Sunday, November 30, 2014

Have you picked out your Christmas tree yet?

Christmas is just weeks away. For those of you that are fans of the real Christmas tree, we've compiled some tips to help you pick a tree with confidence and take care of it when you bring it home.

1. Measure twice, cut once. Where are you putting the tree in your home? What kind of space do you have for a tree and what size tree will fit there? Remember to subtract the height of your stand and the tree topper you want to use to get the maximum tree height you can fit. Also clear the space where you'll put the tree and see how deep it is. Different species are different girths, so you want to be sure you won't be squishing the branches against the wall. And keep an eye on the size of your stand. You want to be sure the trunk of your tree will fit in it, and that it's big enough to keep your tree upright.

2. Once you're at the purchasing lot, picking a tree is a lot like picking fruits and vegetables from the produce aisle at the grocery store. Touch and smell makes a difference. Test the branches. gently pull the ends of the branches. If you wind up with a handful of needles, this is not the tree for you. Also crush a few needles in the palm of your hand. You should smell 'Christmas'. If not, move along.

3. Make sure the tree's trunk fits your stand. Common sense rule, but you'd be surprised how many neglect to measure this.

4. Before you walk off the lot with that perfect tree, have the lot attendant put it through a shaker (if they have one—some farms use a blower, though a vigorous bounce will do as well). This will shake off any dead, interior needles. Don't worry—it's perfectly natural for an evergreen to have some dead needles on it from fall. Then have the tree sent through the baling machine to wrap it in netting for easy transport.

5. Getting a Christmas tree is a lot like getting a bouquet of flowers. Many of you will cut the ends of the stems of your cut flowers. You'll want do this to your tree too, but use a saw, not scissors. LOL. Cutting the end off the trunk is critical to opening up the veins that will deliver water to the branches. Use a pruning saw, and take at least an inch off. You can have the lot do it before you leave if you're headed for home, but you should wait if you're going to be out more than four hours. Otherwise, the end will glaze over with new pitch, and the tree won't take up water.

6. In addition, keep your tree away from heat and draft sources like fireplaces, radiators and television sets. Test your light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they're in good working order. You don't want to use cords with cracked insulation or broken or empty sockets. Also be sure to unplug the lights before you go to bed or leave the house. Never overload electrical circuits and use only UL approved lighting accessories.

7. Put the tree into it's stand while it is still wrapped.

8. Now it's time for water and lots of it. Add fresh, clean water as soon as possible. The first couple of days the tree is going to suck up at least a gallon of water. The actual amount a tree can consume varies, so be vigilant the first two days, refilling when the stand gets low until the levels stay steady. Never let the water level drop beyond the cut end or you run the risk of sap forming, which will seal off the tree's ability to absorb water. There's really no need for any additives, like aspirin or plant food, as long as the water is clean and fresh.

9. Now decorate to your heart's content!

Enjoy the holiday season!

Trees "R" Us, Inc. is a professional tree service in the Chicagoland area. We service the north shore, north suburbs and northwest suburbs of Chicago. Trees "R" Us, Inc. has 4 certified arborists on staff ready to assess your plants and tree care needs in a timely manner. Our services include tree trimming, pruning, stump grinding, emergency tree services, tree removal, cabling and bracing, fertilization and plant health care.

Trees "R" Us, Inc. can be contacted at 847-913-9069 or through our online forms at

Thanks for reading,
President and CEO, Trees "R" Us, Inc.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The DOs and DON'Ts of Firewood

It's firewood season. Who doesn't love a nice campfire, a roaring fire in the fireplace or simply the warmth of the woodburner heating your home? While have a fire to enjoy is a nice amenity, there are some hazards that you should know about before you start your season of cozy fires. 
Here's what is ok in the wondrous world of firewood.
The DOs. 
You need to keep insects and rodents from making their homes in your wood pile. You should stack your firewood on supports that are at least 4 inches off the ground. 
You also need to protect you stash of wood from the elements and decay. Cover your wood pile with a tarp to protect it from getting soaked with rain and snow. You should also stack the wood with the bark side up. This will also help prevent decay.

The DON'Ts
Do not allow the wood to lean against an exterior wall of your home. There are many reasons for this. But let me paint one picture for you. The wood catches fire and it spread quickly, right into your home!
Do not use flammable liquids in your fireplace in hopes of getting a fire going easily.
Do not  treat firewood with pesticides. This will release toxic fumes when burned. Not-to-mention that this process is ineffective.
Do not burn plastic or paper with color printing. Sunday comics, magazine pages, cereal boxes are all off limits. 
Do not burn logs laden with poison ivy, even if the poison ivy is dead. If you have any respiratory issues, this will only aggravate them. 
And finally, do not put the ash in your composting bins or garden. Ash belongs in an aluminum garbage can with a tight fitting lid. 
Are you in need of firewood and live in the Chicagoland area? Check out our website for our firewood details which we will deliver and stack by the cord or face cord.
Thanks for reading,
President and CEO, Trees "R" Us, Inc

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Not All Firewood is Created Equal

It is the season for firewood. And boy do we have firewood to offer you! But first you must know that not all firewood is created equal. 
Who doesn't love a nice cozy fire. The warmth of the fire coupled with the crackling of the wood and the aroma of the burning wood is captivating and addicting. However, if you are going to be building a fire regularly it is important to know what wood to burn to get the most band for your buck. 
Not all firewood is created equal. Some burn slowly, some burn fast. Some smoke and others crackle and pop. So, what’s the difference?
Freshly cut wood is not what you want. Logs that have been around for less than six months produce less heat. Ou'll go through this wood quickly and not be very warm! Not to mention that this is the wood that pops and sparks making a very smokey which is a fire hazard. This is often referred to as 'juicy' or 'green' wood as it has not had the chance to dry out completely. 
How do you determine if a log is 'juicy' or 'green'? It's so simple! Whack pieces of firewood together. The dry logs will have an almost musical ringing sound while green wood makes a dull thud.
Another wood to steer clear of is pine or other evergreen wood. Evergreens contain a sticky sap called pitch. This is another wood that snaps crackles and pops. Dangerous! The sap also vaporizes in fire’s heat, rises in the chimney and creates creosote. Creosote in the chimney is bad. 
Denser, heavier woods are the best. The denser the wood is are the more heating value they have. That is why a cord of oak – considered a premium firewood – will always cost more than a cord of cottonwood. Oak cord weight more than twice as much as the cottonwood and also offer that much more heating value.
Look at it this way. A ton of “seasoned” cottonwood will provide the exact same heating value as a ton of “seasoned” oak, but it takes a lot more cottonwood to add up to a ton. This also means a lot more trips to the wood pile. Other dense woods are hedge, hickory, locust, hackberry and ash. 
Dense woods also the highest British Thermal Units (BTUs). High BTUs mean high, intense heat.  Keep in mind though that these woods are more difficult to ignite. Lighter woods (silver maple, elm and cottonwood) are less dense and ignite much faster and thus can be good as a starter wood. However, they give off less heat and burn faster. This is okay if you want a quick warming fire or short fire that will burn out before you go to bed.
Now go have a cozy warm fire and enjoy the season!
Thanks for reading,
President and CEO, Trees "R" Us, Inc.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tree Clearing is NOT What You Think

When you hear the phrase 'tree clearing' what comes to mind? Removing a large amount of trees from a specific area? A forested landscape going bare? Piled up uprooted trees? That is the general thought, but tree clearing when speaking about the trees you want to KEEP on your own property is something entirely different. Clearing, when it comes to the tree care of  your personal trees that you own, especially the young trees, is simply being mindful to pull up any grass and weeds for a radius of at least 2 feet around the tree. This is called 'CLEARING'. You must CLEAR the area so that the tree and roots can get the sunlight, water and nutrients they need. This is very different than the 'tree clearing' term that most of are used to hearing about. It is important that you know this as many tree services will recommend you preform tree clearing to help your trees grow, especially young trees and we won't want you to have the wrong idea of what to do! 

To clear the area for your trees, use your spade shovel to cut straight down into the grass. The flat shovel was good for cutting under the roots of the grass to keep the sod in big pieces. Try not to get too close to the tree's roots. We want to keep them in tact. Major tree roots often grow within a few inches of the soil surface. Some species, such as maples, grow roots particularly close to the surface.  Mulch the area under the tree with compost and/or wood chips. These materials are porous enough to allow sufficient oxygen supply to the soil and may actually encourage fine root growth. Acting as an insulator, the mulch will minimize frost-heaving and erosion. Our subsidiary, Organic Solutions Inc., has many high quality varieties of hardwood mulch for our Chicagoland readers.

There are so many benefits to keeping a good layer of mulch around your trees and plants. You'll do much less weeding, and as a result need to water your plants and trees less. Mulch will even help the tree's root get the much needed water they need. 

Back to clearing ... Early in the year, when the soil is moist, cover the cleared area with the mulch or your choice. This helps retain moisture near the roots, reduces competition from weeds, and means there is no need to use grass-cutting machinery near the tree where it might damage the bark.

If you follow these steps your tree clearing should be a success for you and a major benefit for your trees - especially young trees. Remember tree clearing isn't chopping down thousands of trees in the rainforest. When it's on your property, tree clearing is helping your trees grow big and strong.

As always, if you have questions about your tree's care, contact your local tree service. As a Chicago tree service, they are well versed in all this and will give you the assistance you need. Those of you that are local to the Chicago area, Trees "R" Us, Inc. will help you with the care of your trees. In addition, their plant health care division has several Chicago certified arborists that are highly trained in caring for plants and trees. 

To read more on how to care for your younger trees, click I here and here

Thanks for reading,
Jenni Willis,
President and CEO, Trees "R" Us, Inc.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Young Tree Care Instructions

Young trees are the ones that need the most TLC. If you are going to skimp on  tree care, don't do it for your young trees. You need to protect your investment of the tree and the best way to do so is to give it the proper attention. 

The best advice I can give you is to call upon your local tree service for assistance with your overall or general tree care, especially for the younger trees. A tree service can only perform tree work, but can give the advice you need to make sure you are making the right decisions when it comes to maintaining, fertilizing and protecting your trees. 

Not to mention that many tree services are best left to professionals. While it is great to be a do-it-yourselfer, you don't want to jeopardize the health of your tree or waste the dollars already invested in the tree by making rookie mistakes. 

We've done many, many blog posts about young tree care. If you're just stumbling upon this post and have missed the previous ones, our informational posts on young tree care found herehere and here!

Take a look at those and they will guide you through the adventures of tree care for your youngster tree. If you still have questions, give us a shout out! We'd love to help you.

Thanks for reading and taking care of those young trees.
President and CEO, Trees "R" Us, Inc.