Saturday, May 17, 2014

What is the Drip Line of a Tree?

The drip line of a tree is the imaginary line on the ground at the furthest edge of a tree's canopy. You can see the dry mulch in the image below where rain has been blocked by the canopy, making the drip line perfectly visible.

Dripline of a Tree
Drip Line
What does "drip line" mean? During a rainstorm, trees catch precipitation and funnel it to the tip of each leaf. As moisture falls to lower leaves, it continues to move out until it reaches the edge of the canopy where it then falls to the ground. This is the "line" in which the moisture "drips" from the tree. The small, fibrous, feeder roots are located at the drip line where they can absorb moisture and other nutrients and send them to the rest of the tree. The roots between the drip line and the trunk have less to do with intake and more to do with anchoring and stabilization.

Drip Line of a Lemon
Water Dripping From Leaves
Fertilizing and watering of fruit trees should be done near the drip line instead of next to the trunk. When building a berm of soil around your tree to capture and hold water, make sure that it extends to the drip line. Also, fill the dish with a layer of organic mulch to help retain water and to minimize the growth of competing weeds that will rob the tree of moisture and nutrients.

Trees located in lawn areas should, ideally, be free of grass from the trunk out to the drip line.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Out With the New in With the Old!

Many life lessons can be learned in the garden. Take fruit tree pruning as an example. We remove damaged, broken, or unproductive branches at the beginning of the year so we can harvest good fruit in the fall. At the start of a new year we declutter our lives by removing old habits and set new goals for the future.

It's an ongoing joke that resolutions for the new year last about two weeks. Well, the two week mark is just around the corner. Do we still have that same fire to change? Maybe we didn't even try because history has taught us that the two week "joke" is not a joke at all. Maybe it's reality.

Before I cut away any weak, broken, or damaged branches from a tree, I cut away a lot of the new growth. I can't hardly see the tree until the water sprouts are removed. The water sprouts are very persistent. They are strong healthy branches that have sometimes grown more than 10 feet in length. Why cut so much growth? Because it doesn't produce fruit! Fruit is produced on older more mature wood. Healthy spurs take years to form. 

Type "self help industry statistics" in any search engine and you will see that billions of dollars are spent every year in the US on books, seminars, diets, and workouts. Well, before spending another dollar on self help remove all the popular persuasions competing for our self indulgence and stand back to take a good look at what is really fruitful.

The purpose of fruit tree pruning is not to maximizing growth, although growth in young trees is desirable. The three main purposes for fruit tree pruning are as follows:
  • Increase light 
  • Increase airflow
  • Strengthen branches
Each to be discussed in detail in the following blog posts, but to summarize these three main purposes for pruning do the following respectively:
  • Increase energy absorption
  • Decrease susceptibility for disease
  • Improve the trees ability to withstand heavy loads
Growth in the garden that we call life is ok if you're young and have need to grow, but consider being fruitful this year. Adding to our lives for the sake of growth will only set us up for failure, so try removing from your life to increase energy, decrease illness, and strengthen your branches to better hold the fruitful abundance that you will develop this new year of 2014.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Protecting blossoms from frost and fruit from pests

Now that your trees are pruned, how do you protect them from frost? How and when do you start your pest control routine?

The following links will answer those questions and are provided by the Utah State Extension Service.

Critical Temperatures for Frost Damage on Fruit Trees

Information on Dormant Sprays and Frost Protection

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Pest Winter Home

Rotten Apple Still Hanging on Tree

 To minimize pest infestations make sure you clean up at the end of each season. Rotten fruit hanging from a tree, or scattered on the ground is a great place for pests to over winter. Leaves should also be raked up and disposed of to prevent powdery mildew and other fungi spores from re-infesting your trees.

For more information about some of the pruning terms used in this post, visit our website at and under the services tab, click on education.

Monday, April 1, 2013


Suckers are those branches that come up from the base of your tree that seem to just multiply every year! 

Suckers on a Young Pear Tree

The truth is, they do multiply every time you cut them! So how do you prevent them from getting worse? Don't cut them! Yes, they do need to be removed, but break them off or pull them in the spring while they are still soft and herbaceous. If they are too large to break or pull, make sure you cut them at a really sharp angle rather than flat. This will cause the branch to dry up and will minimize the chance of the sucker branching into multiple suckers the following year.

For more information about some of the pruning terms used in this post, visit our website at and under the services tab, click on education.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Strong Branch Angle

Branches that are more perpendicular to a trunk are stronger than those that are more parallel. Ideally, a fork should be 60 to 90 degrees.

Weak Verses Strong Branch Angles

Watch this video demonstration showing the different results of downward pressure on two branches at different angles.


Notice below how the branch on the right broke and only split one to two inches while the one on the left split six to eight inches and the split nearly removed half of the main branch.

Split Branches
When choosing which branch to cut and which to leave, consider the angle at which the branch is in relation to the trunk.

For more information about some of the pruning terms used in this post, visit our website at and under the services tab, click on education.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Co-dominant Leaders

Co-dominant leaders are commonly found in ornamental trees that are planted in urban landscapes. Because urban trees have no need to grow straight up to gather light, these trees grow up and out and every branch has an equal chance to gain dominance. Dominant branches that are not found in the center of a tree can cause problems as the tree matures. Co-dominant leaders can also develop included bark as the leaders grow together. 

The following image shows two leaders that are equally dominant. These leaders are not a problem now, but this tree is still very young. Imagine what this tree will look like when the trunk is over a foot in diameter and these leaders have grown together.

Maple Tree with Co-dominant Leaders
Because this tree is still young it is a great time to fix it. Removing one of the leaders may cause the tree to appear lopsided and bare on one side. Significantly decreasing the smaller lateral branches of one leader will decrease the amount of leaves in the summer. This will decrease the amount of energy collected and slow the growth this leader. When the second leader has regained dominance, and the tree has increased it's overall size, removing one of the leaders will cause less stress and be less visually damaging to the tree.

The following is an image of a tree that has been pruned to help the central branch gain dominance.

Maple Tree After Pruning

Notice that the branch on the right side of the image has a wider diameter than the one in the middle. Many of the branches that were growing toward the center of the tree were removed to slow the growth of the right branch and to allow more light to the center branch. In time the center branch will obtain dominance and the overall health and appearance of the tree will improve.

Fruit trees are different than ornamental trees in that the leader is completely removed. A fruit tree with an open center is like a tree with multiple leaders, but they are spread far enough apart that they don't grow together like ornamental trees. You will need to treat each of your main fruit tree branches as if they are separate leaders. Co-dominance can occur in one or many of the main fruit tree branches and pruning is necessary to avoid included bark and weak crotches.
For more information about some of the pruning terms used in this post, visit our website at and under the services tab, click on education.