​N. Tustin Notes:

by Scott Logue

November 2018

The North Tustin Fire Safe Council, a committee of the Foothill Communities Association (FCA), and the Gruett Tree Company hosted an educational event at Bent Tree Park in North Tustin, Oct. 20, about the variety of trees found throughout our North Tustin neighborhoods. Topics included some of the challenges and dangers these trees, particularly non-native species, may pose. Homeowners learned how to care for and protect their trees, including proper pruning and maintenance so that they may continue to provide beauty, and to prevent them from becoming fuel for wildfires.

Attendees also learned about the Shot Hole Borer, a widespread invasive pest that is particularly dangerous to trees under stress caused by drought conditions and pollution. While there is no cure for a tree already under siege by the Shot Hole Borer, our best defense is a strong offense. Trees should be pruned properly, during the correct season, and watered appropriately for the species of tree and the time of year, as well as be free of other infections or pests so they do not become an easy target for the Shot Hole Borer.

Water wise
We learned to avoid the common mistake of watering trees near the trunk, and to avoid overwatering, which makes it difficult for trees to absorb the oxygen they need from the soil. Overwatering also makes a tree more prone to falling over during high winds, as the tree has nothing to hold onto in the saturated soil. We were informed that, in some cases, it had been observed that trees had wrapped their roots around rocks, or pipes, as if they were trying to anchor themselves.

During the last Santa Ana event, I noticed several trees that had fallen over, roots intact. I learned that this is due to some trees, such as our ubiquitous eucalyptus, fanning their roots out near the surface, never anchoring any deeper. A descriptive analogy used at the event was to picture a wine glass as a tree, upon a plate - the roots. Combine this with overwatering, the weight of a tree, add some wind, and the danger is clear – made all the more perilous if the tree has been hollowed out by a pest or infection.

Worth the attention
Many of the trees we find in our yards are not native to this area, or have been planted for their beauty or utility, not necessarily in locations natural to them. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to learn what trees we have on our property, what challenges they may face due to their species or location within our own yards, and do what we can to attend to them. 

The trees are beautiful residents of North Tustin, and are expensive to replace. Without proper care, they can also become large, heavy, flammable, very dangerous wooden dominoes waiting to be tipped over or ignited.

Our thanks to the Gruett Tree Company for providing such a vast amount of information in such a brief time, and answering so many residents’ questions during the Q&A after the event. To learn more about this and other FCA events, or to become a member and support events like this one, please visit FCAHome.org.