Hello again Westside gardeners.

As you may have already noticed, within the city of Los Banos there are many street trees as well as privately owned that have been topped. Is this correct? No, it isn’t.

According to the Society of the Arboriculture, the majority of trees that are severely topped is because they have grown too large or they were planted under utility lines.

As a certified arborist, topping or cutting trees in half, is just ignorance and poor judgement. In case of city street trees, better planning under the direction of an arborist is needed.

What happens, when someone tops a tree? It puts a tremendous amount of stress on the trees. This is the case, with our trees. Many have been, pruned in this fashion for many years and now after several years of drought, our trees are dying. Cutting a tree in half, opens large wounds and invites insects and decay.

I am asking private citizens, to please be in contact, with a certified arborist, before hiring anyone to prune your tree. Most importantly, make sure, the company is legit tree service and licensed by the State of California. Do not have your local gardener do the work.

What else can be done, to correct our local problem? To begin with, weak and dying trees need to be removed.

Proper tree varieties need to be chosen in areas of overhead utility lines. These varieties, must be naturally shorter and/or types that won’t interfere.

The city tree supervisor should be required to have at least five years’ experience under direction of an arborist and certificate of arboriculture and landscape horticulture, and continue to provide ongoing education for the public. This would include Arbor Day festivities locally.

Now let’s do a better job at beautifying our city, with better choices and proper planning.

Mark Koehler

Mark Koehler of Los Banos is an arborist and master gardener, who has degrees in Landscape Architecture and Landscape Horticulture from UC Berkeley and Northeastern University.