‘Dirty and Gritty’

The amazing tropical summer is over and fall is in full swing, kind of? We were busy sweating up a storm at Arborpolitan during this summer of intense heat.  The summer was filled with pruning, both large and small, garden installations, tree and stump removal, plant health care, a few sopping wet rainstorms and there was even a trip out to the beach!! 


According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the northeast climate region saw some record highs this summer. July is on record as the 13th warmest since 1895 and August as the 2nd warmest. For both irrigated and non-irrigated sites, extended periods of heat slows the biological function of plants.  The effect occurs when daytime temperatures exceed 95 degrees for an extended period of time, regardless of the amount of moisture in the soil. One of the ways to help plants make it through extreme heat waves is to make sure they receive enough water, because they cool themselves by way of water evaporation through their leaves (transpiration). Keep in mind that it is best to water in the morning, second best in the evening and to water the soil directly. Applying mulch is another way to keep the soil moisturized and cool. In the city we also have added heat stress caused by concrete. The concrete acts like an oven, baking nearby plants and causing excessive evaporation. Heat stress can also make plants more susceptible to pests, fungi and disease. If you keep this information in your tool box for next summer you’ll be ahead of the heatwave.


Along with extreme heat we also saw above average rainfall in the northeast region. Although water is a necessity to plants, as I’m sure many of us know from first hand experience, in excess it is a detriment. When soils are saturated with water the supply of oxygen to plant roots is reduced, creating anaerobic conditions, the soil pH is raised and the rate of decomposition of organic material changes. All of these conditions weaken a plant, making it susceptible to pests, fungi and disease. One easy tip to remember is to rake aside any mulch that may be covering the soil during this rainy period, this will help increase the level of oxygen in the soil.

Stormy weather adds high winds to the mix of extreme rainfall and can leave you with quite a mess. We had a few calls for emergency limb removal this summer. Sometimes storm casualties can be prevented with regular inspection and pruning of large trees. The inspection gives you an idea of what is going on with your tree, its health and vigor and possible structural issues. After the inspection a plan of action can be created to mitigate future problems, whether it involves pruning, cabling, fertilizing the soil surrounding your tree or, our least favorite, removal.

We hope you all had a wonderful summer, though insanely humid at times, filled with enough memories to carry you through the colder months ahead.

 Pachysandra removed to make room for mulch, less competition for water and more moisture retention.

Pachysandra removed to make room for mulch, less competition for water and more moisture retention.

 Daisy inspecting the new dump truck

Daisy inspecting the new dump truck

 Chores at the homestead and Simon’s homage to Caddyshack

Chores at the homestead and Simon’s homage to Caddyshack

 An adventure of an appraisal after a rainstorm, an oak tree with included bark, a weak fork. We didn’t end up taking this job. We have big personalities here at Arborpolitan, but we’re a small company

An adventure of an appraisal after a rainstorm, an oak tree with included bark, a weak fork. We didn’t end up taking this job. We have big personalities here at Arborpolitan, but we’re a small company

 Mike G heading up to repair silver maple damaged by oak

Mike G heading up to repair silver maple damaged by oak

 LaShaun back down to earth after a sweltering Hudson River conifer climb

LaShaun back down to earth after a sweltering Hudson River conifer climb

 Mike A, Walker, Mike G and Justin culminating the summer with some pruning, tree removal and a trip to the beach!

Mike A, Walker, Mike G and Justin culminating the summer with some pruning, tree removal and a trip to the beach!

Aaron Smith
Swamp Oak Experiment

At Arborpolitan, our Plant Health Care crew regularly visit gardens to apply fertilizers and soil amendments, unfortunately, we rarely get to closely observe the effects of the products we use. 

Out of curiosity, our crew members, LaShaun and Sonia, decided to conduct an experiment on 8 swamp oak saplings found in a Gowanus street tree pit. Four trees were left alone as a control group, while the other four each received a different type of soil amendment/fertilizer every month. All trees were watered once a week depending on the weather. Our hypothesis is: Saplings receiving soil amendments/fertilizer will have faster growth compared to the control group. 

Soil amendment/fertilizer used in experiment:

  • Endo-Ecto Mycorrhizae with Biostimulants
    • A blend of fungus, beneficial bacteria, soluble humate, soluble seaweed, soluble yucca, and vitamins. It contains endo and ecto mycorrhizae. Endomycorrhizal fungi attaches to roots of most plants while ectomycorrhizal fungi form outside of roots of mainly woody plants. Both mycorrhizae help plants to efficiently absorb nutrients, water and even allow plants to be more tolerable of harsh soil conditions. 
  • Compost from crew office compost bin
  • Influence and LC 5-0-3 Liquid Nitrate of Soda/Potassium Sulfate Fertilizer (Nitrate)
    • Influence is a biological plant supplement that consists of humic acids, seaweed extract, yucca extract, natural stress reducing hormones, beneficial microorganisms and organic fertility supplements. Nitrate is a liquid fertilizer
  • Finesse GVH Granulated Biological Soil Restoration (Granular)
    • A soil supplement meant to imitate the biological activity of a forest floor. It consists of composts, organic carbon sources, polysaccharides, hydroxycarboxylic acids, and soluble humate extract. Organic carbon sources act as the annual fall leaves that return carbon to the soil. Polysaccharides are derived from the process of twigs and other cellulose matter breaking down in soils, which aids the development of beneficial fungal organisms. 

Oak tree saplings showing signs of stress on June 20th, 2018

 Control Group

Control Group

 Experiment Group: Nothing applied to trees yet

Experiment Group: Nothing applied to trees yet


Oak Tree Saplings on July 31st, 2018

 Sapling Jaron from the Control Group did not make it...

Sapling Jaron from the Control Group did not make it...

Oak Tree Saplings on August 28th, 2018

 Control Group 

Control Group 

 Experiment Group

Experiment Group

After three months, it seems like saplings, Paul and Simon are showing the most obvious signs of growth. We are curious as to why Sonia and Walker have smaller leaves compared to all of the saplings and why the leaves are turning yellow for Paul and LaShaun. The experiment will end after 9 more months and then the trees will be given away to anyone who wants a new tree. For now, we will be sure to post any updates of the experiment! 



With the enthusiasm of Tiny Tim himself, we are excitedly getting back into spring and the gardening work that it entails!

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 2.11.19 PM.png

As the five boroughs warm up, we enter into one of our busiest work seasons. Here’s what we have in store this year at Arborpolitan:



Arborpolitan’s Justin Rawson and Aaron Smith completed the Certified Tree Safety Professional (CTSP) program held by the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) in Hartford, CT last March. The CTSP program allows one or more key employees at a given company to become certified tree care safety experts, thereby empowering and encouraging a culture of safety within that organization.

Because safety regulations and industry standards are continually evolving, the ongoing education requirement is vital to maintaining a legitimate safety program within a given company. In order to fulfill program requirements, CTSP's must complete a study guide, attend a two-day training workshop, and pass a rigorous exam.  Once certified, CTSP's must complete at least 30 hours of training others, or receiving education themselves, every three years.


For more information about the Tree Care Industry Association, visit www.tcia.org

For more information regarding the Certified Treecare Safety Professional program at TCIA, contact Peter Gerstenberger or Irina Kochurov at (800) 733-2622 or email Peter peter@tcia.org or Irinia ikochurov@tcia.org.

Spring Pruning


Mid-spring is one of the best times of year to do pruning work, and can help trees grow healthily into the coming season. We prune to help maintain the health and appearance of trees (removing crossing or damaged branches, thinning out a canopy to help increase air flow, etc.), as well as to train younger plants to help enhance their healthy growth forms (especially here in the city, where trees sometimes begin to encroach onto buildings).

Below is a list of springtime appropriate pruning tasks:

  • Reducing/thinning roses and summer blossoming shrubs like rose of Sharon, hydrangea, and butterfly bush.
  • Selecting scaffold branches on thin shade-tolerant trees planted the previous season.
  • Cutting back most vines.
  • Reducing/thinning the canopies of mature trees.
  • Reducing/thinning flower-bearing trees after the petals of the flowers have fallen.
  • Establishing clean lines on evergreen bushes that had been heavily pruned the previous winter.

If you'd like to learn more about pruning, check out this illustrated guide produced by Cornell University.



With the onset of spring, our plant healthcare program is taking off! As the soil warms up, the microorganisms that help maintain its health start becoming active. However, in city soil, the minerals and nutrients required to sustain these miniature ecosystems are sometimes depleted due to common urban conditions like low moisture, soil compaction, or nearby construction. This is why we use a deep root feeding system to help amend these soils with the kind of fertile nutrients that soil and trees need to form healthy and sustainable growth.

We apply our soil amendments with a deep root feeding spike hooked up to a high-pressure water pump, this pumps the fertilizer into the root zone of the tree. Additionally, the small holes that are created in this process help aerate and loosen the soil, and allow for water and other nutrients to more easily reach the roots.

We look for specific symptoms when determining a plant healthcare program:

  • Yellowing leaves or a loss of foliage. This is a clear indicator of tree stress often associated with malnutrition.
  • Insect or fungal infestations. Trees in general should be able to fight off most pests naturally with their own defense systems, so an infestation of any kind can be a clear sign that the tree is lacking some necessary nutrients.
  • Yearly tree growth. When a tree shows a serious decline in growth over a year, this often means that there is a depletion in its natural growth hormones.
  • In some cases, we will take a soil sample and get it analyzed to see exactly what the soil around a tree is lacking, and what we can apply to help balance it.

Soil amendments alone aren’t always enough to deal with extreme infestations. When those situations occur, we will pair deep root feeding with an organic oil spray treatment. This clogs the pores of most pests, and sticks to the leaves for a short amount of time to decrease the chances of future infestations. 



In addition to all of our normal pruning and plant healthcare work, we are making an effort to take on more garden and tree installation jobs this season. Sonia Wong, our resident garden design consultant (and office manager!) had this to say about her consultation and installation work:

"I always try to choose plants that are native, that are good for beneficial insects and different pollinators.

When I'm doing a consultation, normally I ask the client what their budget is, what kind of aesthetic they like, or if they have any picture references. I try to observe what plants they already have and if they're doing well. This can give me clues about the site's conditions. I also ask if they have irrigation, which helps me determine what kind of plants to plant.

After the consultation, I send them three design layout options. Once the general layout is decided, I send them a more detailed plan for their approval."

After going through the design process with Sonia, we will schedule a date for installation. We work to make sure that your garden is designed with sustainability in mind, so that you can enjoy your outdoor space for seasons to come!



If you are thinking about getting any garden design, plant health care, or pruning work done this spring, please feel free to set up a consultation with us at 877-NYC-TREE or at arborpolitan@gmail.com. We would be more than happy to work with you on your garden and tree needs!

Have a good one!


The honey locust tree (Gleditsia triacanthos) is native to central North America, but can be found throughout most of the country. It thrives in New York City with its high tolerance for compacted soil and salt. Because of these tolerances, it is often considered by the city for street tree plantings, and can be found commonly in road medians throughout the boroughs.


Honey locusts typically sprouts 1/2-inch long leaflets cloud-like clusters, which turn a bright golden yellow in the autumn. These smaller leaf clusters allow for greater air flow within the tree, which helps the honey locust thrive in windy conditions.


Honey locusts commonly have thorns growing on their branches and trunks. These thorns typically grow in dense clusters, and can reach lengths of up to 8 inches. One theory suggests that the trees evolved to produce these thorns to protect their foliage from the Pleistocene-era megafauna that ate their long seed pods.

At Arborpolitan, we see honey locusts frequently. They provide an interesting challenge for a tree climber, who has to navigate their branches while avoiding all the many long thorns throughout the tree. A few of us bring the thorns back home, taken from a day's work on a honey locust as a trophy to commemorate a hard-fought job. Though they sometimes present difficulty for us as tree climbers, we still jump on any opportunity to help preserve and shape these beautiful trees.

2017 Season So Far

Hello fellow tree hugging dirt lovers.

The year 2017 brought with it a tide change. Between certain political shake-ups and the release of Ed Sheeran’s track Shape Of You, its been an emotional one. The people of earth are likely feeling a striking sense of change, an urgency to engage, or a movement in their hearts upon hearing the unusual blend of tropical house, dancehall, and acoustic guitar strumming that Sheeran uses to evoke the sense of a budding romance.

In New York City, we’ve seen an extra rainy year following a late winter. This meant that there were less cases of insect infestations and more of fungal infections in our city’s trees. As such, we have been visiting trees all around the city to deep root feed. The year has not been completely without pests though. We have seen some increased scaling activity, and are keeping our eyes out for mites, adelgids, webworms, and lace bugs.

We also had our own Sonia design several of our client’s gardens, some of which can be seen above in mid-installation. Otherwise, we have kept busy with our typical work of pruning trees and planting new ones.

We’re currently looking towards our autumnal season, preparing to step up the amount of plant health care visits to help prepare trees and plants for winter dormancy.  Soon we’ll be seeing more cases of hemlock scaling, webworms, and needlecast. If you’re looking to plant a tree, sometime in the upcoming fall season would be an ideal time to do it, as it will give the tree an optimal time frame to establish it’s roots through winter dormancy and into the spring (and if you’re looking for someone to plant that tree for you, well, we could be that someone!).

Above are a few pictures of the 2017 team hard at work, with the occasional goof thrown in for good measure.

May the rest of our year be filled with friends, good times, and most of all, healthy trees.

Play us out, Ed.

Seasonal UpdateAaron Smith