Category Archives: Care

About Tipping

No, not that kind of tipping.

I’m talking about snipping off the ends of tree branches to shorten them.

In the drawing, the blue line indicates roughly where someone snipped off the ends of branches a, b, c, and d. You can see how the tree responded: a spray of profuse new growth (“shoots” or “water sprouts”) from near the ends of the tipped branches.

Why?

At the tip of a tree branch there is a so-called terminal or apical bud. This specialized bud regulates growth of the entire branch. (After all, the tree needs to grow up and out to reach that all-important sunlight!)

A hormone is involved, called auxin. Think of auxin as being like a sleep potion. All those many other buds lying under the bark along each branch? Auxin keeps those buds dormant.

But if I snip off the terminal bud, some of those dormant buds along the branch “wake up.” They send out shoots which will become twigs which will become new branches.

Tipping a branch to clear a sidewalk or street is usually counterproductive. Within a year or two, the problem will be twice or three times as bad. Look how many sprouts were growing on this tipped Bradford pear. (Located on Austin Avenue at its intersection with Euclid. Thanks to Meghan for identifying this hazard to pedestrians.)

Instead, always cut a branch just beyond a node. A node is simply where a leaf, twig, or secondary branch attaches to a larger part of the tree.

Put differently, your goal is always to leave a bud which can become the new terminal or apical bud of that branch, controlling that essential hormone auxin, so that the tree can grow up and out.

Repair work:

TELL US WHERE TO WORK

From now until at least May 2022, Inman Park volunteers will gather on the third Saturday of each month to

  • prune branches that are growing into the sidewalk or street,
  • remove vines strangling trees in our parks and greenspaces,
  • cut out or pull up invasive plants that crowd out our native species.

You can help by telling us where you have noticed that a sidewalk is obstructed or a park space is being overtaken by vines.

Leave a comment on this post with your suggestions, and thanks for the help!

We are small but mighty!

Jaime Kirsche and Jim Abbot were the inaugural volunteers at the first-ever Whack, Yak, and Snack, which will take place every third Saturday of the month, meeting on the porch of 946 Waverly Way at 9:00 a.m.

Jaime and I got a ton done on Saturday, September 18. We worked along the sidewalk that lies between Springvale Park and Edgewood Avenue. The goal was to improve sight lines into the park, remove invasive trees, and clear the sidewalk of low-hanging limbs.

Mission accomplished.

Jim in the jungle
Jim (left) and Jaime (right) with their pile

Delta Park

I had a pleasant walk with the German shepherd this Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend: cool and quiet in Inman Park.

We walked past Delta Park, near the intersection of Edgewood and Euclid.

It made me think of something I read about years ago: a theory or model in environmental psychology. (Yes, there is such a thing.)

Continue reading Delta Park

Whack, Yak, and Snack

Beginning Saturday, September 18, and continuing every 3rd Saturday of the month through the spring, Tree Watch will be hosting Whack, Yak, and Snack.

WHACK: Prune trees, trim bushes, free trees of choking vines, yank up invasive plants, and in general, take care of our leafy green friends along our streets here in Inman Park and in our marvelous parks and greenspaces.

YAK: One of the things Inman Park does best. Yak while you whack. Spend a morning in the beautiful outdoors catching up with your friends.

SNACK: An Inman Park event without food doesn’t deserve the name. We’ll have a bagel, a pastry, or piece of fruit for you to start your day, and weather permitting, and also depending on interest, we will also have sandwiches or pizza and a cold drink of your choice afterward, courtesy of Inman Park Tree Watch.

Meet on the porch of 946 Waverly Way NE before 9:00 AM on the third Saturday of each month: (in 2021) September 18, October 16, November 20, December 18; (in 2022) January 15, February 19, March 19, April 16, May 21.

Bring water to drink, gloves if you have them, and your favorite tool(s) (saw, pruners, loppers, rakes, etc.), though we can also supply you with everything you need.

No experience necessary. Just a willingness to get your hands dirty and an aptitude for having a good time.

Rain or shine, as long as it’s not super yucky outside.

  • What: Whack, Yak, and Snack (Maintenance Projects)
  • When: Third Saturdays starting in September, 9:00 a.m. to noon
  • Where: Gather at 946 Waverly Way NE
  • Who: Inman Park volunteers and their friends
  • Why: Because it’ll be fun and rewarding, we promise

Contact Jim Abbot with questions through this website. Or if you’re an IPNA member, you can find my personal email and cellphone number in back issues of the Advocator and in my IPNA website profile.

Our Endorsement for Mayor Is …

… the candidate who is most persuasive in arguing that he or she will ensure that Atlanta works as well as it can for everybody who lives here.

Rich, poor, and in-between.

Older and younger folks.

Black, White, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, American Indian, and multiracial individuals.

Property owners as well as people whose few possessions fit into a plastic bag with room to spare.

Political independents, Democrats, and Republicans.

Those whose families have been here for generations, and those who got here last week.

From Buckhead (geez, take a deep breath and calm down, Buckhead) to Mozley Park.

Tree lovers, tree skeptics, and the many people who rarely if ever think about our trees.

The city needs to work. Departments and offices should meet and exceed minimal thresholds for effectiveness and efficiency. Problems, especially basic problems, should be addressed in a timely manner: police officers or firefighters showing up when they’re summoned, trash and recycling picked up on schedule, streets promptly repaired, and so on.

Continue reading Our Endorsement for Mayor Is …

Who actually owns our street trees?

The answer should be clear.

It’s not, at least not to me.

  • “The City of Atlanta owns them, Jim. That’s obvious. After all, they’re in the public right-of-way. You’re forbidden by law from removing or injuring those trees, but the City itself can do whatever it wants with them. Clearly, the trees belong to the City.”
  • “You own them, Jim. After all, you’re the one who’s legally responsible for maintaining that strip along the street (e.g., keeping it level with the sidewalk, keeping it free of holes and weeds, pruning the trees themselves). If the City has to step in and do the maintenance for you, it can charge you with the expense. If the City abandons its right-of-way along the road, you’re the one with the reversionary right. And so on. Clearly, the trees belong to you.”

Totally confusing.

Continue reading Who actually owns our street trees?

Trees and Lightning

Results from a 10-year investigation of lightning and thunderstorm activity surrounding Atlanta identified increases in thunderstorm intensity, rainfall, and lightning over and downwind of the city center during the summer months of June, July, and August.


Mace Bentley, Tony Stallins, and Walker Ashley, “The Atlanta Thunderstorm Effect” (2010)

Lightning is not something to be taken lightly. In 2020, Georgia ranked second only to Florida for number of homeowners insurance claims due to lightning losses (4,686).

In Atlanta, lightning is common. The urban heat island effect, so-called “canyon” winds (i.e., the lifting of warm, humid air over the city center), and air pollution combine to increase the frequency of lightning events and strikes. Flash “densities” in the northeast quadrant of the city are as high as those found along the state’s coastline (Leanna Shea Rose, “A Spatial Analysis of Lightning Strikes and Precipitation in the Greater Atlanta, Georgia (USA) Region,” 2008). Here’s a map showing lightning events clustered east of the urban core during periods of westerly winds:

Bentley et al., “The Atlanta Thunderstorm Effect”

It may be worth noting, too, that Inman Park is adjacent to the subcontinental divide (Dekalb Avenue and the rail lines). In the map below, the pink areas are higher in elevation than the areas shaded yellow, green, and blue.

Here and there throughout these areas of higher elevation are trees that are somewhat taller than their neighbors. You get a sense of that from this photo taken during Festival, looking west from Poplar Circle.

Which is why I recently asked master arborist Chris Hastings about lightning protection for trees. We were standing at the base of a tall tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) growing within several feet of two houses.

If you have a mature tree that you dearly love, or a tall tree very close to your house, you may want to consider asking a reputable tree care company about lightning protection. Not cheap, of course, but then the cost of removing a large tree in Atlanta these days can be more than $10,000.

I’m 60 years old, and twice in my life I’ve been within a few dozen feet of a lightning strike of a tree. The second time, it killed a century-old white oak growing in front of our then home in Virginia-Highland.

Absolute Torture

I wish I could tell you that walking around our leafy, shady, drop-dead-gorgeous neighborhood is a continual source of unmitigated joy for us tree guys and tree gals.

It ain’t. Not always, anyway. Sometimes it feels like torture.

Here’s the problem. (Cue the violins.) Everywhere a tree guy looks, he sees work that needs doing. And work that should have been done but wasn’t. And work that he did but now needs doing again.

Sigh.

Here’s an example.

That’s a live oak (Quercus virginiana ‘Cathedral’) which Tree Watch planted several years ago, and which one of our neighbors (it seems) has now had “pruned” by his yard crew (I’m guessing), which should definitely be calling itself Jack the Ripper Lawn Care Services.

It’s like a person going for a pedicure and coming home with two bleeding stumps instead of legs.

It’s like that oak tree dissed his mama. Twice.

You know what happens when a person abuses a tree like that? One day, it falls on somebody’s head.

Here’s another example.

You’re wondering where the tree is. Me, too. It was there two days ago, and I well remember the morning that Melissa and her family planted it.

A tree guy thinks, “I should have pruned that live oak again, before the homeowner got frustrated with it.” He thinks, however illogically, “I should have known that there were new owners of that house, and thought to talk to them about the white oak tree we planted in that yard.”

Sigh.

Trees can be like our children. The dad or mom looks at their son and thinks, “I sure love him, but gosh does he need a haircut and a new pair of blue jeans.”