Make an Attack Plan for Pine Tree Damage

Have insects infested your pines and caused tree damage? Unfortunately, homeowners have more to worry about with pine trees than just pesky insects. Pine trees are also vulnerable to storm damage, fungi and diseases.

If your pines aren’t healthy, it’s time to learn more and create an attack plan of your own.

Pine Trees 101

Standing tall amongst other trees, the genus, Pinus, has 115 species. All seven pine trees native to Florida grow well in USDA Planting Zone 9A, but the slash pine, longleaf pine, sand pine and loblolly pine are the most common in North Florida.
Whether the pines are used for paper, industrial chemicals, lumber or other products, pine trees have long been recognized as having a strong commercial value. Beyond the economic value, however, pines also have benefits to wildlife, serving as food and shelter for many species of mammals, birds and insects.

What Causes Damage to Florida Pines?

According to the University of Florida IFAS Extension, bark beetles are among the most common causes of pine death in Florida, but there can be other sources.

The height of pine trees makes them more susceptible to lightning strikes and storm damage, which are common with thunderstorms, tornados and hurricanes. Flooding, standing water and wildfires can create additional issues. Fungi and diseases can cause root rot, needle blight, rust, wilting and canker.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Tree Damage?

Before we consider what to do once a pine tree is showing signs of damage, let’s consider how to prevent the problem in the first place. The United States Forest Service recommends:

  • Avoid planting new invasive ornamental plants on your property and properly remove any that are already in place.
  • After hiking or fishing, clean your clothing, vehicle, boat, equipment and animals to prevent the spread of invasive species from other areas.
  • Do not store firewood outside if it was collected from a different property.
  • Properly dispose of live bait, plants and seeds.
  • Carefully choose your livestock hay and feed.

What Are the First Steps for Creating an Attack Plan?

When you first notice tree damage, it’s important to determine the cause to create an attack plan.

Examine needle loss and color changes. Check if there is sawdust or resin on the tree trunk. Note if there are visible insects. Does the tree bark have holes?

Are there tunnels under the bark? Is the wood under the bark yellow, wet, and healthy? It can also be important to note when the attack began since some insect attacks are seasonal.

you are struggling with pine tree damage, it may be time to consult a certified arborist. Arborists are highly trained professionals who are skilled in the art and science of planting, caring for and maintaining individual trees. In fact, they specialize in diagnosing problems and recommending treatments for tree damage.

Take photos and gather as much information as you can before contacting a professional. It’s important to do this in a timely manner to catch an infestation before it damages additional trees on your property. A professional will inspect your trees and determine the safest course of action.

Protect Property Values and Minimize Risk

If you are uncertain what is causing your tree damage or have a tree that needs to be removed, contact Miller’s Tree Service at 850-765-3147 for a free consultation. Our certified arborists can evaluate the overall health of your trees, identify any structural problems and diagnose pests and diseased trees. We provide property owners with a professional evaluation and recommendations for how to best move forward after tree damage has occurred.

Together, we can create an attack plan that best meets your needs.

Homeowner’s Guide to Choosing and Planting Trees

A woman planting trees in her yard

Looking to enhance the landscaping in your North Florida yard this spring?   

Planting trees can make your yard appear more beautiful, provide welcome shade and more – but choosing the right trees for planting is important, and not always easy.  

Here’s what you need to know about choosing the right trees for your yard in Tallahassee. 

What to Consider Before Planting Trees 

Because trees need the right conditions to thrive, there are several factors to consider before planting one in your yard. 

Climate and Hardiness Zone:  

Consider your local climate, temperature extremes and USDA hardiness zone to ensure their long-term health and survival.  

Mature Size and Shape:  

Research the mature size, height and shape of the tree species you are considering. Ensure that the tree will fit comfortably within the available space without overcrowding other plants, buildings or utilities.  

Purpose and Function:  

Determine the primary purpose of the tree, such as providing shade, attracting wildlife or adding beauty. Select trees that meet your specific needs and objectives.  

Light Requirements:  

Evaluate the amount of sunlight and shade in the planting area throughout the day. Select trees that require similar light conditions to thrive and avoid potential issues with too much or not enough light. 

Soil Conditions:  

Assess your soil type, pH level and drainage characteristics. Choose tree species that are compatible with your soil conditions to promote healthy growth and minimize maintenance requirements. A certified arborist can help with this. 

Local Availability and Sustainability:  

Check the availability of tree species at local nurseries or garden centers. Choose trees that are locally sourced or propagated to support sustainability and reduce the risk of introducing invasive species to your area. 

Popular Trees in Tallahassee  

Need some inspiration for planting trees? A few popular types you’ll see in many Tallahassee yards include: 

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana):  

Known for its majestic size, spreading canopy and evergreen foliage, the Live Oak is a popular choice for providing shade and adding a southern charm.  

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora):  

With its large, glossy leaves and fragrant, showy white flowers, the Southern Magnolia is prized for its beauty and ability to create a focal point in gardens and yards.  

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia spp.):  

Crape Myrtles are versatile, flowering trees that bloom in a range of colors, including shades of pink, red, purple and white. 

Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua):  

Sweetgum trees are known for their star-shaped leaves that turn vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow in the fall. 

Red Maple (Acer rubrum):  

Red Maples are fast-growing trees that display brilliant red foliage in the fall. 

Dogwood (Cornus florida):  

Florida Dogwoods produce showy white or pink flowers in the spring, followed by red berries that attract birds. They are valued for their beauty and ability to thrive in partial shade.  

Digging Deeper 

Want to ensure you choose the right trees for planting and give them the best chance of thriving? The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Services (UF | IFAS) has created a helpful (and free) tool that allows you to get specific.  

The site prompts you to enter information including your USDA Hardiness Zone (Zone 9a for Tallahassee residents), annual rainfall, sunlight exposure, the soil pH, texture, surrounding landscaping, conditions and more. It will then provide a list of recommended trees for your precise location.  

Access the Florida Tree Recommendation Tool here. 

Find a Certified Arborist in Tallahassee 

While it can be easy to get carried away with landscaping projects, it’s important to do your homework first to ensure the trees you select can thrive for generations to come. Consulting with a Certified Arborist before you get started is a great way to ensure you are selecting the right trees for your space. Miller’s Tree Service in Tallahassee, Fla., is proud to offer a free consultation with one of our certified arborists as a courtesy to our clients. Contact us to learn more today. 

Can a Shade Tree Lower Your Energy Bill?

Green leaves on a tree with the text, "Can a Shade Tree Lower Your Energy Bill?"

Can strategic landscaping really lower your energy use (and bill)? 

According to My Florida Home Energy (from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services)  homeowners can save money by planting deciduous trees, which provide shade in the summer months but drop their leaves in the cooler months, allowing the sun to still provide heat to the home.  

Sound worth your time? Here are our best shade tree tips for cooling your home and lowering your energy bill. 

Choosing the Right Shade Trees 

When looking to provide shade for your home, the type of trees you plant matter. Choose deciduous trees that provide dense foliage in the summer to block sunlight but allow sunlight through in the winter when they shed their leaves. It’s also important to be mindful of the mature size of the trees you choose. You’ll want to plant trees far enough away from your home to avoid potential damage from roots and branches as they grow to their full size.   

Don’t have the space or resources for trees? You can also plant shrubs and vines that grow against the walls of your home to help block out the sun and its warming effects. 

What Type of Shade Do You Need? 

Before you begin landscaping, consider your home and goals. How much cooling is needed? Are you looking to cool windows, a sunroom or glass doors?   

My Florida Home Energy recommends considering whether you are looking to provide active or passive cooling. What’s the difference?  

Passive Cooling

Passive cooling allows shrubs and trees to provide gentle cooling breezes toward your home. It’s ideal for homes that use minimal air conditioning for cooling. To take advantage of passive cooling you may want to try these tips: 

  • Remove low tree branches to allow for maximum air movement. 
  • Ensure window-shading plants are located away from the home. 
  • If you’re using shrubs primarily for “low” shade, choose plant species with small leaves and an open branching pattern.

Active Cooling

Active cooling, on the other hand, diverts warm breezes away from your home. It’s a better option for homes that rely largely on A/C for cooling. To make the most of active cooling, here are a few strategies to consider: 

  • Use low-branching trees to protect windows from air movement. 
  • Create dead air space along the walls that face the summer winds. This insulates the home and cuts down warm air infiltration. 
  • In north Florida, use deciduous shrubs on south-facing sides to allow passive solar heating of the walls in the winter. 

Shade Tree Placement 

Now that you’ve created a cooling plan, it’s time to determine where your trees will be planted. Plant trees on the south and west sides of your home to provide maximum shade during the hottest parts of the day, particularly in the afternoon when the sun is most intense.  

Shade trees can also be strategically placed near windows, patios and outdoor living areas to reduce heat gain indoors and create comfortable outdoor spaces. Space trees strategically to ensure proper airflow and prevent overcrowding. This allows for healthy growth and prevents competition for resources among trees.   

My Florida Home Energy recommends providing shade for your AC unit, while being mindful not to block air circulation around the area or cause debris to fall on the unit. 

Shade Tree Maintenance 

Knowing how to provide proper care for your shade trees over time can ensure you are getting the best results from your investment. You’ll want to plant trees in well-drained soil and water them regularly, especially during the first few years of establishment. Apply a layer of mulch around the base of newly planted trees to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Next, prune trees as needed to maintain their shape and remove dead or damaged branches.  

Be patient and plan for the long-term growth of your shade trees. While it may take several years for newly planted trees to provide significant shade, the energy-saving benefits will be worth the wait. 

Trust the Tree Experts 

Whatever your landscaping goals are for your Tallahassee home, the expert team at Miller’s Tree Service is here to help. We’re your local tree experts providing inspection, mitigation, trimming and pruning. We provide afree consultationwith acertified arboristto evaluate the overall health of your trees, identify any structural problems and diagnose any pests and/or diseased trees.   

Contact ustoday to get started.   

How to Prune a Crape Myrtle: Tallahassee Tree Tips

How to Prune a Crape Myrtle

Crape myrtle trees are a popular landscape staple in the Big Bend area. Vibrant blooms combined with interesting bark patterns make this deciduous tree gorgeous year-round. Most varieties lend themselves to having the classic vase-like shape with multiple trunks and strong branches arching outwards, but how to prune them correctly is an issue of debate to ensure their blooms are at full strength the next summer. One step everyone can agree on is that January through March is the perfect time for pruning crape myrtles in the Big Bend area. 

Following these seven steps will go a long way toward keeping your crape myrtle healthy and thriving. 

You may enjoy the newly pruned view so much this season that adding a few more varieties to your landscape becomes a goal. We have included a few of our favorite crape myrtles for inspiration! 

Pruning Tips

1.  Begin with a goal in mind. Most experts suggest well-spaced main trunks with the center open enough for good air circulation. Identify your first group of branches to trim and then stop to reassess after the initial pruning. You can always go through with a second or third round of fine-tune pruning. 

2.   It is best to prune your crape myrtle in a certain order, making sure to cut back to a larger branch or to one of the trunks. Do not leave stubs sticking out. 

  • Start with the suckers coming up from around the base of the tree. Cut them back to the ground. 
  • Cut back branches growing inward that obstruct the flow of air. 
  • Prune any dead branches or ones that are rubbing against another. 
  • Remove any branches that detract from the overall shape and appearance of the tree. 
  • If the tree is 5 feet or taller, begin pruning side branches growing from the main trunks. As the tree matures, this will include branches up to at least 4 feet and more – giving room for walking or mowing without the risk of running into a branch. 

One of the best features of crape myrtles is their flexibility of shape. If you start trimming and then realize a few branches would have been better off left alone – no problem. Crape myrtles naturally fill in with smaller limbs during the growing season. As long as you keep the middle open for air circulation and suckers pruned at the ground, your crape myrtle will carry on with new leaves and showy flowers. 

Adding More Myrtles to the Mix

When the crape myrtles are in bloom around Tallahassee it’s easy to imagine adding more color to your landscape. With colors and sizes to match about any plan or space, the difficulty is often in deciding which crape myrtle to plant. To help narrow down the possibilities, measure out the proposed planting area. Consider not only the measurements of how wide the tree will grow, but also how tall. Will it get plenty of sun? Will it cast the right amount of shade?

We are including a crape myrtle infographic below of a few favorites seen around Tallahassee. If you have questions about placement or varieties, contact a certified arborist for guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I prune my crape myrtle in the summer or fall? It’s generally not recommended to prune crape myrtles during the summer or fall, as this can stimulate new growth that may be susceptible to cold damage in winter. Late winter or early spring pruning is ideal.  

How do I prune a crape myrtle to encourage more blooms? Crape myrtles bloom on new wood. To encourage more blooms, lightly prune the tree after it finishes flowering. Remove spent flower clusters and any dead or weak branches.  

What tools do I need to prune my crape myrtle? Use sharp pruning shears or loppers for smaller branches and a pruning saw for larger cuts. Ensure that your tools are clean and properly maintained to make clean cuts.  

Can I prune crape myrtles into a specific shape, such as a ball or square? It’s best to maintain the natural form and shape of the trees. Avoid shaping them into unnatural forms, as this can stress the tree and detract from its natural beauty.  

Trust the Experts

At Miller’s Tree Service, we have certified arborists that can help care for your trees. 

If you have a tree creating too much shade it may be time to put a pruning plan in place for your larger trees. Contact us online here or call 850.894.TREE (8733) to schedule an arborist assessment. As a locally owned Tallahassee business we are invested in keeping Tallahassee trees looking their best! 

What’s Wrong With My Tree? How to Know When a Tree Is Sick

Image of damaged tree leaves with the text, what's wrong with my tree?

Is one of your trees looking a little under the weather? Like animals, plants can be impacted by many different diseases and health issues. Providing preventative care, knowing the signs of disease and consulting an arborist when needed are all important for maintaining the overall health of your trees.  If you find yourself asking, “What’s wrong with my tree,” this guide will help take action before it’s too late. 

Types of Tree Disease 

Caused by microscopic organisms, plant diseases can affect any part of a tree or the whole tree.  It only becomes apparent on the tree once the disease takes hold of its host. Tree diseases are often named after the damage that they produce. A few common tree diseases you may see in Tallahassee include: 

Leaf Rust 

Symptom: Brown and Yellow Splotches on Leaves 

Cause: Leaf rust, also known as rust disease, is a common fungal infection that affects various plants, including trees. It is more common in humid climates, as wet conditions increase the growth and release of spores. While it rarely kills plants, it can make them appear unsightly and it cripples the plant by interfering with photosynthesis. 

Treatment: In many cases, an infected tree will naturally fix this issue by shedding its leaves in autumn (although spores can be dispersed by the wind to infect new trees). The best treatment is prevention.  You can plant trees in areas with good air circulation and rake and dispose of infected leaves. In severe cases, fungicides may be used to manage leaf rust. 

Fire Blight 

Symptom: Twigs Appear Scorched 

Cause:  Fire blight, a bacterial infection, changes the appearance of trees to seem as if they were scorched by fire.Leaves on some branches wither and turn black or brown. The bacteria causing fire blight is particularly active in warm, moist weather. Elements such as rain and infected pruning tools provide transportation for the disease to move. 

Treatment: The best way you can treat trees from fire blight is to disinfect pruning tools, and then prune infected spots on the trees. 

Powdery Mildew 

Symptom: White Coating on Leaves 

Cause: Powdery mildew is a white coating that forms on leaf surfaces during  weather with high humidity. Several fungi can cause this disease, with plants that grow in shaded areas being most affected. Leaves are covered with a thin layer or irregular patches of a powdery, grayish-white substance. Leaves may become distorted and night also turn yellow or red and drop. In late fall, tiny black dots may be scattered over the white patches like grains of pepper.  

Treatment: While it’s often more of a cosmetic issue than a serious threat to the overall health of established trees, it can weaken young or stressed trees. You can prune and remove severely infected leaves or branches to reduce the overall fungal load and prevent further spread. 

What’s Wrong With My Tree? Other Signs of a Sick Tree 

Here are a few more common signs that a tree may be experiencing health issues: 

Visible Pests: The presence of pests like caterpillars, borers or scale insects can weaken a tree and lead to health issues. 

Exposed Roots: If tree roots are exposed or damaged, it can impact the tree’s stability and nutrient absorption. 

Root Rot: Signs of root rot include a foul odor, discolored or mushy roots and instability. 

Twisted or Distorted Growth: Unusual growth patterns, such as twisting or distortion, may be a response to stress, diseases or insect damage. 

Visible Decay: External signs of decay, such as soft or crumbly wood, may indicate internal decay. 

Premature Leaf Drop: If a tree drops its leaves before the typical fall season, it might be stressed due to factors such as drought, diseases or root issues. 

If you notice any of these signs, it may be time to consult with a certified arborist or tree care professional. 

Frequently Asked Questions Beyond “What’s Wrong With My Tree?” 

What causes trees to get sick? Trees can get sick due to various factors, including fungal infections, bacterial diseases, pest infestations, poor soil conditions, root damage, environmental stress and physical injuries. 

Is leaf drop always a sign of a sick tree? Not always. While leaf drop can be a sign of stress or disease, it can also be a normal seasonal process. 

Can environmental factors make a tree sick? Yes. Factors like drought, excessive moisture, poor soil quality and pollution can stress trees and make them more susceptible to diseases and pests. 

Can I treat a sick tree myself, or do I need professional help? While minor issues can be addressed by homeowners, it’s often advisable to consult with a certified arborist for accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations, especially for significant tree health concerns. 

Consulting the Experts 

Not all diseases will kill plants and trees. However, many diseases and conditions can hinder growth and affect the look of the trees. If you have concerns about a sick tree, especially trees affected by diseases that may inflict property damage, call Miller’s Tree Service for a free consultation with one of our certified arborists. Our team will assess the tree’s health, identify the underlying issues and recommend appropriate treatments or interventions to improve its condition.  

Spring Tree Care Tips: Pruning, Mulching and More

Do your trees need a little TLC this spring? 

While many trees seem self-sufficient, it takes care and time to nurture healthy growth. With a little knowledge and the right tools, you can take great care of your trees and invest in the success of your landscaping for years to come. 

With each changing season, trees have different care needs. While each type of tree is different, spring tree care generally involves checking for damage, monitoring the soil and pruning as needed. It’s also the best time to spot damage before the spring buds begin to appear. Here’s what you need to know about spring tree care. 

Checking for Winter Damage

First, do a quick clean-up of your property.  Fruit and small twigs often fall and accumulate over the winter and must be raked up and disposed of. Check your trees for any winter damage, such as broken branches or split bark. If you have holiday lights that you’ve yet to put away, take down any that are wrapped around your trees. Leaving these for too long can result in girdling, a process by which a ring of bark is removed or damaged around the circumference of the trunk. 

Look for signs of stress such as wilting, yellowing leaves or unusual leaf drops. These could indicate issues with water, nutrients or pests. 

Pruning

While the winter season is the ideal time to have your trees pruned and trimmed, spring is the best time to identify any damage or broken branches before the tree begins to bud out. It provides a chance to remove any broken branches – and do last-minute pruning – before spring growth begins. Remove dead or diseased branches and thin out overcrowded areas to improve air circulation. 

Pruning a small tree branch

Mulching

Most tree service experts advise having a three-inch layer of mulch around your trees. Mulch promotes moisture retention of the soil and helps prevent weeds from growing. Be careful not to put the mulch directly against the trunk as this will create a breeding ground for disease. Choose organic mulch materials like wood chips, bark or compost. Organic mulches are ideal because they break down over time, contributing to soil fertility. 

If the soil is dry, water the area around the tree before applying mulch. This helps retain moisture and promotes a healthier environment for the tree’s roots. 

Gloved hands holding mulch

Watering

Providing sufficient water is an important part of spring tree care – just don’t water your trees too soon. Instead, wait until after the last frost of the season to start your watering regimen.  

Check the soil’s moisture level regularly. Adjust watering practices based on rainfall and soil type to prevent both overwatering and underwatering. If you have a bubbler, drip or sprinkler system (or all three), now is the time to check them out and ensure they’re working properly.  

Checking for Pests

Spring is a great time to contact an arborist or tree service to inspect your trees for signs of pests and disease. Early detection allows for more effective control. The arborist can identify pests and provide treatment options to get your trees back to health. 

Invest in Healthy, Happy Trees this Spring

Taking time for spring tree care can ensure your trees are healthy, happy and ready to grow. If something doesn’t look quite right with your trees, trust your instincts and contact an arborist to take a look. The earlier you identify any issues, the easier they will be to treat. 

Miller’s Tree Service is your local tree expert providing inspection, mitigation, trimming and pruning. We provide a free consultation with a certified arborist to evaluate the overall health of your trees, identify any structural problems and diagnose any pests and/or diseased trees.  

Contact us today to get started.   

The Lichgate Oak and More: Do You Know These Scenic Tallahassee Trees?

Tallahassee is known for its canopy roads, historic college campuses and natural scenic beauty. The highlight of that beauty is perhaps the variety of beautiful trees – many of which carry decades of meaning and tradition for the community. How well do you know the natural landscapes of the capital city? Here’s a guide to Tallahassee’s most scenic trees – both individual and in groups – and where you can find them. 

1. The Lichgate Oak 

When you reference, “Tallahassee trees,” most residents immediately picture the famous Lichgate Oak. Estimated to be over 300 years old, it’s one of the oldest living landmarks in the city. It was purchased by Dr. Laura Pauline Jepsen, an FSU professor, who bought the three-acre property because she loved the tree. She built her home, named Lichgate, on High Road. The cottage and oak tree together create a picturesque and serene setting that has become a beloved symbol of Tallahassee’s history and natural beauty. 

Today, the property has been designated as a Tallahassee Historic Landmark, emphasizing its importance as a cultural and natural heritage site.  Visitors can tour the grounds and the beautiful tree for free at 1401 High Road. The park is also a popular venue for weddings and other events.  

Where to visit:  Lichgate on High Road 

2. Canopy Roads 

Tallahassee is also famous for its scenic canopy roads: tree-lined streets that provide a picturesque and shaded drive.  

While many roads in town are surrounded by beautiful trees, these nine have been officially designated as the city’s canopy roads by Leon County: 

Where to Visit: Tallahassee’s Canopy Roads 

3. Park Avenue Chain of Parks  

For the next scenic view, visitors can venture downtown to Tallahassee’s oldest continuous green space, the Park Avenue Chain of Parks. It comprises a series of parks connected by a pedestrian-friendly corridor along Park Avenue. The city lights up the beautiful trees during the holiday season, including many live oaks  in addition to redbuds, saucer magnolias and camellias.   

Each year, the Park Avenue Chain of Parks is home to the popular, and free, Chain of Parks Art Festival.  

Where to Visit: Park Avenue Historic Chain of Parks 

4. Maclay Gardens 

Another “must-see” spot to visit in Tallahassee is the Maclay Gardens, a botanical garden and state park. The gardens were first established in 1923 by Alfred B. and Louise Maclay as a winter home. Today, the park offers several walking trails that wind through the gardens, allowing visitors to explore the diverse plant life and natural beauty.  

While most famous for its camellias, it’s also home to beautiful towering live oaks, dogwoods and azaleas. Residents enjoy several popular seasonal events, including A Camellia Christmas in December. 

Where to Visit: Maclay Gardens State Park 

5. The Big Oak (Thomasville, GA) 

Located a short drive from Tallahassee, the Big Oak in Thomasville, GA is another notable tree in the area. With a towering height of over 165 feet, it was famously photographed by President Eisenhower, who was impressed by the tree’s beauty. 

Photo Courtesy of Visit Georgia 

Visitors can even get their picture taken with this historic tree via the Big Oak Cam – just dial (229) 236-0053 on your smart phone, follow the directions and then find your photo in the online gallery at https://thomasvillega.com/big-oak-camera.   

Where to Visit: The Big Oak 

Caring for Tallahassee’s Trees 

At Miller’s Tree Service, we love the trees that make Tallahassee “home,” from the famous Lichgate Oak to the oak trees in your front yard. That’s why we’re here to help you keep your trees happy, healthy and thriving for years to come. Contact us today to schedule a FREE arborist consultation.  

Stump Removal 101: Why You Should Call the Professionals

When you arrange for a tree to be cut down and removed from your yard, you may be left with an unwelcome surprise at the end – the tree stump. Many homeowners think to themselves, “I’ve already invested in the cost of having this tree removed. Maybe I can just tackle the stump removal myself.” 

While do-it-yourself stump removal is certainly possible, it’s not something most experts recommend. Between the preparation, risks and costs involved, here’s why you should leave stump removal to the professionals. 

Prep Work 

Before any work begins, the area around the base of the stump must be well prepared. For instance, removing rocks near the base of the stump helps to protect the grinding equipment from damage. The stump may also need to be trimmed close to the ground before using the grinder to make the process faster.   

Stump grinding is often more time-consuming and potentially dangerous than most homeowners expect. Professionals know what is required to make the process fast, efficient and safe. 

Expensive Equipment  

Next, you will need to either purchase or rent the equipment to remove the stump. For many types of outdoor or gardening projects, this might make sense, but learning how to safely operate a stump grinding machine is not simple and can take valuable time. You may find that renting this equipment for one, then two or even three days can add up – equaling the cost of hiring a professional in the first place.  

Stump grinding equipment

You should also factor in the cost of protective gear. Using a stump grinder without the necessary protection is very dangerous. You need eye and ear protection when performing this activity. 

In addition to the cost of equipment, DIY attempts may result in damage to your property, which means costly repairs. 

Safety Risks 

Stump grinding involves heavy machinery, sharp blades and potential flying debris. Kids and pets should always be kept away during removal. Professionals are trained to handle these hazards, minimizing the risk of accidents or injuries that can occur during DIY attempts.  A faulty stump grinder can cause serious harm to the worker and other people around the property.   

Professionals know how to ensure that the grinder is in good condition before work begins. They also have knowledge about what kind of stumps they can work on and the best method of finishing the job efficiently. Some machines are complex and only an expert may understand how to do the job efficiently and safely.  

Project Completion 

Professionals ensure that the stump, as well as the tree’s root system which is often extensive, is entirely removed. This is crucial to prevent regrowth and potential issues with nearby structures or landscaping features. 

Wood chips and debris left from stump grinding

Imagine working in the hot sun for several days, paying for expensive equipment and trying to figure out how to operate a stressful machine all to realize that the stump, despite all your efforts, is stubbornly still around. Or you think you’ve removed it, only to realize that you did not get the entire root system, and it begins to regrow. This is an unfortunate reality for many homeowners who attempt stump removal on their own.  

There’s also the cleanup to consider. Stump removal generates a considerable amount of wood chips and debris. Professionals will either manage the mulch in the area left by the removal or may offer to remove it for a small additional cost, saving homeowners the hassle of figuring out how to manage the waste. 

Adding it All Up 

Stump removal is serious business, and is usually more than a weekend yard warrior will want to tackle. You may want to consider saving the costs of renting a stump grinder, safety gear and all other tools needed. You can save time and stay safe by hiring stump removers to come do the job right the first time.  

When you hire Miller’s Tree Service for your stump removal, you can trust that the job will be done safely, efficiently and correctly the first time. Our careful preparation and attention to detail ensure that your yard will be protected from potential damage, with as little debris left behind as possible. Save yourself the hassle and schedule your stump removal with Millers Tree Service today. 

Using a Tree Spade to Preserve Your Favorite Tree

Some trees can’t fully “bloom where they are planted” due to crowding, lack of proper sunlight and hydration, or even planned construction where the tree currently lives. Thankfully, there are options for preserving a favorite tree under any of these conditions. One of the best ways to keep your tree alive and thriving is by transporting it with a tree spade. Here’s how a tree spade works – and why you’re probably best leaving its operation to the professionals. 

What is a Tree Spade? 

As a tool, tree spades have been around in some form since as early as 1961, and make moving trees only possible but far less laborious. They function by using several large blades that encircle the tree’s roots (also called the root ball) and scoop the root ball out in the shape of a funnel. Think it of similarly to how an excavator digs on a construction site. Once the root system has been scooped up, the tree can be carefully transferred to another spot or placed in a pot for long-distance transportation.  

Tree spade lifting root ball out of the ground.

A tree spade is used to dig up trees or bushes. It allows you to transport nearly any tree with minimal disturbance to that tree’s root systems, ensuring that it can survive and continue to grow in a new location.  

Operating a Tree Spade 

Before using a tree spade, it’s essential for a professional to assess the tree’s health, size and suitability for preservation. They will check for signs of disease or stress, as unhealthy trees may not be suitable for transplanting. Once the tree is deemed healthy enough for transportation, they will choose the appropriate tree spade attachment and configuration – a delicate process. 

Once everything is ready, the tree spade operator will position the tree spade near the tree, taking care to align it with the root ball. The blades of the tree spade will penetrate the soil and encase the root ball and surrounding soil, and then the hydraulic system will allow the operator to lift and transport it to its new location.  

Transporting a Tree 

Once the tree’s root ball has been carefully scooped out of the ground, there still is a level of care needed to ensure the tree makes it to its destination. Before planting the root ball, it’s necessary to check that the new hole is appropriately sized. Placing the tree into the new hole is a delicate process as well, as handling it too roughly can damage the roots. You also want to avoid compacting the soil excessively when filling the hole with soil. It’s a good practice to apply mulch around the base of the tree to retain moisture and suppress weeds. 

The newly transported tree will need some extra TLC and maintenance in the early days to ensure its survival. This involves watering the tree regularly and monitoring it for signs of stress while it adjusts to its new home. 

Calling the Professionals  

Tree spades are incredibly useful tools that allow us to transport trees – big and small – to a new location without damaging them. As with any skilled operation of heavy equipment, however, it’s a good idea to leave this task to the professionals to ensure your tree has the best chance of survival and to ensure your personal safety in the process.  

Miller’s Tree Service is your local tree expert providing inspection, mitigation, trimming, pruning, transportation and removal as needed. We provide a free consultation with a certified arborist to evaluate the overall health of your trees, identify any structural problems and diagnose any pests and/or diseased trees, including whether a tree is a good candidate for transportation. 

Contact us today to get started.  

Caring for Native North Florida Trees in Your Backyard

Live Oak tree with the text "Caring for North Florida Trees"

With over 50 native tree types in Florida, it’s entirely possible you have more than a couple of species in your backyard. Although not all the trees you see are native to the area, the native North Florida trees are easy to identify once you know what to look for.  

Tallahassee is within Zone 8 on the USDA Hardiness Zone map, a system used to categorize regions based on their average annual minimum winter temperatures. This information helps gardeners and horticulturists determine which plants, including trees, are likely to thrive in a particular area. Trees that are native to North Florida tend to thrive in the ever-changing Zone 8 conditions that include mild winters and warm summers. 

Wondering what hidden tree treasures you have in your own backyard? Here are just a few of the most popular native North Florida trees and how to best care for them. 

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

The native Live Oak is one of the most popular native North Florida trees, especially in Tallahassee. Characterized by a massive trunk and large limbs, they tend to be draped in Spanish moss and produce a lot of shade.  

With the average size being 60 feet tall and 80 feet wide, they need a LOT of room to grow. If planted in the perfect area, they can develop for centuries. However, if you plan to add this tree to your landscape, you must be sure to do plenty of pruning when it is growing in its early years. When the tree is older, the wood is immensely strong and durable, even to hurricane winds. Live Oaks are some of the safest and most stress-resistant trees in the area, handling the impacts from construction, stress and disease as well as, or better than most trees in the South. They have extremely shallow root systems, however, and are prone to tip after a hurricane. 

Caring for your Live Oak 

  • Water deeply and regularly during the first year to help establish the root system. Once established, Live Oaks are relatively drought-tolerant but benefit from occasional deep watering during dry periods. 
  • Prune only as needed after the early growing years to remove dead or diseased branches. Live Oaks have a natural, sprawling growth habit. 
  • Keep an eye out for pests like oak wilt and scale insects. Regular inspection and early intervention are key to maintaining tree health. 

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Although not as common as the Live Oak, you may have a Southern Magnolia tree in your front yard. They love the light, so at their tallest point, they can grow to be around 75 feet tall. During the spring and summer months, a Southern Magnolia is known for its beautiful cream-colored flowers that can grow up to 12 inches in diameter! However, even when the blooms are not in season, the tree manages to keep most of its leathery green leaves. When the large leaves do fall once a year, they tend to leave a mess behind. 

Southern Magnolia flower with the text "Southern Magnolia"

Caring for Your Southern Magnolia 

  • Water regularly during the first year to establish the root system. Once established, water during dry periods to maintain soil moisture. 
  • Prune to shape the tree when young. Minimal pruning is recommended once the tree is mature, as excessive pruning can affect flowering. 
  • Watch for pests like scales and aphids. Magnolias are generally resistant to major diseases but monitor issues and treat them promptly if needed.  

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

As far as flowering trees go, this one takes the cake! Although its size isn’t large – only about 25 feet at maturity – the blooms that this tree puts out in spring sure are. Along the bare branches, clusters of pink or white flowers appear to beautify your landscape.  However, they don’t last forever. In the summer, the flowers will fall and be replaced with dark green leaves – perfect for any Florida front yard. 

Eastern Redbud flowers with the text "Eastern Redbud"

Caring for Your Eastern Redbud 

  • Water regularly during the first year to establish roots. Once established, water during dry periods, but avoid over-watering. 
  • Prune for shape when the tree is young. Minimal pruning is usually required for mature trees. 
  • Keep an eye out for issues like cankers and leaf spots. Proper care and maintenance can help prevent most problems. 

Trust the Tree Experts

North Florida is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including these and many more beautiful native North Florida trees. To maintain the health of your trees year-round, it is essential to observe them and provide responsive care as needed.  

Need a little help? Miller’s Tree Service is your local tree expert providing inspection, mitigation, trimming, pruning and removal as needed. We provide a free consultation with a certified arborist to evaluate the overall health of your North Florida trees, identify any structural problems as well as diagnosis any pests and/or diseased trees. 

Contact us today to get started.