite the welcomed precipitation, we believe that everyone should continue doing what you can to help conserve.

Post date: November 24, 2015

If you've driven around the Bay Area recently, chances are that you may have noticed dying pine trees. As a local tree care provider, we've noticed an increase in the death of pine trees. What's going on? The short answer is "drought-stress;" the long answer is "it depends." 
 
Trees (or any other living organisms) are under constant attack from pests and diseases. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent these attacks. After all, life is about survival of the fittest. Just as a person who eats a healthy diet, receives proper hydration, exercises regularly, and routinely visits the doctor is less likely to become sick; the same could be said about trees. A properly fertilized tree that receives adequate water, and proper pruning to remove deadwood and diseased branches is more likely to recover from these attacks. A drought-stressed, nutritionally deficient tree will be more likely to succumb to these attacks. While we haven't pinpointed the final cause of death for these pine trees; one thing is for certain, the drought has weakened the trees to the point that they cannot recover from the damages.
 
You may also notice stressed or defoliated pine trees loaded with pine cones. This overabundance may be the tree's last-ditch effort to produce saplings. 
 
Most people don't think about tree care during the winter. The type of inquiries we receive primarily shift from requests for inspections and pruning to calls for downed limbs and fallen trees. However, winter is the best time of the year to prune pine trees. Pine trees are dormant during the late winter. Pine bark beetle, a major pest in California, is also dormant during this period. Pruning cuts made in the late winter will callus quickly in the early spring before the beetle is active. Once the callus is completely formed, the wound is no longer susceptible to attack. Click on the following link to learn more about Why Winter is the Best Time of Year to Prune Your Pine
 
Contact us today to schedule a free appointment to have your pine tree inspected by our Certified Arborist, Dan Dachauer.

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