Trees!!! We Love Trees!!! An Interview With My Favorite Arborist

Below is a condensed transcript of my interview with Brice Dorwart, Certified Arborist,  with some reference pictures thrown into the mix. You can also listen to the full-length version above. This man is a wealth of tree knowledge and he’s giving it away for free! Use it, and go hug yourself a tree or an arborist. 

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A slightly blurred selfie of myself and Brice sitting under a gorgeous Beech tree in the Longwood Gardens Meadow, Kennet Square, PA

Colleen: OK, I’m trying something new, this is Colleen Gaynor, and I am here with Brice Dorwart, who is my life partner and works as a Utility Arborist for Davey Resource Group, which works with PECO utilities in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and they take care of the trees along the utility lines. I’m going to be asking him a bit about his experience with trees and any knowledge he wants to share about trees. And we’re going to go in and talk a little bit about woodworking as well. So thanks for doing this with me.

Brice: You’re welcome.

Colleen: So I wanted to start with just asking you, where do you think you got your interest in working with trees as an arborist, and why do you feel trees are important to you?

Brice: Well, I grew up in a very green area of the suburbs of Philadelphia, and my street had lots of trees on it. There were lots of trees in my parent’s yard, and I spent a lot of time climbing trees. My father is a wood worker by hobby, and from a very early age I was made aware of the different strengths and weaknesses of different woods, and whenever we drove around he would point out neat trees, and especially if they were in flower he would say, “oh look at that beautiful dogwood tree.” So I sort of developed a sense for trees as individuals as I was growing up. I think in generations past, in the United States at least, it was just folk knowledge that everybody had. Everybody knew what a maple tree looked like, everybody knew what an oak tree looked like, everybody knew what an apple tree looked like. But these days, this seems to be sort of a dying resource. People don’t really think of trees as much as they used to. And if they do, they just see a tree with some green stuff and they don’t really know what a tree is, other than that it is a tree. So it’s pretty rare to find somebody that knows the difference between a pine and an oak, and if you know anything about trees, you could not get much more different than a pine tree and an oak tree.

 

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A Small Older Mixed Media Piece I made of an Oak Leaf.

Colleen: Really? I have a hard time believing that.

Brice: Yeah, especially in the city. In cities in the United States, people have lost their appreciation for trees. And so one of the things that I really like about the western suburbs of Philadelphia is there are a lot of college campuses that have arboreta. And one of the nice things about an arboretum, is you can walk around and the trees are labeled. So if you see that great big cool tree you can go up to it, and it basically introduces itself to you, it says “Hi, my name is Willow Oak.” And you can learn things about it depending on the arboretum. You can learn a Latin name, you can learn the family of the tree, you can learn where it’s native. You can learn all sorts of cool stuff. So I just sort of grew up with an appreciation for trees, and then when I was in high school I started really getting nerdy about it. I had a couple of tree guides, and I would go around and find leaves and then take them back home and look in my book and figure out what kind of tree it was. And I developed more of a passion for trees. And so when it came time to leave college and find a career, I immediately got hired as an intern at the Morris Arboretum, which is part of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and that place really affected me. Within a few weeks, I decided when I grew up I wanted to be an arborist, and I got to work with arborists. And soon after that I actually took the exam to get certified as an arborist. And now I’ve been a certified arborist for I think over 11 years. And it’s just, I love my work. I love my vocation. I love my area of expertise because trees are so cool.

Colleen: Right, and so speaking of… outside of your trade and your job as a utility arborist, you also do volunteer work, and particularly volunteer work in the city with trees.

Brice: Yes

Colleen: Tell us a little bit more about that.

Brice: Well, In Philadelphia, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), has an organization that they call Tree Tenders, and there are different chapters of Tree Tenders throughout the city. Different neighborhoods will have their own chapters, and it’s residential volunteer-driven. So a lot of neighborhoods in Philadelphia do not have Tree Tenders. A lot of neighborhoods in Philadelphia don’t really have trees, but where there are trees and where there are people who care about them, you can just go to PHS and let them know that you’ve got a certain critical mass of volunteers, and PHS funds it. You don’t have to supply any money, you just have to supply the people and the time. The main thing that Tree Tenders does is give trees to the neighborhoods to plant. People who are invested in their neighborhoods, if they’ve got mature trees that are being taken down because they’re dying or because they’re getting hazardous or whatever, they feel like it’s important to replace those trees. The city of Philadelphia doesn’t necessarily do that. And so you can get involved in your own neighborhood, and get the city or PHS or both to donate trees. And then as long as you are there to plant them and keep them from dying the first couple of years, you’ve got a tree in your neighborhood again. And so…I’ve volunteered with as many as three groups per year….I believe in donating my time and expertise. And I talk the entire time I’m working with the volunteers, and sometimes I actually plant trees. PHS has a fall planting session and a spring planting session, and I’ve participated in both of those. But my main concern is getting in there a few years after trees are planted, and helping to maintain the trees, because a lot of people wouldn’t realize this, but if you just plant a tree along a sidewalk in a city, there are a few steps that are required between planting and having a nice mature shade tree there. You have to sort of guide the tree along, in addition to keeping it from getting killed, and making sure that it’s watered, which is what the neighborhood volunteers do. I’ll come in and they have what is called a pruning club, and the pruning clubs meet for a couple of hours four times a summer, usually every month. And the neighborhood organizers keep track of all the trees that Tree Tenders has planted in their neighborhood, and they go around and figure out which ones need attention. And then I show up and we walk all over with a whole wagon full of tools, and usually three or four people who live in the neighborhood, and I help them prune their young trees. There are a few things that you have to do to make sure that the trees branches aren’t getting hit by vehicles on one side, and aren’t poking pedestrians’ faces on the other side. But there are also more subtle things that you need to do to guide the development of the tree. And that’s the kind of thing that I excel at. One of my favorite things is dealing with structural problems in young trees, to keep them from being structural calamities as the tree gets older. If you just ignore a tree and let it be, it could, 30 years down the road, split completely in half in a storm. And that’s almost always a problem that could have been addressed when the tree had been in the ground for three or four years when it was a young tree. One tiny pruning cut could be the difference between the tree having a fruitful productive life, and being a victim of storm damage.

 

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Colleen: I know that you work with a lot of homeowners as a utility arborist and basically just to give the listeners the gist of your job…You basically look at the trees that grow along utility lines. If there are any homeowner’s properties where there are trees that need to be worked on, you go and you get permission from them, and you give the orders to the tree workers on what to do with certain trees and, is that is that the gist of your job?

Brice: Well, partially yes. A part of my duty for PECO …which stands for Philadelphia Electric Company, PECO has two contractors to deal with what is called “Vegetation Management”. One is Asplundh, and they go around in these black and orange trucks, and they are the actual tree contractors. They do the cutting, and prune trees every few years to keep them away from the power lines. And if there’s a tree that needs to be taken down, Asplundh will do that. Part of my job as one of the other contractors, Davey Resource Group is the other tree contractor for Vegetation Management, we enforce the standards. There’s a set of industry standards that Asplundh must adhere to. They can’t just go willy-nilly and cut the tree wherever they want, however they want. There’s a right way and a wrong way to trim a tree. And part of what I do, is go out as basically a professional tattletale. If Asplundh messes up, I tell PECO, and PECO has Asplundh go back and fix it. If they do a good job, they get a check, and I move on to the next location. If they mess it up, they get a great big “X” and I write up a report that says exactly how they messed up, and if it can be fixed. …So QA, quality assurance, is one half of my job, that’s enforcing the standards. The other half is going out and finding trees that are dangerous to the PECO wires, either because it’s a dead tree which means that it could just fall over and take out the wires, or it’s damaged or diseased and will eventually be dead and break, or sometimes there are structural problems with mature trees that need to be dealt with. All sorts of things can happen. And as an arborist, I have a very particular set of skills, and I go out and I just drive around and look at the trees by the PECO wires, and if I see a hazard tree or a dead tree, I stop and locate it exactly on the map, and write down all the information that Asplundh needs to come out and take this tree down…  I’ll knock on someone’s door and say, “Hey, you’ve got a dead Sycamore around back of your property, I’d like to have Asplundh come and take that tree down free of charge.” And most people are more than happy to sign off, because it means they don’t have to pay for it. They don’t have to worry about it. Tree work is expensive, and that is the main complaint that people have about planting trees on their properties. They know how expensive it is to deal with trees, and if they move into a property and there’s a lot of trees there, that’s a liability to them. It could cost a few thousand dollars to take a large tree down, depending on who you hire and what kind of tree it is and where it is. So, If I show up and say, “hey, I don’t know if you knew this but you have a dead tree.” First of all, they usually don’t know. Second of all, they’re often pretty happy to find out, “Oh, I don’t have to pay anything, and Asplundh will just leave a pile of firewood for me! Hooray! Where do I sign?”

Colleen: And so just in your experience of working with homeowners and people who have trees on their property, what is one interesting fact that maybe people don’t really know about the trees that are on their property that you would you would hope more people know?

Brice: Well, one thing that I would want more people to understand about trees whether they’re property owners or just going out and wanting to plant a tree somewhere, is that you have to know what you’re doing when you plant a tree. Unfortunately, knowledge of trees is no longer in the public domain, because people don’t farm anymore. I think 200 years ago a majority of American citizens were farmers, and part of being a farmer was planting trees all the time. So people just knew how to do it, because that’s what they did. But nowadays, you go and buy a tree from a nursery, or from Home Depot garden shop or whatever, and you think you can just take it out of the pot, dig a hole, put it in the ground, then dust your hands off and go in and watch football. That’s not the case. And unfortunately, as I’m going around looking at trees, a lot of the time when there are trees that are planted on a landscape, I would say about 95 percent of the time they are planted wrong. And when you put a tree in the ground, and it’s in a little pot, and the tree is maybe a half inch diameter, it’s a stick with a few leaves on it. You stick it in the ground, you could plant it correctly and that tree could develop into a very large satisfying contributing member of the tree world and live for 80 to 100 years or more. But if you plant it wrong, the tree will be fine for a while, but then it’ll just suddenly die. And the most common problem is that people plant them too deep. And if you put a tree in the ground too deep, it basically will put roots up into the soil right up against its own stem, and the roots grow any which way, and eventually the roots will grow and encircle the tree in what’s called a stem-girdling root, and the tree will strangle itself very slowly. And if you don’t know what you’re looking for, several years after you plant the tree, it’s still alive and you think, “hey, I must’ve done a good job!” But someone like me who knows what to look for, we’ll just take one look at a tree and know that it was planted too deep. And sometimes I can just dig with my hand and find these stem-girdling roots lurking under the surface. Sometimes they’re out in the open. Sometimes you can see a stem-girdling root on a tree, and everybody who walks by that tree will look down and see that, and they won’t realize, “oh that root could kill that tree in a few years,” and they just think that’s what trees look like. So it’s endlessly frustrating to me to see that somebody who considers himself or herself a professional, has planted this tree and they didn’t even realize that they did it wrong. So one thing I would want people to know is that you need to get an expert to do it, or you need to get a resource that will show you how to do it correctly. And there’s a lot of websites. You could probably Google the phrase, “how to correctly plant a tree” and you get a set of instructions with diagrams that make it very obvious how you’re supposed to do it. And that’s what I would hope more people would do. And so I’m always telling people, “plant it right! Plant it right!” And sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

 

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Example of a stem-girdling root from a tree that was planted too deep.

 

Colleen: Well you told me an interesting thing the other week about how trees grow, and how when people are trying to plan maybe on putting a tree swing or something or a tire swing in their tree. Can you share little bit of advice around that?

Brice: Well, trees grow by adding a layer of wood every year, or by extending from the tips of the branches. Those are the only ways a tree can grow. So if you have a small tree that you’ve just planted and it has a horizontal branch that is three feet above the ground, that branch will always be at that height. The tree can grow eighty feet tall, but if that branch that’s three feet above the ground continues to be alive on a tree, it will always be three feet above the ground. It’ll get thicker and it’ll get longer, but that branch isn’t going anywhere. There is this weird popular notion of trees as sort of telescoping as they grow. And that’s not possible. Wood doesn’t stretch, a tree has to add at the tips or it adds a layer of wood. Essentially that’s what the growth rings are when you cut a tree and look at a cross-section. So there’s this popular notion of,  “oh, I grew up on this property, and I used to hang on this branch, and I went back thirty years later and the branch is higher than I can reach now.” Wrong. That’s a different branch than the branch they used to swing on.

Colleen: So just as a slight change here, what would you say your favorite tree is and why?

 

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Bala Cynwyd, PA Bicentennial Bur Oak Tree (68 inches in diameter)

 

Brice: Well, for an arborist who is as passionate about trees as me, it’s difficult to narrow it down to a favorite tree. I love to joke, “oh that’s my favorite oak, that’s my favorite maple”, or “that’s my favorite small flowering native tree.” But because I’ve got a whole list, I would say my overall favorite tree would have to be something called the Bur Oak. And that is an American native tree, and it can grow extremely large. I think it’s technically just barely in its native range in Philadelphia. It’s more common a little bit further to the west. But I do see Bur Oaks growing wild around here, whether they’re the descendants of trees that were planted by people who brought them from somewhere else, or it’s the wild population of Bur Oak, I do see them growing. There are, in the Philadelphia area, quite a number of what are called “Bicentennial Trees”. In 1976 there was a group of arborists and historians who went and found trees in the 13 original colonies that are mentioned on property records from the Revolutionary War era. So these trees not only were at least 200 years old, but they were recognizable as large trees even during the Revolution. So for a tree to receive one of these bicentennial plaques, it would probably now have to be about 350 years old. And there is one such tree in a really incongruous location. It’s a giant Bur Oak. It’s about five feet in diameter and it’s all by itself in the middle of a parking lot in Bala Cynwyd, one block from the city line, and about a half-mile from the Schuykill River. And this tree, it’s deceptively large, because if you just arrive in the parking lot and see a bunch of trees that are planted between lanes of parking spots and then there’s this larger tree. But as you get closer to it, it starts to look a little bit bigger and you go, “Well that’s an interesting tree.” And then you get close and you go, “That’s a big tree!” And if you get out of your car and walk right over to it you go, “Wow, this is huge, and it’s got this plaque that says that it was here during the Revolution!”  And it has a shape that would suggest that it’s been by itself for its entire life, in other words, this was an open-grown tree. It’s very possible that it was planted in a clearing, or it’s sort of a local high area. The whole area was owned by a Welsh farmer named Roberts, and his land was given to him by William Penn, for whom Pennsylvania was named. So it’s reasonable to assume that this tree was planted by somebody who knew William Penn, or at least it was on property owned and maintained by somebody who knew William Penn. So it’s kind of a big deal. But the fact that it’s, you know, in a parking lot behind a large office building tells me that somebody cared about this tree enough not to have it chopped down when they built the parking lot. Whoever that was, also knew that it was significant in a historical context, because just a few years after the parking lot was built and the office building was built, the “Bicentennial Tree” status was awarded to the tree. And there are quite a few other really large Bur Oaks in the Philadelphia area, but that one in Bala Cynwyd is my very favorite.

Colleen: OK. That’s great. I remember when we first started dating, you sent me a picture of two Bur Oak trees that were next to each other in a parking lot near Exton.

Brice: Yes, it is in the Exton Square Mall, at the intersection of PA Route 100 and US Route 30, which is Lancaster Pike. And if you go to that intersection and walk a little bit to the east along Route 30, you will see two gargantuan oak trees, and they actually share a canopy because they are planted maybe 40 feet apart from each other. And I think it’s possible that they were originally part of a row of many more Bur Oak trees back in colonial times. People often planted rows of trees, double rows actually an “allee” spelled a-l-l-e-e which is a French term, I have to imagine it means “a double row of trees”. I don’t really know what exactly it translates into, but anyway, you can find formally planted rows of large trees all over the world and that’s called an allee, and often they are the same species.

Colleen: And they were used to signify?

Brice: Well they would have probably lined the path up to the farmhouse.

Colleen: OK.  Like to signify a trail or road.

Brice: You see, sometimes in the south of the United States, you see these historical colonial plantations. And the plantation manor house, the mansion, has a long straight driveway leading up to it. And on either side of it, will be planted a row of, usually immense Live Oak trees if you’re looking in Plantation country. But these two Bur Oaks are roughly the same size and they have stood there together for probably 300 years. And again it’s a parking lot, in this case it’s a mall. And as far as you can see in all directions there’s nothing but concrete. And they left this island of about a quarter-acre of unpaved soil for these two trees to just sort of soldier on.

Colleen: And you mentioned in that text something about them probably being lovers for centuries?

Brice:  Oaks are, in botanical terms, considered “bisexual”, meaning that they have male flowers and female flowers and they’re all on the same tree. So every oak tree has pollen-producing catkins and pollen-receiving flowers that will eventually develop into acorns. And these two trees being right next to each other, and since oaks are wind-pollinated, you can just imagine the wind swirling around them in the spring, and just cross-pollinating these two trees year after year after year, for hundreds of years, and there are tons of acorns that end up on the ground near them. And so if you want to think about it in a literal sense, this is a mated pair of trees. And so yeah, you could say, if you want to be poetic, they are two lovers that have been together for, you know, two or three hundred years. So it’s kind of poetic.

 

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Exton, PA “Mated Pair” of Bur Oak Trees

 

Colleen: Yeah, I remember thinking that was the nerdiest, most romantic text.

Brice: That’s what you get when you’re in love with an arborist.

Colleen: So I’m just a little bit more curious … you’ve been really helpful with helping me pick out interesting wood pieces for my Works on Wood series, and I wanted to know, is there a methodology for figuring out what sections of wood …would look particularly interesting with the wood grain and the features?  I was curious if you could share a little bit more about how you’re able to figure that out?

 

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Japanese Maple Cross Sections Showing Figuring and Interesting Features from the Life Cycle and Growth Patterns of the Tree.

 

Brice: Yes, sure. Most, if not all of your wood paintings, your paintings that you do on tree pieces, are cross-sections. So they are round, or roughly round. If the tree wasn’t perfectly cylindrical at the spot where the cross-section was made, then these pieces of wood that you’re using have lumps or ripples or ridges or whatever. But essentially if you’re talking about cross-sections, the most interesting piece of wood to look at is one where it’s a transition in the tree. So if you’re looking at a tree that has a straight trunk for 30 feet, and you just randomly select a spot partway up the ground and take a slice out of it, it’s going to be pretty boring. It’s going to be concentric circles and that’s about it. But if you find a branch where there is a crotch, which is a junction between two branches, or you’ve got an old wound from either a pruning cut or from some sort of damage to the tree, and the tree is partially healed over and partially decayed on the inside, if you make a cross section right there, there’s going to be all sorts of neat stuff. There’s going to be “figuring” in the wood. There’s going to be curling-over around the edges of the damage that you reveal in the cross-section. There’s going to be different coloration of the wood, because the decay organisms, mostly fungi that take advantage of exposed wood on trees, will change the characteristics of the wood. And as they digest and live in that wood, they usually, almost always, they change the color. And some of the best cross-sections that you’ve worked with have all of these characteristics. They’ll have holes where beetle larvae or ants have been digging through the decayed wood. They’ll have different colored sections where a decay fungus has partially digested the wood, they’ll have lines at the edge of this discoloration which is called zoning, and that’s literally where the fungus was living when the tree was cut. …And so a lot of the cross-sections that you like to paint on, there’s interesting stuff happening in the wood. If you make a cross-section where there’s a crotch, often you’ll have two centers to the wood. In just a regular branch or a regular tree trunk, the middle’s called the pith. But if there’s a crotch, if you cut a little bit above the original juncture of those two twigs that eventually turned into a large branches of the tree, you can see those two separate piths. And the growth rings will eventually join into one sort of oval-shaped growth ring outside of the crotch, and you can you can look at that piece of wood and see the history of the tree. And so a lot of your paintings that are done on, in a lot of cases it’s a Japanese maple that was growing in my backyard that was mostly dead and had a lot of decay, and a friend of mine came and cut it down. And then I made slices and polished them, and then you found some of these and you painted on them. And I believe a lot of your paintings are inspired by the actual shapes and lines and forms that you see in the wood. You have a really nice one of birds, and you’ve used a crack that formed in the wood as the edge of one of the wings. And there’s another one where there is a hollow area in the wood, and you use that as a boundary of a part of the bird. And I really enjoy looking at your interpretation of the wood, because, for me, I like to just cut cross-sections, polish them and oil them, and then leave them sitting around because they’re cool to look at. And then you took that and made it go one step further. You said, “it’s kind of cool, but look at this: I’m going to put my mark on it. And here is what I see. I saw a bird there.” There’s another one where you saw an owl. And so you painted an owl right in the shape that looks like an owl, and it is the coolest thing if you know what the genesis was. It’s nice enough that you have a painting of an owl. But the fact that you have it on an owl-shaped piece of wood is really cool, too.

 

Owl

Peacock

 

Colleen: Well I think you know we’re all part of this process. I have you to thank, and I’ve been learning a lot from you and your knowledge about trees and woodworking. So, you know one of my missions with my art right now, in addition to just creating things with pieces of nature and different things I find outdoors, is to really share a little bit more about the environment and conservation. You know that’s my other background, and really both of our backgrounds….I wanted to ask if you could share a little bit about what are some of the benefits, not just environmental, but the benefits to the homeowners and the property that the trees are on? Because I think what you touched on before, that a lot of homeowners or people who have trees in their yards maybe have a little bit of fear surrounding having these overwhelmingly large trees looming near their houses, and you know in some cases people move into new properties and just clear cut all the trees in their yard.

Brice: Yeah. Well, I would go back again to the colonial sensibilities of people that lived in North America during the colonial era. I guess in the 1700’s people planted trees for specific reasons. Typically the farm house faced south, because that’s where the sunlight was from. So you had a house oriented on an east/west axis and all the big windows faced south and you would plant a broad-leafed deciduous tree in front of the house, so that in the heat of the summer it would shade the house and keep the house cool. Often they planted a row of oaks and maples or something. And so when the trees are in full leaf in the summertime, they shade the house, and then in the winter the leaves are gone and the light comes through and lights the house and partially heats the house. So there’s a function to planting the trees. And nobody ever planted trees right next to the house. They planted them a little distance away.

 

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Sugar Maple by Colonial Farmhouse located at Longwood Gardens, Kennet Square, PA

 

These days people have lost touch with the purpose and the methodology, so often you’ll see trees that were clearly planted as foundation shrubs right up against somebody’s house, and they didn’t realize when they planted it that it was going to get gigantic. I’ll see people with really tall conifers right up against their house. And it was pretty clear that they didn’t think it was going to get that big. They saw it at the nursery, they thought, “Oh how pretty, this will make a nice accent at the corner of my stone house.” And then 70 years later you’ve got this immense thing which is pressing against the corner, it’s pressing against the roof and damaging the gutter. It’s got branches that are rubbing against the windows, et cetera et cetera. Not to mention that if you have a really tall tree right next to your house and the tree gets struck by lightning, your house will probably get hit, because you have something called side-flash, especially if you have wiring or metal gutters. The tree gets struck by lightning and then the lightning jumps to your house, and then can either cause severe damage to your electrical system, or actually catch the house on fire. So I do think people should plant trees in their yard, but I also think that they should plant them intelligently. So I would say that the environmental benefits are shade. You also have wind tempering. Farmers often planted rows of trees between their fields to act as a windbreak. So that right after they plowed, if it wasn’t going to rain, the soil wouldn’t blow away in the next wind storm. And trees and water have a very intricate relationship. If you go down to South America in the Amazon where people are clear-cutting and slash-and-burning rain forests to make way for cattle pasture, inevitably what happens is, you might get some grass to grow there for a while, but eventually the cattle will compress the soil, not a whole lot will grow, and then you just have desert. So in places where you allow forest to grow, even if it’s managed forest, if you harvest it and then let it regrow, or harvest it and re-plant it, you have better soil, you have more water in the soil, and you have more rain. It’s actually been shown, apparently in the Amazon where they’ve had a lot of deforestation over the last hundred years, that there’s less rain now, and that’s because as trees grow they pull water out of the ground. They do whatever they do with it, photosynthesis. And then they actually release water from their leaves along with releasing oxygen, which, by the way, is what we have to breathe. Trees breathe carbon dioxide. So in a perfect world, if you want to think of balance and offsetting your carbon footprint, you’re going to also offset your carbon dioxide footprint. And what better way to do that, than put a tree in the ground. If you have a mature tree on your property, it can produce enough oxygen to provide the oxygen that you breathe in an entire year. So if you have a four-person family living on a property that’s big enough to have four mature trees, you’re balanced; the trees are taking the carbon dioxide that you exhale, and converting it into oxygen for you to breathe. So it’s very important to remember that trees are plants, and plants produce oxygen, but also there’s the water benefits. There’s numerous other, more subtle benefits to trees. I’ve seen studies that show that neighborhoods in inner-cities that have trees, have less crime. Now there’s been a study that showed hospitals, where people are convalescing, and they have a view of a tree out their window, heal faster than people who either have no window or who have a window that doesn’t look upon anything that’s growing. So trees help us psychologically, they help us emotionally. I think I also saw a study that was produced by the Wharton School of Business, that demonstrated that trees add property value. It studied property sales records, and they weighed properties that had trees versus properties that had no trees, and all other things being equal, a house that has a tree on the property is going to sell for like a thousand dollars more than a house with no trees. And that is pretty profound. So why would you not plant a tree? Yeah, yeah. I know there’s still a lot of fear surrounding having a large tree. Well here in the Philadelphia area, we occasionally have lousy weather. We have hurricanes, we have nor’easters, we have snowstorms, we have ice storms, we have thunderstorms in the summertime. Trees get damaged, trees break or they uproot and fall over. And sometimes they’ll hit a car, hit a house, and they’ll go across a road and they’ll take out power lines. And every time I’ve seen a major storm in this area, where there’s major storm damage, within a few months there are people who are having healthy trees taken down because they’re terrified, because their next-door neighbor had their house broken in half by a tree that got blown over. And they say, “Oh, I’ve got a tree that’s that size in my backyard. I don’t want it to blow over and crush my house!” So they hire somebody to come and take the tree down. Right. Or they have somebody come out and “top” the tree, which is horrible. It’s a barbaric practice which should be abolished. But you can interview me some other time about that. The important thing is education. If you live in an area where there is bad weather occasionally, and you have large trees on your property, you owe it to yourself to have an expert come out and evaluate.

Colleen: Right.

Brice: … you have to remember that if the trees are near your house, near where you park your car, near a sidewalk in your street, you have to be a steward for the tree. If you have 600 acres and you have a wooded lot and you’ve got woods and there are trees out there that if they fell over, they wouldn’t hit anything but other trees, you don’t really have to worry about that. But if you’ve got a small property, and you’ve a few trees and it’s tight quarters, you should probably have a professional come out and take a look at those trees once in a while to make sure everything’s hunky-dory.

Colleen: “Hunky-dory”, that’s a great term.

Brice: Yeah. Thank you. I love it. That’s a technical term.

Colleen: OK. I think that covers everything that I wanted to talk with you about. Thank you. I really appreciate you and your knowledge and your sharing your knowledge, and taking the time out to do this interview with me. And yeah, we’ll post this and see if anyone listens.

Brice: Well it was my pleasure. I like nothing more than to talk about trees.

Colleen: Really, you don’t say? OK. Thank you sweetie.

 

 

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