- FAX 215-438-1879
- Peter McFarland
- Locke Woodfin
The White Oak
Grandfather of our Native Trees
- Know What You are Buying
- Choosing Tree Replacements
- Caring for Mature Trees
- Plant Health Care
This White Oak (Quercus Alba) tree has thrived for approximately 175 years at Oak Cloister estate, home of John Casavecchia and Russell Harris located in Germantown, off Wissahickon Avenue adjacent to Fairmount Park. This beautiful graceful tree if properly maintained may well live another 175 years!
White Oaks are native to our region, a plus for several reasons. Most importantly, native trees have the ability to adjust to environmental conditions, such as temperatures, rainfall, moisture, and nutrient requirements. Non-native trees struggle more to adjust to their environment and are more prone to insects and disease.
Native trees provide more habitat for native fauna and beneficial insects. Many non-native trees do not provide this benefit.
Although we prefer to plant native tree species, it sometimes is not practical. It all depends on the location.
Some of the White Oaks that are here now were here when William Penn first came to Pennsylvania in 1682. That’s right, over 330 years old!
Of all the native trees, and there are many great ones to choose from, White Oaks are the hardiest because they are least likely to succumb to insect and disease problems.
When you plant a White Oak, you can be confident that it will be enjoyed by you, your family, and many future generations.
Caring for Mature Trees
Our goal in caring for mature trees is to prevent the onset of decline.
When trees reach maturity (50 to 100+ years), they shift their energy expenditures. Their annual growth slows, their carbohydrate reserves dwindle, and they spend more of their energy maintaining their greater bulk.
Because energy reserves tend to be lower, they do not recover as readily from stress (disease and insect infestation, drought, wind, and temperature fluctuations) as when they were younger. Branches die, roots rot due to disease, wood decays and they become more susceptible to damage from wind and ice. Trees in decline cause more damage to property and life.
The following practices reduce stress and encourage better tree health:
-Pruning on a three-to-five- year cycle to remove weak, diseased and dead limbs, and reducing weight at the ends of outer limbs and branches. McFarland is one of the few companies in the country that specializes in outer canopy maintenance pruning.
-Fertilizing every other year with slow-release, low-salt fertilizers.
-Preventing insect and disease infestations.
-Watering deeply in times of drought.
-Mulching and aerating root zones to encourage root growth and better moisture retention.
Adhering to these practices, our experienced crews can help prolong the life of your valued mature trees.
Treating Insect & Disease Problems
The best way to prevent most disease and insect problems is to keep your trees and plants healthy. Sometimes a simple procedure at the right time can make the difference between the life and death of an irreplaceable mature tree.
Of the many insect problems we encounter, perhaps the three most common are bronze Birch borer, Hemlock wooly adelgid, and Azalea bark scale. Also quite common are Euonymus scale, Camellia cottony scale, and various mite populations. All of these insects can be controlled through insecticide treatments applied at different times of year.
Emerald Ash Borer, just coming to our area, may well become our biggest problem.
Our three top disease concerns are Sycamore anthracnose, Crabapple scab and rust, and bacterial leaf scorch, which affects Oak trees. We have many different ways of treating plant diseases, using sprays, trunk injections, and soil drenches.
Many of these insect and disease problems have to be treated preventatively, while others should only be treated after they present themselves. As a regular client of ours, you can be confident that we are watching your trees and shrubs and will notify you of concerns before they get out of control.
Over the years we have learned a lot about plant pests and diseases, and we know how to limit the damage they can cause.
Our Arborists and plant health care technicians have received advanced training to treat insect and disease problems. They will visit your property no less than twice a year and leave you with a detailed site inspection sheet, including a recommended course of action in the form of a proposal for your approval.
We control common pests and diseases with the most scientifically advanced techniques available. No longer are cover sprays with toxic chemicals used that could shower down on your lawn. Instead we inject antibiotics and fungicides directly into the trunk, insecticides and fertilizers into the root zone, or we spray non-toxic horticultural oils onto the foliage that suffocate the predator.
Know What you Are Buying
With tree maintenance, there are no shortcuts
It takes time and hard work to keep old trees healthy and safe. There are no shortcuts.
Large mature trees can fail if not properly cared for. The best way to reduce the risk of failure is to climb out on the ends of limbs and prune them back to healthy lateral branches. This is essential.
Dead-wooding and thinning the crown, while part of proper pruning, often are not enough to sustain the long-term health of mature trees.
If another tree company promises to get more trees done in the same amount of time, or the same tree in half the time, it is because they are taking short cuts and not doing a thorough job.
At McFarland, we take pride in always recommending what is best for your trees and best for you and your property. Because of our knowledge, experience, and skills you can always be confident that with us your trees will receive the best possible care.
When pruning trees, our crews combine two kinds of pruning— hazard reduction and maintenance pruning.
Hazard reduction treats immediate threats due to damage caused by storms and heavy winds. Our crews remove all weak, diseased, and dead limbs, as well as limbs or trunks with serious structural defects, such as crossed or rubbing branches, forked or V-shaped trunks.
Maintenance pruning, or outer canopy pruning, brings about weight reduction by thinning the ends of limbs and branches and reduces the density of tree crowns and crowded inner growth. By reducing the weight and density of limbs, maintenance pruning further ensures the long-term health and the safety of your trees.
Our crews have the training, experience, and equipment to safely prune your trees the McFarland way.
Choosing Tree Replacements
An important part of the many services we offer is expertise in selecting and planting trees, whether replacing an old tree which died and had to be taken down, or planting new trees to enhance the beauty of your property.
When deciding the right tree to plant, consider these criteria:
– Diversity—You will want to create diversity whereby your trees offer different bloom times and good fall color. Diversity will also help lessen disease or insect damage.
– Native Species—Tree species indigenous to the Philadelphia region are preferable. Planting indigenous trees will help support resident and migrating birds and wildlife and add more year-round interest to your property.
– Heat and drought tolerance—Increasing summer temperatures makes
Recommended Trees to Plant
- Dawn Redwood
- Deodar Cedar
- Flowering Dogwood
- Green Giant Arborvitae
- Kwanzan Cherry
- Norway Spruce
- Red Maple*
- River Birch*
- White Oak*
- Sugar Maple*
*Native to our area
it more critical to take into consideration tree tolerance of longer heat spells and increased threats of plant disease.
– Tree characteristics—Take into consideration tree height (important if there are overhead electric or telephone wires), width, depth of roots, insect and disease resistance, and aesthetic qualities, such as bark, fall color, flowers and fruit.
Left: The Magestic Dawn Redwood
(Photo by Paul Meyer, The Morris Arboretum)
Spring is in the air now—bulbs blooming, trees bursting, songbirds singing, kids outside playing baseball.
It’s time to remind you of the importance of continuing all aspects or your landscape program with us, as we enter our 51st year in this business.
Plant health care, regular tree pruning and planting remain the core of our services. Over the years, our company has had an outstanding track record minimizing the need for emergency
Our plant and tree health-care treatments for diseases and pests remain essential for the continued longevity of your trees. Our technicians are highly trained and experienced in this special line of work.
We are particularly proud of the longevity of our employees whose training and experience excels in the green industry. Average tenure of our foremen is 12+ years. Some of our crew members have been with us over 20 years and still remain at the top of their game.
It’s safe to say no other tree company in the Delaware Valley can equal the experience of our staff. Thank you for your continued trust in them.
So let us get on with the job this spring,. Let us take the time to walk your property with you, especially if we haven’t done so in several years. We can set a plan for what we will do this year, identify any problems that need to be addressed, and establish a schedule for the future management of your landscape.
— Peter McFarland
Newsletter Editor: Bill Hengst