It’s summer and despite the heat, Mid-Missouri yards are lush and growing.  As part of the upkeep of your yard you may be thinking about trimming some trees this season, whether you’re protecting your home from future damage or you have left-over damage from a winter or spring storm.  Did you know that well maintained trees actually add value to your home? Kasmann Insurance Agency spoke with a local tree expert about general tree maintenance and other helpful information regarding trees.  Read on to see what Matt Tiemann, Arborist and owner of Resource Tree and Land had to say. 

Questions and Answers

Q: How often should homeowners call a tree expert to have the trees in their yard assessed?

A: Once a year if there are large, mature trees on the property. The best time to call for a general assessment is winter because tree companies are not as busy and the trees have no leaves, making it easier to see any issues. Most tree companies do not charge for this type of general assessment. If there is a tree of particular concern, call a Certified Arborist with a “Tree Risk Assessment” background that can come climb the tree, or use a bucket-truck to look in the canopy level.  There will most likely be a charge for an assessment involving climbing or equipment.  The bottom line is that you’ll never replace a mature tree, so it’s best to get ahead of any issues that can be treated.

Q: What do homeowners do if their neighbor has a large tree that overhangs their house and the neighbor refuses to trim or remove the tree?

A: Be really nice to them and make them a cake on their birthday, pick up their mail, etc.!  Unless it is a dead tree, they [trees] will rarely be a harmonious situation when you live by other people. I suggest before even buying a house, that people get an Arborist to survey the trees on the property to see if there are any dead or dying trees and they would also be able to give the potential homeowner a heads-up if there are any issues with a neighbor’s tree. 

If you already have neighbor with limbs that are close to, or touching your house and they won’t trim them, ultimately it is the responsibility of the homeowner to protect their house. You should remove any limbs touching your roof and you can actually remove anything all the way to the property line. If the neighbor’s tree or limbs fall and damage your house, most likely your homeowners insurance will pay to fix the damage [less your deductible] and a certain amount to remove the tree.  

Q: How do you tell if a tree is sick or dying? 

A: During the warm season the leaves are the most obvious indicator. Trees decline from the top down so check the tips of the top of the tree. Are the tops bare of leaves? Are there any open sores or cracks that are weeping or losing sap?  Another indication is carpenter ants crawling at the base because they can only chew on dead wood, meaning there is rot in the tree.

Q: When we submit a new property application, underwriting performs and inspection and sometimes they will require trees be trimmed or removed. Can you explain the importance of this requirement to our customers?

A: Insurance companies have years and years of experience and data on tree failures so they have accurate parameters of what needs to go. They don’t want any limbs or trees to fall and damage an insured structure, or rub against roof shingles, which will cause granular loss.

Q: How much does a basic tree removal cost for something like an average sized Bradford Pear in a backyard? 

A: That’s the number one enemy of a tree estimator because each individual job is so radically different. It could start at about $750 but a gate being 2” too narrow can mean hours of extra labor; or a yard being 10-feet wider than average can mean taking a tree out in big pieces versus small pieces, and the amount of labor saved from that. The average tree job is usually somewhere between $500-$1,500.

Q: Do you always take the whole tree with you when you remove trees? Can people make special requests if they want part of a stump left behind, or do you cut firewood or mulch the wood at all?

A: Every job is to the customer’s specifications, so if they want 3’ of stump left for a sculpture or to set flower pots on top of, we can do that.  We can also chop firewood or whatever we’re asked to do. Everything has a price and can be done. Regarding mulch, the typical homeowner in a subdivision does not have any business getting Arborist mulch because it’s termite bait and could have thorns or poison ivy.  Our mulch is best for another company to come in and pick up to re-grind and treat.  The mulch you buy at the store has been shredded and treated and is much better to use.

Q: Bradford Pear trees are everywhere in Mid-Missouri, especially in subdivisions.  Can you tell us why? 

A: The industry pushed them hard about 30 yrs ago because they are great privacy blockers, they grow fast, they’re cheap and pretty. They kind of just fit well and they don’t get massively tall.  They are great trees except for the fact that they break into pieces if look at them wrong.

Q: When we have strong winds in Mid-Missouri, what kinds of trees are most often damaged?

A: Bradford Pears, Silver Maples, and Black Locusts are the three main ones. The other ones that have issues are trees that have co-dominant stems, which are two large limbs growing upward together in a tight V-shape with no clear central leader. All of a Bradford Pear’s limbs are co-dominant, but it doesn’t matter the kind of tree because even big strong oaks are at risk for failure.  If someone has a tree with co-dominant stems, we can come in and cable them to save them.

Cabled Tree

Q: Was there any specific kind of tree that wasn’t damaged at all by the weight of the snow and ice that we had at the beginning of this year?

A: Bald Cypress. I’ve never had any issues with them. They grow fast and they’re big. White Pines are bad in our ice and snow, I don’t recommend planting them around here.

Q: What are the best trees for homeowners to plant for wet and dry conditions? Or best fall color? Which trees are native versus non-native varieties?

A: For wet conditions, a Bald Cypress, Swamp White Oak, or willow will work best.  One thing to note is willows can get brittle and need lots of maintenance.  If your wet area suddenly dries up, a willow will die but a Bald Cypress can better adapt to dryness.

Cedars do well in dry conditions, they are the toughest tree you can plant but they are not very aesthetic. Another hardy tree that I sell a lot of are Autumn Blaze Red Maples.  Whatever kind of tree you plant, it needs to have a watering system in place.

You’ll see a lot of White Pines around here but they are not native to our area and not really classified for this zone. They do best one zone to the north of us and are a lot less reliable especially when summers are hotter and drier here. 

A native tree you’ll see in a lot of subdivisions is a Black Gum. This hardy tree also has the brightest fall foliage of any tree and is a nice complement to an Autumn Blaze Red Maple.

Common Mistakes With Trees

I also want to add some common mistakes I see.  People really need to take a 5-10 year look at their trees; as opposed to a “this is bothering me right now, so let’s get rid of it” approach. Nine out of ten times it’s better to just let nature be nature. People try to cut, shape and design their trees, but if you do too much of that your trees will not be healthy any longer. 

Another thing, is a lot of times people will choose a plot of land to build a house on because of all the great, mature trees.  Soil compaction and root zone interference from trenching and construction are the biggest detriments to trees.  People need to keep in mind that the root system of a tree is approximately 1½ times the size of the canopy, so it can spread pretty far and wide. I’ll often get calls two, three and even up to five years after someone digs up a pool or pours a concrete pad because their trees are finally showing root damage and dying and they’ll never get those great big, beautiful trees back.

Matt Tiemann

Insure With the People You Trust

Trees are beneficial to homeowners by adding aesthetic appeal, privacy, shade to reduce utility bills and by serving as a windbreak during storms. If a tree cannot withstand a storm and damages your property (whether the tree belongs to you or a neighbor), please call Kasmann Insurance at (573) 442-1105 to discuss your dwelling and/or other structure coverage. We can advise if your policy will help pay for the tree removal and we can help you report a claim to your insurance company. You can also contact us at any time with any of your coverage questions. If you have trees in your yard that are under-performing, or need any trees trimmed or removed, feel free to give Matt at Resource Tree and Land a call at (573) 825-0515, or visit them online or on Facebook

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