Just Like humans, in fact, just like all living things, trees have a life cycle. This article will examine these stages and suggest how you should take care of your trees in each stage of their life cycle.
Seeds are a means for trees to ensure that the next generation of the species is spread and propagates – to ensure that the species continues to survive.
The seed contains all the resources needed for it to survive on its own, for a period of time so that it can reach a safe place to germinate.
The best time to sow seeds is in Autumn but you need to ensure that they are planted or sowed at the recommended depth. If they are planted too deep, they may not sprout and if they are planted too shallow the roots won’t take hold and the seedling will wither.
You should ensure that you use a good soil that drains well and place the container in a sunny spot. Ensure that you keep it moist but not wet, as too much water could cause decay and the seed will not sprout. The environment should also be quite humid, so we suggest that you cover the container in a plastic tent with some holes to allow air circulation.
Once your seed germinates, move it to a brighter location – you may need to keep it indoors until you are ready to plant it, but ensure that the plant gets plenty of sunlight.
The seed has now fallen and needs to secure itself – this happens when the primary root emerges from the seed in order to anchor it and to provide the growing plant with water.
Once the primary root is secure, the embryotic shoot emerges which will then appear above the soil.
A tree is considered a seedling until it is about 3 ft or 1 metre tall. This is the stage of the tree life cycle when it is most at risk of disease or damage. The seedling would be called a whip if it does not have any branches.
It is best to uproot, store and transplant trees during their dormant phase because they are more able to resist stresses during this phase. This is usually during the Autumn and Winter months.
You need to ensure that the roots remain properly moisturised as the root tips desiccate from lack of moisture. The root tips are extremely important for the tree as this is where new roots will sprout from.
Try to handle the seedling as little as possible.
Choose a spot that is well protected from most of the elements in your garden so that the tree can stand a fighting chance of survival.
Once a tree grows higher than 1m it is considered a sapling, but the duration of time for which the tree is considered a sapling depends on the species.
Water is much more important than fertilizer in the first two years, so make sure that you keep the soil moist, but not wet. Even though your tree is at it’s weakest just after planting it and will need a fair amount of water, you can still over water it and you could lose your tree. To check if it has enough water, you can dig a small trench around the sapling and checking if the soil is still moist. If this is dry to the touch, your plant needs water.
Ensure that you use the deep watering technique with saplings that are planted in your garden. Shallow watering will result in surface roots forming which are too weak to support the young tree and will make it more susceptible to disease.
FABI (Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute) has recently discovered a natural enemy of the invasive wasp species, Leptocybe Invasa in South Africa.
The pest Leptocybe Invasa is native to Queensland, Australia, but has spread to Africa, Asia, the pacific, Europe and Latin America. In fact, any country that has Eucalyptus trees can fall victim to this gall wasp.
In South Africa, Eucalyptus plantations are being infested by this pest. They insert their eggs into newly sprouted leaves, petioles and stems of the Eucalyptus tree, and, as the tree develops, the larvae grow and deforms the attacked area. This deformed mass of tissue is called a gall, hence the term, gall wasp.
Each gall has multiple chambers and each chamber hosts a developing insect, drawing nutrients from the deformed plant tissue surrounding it. At a high enough infestation rate, the growth of trees can be stunted. They can even be killed. This insect can cause major devastation of the Eucalyptus tree population resulting in various management strategies like the selection and deployment of resistant eucalypt genotypes and the introduction of biological control species like the Selitrichodes neseri.
Having this little wasp in South Africa is good news. It is hoped that the Q.Mendeli will control and eventually end the spread of Leptocybe Invasa.
The Q. Mendeli is indigenous to Australia, is about 1mm and directly attacks the developing L. Invasa larvae. The Q. Mendeli was deliberately introduced by Israel and India and they have seen very good results in the control of the L. Invasa.
The situation is being monitored buy collecting samples of galls for research on a regular basis, but for now, all we can do is wait for the Q. Mendeli to do it’s job!
December is fast approaching and the Christmas feeling is already in the air. Why decorate the same old way with that same old plastic tree?
There are some trees and shrubs that can substitute as a Christmas tree and once Christmas is over, it can be planted in your garden, or it can be kept in it’s pot ready for next year’s use. You can even take the DIY one step further by using seed pods and other organic material to make decorations. Get creative with paint, glitter, beads and other fun things and paint those cones and seed pods that you pick up around your garden!
Not only will you be saving the planet by reducing the use of plastic but you can also save money!
There are some Indigenous Tree Species that would make lovely Christmas Trees. These include:
The Yellowwood Tree (Podocarpus Henkelli)
This tree is often considered to be South Africa’s National Tree – it has glossy, dense, drooping leaves and a neat canopy. The branches are strong enough to hold decorations and the tree doesn’t grow very fast, so you should be able to use it as a Christmas Tree for many years. In a natural habitat the tree can reach between 20 and 30m in height, but it will be just fine in a container as well.
Outeniqua Yellowwood (Podocarpus Falcatus)
When young, this evergreen tree has the traditional conical Christmas Tree shape and can permanently be kept in a container due to its slow growing properties. In a natural habitat, the tree can reach up to 12m.
Real Yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius)
This is an evergreen, frost hardy tree with blue-green foliage that can be grown and kept in a container for many years.
Cape Gardenia (Rothmania Capensis)
This is one of the most attractive indigenous evergreens that has glossy dark green leaves and flowers from December to February.
Cheesewood (Pittosporum Viridiflorum)
This tree only reaches about 7 metres in height which makes it great for a small garden or container. It is frost hardy and has glossy dark green leaves that forms a neat canopy.
Blue Guarrie (Euclea Crispa)
This member of the Ebony Family is a neat, upright tree with a dense round canopy of dark bluish green leaves. It has a rusty to dark brown bark, often covered in lichen. This evergreen tree is ideal for smaller gardens and provides shade all year round because of its frost hardy and wind resistant properties. In summer, the sweet fragrance of the yellow bell-shaped flowers attracts butterflies and beautiful birds.
Mountain Cedar (Widringtonia Nodiflora)
This tree canopy is conically shaped with needle-like leaves – it looks the most like a traditional Christmas Tree. The tree is frost and drought resistant which makes it more likely to thrive in our tempestuous South African Weather conditions.
Caring for your trees during the summer months is just as important as during any other season. This article will look at a few tips and techniques you can use to take care of your trees during the long, hot summer!
The best time for mulching trees would be spring time, but you will also be able to successfully mulch your trees in summer and still reap many of the benefits. Mulch keeps your soil temperatures cool by helping to conserve the moisture in the soil, and suppresses the growth of weeds. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t mulch against the trunk of the tree as this can cause the trunk to rot over time. Rather make a donut shaped mulch layer around your trees.
South African summers can get quite hot, so it may be necessary for you to water your trees regularly, especially if the tree is young or newly planted. Trees need, on average, one inch of water per week, and it is much more effective to water a tree less frequently, but you need to make sure that the water reaches deeper into the ground to reach the deep roots of the trees.
Just like humans, trees need nutrients to support leaf and shoot growth, and to fend off diseases and pests. Trees growing in urban areas or high stress areas will need more fertilizer than trees growing in natural areas
Pruning trees is as much an art as it is a science – this is why you should try to leave it up to the professionals. You should try to limit your pruning to the dormant season, but sometimes it is necessary to prune your trees in summer. You should remove any branches or leaves that are diseased, damaged or dead. Flowering trees should only be pruned in the early summer, after they finish blooming.
Tree Pest Inspections
You should always keep an eye on your trees, by examining them frequently throughout the summer to check for pests and diseases. Most insects are not harmful to trees but some can be devastating to the health of a tree. Inspecting your trees regularly will ensure that you catch any potential infestations early, and will prevent the loss of precious, oxygen producing trees.
Summer rain storms can cause damage to trees and property, and it is important to assess the health and strength of your trees after every heavy storm. You may need to consult a tree care specialist to assess the safety of large trees. You could also brace and/or secure weak limbs with cables, if it is not necessary to completely remove the limb.
Spring time has arrived in sunny South Africa and this means it’s time to braai! South Africans love to enjoy the beautiful weather and environment we are blessed with by spending time outside with friends and family around the fire.
Contrary to what you might think, not all wood should be used in a fireplace or a braai. There are some risk factors to consider when choosing your fire wood to ensure that you, your friends and your family stay safe and healthy while enjoying the great outdoors.
Never use the following:
When a tree is cut down, the wood needs to be left out to dry, or season, for an extended period of time (more than 9 months is best). A newly felled tree will still have tree sap and water stored within its branches.
Freshly cut fire wood is very difficult to set alight, it produces less heat and a lot more smoke. The wood will also bubble and pop as it burns away the moisture in the wood.
Chimney fires may be caused by burning the wet wood of certain species of tree. The smoke could contain a high concentration of creosote, which is a flammable substance that collects in chimneys as the smoke escapes. Evergreen trees give off more creosotes than most.
Green Wood will have firmly attached bark that is still sticky with sap. Seasoned wood will weigh less and will make a cracking sound if you hit it with another piece of wood.
If you live or are visiting an area which is affected by an invasive species, you should take care not to move the wood outside of this area.
The spread of invasive insects and diseases is mainly caused by firewood that travels outside of the affected area. New outbreaks almost always start in and around camp sites or public braai areas where firewood is often used.
Soft wood like Pine, Fir or Cypress are soft woods that burn fast, does not form many coals and causes a lot of smoke and soot. If you are using a fireplace or chimney, you may want to avoid wood that is prone to producing soot.
You can use seasoned soft wood for outdoor fires, but cooking using soft wood may become difficult as the wood does not form many coals.
Salt Water Drift wood becomes saturated with salt, and burning this can release harmful chemicals into the air. Salt contains Chlorine which can burn away mucus membranes in a condensed gaseous form. The smoke from driftwood can also be corrosive that can damage your fireplace or braai.
Any wood that has the word ‘poison’ in its name should never be burned as it will release an irritant called Urushiol into the smoke. This will cause major respiratory problems and can be life threatening in some cases.
Oleander or Ceylon Rose (Selonsroos)
Oleander is an invasive species in the South African eco-system, so you may think it will help our eco system if you burn these plants, but every part of the Oleander shrub or tree is extremely poisonous. The sap also irritates the skin. Burning any part of this tree will release carcinogens into the air which is harmful to breathe in. The wood should never be placed near food either.
Treated, painted or pressure treated wood
Even though Brands Tree Felling does not deal with or produce this type of wood, we think it is important to mention.
Burning wood that has been treated, painted or pressure treated will release harmful chemicals into the air. This can lead to major health problems for the people around your fire, and for people eating the food prepared on this fire.
Pressure Treated Wood can be identified by its greenish or reddish hue and the perforations on the surface.
Plywood is also not suitable for burning as burning the glue used in the manufacturing process releases harmful chemicals into the air.
Milled Lumber may be treated with polyethylene glycol to make it dry faster.
Big Pieces of Wood
If the firewood is too big to fit into your fireplace or braai, it is not suitable. Large pieces of wood can fall out and set alight the surrounding areas.
Needless to say, burning wood from an endangered species would be a tragedy.
The polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB), also known as Euwallacea Fornicatus are able to cause a great deal of damage to our environment, and it has recently been discovered in South Africa.
These beetles are approximately 2mm long and is native to South East Asia, which means that the beetle has no natural predator in South Africa and can spread like wildfire.
To make matters worse, this beetle has a symbiotic relationship with certain types of fungi, like Fusarium Euwallacea. The fungus is the beetles’ main source of food in addition to it being the main cause associated with the wilting of trees. The beetle is believed to use the other types of fungi to help with colonisation of infected trees.
This beetle along with the associated fungi, has caused tremendous damage to trees across the US (specifically California) and regions of the Middle East. Considering the devastation caused by this beetle in Sandton and in Knysna (currently infesting over 200 indigenous tree species from 28 different plant families) this beetle could cause one of South Africa’s largest ecological tragedies.
How does the beetle infest the tree?
The beetle itself, does not kill the tree, but the fungus accompanying the beetle does. The fungus infects the tree’s vascular system which then affects and/or stops the flow of water and nutrients within the tree.
How to Identify the Shot Hole Borer
Unfortunately, the beetles are the size of sesame seeds and can be hard to spot, however, you can identify an infected tree by looking for the following signs:
Wilting or missing leaves
Dead or dying Branches
Entry or Exit holes on the bark (the size of a pen tip) – these holes may have staining around them
Shotgun like lesions on the bark at entry or exit hole
Sugar Volcanoes on the bark at entry or exit hole
Blotches of oozing resin on the bark at entry or exit holes
Wood frass (wood powder) on the bark at entry or exit holes
What Can I do about PSHB?
The PSHB beetle drills very deeply into the wood, which is why no remedy has, as yet, been discovered for this pest. We recommend KOINOR at this stage, but results are, unfortunately, not guaranteed.
The public can also aid in the management of the spreading of this infestation by reporting any signs to FABI (Forestry and Biotechnology Institute).
The discovery of this beetle in South Africa is a major concern to foresters, farmers, tree fellers and landscapers as these beetles are very aggressive and are known as tree killers. We have a large biodiversity in South Africa hosting 299 species of mammals and 858 species of birds, all depending on trees for their food and shelter. It is our duty to take care of the natural beauty we are blessed with.
Brands Tree Felling “comes to the rescue” for Hotel Hope Ministries in their Melville children’s home. This children’s home, catering for 18 children, had a forest of greenery in the back garden, with trees hanging over the neighbour’s property – trees that had not been cut or maintained in ages. It was a big mess and an even bigger job, but nothing that Brands Tree Felling could not handle. They managed the job in a day and a half, cutting though all the trees, cleaning up, and without causing any damage to the surrounding property.
The Hotel Hope Ministries charity has been in existence since 2008, and the children’s home opened in 2011. They have two homes in Melville and one in Westdene that is still being built. This organisation has had 90 children since 2011 across the two homes in Melville and of those 73 have been adopted into South African families or families abroad. Most of these children are orphaned through crime, accidents, poverty and HIV and then taken in by Hotel Hope Ministries.
Hotel Hope not only cares for our youngsters, but also educates the mothers through its teenage crisis intervention in Alexandria.
Hotel Hope Ministries initially got to know Brands Tree Felling 5 years ago when Hotel Hope had a Peach tree in the back of their property that fell over. As Hotel Hope did not have the capabilities to remove the tree themselves, Brands assisted in the process. Brands Tree Felling and Hotel Hope Ministries have been joining forces ever since as they are, according to Oliver Quambusch, “ethical, honest, and don’t do it for the glory”.
Children of Fire
Children of Fire, Africa’s First Burns Charity, has a long-standing relationship with Brands Tree Felling.
This organisation stated that they are always on hand to give advice which trees should be trimmed, how, when, and how much. Sometimes, when a tree was cracking a building or a wall, they helped to remove a tree entirely. At other times, Brands trimmed the Pride of Bolivia, the Pride of India, the Loquat tree and many more trees that Children of Fire cannot always remember the names of.
They have also helped to prevent determined surplus trees from growing back, after the boles of the trees have been destumped. Child burns survivors have also been taught the difference between indigenous and alien trees, which trees support wildlife, and those which are not so good for the environment.
“We hope to keep working with Brands Tree Felling for many more years. They are reliable, efficient, safe and their teams are well-trained, well-equipped, courteous and tidy”.
To most homeowners, trees are highly valued as they lay the foundation of any landscape. It is for that reason that most homeowners would aim to keep their trees as healthy as possible, although this isn’t always an easy task. One thing that is very beneficial to the health of trees is pruning. Pruning contributes to keeping trees safe, beautiful and healthy.
Tree pruning promotes tree health
When trees are pruned properly, they are stripped of all the dead or dying branches. These are often very dangerous to your trees as well as the surrounding property and any people or animals that may find themselves in the vicinity of the trees. Cutting away threatening branches prevents further decay and promotes a trees general health as it permits the tree to nurture the remaining branches more effectively. Moreover, trimmed trees get better air circulation and sun exposure which are two vital factors that make for healthier trees. Regular pruning is also a good method of fighting infections and insects that may be found in trees. When infections get into your tree, they tend to travel to all the healthier parts of the tree, ultimately endangering the tree in its entirety. This can be avoided by trimming away dead branches to prevent infection or further spreading.
Tree pruning improves the overall appearance and structure of trees
Trimming or pruning your trees has the added benefit of beautifying your landscape. By cutting off all of the unappealing dead branches you can clean up your tree thereby improving the aesthetics of your landscape. This also serves to prevent the growth of unattractive broad and fragile branches.
Moreover, tree pruning prevent trees from growing branches with frail crotches which will eventually cross each other and compete for space in the crown of the tree. Trees can also be shaped by means of pruning. When doing this one can smooth out uneven growth patterns, thereby make the tree more appealing to the eye.
Tree pruning increases property values
Properties with a groomed and well maintained gardens, undoubtedly have an increased property value. It is therefore vital to keep you garden spick-and-span. One of the elements of this is to make sure that your trees are always well pruned and maintained.
Tree pruning prevents possible hazards
As tree pruning lightens a tree’s weight, it reduces the possibility of a tree or some of its branches falling during storms or heavy rains and winds. Another reason why regularly pruned trees are considered safer is because they don’t carry dead branches. Dead branches can fall at any time possibly causing damage to the garden below, people, animals and buildings.
Prune in Summer or Winter?
Firstly, regardless of any season, if you notice that your tree has damaged or dead branches, they need to be removed as soon as possible. For other cases when pruning, here are a few suggestions on when you should prune: Winter pruning is a good idea as it contributes to the new growth once spring arrives. It can lead to your tree looking more mature and fuller in the long term. If you’re looking to prune this winter, do so as soon as the deciduous trees leaves have fallen. Evergreen trees can be pruned in winter as soon as the coldest weather has passed.
It is clear from the above that pruning your trees has many benefits. Brand’s Tree Felling can assist with the pruning and trimming of your trees as well as providing advice in this regard. Contact us on 0861 708 000 or email@example.com or see our Web Site www.brandstreefelling.co.za should you wish to make an appointment for a free Quotation.
We all have those annoying, overgrown trees or misplaced stumps in our yards that we would just like to bulldoze away! The gardener comes and we think that’s it – today is the day. It is like going through a bad break-up and acting on emotion: we cut half of our hair off. BIG MISTAKE! A mistake we unfortunately learn a little too late. So the gardener cuts and cuts the trees and we tie a rope around the stump, and at the back of your little 30-year- old “bakkie” and there you go. At the end of the day you sit with a broken car and trees with bad haircuts. That is why you need to hire a professional tree removal company.
1.Removing trees is dangerous
Tree removal activities of any kind can be extremely dangerous, especially to someone who doesn’t know much about the art. Even when you are capable of taking care of the problem by yourself, you never know when something might go the other way. In such situations, whether it be falling out of a tree, cutting it the wrong way, whatever the case might be, you are actually just endangering your own life, as well as that of your neighbours.
2.Removing trees requires knowledge and years of experience
Sadly, as a layman you don’t know all there is to know about tree removal. YouTube videos and internet reading can only take you that far as it is limited to theory only, not practice. Professional tree and stump removal companies are equipped with skills, knowledge, expertise and years of experience in removing stumps and trees safely and securely without damaging people, property or other assets. A professional can advise on which trees to remove, what machinery to use, where too cute and how to attend to trees with roots in the vicinity of pipes and electrical systems. Moreover, they know which trees are rotten and dangerous and which should be saved – advice which is invaluable to the safety of your family and home.
3.For the safety of your home and person
Cutting down trees, or even just giving it a light pruning, requires skill and technique. Make one wrong cut and the tree could fall the wrong way onto your home or worse- onto a person. Cut the wrong branch and limbs could fall in the wrong direction, causing inconceivable damage to your vehicle, your person, your home or worse – your neighbour’s home. All of these dangers can be avoided by using a professional tree removal company with the right insurance – in case a mistake occurs.
4.Removing trees requires proper equipment
Finding machinery to remove those tree stumps is not easy and you definitely can’t remove them without the proper equipment. Not only are they hard to find, they cost a small fortune. Once you finally spend your two month’s salary, you would still need training on how to use them. Instead of going through all of this hassle, leave it to the professionals – they have all equipment and training ready for effective use!
5.Not to mention the cleaning!
After trees are cut down and stumps are removed, you are still left with one big garden mess. If you have already done the removing part yourself, you and your family will be overworked and would still have to clean up afterwards. Let’s be honest – nobody likes to cook and clean. When hiring a professional company they take care of it all, making the whole removal process fly by smoothly and all that you have to do is enjoy a clean garden.
Let Brands Tree Felling do your removal for you – professionally. Visit our website at www.brandstreefelling.co.za for more information and contact us today for your tree removal quote.
Being the owner of a small or medium sized garden can be challenging. Finding the best and most suitable plants to keep your garden alive can be difficult. This blog post will give you the list of the top 10 trees to plant in small gardens, thereby avoiding that struggle and having the garden you have always dreamt of.
1.Heteropyxis Natalensis (Lavender tree)
The beautiful, pale bark lavender tree with a semi-deciduous foliage, is a favourite amongst the small garden owners. With its ornamental shape, this heteropyxis natalensis species grows at a slow pace, but in due time presents its owner with an enchanting garden tree.
2.Kiggelaria Africana (Wild peach)
The Kiggelaria Africana or Wild Peach tree, is another popular choice for smaller gardens as this semi-deciduous tree can grow between 8 and 12 meters, depending on the conditions. With its stunning light grey-green foliage gardens appear open and bright. This beautiful, fast growing specimen has female and male parts on separate trees. The female tree is preferred for providing fruit for birds, attracting a host of birds feeding on fruit seeds.
3.Buddleja Saligna (False olive)
One of the most popular indigenous trees in the Gauteng region is the Buddleja Saligna tree, otherwise known as the False Olive tree. As this beauty only has a growth of 1 to 1.5 meters, it has the benefit of being one of the fastest growing trees on this top 10 list. Moreover, it does not reach an overall height of more than 3 to 4 meters in a few years, and therefore it is a perfect candidate for a small garden owner. Despite its scruffy look in time, with some pruning, it can still look beautiful in a small garden. A useful tip with regards to this tree is to plant it in a distance from pools and paving.
4.Dais Cotinifolia (Pompon tree)
The Pompon tree is a semi-deciduous tree and is considered to be on the most stunning indigenous trees, and is steadily becoming very popular in the Gauteng region. This Dais Cotinifolia specie is fast growing reaching a height of up to 10 meters in good conditions. It is frost tolerant and evergreen with an eruption of pretty pink flowers, thereby making for a beautiful garden display in the summer.
5.Apodytes Dimidiata (White pear)
The Apodytes Dimidiata or White Pear tree with its dark evergreen foliage, grows steadily, reaching a height of 6 to 8 meters over the years. When properly and purposely pruned, it can be used as an efficient hedge.
6.Pittosporum Viridiflorum (Cheesewood)
It grows at a medium pace, but at the end of the flowering season, gorgeous yellow, edible berries blossom from this evergreen tree. As the Cheesewood tree has a non-aggressive root system, it is safe to plant it beside paving and retaining walls.
7.Dombeya Rotundifolia (Wild pear)
The Dombeya Rotundifolia or Wild Pear, is a stunning fully deciduous specie. This indigenous evergreen specimen can grow up to 8 meters long. During the summer it becomes one of the most appealing species as it bursts into masses of white flowers. Another benefit to the wild pear tree is its non-aggressive root system, making it safe to plant in the vicinity of walls and paving.
8.Indigofera Jacunda (River indigo)
This small, semi-deciduous tree sports a combination of pink and white flowers, making it an attractive and suitable tree for small gardens. The Indigofera Jacunda is a fast grower, reaching a height of 2.5 to 4 meters. When properly pruned, it can be encouraged to reach an appropriate shape. A helpful tip concerning the River Indigo is that this tree attracts birds and butterflies into the garden.
9.Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica (Parsley tree)
The Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica, otherwise known as the Parsley tree, is a very well-known specie in the South African Highveld. With its dark brown bark, peeling from trunks and branches, it is well distinguished. This specie can grow up to 10 meters, making it perfect for a small to medium sized garden.
10.Bolusanthus Speciosus (Wisteria)
The Tree Wisteria, a beautiful small sized tree with a non-aggressive root system is welcomed by all small garden owners. This Bolusanthus Speciosus specie grows at a medium pace and creates a stunning bluish-mauve colour during spring.