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    This section is intended as a resource for tree care professionals and the general public. The information comes from a variety of sources and has been compiled or written by a GAA member. The GAA has chosen the information carefully; however, the GAA does not guarantee its accuracy nor any work performed using information presented herein.

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    • February 13, 2020 10:23 AM | Deleted user

      Submitted by Downey Trees, Inc.

      Savannah, Georgia is no stranger to invasions. The first in its recorded history took place in 1733, when James Oglethorpe invaded Georgia, a colony named after the King of England and composed largely of freed debtors. His settlement would soon enough be invaded by Pirates and Spaniards, and much later by a blue-clad Union General by the name of Sherman. Another type of invasion – weather – brought Downey Trees to the area to stay in the wake of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

      Now there is a new kind of invasion around the marshes of Savannah – one that spreads out from there hundreds of miles both east and west. But this is not one of man, beast, nor weather: it is an invasion of plants, and it is both sinister and devastating!

      The culprit is a tree, the Chinese Tallow tree or Popcorn tree (Triadeca sebifera, or Sapium sebiferum). Although it is widely documented that the tree was first introduced into this country by Benjamin Franklin, it was more likely the work of French Botanist Francois Andre Michaux, the son of Andre Michaux. The elder botanist extensively explored eastern North America and is credited with the early cultivation of exotic plants in his garden near Charleston, S.C. It is also thought that the early interest in the plant was for production of soap and candles from the waxy white covering of the seeds. The tree has been cultivated in China for this purpose for over 1400 years and was widely distributed for cultivation in the U.S. in the early 1900’s to start a soap industry in the South. Since that time the tree has largely been grown for its ornamental value: heart-shaped leaves that turn shades ranging from yellow to vivid red in the fall, a thin, airy canopy, and a plethora of fruit that turns to a waxy white when mature.

      The tree has grown where it is supposed to – and where it isn’t! Chinese Tallow tree has a tremendous potential for reproduction. Each of the abundant fruits on the tree produce 3-4 seeds. These remain on the tree through the winter after the outer shell of the fruit splits giving the appearance of popcorn in the canopy and hence the alternate common name of “Popcorn Tree”. A tree as young as 3 years old may begin a fruiting period that can last to age 100! A mature plant may produce 100,000 seeds! Birds love them and are therefore expert at distribution. Whether they drop on wet ground, dry ground, or in the water for further distribution, the tree is adaptable to a wide variety of conditions and the seeds are viable for up to 5 years. They therefore readily sprout where they are planted. Tallow tree has rapidly altered natural landscapes all along the southeastern Atlantic coast and the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas. The native vegetation of wetlands and bottomland forests are replaced by dense thickets of Chinese Tallow tree with a resulting loss of native plant diversity. No effective method of mass eradication of the tree has been devised, nor are there any natural pests to limit its spread.

      However, just like Oglethorpe’s troops that turned back an invasion of Spaniards in 1743, there is a group of hardy individuals in Savannah fighting this new invasion: enter the Tallow Terrors of Savannah, Georgia! This is a team of volunteers that search out and remove the invasive trees. The Tallow Terrors are a product of the Skidaway Audubon Tallow Tree Removal Project that was initiated in 2007 by resident volunteer Ann Fenstermacher to “protect the beautiful maritime Forest of Skidway Island”. Two years later, the Tallow Terrors were formed, headed by Don McCulloch. They are motivated by the claim from the Nature Conservancy that the Chinese Tallow tree is one of the nation’s 10 worst alien plant invaders, and that of the Georgia Wildlife Federation calling out the tree as one of the greatest threats to habitat in South Georgia. Their seek and destroy operation is composed of a contingent of volunteers slashing the trees with chainsaws and applying herbicide to the cut stumps. They may be found combing the wetlands and natural areas of Skidaway Island outside of Savannah on most Monday mornings. They will also remove Tallow trees on private property at no charge. The entire community is encouraged to play a part in turning back the Tallow tree invasion: residents are encouraged to pull seedlings if they can, but not to cut trees on their own, but rather to report the tree or trees to the organization. If the trees are cut but no herbicide is applied, the tree will simply re-grow.

      Downey Trees (our Savannah Branch operates under the name Evergreen Tree) encountered the Tallow Terrors while doing other tree work on the property of a customer. The property contained a Tallow tree that was too large for them to remove, so the Evergreen Tree crew caught the spirit of the Tallow Tree Removal Project, removing the tree at no charge. The accompanying photos show how Robert, Caleb, and Brian from “Team Evergreen” made quick work of the tree. For its effort, Evergreen Tree removed the potential production of thousands of tree seedlings of the invasive plant. Additionally, the Evergreen Crew assisted the Tallow Terrors in the achievement of a record by assisting with this removal: the felling of their 50,000th Tallow tree in their 10th year of operation! The Tallow Tree Removal Project was recently recognized by the Georgia Tree Council as an Outstanding Civic Organization. The Georgia Tree Council is a statewide organization composed of Governmental agencies, Municipalities, Tree growers, and Tree Care companies dedicated to the preservation and management of trees in the state.

      Our congratulations and thanks go out to the Tallow Terrors, the Tallow Tree Removal Project, and Skidaway Audubon for a noble fight against the Chinese Tallow tree and the milestone achievement of 50,000 pest trees removed! The staff of Evergreen Tree (Downey Trees, Savannah) is gratified to have played a small role in thwarting this most recent invasion in Savannah!

    • October 29, 2019 6:02 PM | Deleted user

      submitted by Roy Major

      Growing oaks from acorns is easy. The method requires very little money, no great physical strength, simple tools and only a little know how. It does require proper timing, attention to detail and patience.

      Prepare the planting sites in the late summer before the acorns are to be planted. Advance preparation saves a huge amount of labor and greatly increases the survival and growth of young trees. Kill an area of grass at least three feet in diameter with an herbicide, by clean cultivating the soil, or by smothering the grass with a heavy layer of mulch.

      Acorns drop in mid September. Gather them as soon as they fall. Collect more than you think you need; they are not all viable and each planting site will be planted with several nuts. Each kind of acorn should be stored separately.

      Oaks fall into two categories: the white oak group, with acorns which germinate as soon as they fall, provided they are planted in moist soil; and the red oak group, the acorns of which must be kept moist and cool over the winter and then planted in early spring. In Indiana the white oak group includes white, chestnut, chinquapin, post, bur, overcup, swamp white and swamp chestnut oaks. The red oak group includes red, black, scarlet, pin, Shumard, willow, shingle, jack, cherry bark and southern red oaks.

      Put the acorns in a container of water. Those which sink are viable and should be kept. Those which float are sterile and should be discarded.

      Do not store acorns in dry, warm conditions. They dry out and lose viability quickly. Members of the white oak group should be planted immediately where they are to grow. Members of the red oak group can be stored in an open plastic storage bag mixed with moist peat moss or leaf mold, in a refrigerator, or outdoors, in a rodent proof, wen drained container in a cool shady place, covered with organic mulch. Check the moisture once a week during the winter to make sure the mulch is moist but not wet. Don't let them freeze. If you are not sure if they are white oaks or red oaks, examine them in storage occasionally. If they sprout, they are white oaks and should be planted outdoors immediately.

      In the fall for white oaks, or early in March for red oaks, plant six to ten acorns in each planting site, placing each nut with the cap end just at the soil surface. Pull the mulch back from the planting area. If the acorns have germinated, place the root tip downward making sure not to break the root. Not all the acorns will sprout. If deer or squirrels are a threat, the planting site can be covered with a two foot square of half inch hardware cloth or a metal colander and treated with a deer repellent. Be sure to remove this screen in April or early May, just as the tiny seedlings appear.

      Keep weeds away from the seedlings. Roundup can be used to kill the grass. Cover the seedlings with a bucket or can while spraying to prevent the herbicide from touching them. Hand weeding should be done close to the seedlings. Keep the mulch less than one inch deep around the stems of young seedlings. Keep the young trees weed free by any means necessary. After the first growing season, thin to the three strongest seedlings, then to the strongest sapling at the beginning of the third spring. Don't attempt to transplant seedlings; oaks transplant poorly. Newly planted acorns will outgrow transplants. Keep grass and lawn mowers away from the base of the young trees. Composted grass clippings and leaf mold make the best mulch.

    • September 19, 2019 11:04 AM | Deleted user

       - Submitted by Neil Norton, Executive Director of the GAA, is a certified arborist in the Atlanta area. He works for TreeInspection.com, LLC. He can be reached at nilo@mindspring.com or 404-271-6526.

      Atlanta is known as the “City of Trees,” and for good reason: it is the most heavily forested city in the United States. With nine million trees in the metro area, Atlanta has close to twice as many trees as any other metropolitan area.[1] I often share with my tree inspection clients whose homes are surrounded by trees that they have “forestfront” property, the equivalent of beachfront property by the sea.

      Like the ocean, urban trees can have a calming effect on us. Studies have found that seeing nature affects worker attitudes and well being, reduces stress, and increases women’s fertility. Dr. Rachel Kaplan has found that workers who can see nature from their desks experience 23 percent less time-off sick.[2] than their colleagues who do not have a nature view.  Desk workers who can see nature also report greater job satisfaction.[3] Hospital patients with views of trees have been found to recover significantly faster than those who are surrounded by walls.[4]

      Trees are an important component of real estate value. Like beachfront property, forestfront property sells for a premium. The presence of larger trees both in yards and as street trees can add anywhere from 3% to 15% to home values throughout neighborhoods.[5] In another study, 83% of realtors believe that mature trees have a “strong or moderate impact on the salability of homes listed for under $150,000; on homes over $250,000, this perception increases to 98%.”[6]

      With benefits comes responsibility, however. The question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?” does not apply in the urban setting. Tree failure usually causes damage to property and sometimes loss of life. These accidents are widely reported in the news and often create fears about trees. The easiest way to alleviate those fears - and mitigate risk wherever possible - is to have a certified arborist look at your trees to evaluate their health. Tree evaluations, especially for trees both close to the home and along busy roads and walkways, should be performed prior to new home purchases.  It is also important for established homeowners to have periodic tree evaluations by a certified arborist.

      A certified arborist is a tree professional who is educated in the science of trees and tree care. Many certified arborists are also TRAQ (Tree Risk Assessment Qualification) certified. TRAQ is a training program put on by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) which teaches certified arborists a systematic method for evaluating trees.

      You can find an independent arborist or a tree service by going to the website of the Georgia Arborist Association,https://georgiaarborist.org. Certified arborists are also listed by location on the website of Trees Are Good,http://www.treesaregood.org, the ISA’s educational website for the public.

      Trees and humans have a reciprocal relationship. Your trees can help you relax and breathe; you help maintain their health.  Be a good steward of trees by enjoying their many benefits, maintaining them responsibly and planting new trees whenever possible.

       - Neil Norton, Executive Director of the GAA, is a certified arborist in the Atlanta area. He works for TreeInspection.com, LLC. He can be reached at nilo@mindspring.com or 404-271-6526.

      - Photo by Tobi Ames


      [1] Nowak, David. “A Ground-Based Method of Assessing Urban Forest Structure and Ecosystem Services.” Arboriculuture & Urban Forestry 2008. 34(6):347-58

      [2] Kaplan, R. 1992. Urban Forestry and the Workplace. In P. H. Gobster (editor), Managing Urban and High-Use Recreation Settings. USDA Forest Service, General Technical Report NC-163. Chicago, IL: North Central Forest Experiment Station.

      [3] Wolf, K 1998 Urban Nature Benefits: Psycho-Social Dimensions of People and Plants, University of Washington College of Forest Resources, Factsheet #1.

      [4] Wolf, K 1998 Urban Nature Benefits: Psycho-Social Dimensions of People and Plants, University of Washington College of Forest Resources, Factsheet #1.

      [5] Wolf, K.L. 2007 (August). City Trees and Property Values. Arborist News 16, 4:34-36.

      [6] USA TODAY , Vol. 123, No. 2590 , July 1994, Survey conducted by Arbor National Mortgage Inc.

    • April 01, 2019 9:15 AM | Deleted user

      POSTED APRIL 2019 From TCIA Newsletter About


      Most homeowners with landscaped yards enjoy the thought of an inviting outdoor space they can show off and enjoy. But creating a beautiful outdoor living space takes effort and patience.

      “Attempting to force beauty onto trees and shrubs with bad pruning methods and overzealous spraying for pests is a haphazard approach that wastes time and money,” says Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP* and staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “The result is usually only sickly plants to show for all that effort.”

      “A plant health care (PHC) program can take the struggle out of your landscape work and give you back the time you envisioned having to enjoy the results,” she says.

      What is plant health care? Plants, and trees especially, are valuable assets for your landscape. As such, they require long-term, quality care in order to provide return on your investment. A PHC program accomplishes this by using specialized monitoring and problem-solving methods designed to prevent high-cost plant/tree replacement in the long run.

      How does this work?The goal of PHC is to maintain tree and plant health in your yard by providing proper growing conditions for the plants. Most health problems associated with trees can be linked to past environmental stress or declining growing conditions. Healthy trees have natural defenses, but when a tree is stressed, it is more vulnerable to harmful insects and diseases.

      “PHC technicians work closely with homeowners to reduce those tree stressors and manage pest problems before they become harmful,” says Andersen. “Managing plant pests and problems rather than eliminating them offers a proactive and holistic approach to maintaining tree and shrub health.”

      Who can do this for me? An arborist qualified to provide plant health care will make proactive visits to your property to inspect for signs of any plant health problems. Considering your landscape goals, the PHC technician will help guide your plant-health regime. Your expectations and concerns about your trees are vital to the success of the PHC program.

      What are the treatments? Managed landscape plants sometimes require specialized “treatments,” as many living things often do. In the past, landscape pest control treatments were primarily pesticide or fertilizer applications made regularly, whether the plant needed it or not. PHC spray treatments are not necessarily obsolete or “bad” for the environment, if performed by a qualified technician for a specific pest. In fact, some spray treatments may be the best option for clients who have overriding concerns about program cost or are only concerned about one specific pest problem. Nowadays, though, good plant health care provides specific treatments at specific times, which better targets pests and reduces waste.

      But the best treatment methods are those that work in combination with natural processes or are the least environmentally intrusive. A PHC technician may recommend any one or a combination of the following treatments:

      Maintenance or restoration pruning

      An integrated pest management (IPM) program to deal with any insect and disease issues

      Mulching bare soil beneath tree canopies

      Testing to determine any nutrient deficiencies/toxicities and a program to address them

      Evaluation and correction of current irrigation practices

      Planting pest-resistant varieties of trees and shrubs suited to your specific site

      But can it help my trees? Most people want to know what the pest problems or the overall problems are in their landscape. Your PHC provider observes your trees and shrubs for changes in their health and will work closely with you to devise solutions as needed. A custom-designed PHC program for your trees and shrubs will, over time, provide a beautiful and healthy landscape that the entire neighborhood can enjoy, and that will add value to your home.

      Find a professional Qualified PHC technicians save time and money for homeowners. The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) has many member companies with professional PHC providers who will tap into a huge reservoir of information and experience to make educated decisions and avoid costly mistakes.

      Homeowners who would like a professional arborist to assess their trees should contact TCIA, a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture since 1938. TCIA has more than 2,400 member tree care firms and affiliated companies. All member tree care companies recognize stringent safety and performance standards and are required to carry liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance, where applicable. TCIA has the nation’s only Accreditation program that helps consumers find tree care companies that have been inspected and accredited based on adherence to industry standards for quality and safety; maintenance of trained, professional staff; and dedication to ethics and quality in business practices. An easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the “Find A Tree Care Company” program. You can use this service by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP Code search on www.treecaretips.org.

      *Board Certified Master Arborist, Certified Treecare Safety Professional

      Editors: If you would like additional information or digital photos, please contact marketing@tcia.org. TCIA arborists, safety and business professionals are also available as sources for tree related articles and issues: 1-800-733-2622 or tandersen@tcia.org.

    • August 01, 2018 9:18 AM | Deleted user

      POSTED AUGUST 2018

      New Arboriculture Degree Program At Georgia

      The University of Georgia and the Warnell School have approved a new degree program entitled Community Forestry & Arboriculture to start this Fall (2018). The demographics of the State of Georgia and the nation demand more tree-literate graduates for utility, municipal, and commercial tree health care and urban forest management professions. This degree program will generate graduates who work with trees, sites and communities where trees are valuable green infrastructures. Classes were designed by a team of distinguished faculty and senior working professionals from utility, municipal and commercial sectors of the tree and site management professions.

      This program will consist of a series of five new classes, plus a professional internship period. Classes include: community forest ecology, tree biology, and tree structure; urban soils and site constraints; technical arboriculture and tree health care; urban and community forest management; and, a community forestry and arboriculture field school. Courses can lead to both a Bachelors of Science undergraduate degree and a non-thesis Masters of Natural Resources graduate degree. Emphasis will be on classroom education, service learning through doing, and field trip activities.

      With a rapidly urbanizing state such as Georgia covered with valuable community forests and trees, graduates are needed to provide sustainable care and management. The state of Georgia will serve as a working laboratory for this degree program. This new offering will bring a strong arboricultural foundation to students across the state, region and nation. Students are now being accepted. For further information visit the UGA Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources website.

    • April 02, 2018 9:20 AM | Deleted user

      POSTED APRIL, 2018


      In the arboriculture industry, the terms “production” and “dangerous” form an eerily close association. Production workers are what make our industry tick, whether climbing, rigging, sawing, or chipping. Tree climbing, however, is inherently dangerous work: there is always the risk of loss of life with climbers operating saws up to 100 feet in the air on ropes. All reputable arborists are trained in the skills associated with aerial rescue, but there is complexity in carrying them out in real life-or-death situations, and extra assistance is often required by municipal fire departments and emergency response services.

      When the Unthinkable Happens

      A tragic illustration of the dangers of our industry occurred on May 27th of last year in Chamblee, Georgia. A climber working 75-100 feet up in a tree was struck by a section of the tree he was attempting to remove. The other members of his crew called 911 immediately, and both the fire department and an arborist working in the vicinity arrived on the scene within 30 minutes. Despite their quick response, neither could reach the climber in time to save his life. It is likely that severe head trauma from the impact of the cut section on the tree led to his death. The team’s task then went from “rescue” to the grim one of “recovery” of the body. A tree care related aerial rescue needs to happen in 30 minutes or less in order to render proper aid to the injured person. The average time for a firefighter rescue, however, is about 4 hours. This may be related to the basic approach to first response rescue, which is mentioned later. The recovery was completed with the fire department’s ladder truck in this instance. This did not alleviate the team’s devastation at not having reached him in time for a more positive outcome.

      Through Tragedy Comes an Opportunity to Learn

      The Georgia Arborist Association (GAA) promotes safety and professionalism in the Arboricultural Industry in Georgia, and takes tragic incidents like these very seriously. Association President Rusty Lee, a former firefighter himself, was called to the site of the accident on that fateful day, and became determined to derive something positive from the grief that gripped the Association in that moment. He thus became inspired to organize the largest aerial rescue training seminar of firefighters ever conducted in the state of Georgia. Rusty knew from his experience as a fireman that most rescue teams are not familiar with arborist climbing equipment. Additionally, if their ladder cannot access the injured climber due to power lines or lack of access points, there is rarely an alternate plan for a rescue. Most often, once the fire department arrives, the scene is closed to non-firefighters, even if an arborist trained in aerial rescue could retrieve an injured climber much more quickly.

      Industries Align Towards a Common Goal: Safety

      Since the need and urgency for such training was established, three days were set aside in early January, 2018. Rusty arranged for three shifts of fire fighter rescue teams from four of the largest fire departments in Metro Atlanta. The need to provide the training over three days was twofold: the classes needed to be small enough to allow the opportunity for everyone to participate in the skill-building, and fire department schedules are most often set up as one day on, two days off. The three- day span therefore allowed all of the personnel in each department to take the training without the possibility of being interrupted by a call. North American Training Solutions (NATS) led the activity on the grounds of Stone Mountain Park. NATS has been in the business of training the arboricultural industry for over 10 years; its staff has over 200 years of combined experience with the skill sets required for tree care, including aerial rescue. The group was represented by experts Phillip Kelley, Warren Williams, and Ed Carpenter for the three-day workshop. GAA member tree companies from around Metro-Atlanta also assisted by sending their best climbers trained in aerial rescue. Other support personnel from these companies provided and prepared hot coffee, refreshments and hot lunches on the bitterly cold days of the training. The GAA Member Companies assisting were Arbor Equity, Arborguard, Boutte Tree, The City of Columbus, Georgia, Davey Tree, Downey Trees, Eric Gansauer, New Urban Forestry, and Cobb County Firefighters Steve Bradley and Scotty Lee Pope, who have tree care experience.

      The Outcome

      The result: approximately 150 firefighters were exposed to arboricultural rescue methods and equipment with over 30 volunteer arborists and six climbing stations, including rope and spike climbs. Participants learned the basic difference in rescue strategies. Firefighters and First Responders have a “Top-Down” approach: they reach people in tall buildings and towers with tall ladders and helicopters. Arborists, on the other hand, use a “Bottom-Up” approach: they start from the ground and work up into a living organism that moves, flexes, and can break. This difference requires re-thinking the approach to rescue, as well as the learning of challenging new skills. The level of dedication of both the rescue teams and trainers was high all 3 days: the proof of everyone’s seriousness was in the braving of the temperatures, which dropped into the teens.

      “Watching the training and the dedication of both the trainers and rescue teams was inspirational,” commented Rusty. “Lunch was served and friendships were fostered. Some had never climbed a tree before, while other municipalities had highly experienced rescue teams. Regardless, everyone left with more knowledge and exposure that will hopefully save a life.”

      Production, Dangerous, Prepared.

      Losing a member of our industry is devastating, but when that tragedy leads to inspiration, some of the pain is lifted. The Georgia Arborist Association is dedicated to looking ahead with more training and more communication. The organization has donated climbing equipment to fire departments that did not have money in their budget to pay for it. Many ideas were shared during the training, and everyone involved, arborists and firefighters alike, came away with an enhanced sense of cooperation and improved skills in aerial rescue. Hopefully a third watchword will become even more closely associated with the terms “production” and “dangerous” when referring to the arboriculture industry. That word is “prepared.”

    Georgia Arborist Association

    Email:  info@georgiaarborist.org
    Phone:  (404) 913-1422
    Address:  GAA ~ P.O. Box 2516, Decatur GA 30031

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