Tyler Balderson, Tree Hugger and Arboriculturist at Bartlett Tree Experts, on the importance of knowing your trees~
“Being a board certified master arborist, the most important part is to be able to identify the tree. Each tree has either its mechanism of growth, or its concerns that I need to identify for the client, but there’s also bad trees, there are trees we don’t want on your property, and we call those invasive species. . . they can impact the health and growth of a tree that we do want.”
Andy Ockershausen: This is Our Town, and this Andy Ockershausen. And I’m just so excited to welcome a very special guest, my favorite tree hugger. And I use that term in all affection. This man is a very, very famous forester. He’s famous because I think he’s famous. We found him as the local manager at Bartlett Tree Experts about probably 15 to 20 years ago, Tyler. It’s been a great relationship. Tyler Balderson, welcome to Our Town.
Tyler Balderson: Thanks for having me.
Andy Ockershausen: Isn’t this a great town to have Our Town?
Tyler Balderson: It’s a great town.
Andy Ockershausen: Even though we’re familiar with you with Anne Arundel County, that’s part of Our Town. We’ve always considered it that. Odenton where you had some … that’s where your office is, in Odenton.
Tyler Balderson: That is correct.
Andy Ockershausen: But you’re a local yokel.
Tyler Balderson is Homegrown, A Local Yokel
Tyler Balderson: I’m a local yokel. Born and raised.
Andy Ockershausen: In Bethesda.
Tyler Balderson: In Bethesda, yep.
Andy Ockershausen: Went to the school in Bethesda, and your family … and your father, Andy, is a business man in Bethesda, he had your company before you were born, I would imagine.
Tyler Balderson: He did. He’s a landscape architect. He’s been practicing it for over 40 years now.
Andy Ockershausen: And he decided that you’d be a tree person, but you’re not an architect, you’re a forester.
Balderson is a Natural Born Tree Hugger
Tyler Balderson: That is correct. Yeah, I was born and raised in a nursery, where he founded our house, and so born and raised around trees. Naturally, I’m going to take care of them.
Andy Ockershausen: Did you cut down trees to build your house?
Tyler Balderson: No. I’m a tree hugger. I don’t cut trees.
Andy Ockershausen: You did just the opposite. You would’ve loved George Washington, right, he cut down a tree and his parents put him in trouble.
Tyler Balderson: That is correct.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s part of Our Town, too, Mount Vernon, you know.
First Professional Gig – Elm Trees at Mount Vernon
Tyler Balderson: Mount Vernon, we take care of the trees at Mount Vernon.
Andy Ockershausen: Is that right?
Tyler Balderson: Absolutely.
Andy Ockershausen: Your company does?
Tyler Balderson: Yep, I personally have been injecting those elm trees for years before, when I got started in tree care, so I personally had taken care of those trees for Mount Vernon.
Andy Ockershausen: When you were in Bethesda?
Tyler Balderson: Mm-hmm (affirmative), Bethesda, yep, when I first started out.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, you’ve always lived in Bethesda before you went to college, correct?
Tyler Balderson: Correct.
Our Town Legacy – Three Generations
Andy Ockershausen: And the family is back, and your grandfather was born in the city, correct?
Tyler Balderson: Correct, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Within the city limits.
Tyler Balderson: Born and raised in the DC area, absolutely, he’s in real estate.
Andy Ockershausen: I’ll be, you go way back then.
Tyler Balderson: We do.
Andy Ockershausen: Don’t go back, stay with us.
Tyler Balderson: Correct. Balderson goes back basically from Virginia, so they kind of moved up from Virginia to your town.
Andy Ockershausen: How old is Bartlett Company-
Bartlett Tree Experts – Est. 1907 – International
Tyler Balderson: 1907. So it’s a few years old.
Andy Ockershausen: Wow. 110 years old, 111 years old.
Tyler Balderson: Yeah, absolutely.
Andy Ockershausen: And it’s in New England? Is that the basis, I mean, that’s the home office of …
Tyler Balderson: Correct, Francis started it in 1907 in Stamford, Connecticut, and it still is based there today.
Andy Ockershausen: The base is still there.
Tyler Balderson: But we have offices throughout the world now, taking care of trees, hugging trees like I do.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, but you’re a master at it. But when you went away to college, did you find that you were going to have to be hugging trees in the beautiful valley of Virginia?
Education – Virginia Tech – Forestry Program
Tyler Balderson: I just wanted to go to Virginia Tech, I wanted to go to a great school. So I went there and didn’t know what to study, and I knew about trees, so I got into the forestry program, luckily they had me. And-
Andy Ockershausen: Is that a big program at UVA? I mean, at Tech.
Tyler Balderson: Yes, Tech is … Tech, West Virginia, NC State are all really big forestry programs, so-
Andy Ockershausen: They’re all land grant schools, of course.
Tyler Balderson: There you go.
Andy Ockershausen: So Uncle Sam wants trees to be very important to people, and I hope they are.
States Support Forestry Programs
Tyler Balderson: Absolutely. Actually, interesting story, I got a common market, basically a scholarship for in-state tuition because Maryland didn’t offer any forestry programs. So they paid me, in essence, to go to Virginia Tech, study trees, come back here and implement all my work here locally. So Maryland supported it.
Andy Ockershausen: The state supported you?
Tyler Balderson: Yep.
Andy Ockershausen: I’ll be, I didn’t know that. But I am excited to know that the Virginia Tech University, Virginia, as I call it, Virginia Poly years ago, are spending something like five billion dollars involved in the new Amazon complex. Tech is going to have a special school here of the university. I think it can handle maybe … I saved the plan, I read the plan, maybe 15,000. But it’s all people in the high tech world.
Tyler Balderson: There you go.
Andy Ockershausen: And UVA is going to do it. You know who’s going to subsidize it, don’t you? The public.
Tyler Balderson: Oh, why thank you, I’m part of the public.
Andy Ockershausen: Amazon’s going to be there, but it’s all part of the deal that they’re setting the school up here, it’s going to be a big tech campus. In the new Amazon … you read about that, of course. We’re getting Amazon.
Tyler Balderson: Yep.
Andy Ockershausen: That bought half of … Arlington and Alexandria are going to have half in each jurisdiction. And Tech is a big part of it.
Tyler Balderson: Excellent.
Andy Ockershausen: So, where do you go from here, Tyler? You have a forestry, and then when did you decide to move back here?
Tyler Balderson’s First Job Out of College :: Tree Masters
Tyler Balderson: So, right after school, I moved back here and got a job from a local company called Tree Masters, and they go way back from the 1950s. So my father knew of somebody, and I needed a job because I’m out of school, so forestry degree naturally worked right into that, so I worked from the ground up. From injecting and taking care of trees, to climbing them, and doing all the-
Andy Ockershausen: But your dad couldn’t hire you because he was in a different world?
Tyler Balderson: He’s a different field, yeah, landscape architecture, although they’re sisters to each other, you’ve got landscape architecture which is more of engineering design, and I’m more of the taking care of, so you’ve got basically the doctor-
Andy Ockershausen: Maintenance.
Tyler Balderson: Yeah, the doctor who delivers the baby, and you’ve got the doctors who take care of it. So that’s kind of my role, is I take care of it. I’ve got a permanent job.
Andy Ockershausen: Because he’s a tree hugger. He’s our favorite tree hugger. And this Andy Ockershausen, I’m talking to Tyler Balderson about Our Town.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town, with Andy Ockershausen brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen on Our Town, in a conversation with my favorite tree hugger, and my favorite tree expert, Tyler Balderson, who’s a Bethesda boy, grew up here, went to school at UV … I mean, at Virginia Tech. And then moved back to work for Bartlett. And we had a great conversation about our wonderful town. It’s called the City of Trees. Georgetown is a big part of it, as you know, Tyler.
Tyler Balderson: Absolutely.
Andy Ockershausen: And it’s so important what Rock Creek is to Our Town. Now it’s become a thoroughfare, you don’t live here, but Rock Creek used to be something special. Now it’s wiz, wiz, wiz, it’s the beautiful road through it. But, most people don’t stop to enjoy what it is, they just drive through it. But I grew up here, and I know what trees are, and I know how important they are.
Good Job by City Planning for Trees in Our Town
Tyler Balderson: Yeah, I think they did a really good job planning for trees here. Coming in this morning there’s just a huge amount of willow oaks, I don’t know if you’ve noticed those trees, you have a big willow oak. And coming down, to drive down a street that has a canopy of willow oaks throughout a major city is rare. So I think that a lot of planning has gone on. When they planned the city, they used trees as an important part of providing shade, providing pollution control, so they were well beyond their years in terms of understanding the importance of trees. Lots of other cities, if you go into a brand new city, they have small little trees that are planted, but there’s no major, beautiful, historic trees to be able to drive under, and in our lifetime we may not see that. But Washington has that, and I think that makes it a very special place to visit.
Andy Ockershausen: We notice it so much. Janice and I have been living in this city a long time. Massachusetts Avenue is a green tunnel, almost from Union Station into Maryland, it’s amazing. This is a primary road, of course, our main street is Massachusetts. It’s covered by green. It’s fabulous.
Trees Provide Shade and Habitat for Wildlife
Tyler Balderson: It is. Well I think the sales of convertibles around here, to be able to drive underneath the shady trees has gone up, because otherwise you would just cook out there. So, shade is the first thing we think about, but all the things like wildlife, where do the critters live that live around here? They’d have no place to live if you didn’t have trees. So birds, and wildlife-
Rock Creek Park
Andy Ockershausen: Well, we’re fortunate with Rock Creek Park, because it’s a wonderful, wonderful green ribbon right through the middle of Our Town, starts at the river and ends way up in Montgomery County somewhere. And that is very, very important to the animal life. In fact, we have too many animals here because of Rock Creek. We have deer problem, and now I understand there’s some coyotes that occasionally appear in the Rock Creek area, north up in Bethesda. You’ve heard about that, I’m sure it must have reached Odenton.
Tyler Balderson: Certainly we have some coyotes in Odenton as well. But no, I completely agree with you. Rock Creek’s a special place. And we’ve been taking care of trees for over 100 years, so we’ve been in the DC market that long, and we’ve been taking care of trees. If you don’t take care of trees, just like anything in life, you don’t take care of yourself, you’re going to have problems, you’re going to have tree failures.
Andy Ockershausen: Right.
Safety First – Falling Trees – Cabling and Lightning Protection for Trees
Tyler Balderson: A lot of people are a little bit concerned about trees and safety is the first thing we look at. I mean, I love trees, I want to hug them, but if you’re nervous or concerned about a tree falling on your house, you should probably consider removing it and starting over with a new one. So safety’s really important-
Andy Ockershausen: Preventative.
Tyler Balderson: Preventative care. Cabling, lightning protection, people had no idea you could protect a tree with lightning. And you’ve invested in that, and it’s saved your trees.
Andy Ockershausen: Absolutely, we have three wonderful, big, huge trees, they’re protected. But do you get paid … who takes care of Rock Creek? It’s Park Service, correct?
Tyler Balderson: Correct.
Andy Ockershausen: So you work for the Park Service there?
Tyler Balderson On Work for the Park Service
Tyler Balderson: They do, and we’ve worked them, we’ve been contracted as a contractor from the Park Service to be able to work on Rock Creek. We’ve worked all over the world on trees, so-
Andy Ockershausen: Well, Mount Vernon is under the Park Service, right?
Tyler Balderson: Mount Vernon, Monticello-
Andy Ockershausen: You’re doing it all.
Liberty Tree – Wye Oak – Annapolis, MD
Tyler Balderson: And downtown Annapolis, the Liberty Tree, the Wye Oak, we put over a mile worth of cables in the Wye Oak.
Andy Ockershausen: Even though it’s on the eastern shore, that’s Our Town.
Tyler Balderson: You know what, you have saplings from that tree in your town, I guarantee it. And I can identify it. I walk on a property and I’ll say, “That’s a Wye Oak sapling,” before they even know that I know it’s a Wye Oak sapling. That’s how much of a tree hugger I am, I love it.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, you’re a forester, you should do that.
Tyler Balderson: That’s what I do, it’s my job.
Andy Ockershausen: Who else was a forester? Robin Hood.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Tyler, if you were to-
Andy Ockershausen: That’s my Jannie-o.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: If you were to suggest 10 of the most important trees in the Washington area, or Our Town, what would they be? Give us a couple.
Tree Species Important to DC Metro
Tyler Balderson: I’ll give you a couple. Willow Oak. You guys are inundated with willow oaks, and willow oaks is one of the toughest oak species. It’s a … the oak tree that has the willow leaf, it looks like a weeping willow leaf, that’s how you identify the willow oak. The cherry tree, how could you not think of Washington without the Yoshino cherry from Japan.
Andy Ockershausen: Right.
Tyler Balderson: The dogwood, it’s a native tree I see in the DC market. Let me think what other … maples, obviously you guys have a lot of maples here in your town, so those are really-
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Do we have any historic trees that are notable that we can visit? That we would recognize?
Historic Trees in DC Metro
Tyler Balderson: That you would recognize, obviously the cherry trees are the ones that really come first to my mind.
Andy Ockershausen: Great, great, great events.
Tyler Balderson: Millions and millions of people go see the cherry blossoms.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, yeah.
Tyler Balderson: That’s one that comes to mind. But I think there’s historic trees. Lincoln’s cottage I know has some historic trees. So, there are a lot of trees, there may be a historic tree in your backyard and you don’t even know it. And so, understanding the size of the tree and how old trees are is really important to understand whether you have a historic tree. So preserving that tree is really, really important to everybody.
Andy Ockershausen: Well something, Tyler, that really impresses me is the fact that this doesn’t usually happen, but our governments are very aware of the tree situation, particularly … even in the city, far less the suburb, the city of Washington has a department to oversee any work on trees. If I wanted to take down a tree that had some value, I still need permission in the city of Washington. I’m not talking about something in Georgetown, I’m talking about anywhere, if you take out a tree, you need permission.
Why Tree Preservation and Government Protections are Important
Tyler Balderson: Absolutely. It’s really, really important to understand the importance of what our government does to help protect our trees so that people aren’t just taking trees down. And in some cases, trees need to come down, but you need an arborist to identify the problems to take the tree down, and do it professionally. But I really think the government has gone a long way for preserving that … in Anne Arundel County we have the critical area. We need to protect our trees on our water buffers, they’re the filters that keep our bay clean. Our bay is what … Washington wouldn’t be Washington without the Chesapeake Bay. I mean, it really is-
Andy Ockershausen: That’s Our Town, we know that.
Tyler Balderson: It’s your town, the rivers, the commerce all start … Washington started because of the bay, and the commerce that can occur. Annapolis, Baltimore, all of them are there because of the bay.
Andy Ockershausen: It wouldn’t be there if they didn’t have water route.
Tyler Balderson: Right.
Andy Ockershausen: They would be trains then.
Tyler Balderson: And erosion.
Andy Ockershausen: No planes, water.
Tyler Balderson: Right. Developments occurred, and without trees the bay fills up with silt, silt kills the animals. So it all starts … the root of everything is trees.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s a great one, we’ve got to write that down. The root of everything, I thought it was evil.
Tyler Balderson: Greed, right?
Andy Ockershausen: But the city is very aware of the importance of trees, and I think that’s great. We have a lot of problems in a major area, but we have so many people concerned about trees, and I’m very much aware of that, and I think it’s great for you, and it’s great for the public, and it’s great for us.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen and we’re talking trees on Our Town.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen in a conversation with my favorite arborist, Tyler Balderson. And he’s been involved in so many things, he’s a member of the Board of Certified Master Arborists, he’s a Maryland licensed tree expert, he’s a licensed pesticide applicator, and certified tree care safety. What he is, he’s really a doctor of trees, and he can do it all. He specializes in trees and tree work.
A couple of things that Tyler brought up that rang a bell with me is a tree offers so much protection to small animals, and small dogs, and small children. And we’ve got to remember and to respect that.
Tyler Balderson: Absolutely.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: The value of a tree is just … is so much a part of our surroundings and our environment, and you could talk a little bit about what’s important, and why it’s important.
Tyler Balderson: Absolutely.
Andy Ockershausen: And just as important is the bad has got to go to make way for the good, is that correct?
Tyler Balderson: Absolutely, yes.
Andy Ockershausen: You’ve got to-
The Importance of Knowing Your Trees
Tyler Balderson: Being a board certified master arborist, the most important part is to be able to identify the tree. Each tree has either its mechanism of growth, or its concerns that I need to identify for the client, but there’s also bad trees, there are trees we don’t want on your property, and we call those invasive species. And they’ve been brought over from over the years, and what they can do is they can impact the health and growth of a tree that we do want. And to be able to identify those trees is part of my job, so that I can explain to you, “Hey, this tree should stay, we should focus on it. This tree needs to go.”
Tyler Balderson: And you may not know it. And not all green is good. So-
Andy Ockershausen: I understand that, that’s important.
Tyler Balderson: We want more quality of quantity, okay?
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: So give us a couple ideas of what a bad tree would be.
Weak Trees – Unsafe
Tyler Balderson: A bad tree, locust tree. Very weak wooded, one of the top trees that could fall over. Black locusts, they used back in the day for making fence posts, which was great for fence posts and great firewood, we talked a little bit about that. But the tree itself, growing and leaning out over your house, you would not want that tree there. Virginia pine, again, is a very weak wooded tree. If I had a Virginia pine leaning over my house I’d have it removed right away. They’re one of the top five trees that fall over.
Andy Ockershausen: From the wind.
Tyler Balderson: In the wind, absolutely. They’re very weak-rooted. And other trees like oaks are ones that we’d want to preserve. So if you had four or five trees surrounding an oak tree, and you let those trees outgrow the oak tree, because the oak tree is a slow grower, you’ll lose the oak tree. And you don’t even know it, and now you have five locust or mulberries that could overgrow this oak tree, and you didn’t even know you lost a specimen tree.
The Gumball Tree – Injection to Stop Tree from Producing Gumball Does Not Work
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: What about the gum tree?
Tyler Balderson: Gumballs, everybody … if you can come up with a reason for the gumballs, I’d be retired. Some people put it in packaging, I would say that’s a terrible idea, and some people decorate them as gifts, but they’re a terrible-
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Tyler-
Andy Ockershausen: You know, you took ours out of our property in Shadyside.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Tyler, it’s so funny because we had a man … before Tyler Balderson came to Shadyside, we had a young man that came around and he charged $100.00 to inject something into the gumtree, the gumball tree that says, “Next year, you won’t have gumballs.”
Tyler Balderson: And how’d that work out?
Andy Ockershausen: We had two trees.
Tyler Balderson: Twice as many gumballs.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Yeah-
Andy Ockershausen: We gave him money for two trees.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: And our neighbors. And we still had the same amount of gumballs that we had the year before.
Tyler Balderson: And I think I told you guys, if you could invent that, I’d be retired many times over.
Andy Ockershausen: If that would work-
Tyler Balderson: It does not work, there is no product.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Is the actual gumball, is that the seed of a female gumball tree?
Tyler Balderson: That is the seed, you’re absolutely right, and that’s what plants the seed and then a new gumballs grow. The gums are pretty tough, but that gum fruit is an absolute nuisance. Again, get rid of it while it’s small, while-
Andy Ockershausen: It takes an expert to identify these things.
Tyler Balderson: You’ve got to identify it, and you’ve got to identify it early. Sometimes it can take 15 years for that tree to develop a fruit, because it’s a young tree and it hasn’t developed the fruit yet, so it’s really important to identify that, get those out of there. Also we can get into planting trees. Planting the right tree in the right spot is super important. My dad’s a landscape architect, he plants-
Andy Ockershausen: He knows-
Tons of Wrong Trees in Wrong Spot – Plan for the Right Tree in the Right Spot
Tyler Balderson: Tons of wrong trees in the wrong spot and we get in arguments about it. Don’t plant a fast growing, tall tree underneath a power line, because all you’re going to do is have headaches with the power company.
Andy Ockershausen: Eventually.
Tyler Balderson: Plant smaller trees, redbuds, dogwoods, service berries, even some crepe myrtles will all do well underneath power lines.
Andy Ockershausen: What do you know about magnolia? We had a controversy here in Georgetown, our wonderfully wooded area, about a magnolia tree. An owner wanted to cut down a tree and the city said, “Sorry, you can’t, that tree’s got to stay there.” But they trimmed the tree back so it died. And they got a big penalty for it. Now would an arborist know you can’t over trim a tree?
Tree Pruning Tip
Tyler Balderson: Absolutely, there’s certain ways that you prune trees. You never want to remove more than 25% of live growth in any given year. 25% is a good number, if you remove more than that, the tree’s going to respond by either dying, or pushing on twice as much growth. So you’ve just added your maintenance, or your growth on that tree. You’re diffusing or diluting what your goal is. Your goal is to slow the tree down, that’s not going to work. There are products out there to slow the tree down without having to prune it, or-
Andy Ockershausen: It’s not just magnolia, it would be true of any tree.
Tyler Balderson: Any tree, and magnolia is a great tree, but it is a particularly dirty tree. Again, don’t plant a magnolia near your pool or patio, because they’re very dirty, they drop stuff year-round. So have the right tree in the right spot.
Tyler Balderson: But, if you’re buying a house, or buying a property with a historic tree, you should probably know that, and maybe not purchase that property or look at other options rather than trying to get rid of a big, beautiful-
Andy Ockershausen: Would the landscaping and the tree work be important to a builder when he’s trying to move a property?
How Property Construction Impacts Trees
Tyler Balderson: It’s essential. And the issue is this-
Andy Ockershausen: Because it’s more than just buying a property, he’s going to have to live with it for a while.
Tyler Balderson: Correct. And trees can take 10 to 12 years to die from construction damage. And construction damage, a lot of people that aren’t arborists will say, “Oh, it has a taproot.” Not true. Trees grow from the rain that comes down, they need oxygen, and roots are going to grow where maybe there’s construction activity. So it’s really important, a lot of people call an arborist in after the fact. And guess what I am? I’m now a mortician. Oh, it’s time to cut the tree down.
Seek Expert Advice on Trees During Planning Stage
Tyler Balderson: But if you plan, called me in the beginning, we can set up some fencing, maybe talk with the architect of where to maybe put a trench. Changing a site, a tree has been growing there for 80 years, just by changing the site, you’re changing the hydrology on the site, and that can cause water to pool where it wasn’t, or not, and the trees are going to respond, and they’re going to die back because it’s a shoot to root ratio. Less roots, less shoots.
Tyler Balderson: So you don’t even know you’re causing harm to your trees, and before you know it you call me and I say, “Well, I’m sorry, there’s nothing that can be done.”
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Yeah, we ended up putting a pier, a pier foundation in our new home as opposed to a solid cement foundation, remember that.
Tyler Balderson: Foundation, exactly, because you would’ve cut into the roots. So pier has-
Andy Ockershausen: We didn’t hurt the roots.
Tyler Balderson: You didn’t hurt the roots. And roots, again, you have anchoring roots that are deep, but the top 18 to 24 inches, that’s the feeder roots, that’s the heart system, that’s the circulatory system of tree.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s your bread and butter.
Tyler Balderson: You damage them-
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: What’s the spread of a 100 year old tree, like an oak? Because from what … when you walk the land and you tell us, you say, “Hey look, this one’s going on 20 feet, or 50 feet, or whatever.” How do you … oh, I know, I think you did tell me, you determine the root by the canopy, how far the canopy goes, is that right?
Determing the Critical Root Area of a Tree
Tyler Balderson: You are a great listener. Andy O, you need to listen to her more often.
Andy Ockershausen: She’s the boss, that’s why we’re here.
Tyler Balderson: So that is a very good question. So we determine the critical area, which is the most important part of the tree, we don’t do it by canopy, that’s a good way to doing it because that’s a good general, but if you had a tree growing in the woods, and it didn’t have light to grow it’s going to grow tall, but its root system may be wider, so I do it by diameter. So for every inch in diameter, I like to use one linear foot of protection. So 20 inch diameter tree, 20 feet linear out is the critical area of the tree.
Tyler Balderson: Now, tree roots, if I had my x-ray glasses and we’ve done research on this, tree roots can be three times the height of the tree. So if you lay a 100 foot tree down, that’s 300 feet a root may extend out beyond that tree. And that’s in your neighbor’s yard, that’s in the city yard. So trees don’t understand property boundaries.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: I have a question for you regarding-
Tyler Balderson: They’re confused.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: The neighbor, okay, so-
Tyler Balderson: Great question.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Yeah. So, when you have a neighbor, and your tree is halfway over on their property, and the tree falls and it falls into their house, whose responsibility is that tree that’s landing … your tree that’s landing on somebody else’s property?
Your Neighbors and Trees
Tyler Balderson: That is a great question, we get that all the time. The property line disputes, because in your town, Bethesda, Georgetown, trees also don’t understand property lines, so their canopies extend over multiple yards. So the law goes all the way back to the days when they basically gave land away. And that property line is an invisible wall to the sky, okay? So if you a limb that extends over on your property, you have every right to cut it back to that property line. But in many cases, that’s not what’s right for the tree, that’s not what’s best for the tree.
Tyler Balderson: So let’s all get along, let’s all work together as neighbors to work with contractors to make sure we can do what’s right for the trees, to properly prune them back. But in the case of a tree that falls over, absolutely, if it falls over, it’s just raw lottery. If that neighbor’s tree falls over on your house, your insurance company picks up the cost of that. That’s just life in general. Your tree falls over and hits theirs, again, their insurance will pick up the case.
Tyler Balderson: Now, there is some issues when you get into things like liability. If you have a dead tree and you’ve been notified of it, and it falls over, well then you could be held liable. So that’s more into consulting arborist stuff, I don’t want to get into the trees in the wall-
Andy Ockershausen: Right, I understand.
Tyler Balderson: But for me, as a practitioner, I’m the one that’s out there making recommendations, and if again, the root system, if you go in and you dig a trench on your property line to put in your pool, it could affect and kill your neighbor’s trees. So if we could all get along in Our Town and work a little bit better, and work with each other, I work really well when neighbors work well together. So let’s all get along and-
Andy Ockershausen: Well it’s better to talk to you before you make a mistake than after, correct?
Tyler Balderson: I can’t fix that problem.
Andy Ockershausen: You can’t fix a mistake with a dead tree-
Tyler Balderson: Amen.
Andy Ockershausen: But you can sure help us get our trees alive and keep them alive.
Tyler Balderson: Absolutely.
Books About Trees
Andy Ockershausen: Tyler, this has been a great conversation. My Janice is really the expert on trees in our family, and she’s done some research and she’s wrote about the book The Hidden Life of Trees, The Man Who Planted Trees, and Lab Girl.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Yeah, those are just some of the … I love trees. My father was really into trees as well. He always wanted to improve the property with trees. So we have a love for trees in our family. But these are the three titles that I really enjoyed was The Hidden Life of Trees, you knew about that. And then The Man Who Planted Trees, written by a New York Times reporter.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s a great, great story.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Great story. But it talks about how … there was cloning the master trees of the world, and it’s such a great book. And then the other one, Lab Girl, was one I read recently, and it talks about trees communicating and protecting each other. And I thought that was so interesting as well.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s been a wonderful, wonderful conversation with Tyler about his love, and he’s turned Janice and I into tree lovers also. And tree huggers, but to realize, and as I did, because of you Tyler, how important trees are has been a monumental effort for me to come to grips with that. They’re monumentally important to our society, and to our lifestyle.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Now I would like this opportunity for Tyler to give himself a plug with his website.
Andy Ockershausen: Okay, have at it. Plug your website.
Tyler Balderson: Bartlett.com All the information you need about service, if you need service, if you want an arborist to come out and take a look at your trees, it doesn’t cost anything. Have an arborist, be proactive, love your trees like we love your trees. There’s 100-
Andy Ockershausen: Why don’t you plug Tyler Balderson?
Tyler Balderson: Well, Tyler Balderson, absolutely.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: I think I’m going to include in the Our Town photo library the picture of you hugging our big oak tree.
Tyler Balderson: You have a picture of that?
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:Yeah.
Hug a Tree – Really, for Your Own Good, Hug a Tree!
Tyler Balderson: And I still swing … any time I’m in your town, I go on that swing and I swing on it, and it … to be honest with you, you … go hug a tree. You will connect like never before. And it may look silly, but I’m going to tell you what, you’re going to feel a little bit better about it. Get outside, get off your laptops, put your iPads down, get out, hug a tree, plant a tree, love on some trees.
Andy Ockershausen: Everything else follows.
Tyler Balderson: That’s right.
Andy Ockershausen: Tyler, this has been a wonderful conversation. I hope our public and people that love Our Town take your advice to heart, because the trees need us and we need them. Thank you very much, Tyler Balderson. This is Andy Ockershausen, and this is Our Town.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Our Town, Season 4, presented by GEICO our home town favorite with you host Andy Ockershausen. New Our Town episodes are released each Tuesday and Thursday. Drop us a line with your comments or suggestions. See us on Facebook, or visit our website at ourtowndc.com. Our special thanks to Ken Hunter, our technical director, and WMAL radio in Washington, D.C., and thanks to GEICO. Fifteen minutes can save you 15 percent or more on care insurance.