Why hire an Arborist for an assessment? Risks of improper mulching

We have all heard that mulch is beneficial for landscape trees. However, when applied incorrectly it can lead to more problems for your tree. Last summer we were referred from another local arborist to assess and evaluate a stressed tree.

July 29th, 2017
​ Our initial visit to a very stressed tree. 5% of the canopy is still green. Note the mound of mulch up against the trunk of the tree.

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Bayview Hall / Goosefoot Cash Store Maple

History is important when assessing a trees condition or health. Approximately 4 years ago this tree lost a large leader, damaging other portions of the crown. Damaged portions of the tree were pruned back to nodes to promote sprout growth in order to allow the tree regenerate lost crown mass. Unfortunately the tree did not respond as hoped, indicating a loss of vigor.

Another party contacted Goosefoot expressing concern of additional limb failure impacting life and property within the parking lot. With further assessment of the Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) we determined that the tree had limited rooting space. With a busy parking lot covering half of the trees root system, and a road on the other half the tree did not have many options for positive rooting space. Additionally the crown of the tree is restricted due to the high voltage power lines across the street.


​Late this winter we began the conversation of the best approach to mitigate risk, benefit the maple, as well as the Bayview community. The balancing act of infrastructure and large tree management always needs to come with compromise. In order to allow the tree to thrive we removed access to 4-5 parking spaces, by placing organic barriers. The choice of using logs has much to do with recreating a sliver of a natural ecosystem.

Additionally we used advanced techniques to alleviate the compaction issue for the tree. Most of the trees fine absorbing roots are in the upper foot of soil where oxygen, water, and nutrients from decaying organic matter is the most plentiful. Soil compaction limits the availability of these resources, coupled with 5 inches of compacted crushed gravel limited this trees ability to respond to damage within the crown. Simply by applying a good wood chip mulch helps tremendously to alleviate these conditions, but it takes time which this tree did not have. This is where air excavation tools, radial trenching, and soil amendments come into play.

Of course there are many ways to decompact and add amendments to soils, but modern air excavation equipment does so with the least amount of impact and damages to the existing root system. Trenches were blown into the soil, then amended with a blend of excavated material and mushroom compost. Mushroom compost was chosen due to the high organic matter coupled with a favorable carbon to nitrogen ratio. The last touch was to break up the gravel layer and add 4-5″ of ‘Arborist mulch.’

It was alarming how compacted the soil was underneath the gravel. Another significant observation was how dry the soils were. This April has had a significant amount of rainfall, with saturated soil throughout the Puget Sound region. This was not the case for our poor maple tree!

The next step was to work the crown of the tree, to help stimulate interior growth, remove large deadwood, and thin/reduce lower lateral limbs. Some of the larger pruning will need to wait until the trees leaves fully expand for the season. Spring pruning vigorous healthy trees can stimulate a strong growth response, however it’s stressful for ailing trees. ​​

Langley Main Street and the City of Langley

Ivy removal, light crown raising, and deadwood removal.

Jesse Brighton of Arbor Dreams has brought back the view from Boy & Dog park by trimming the tree next to Ott & Murphy. He also cleaning up the Ivy growing on the tree and revealed again the little chickadee on the old lamp post. What a clear view. Thank You Jesse!
Sponsored by Langley Main Street and the City of Langley

Lights strung up around Langley’s business district

Lights strung up around Langley’s business district

Lights strung up around Langley’s business district

Mon Nov 23rd, 2015 7:03pm

Festive white lights are all aglow in Langley’s business district, including a capstone strand on the massive maple tree at Whale Bell Park.

The new lights illuminate the dark nights downtown and along the path to Seawall Park.

Following the advice of Jesse Brighten of Arbor Dreams, Langley Main Street Association purchased globes that can attach with wide straps to the tree, rather than string lights which an injure branches. Brighton used his tree climbing expertise to place the globes from top to bottom.

This is part of the ongoing work by the organization to “Light the Night” in the fall and winter. Lights were added to trees on First and Second streets, at Langley City Hall and the Langley Library.

Several holiday festivities are planned in Langley. The Lighting of Langley, a tree lighting ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28 at Langley Park on the corner of Second Street and Anthes Avenue. Singing carols, sipping hot chocolate and cider, and pictures with Santa will be available. The Holly Jolly Christmas Parade will meander through town, starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. A Candy Cane Christmas Gingerbread House decorating session is set for Sunday, Dec. 13 at Sweet Mona’s on Second Street, between Anthes and Cascade avenues.

Arborist Discussion of Shoreline Tree Care & Rigging Demonstration for Slope Work



Arborist Discussion of Shoreline Tree Care & Rigging Demonstration for Slope Work |
Jesse Brighton, ISA Certified Arborist, Arbor Dreams Tree Care

An outdoor session focused on “lessons learned” while working with homeowners on shoreline tree care, and an overview of rigging strategies to clear pruned tree limbs or debris from slopes along shorelines. A chance to look and discuss gear and tools for safe work in tricky environments.

November Storms

It has been quite the year for storms in the past 12 months. Many trees have fallen, and some which were very large. Everyone seems to have a story, power out for 4 days, trees across cars, flying limbs, and electrical wires down every where. It’s times like these island life shows it’s true colors, within hours chainsaws were firing off, and neighbors were helping each other out.

The chainsaw shelves were bare at the local saw shops, however the safety shelf was untouched. Nearly every homeowner/rancher grade saw was sold out. While there was only one vacant space where the chainsaw chaps hang. Fallen trees present many hazards and unpredictable situations can occur. Trees can be loaded guns of pressures, and entire logs can move or shift like a coiled spring being released. Uprooted stumps will tip back into the earth, putting tons of weight in motion as logs swing vertically back into the air.

Chainsaws are the most dangerous power tools ever made, and have relatively few safety features. For every saw sold there should be a full assortment of safety gear purchased. This includes operator instructions, chaps which will bind the chain if contact is made, impact resistant glasses, and hearing protection.

Some situations these storms create, can be easily managed by the average person. However many even present the pros with unique challenges. It is all too often when a seemingly simple task can take a turn for the worst when a situation arises where one is not prepared. Knowing how to identify, create, and execute a safe efficient working plan are the major differences from amateurs to pros. In addition to home owners, and helpful neighbors there are many business which see the opportunity of a fast buck offering storm clean up services. Frequently these are companies which primary mow lawns, “handy man” services, and landscape companies. Many of which are working outside of the legal bounds of licencing, insurance, and other requirements. I could go on and on about this last topic, but the important thing to remember is just because someone could do this, doesn’t mean they should.

Celebrate Arbor Day This Friday

Celebrate Arbor Day This Friday

Come join Jesse Brighten, of Arbor Dreams, an ISA Certified Arborist, for a free informal Arbor Day demonstration!

Watch as we remove the Christmas lights from Langley’s prize oak tree, near the Dog House at the whale bell park. On First Street.

11 AM:

Live rope climbing demonstration, while removal of the lights takes place.

Learn how an Arborist moves through the tree canopy with non invasive climbing techniques.

12 noon to 1:30 PM(about):

What is a Arborist?

Learn how to properly plant a tree, and what to look for when picking out a tree from the nursery.

Observe samples of improperly pruned trees, along with potential problems to look for in your trees.

Also learn what to look for when hiring some one to prune your trees.

This is an all ages event. It will be informal, outdoors with no seating provided.  There will be a table set up with samples and some tools to view up close.