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Published: Wednesday, 8/11/2010

Area windstorms, rain, heat boost tree work

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Steve Floro of Blanchard Tree and Lawn attaches a cable to a branch that will be cut on Hawthorne Road in Ottawa Hills. Steve Floro of Blanchard Tree and Lawn attaches a cable to a branch that will be cut on Hawthorne Road in Ottawa Hills.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

Plentiful rainfall and images from devastating storms that hit the area this summer have helped increase calls for some local tree maintenance businesses.

Jim Blanchard, president of Blanchard Tree and Lawn in Springfield Township, said heavy rains has spurred tree growth this summer.

Precipitation measured at Toledo Express Airport in April was 4.69 inches and 5.91 inches in May

Homeowners are having tree limbs removed that hang over houses and elsewhere to prevent damage from storms such as those that ripped through northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan in June, he said.

Donny Matejcek removes a cable from a limb that he had lowered to the ground for disposal. Donny Matejcek removes a cable from a limb that he had lowered to the ground for disposal.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

"It definitely makes people more aware of their trees and to make them as safe as possible," Mr. Blanchard said. "It reminds people of what might happen."

At Davey Tree Expert Co.'s Toledo office, meanwhile, business has increased to combat drought conditions that have taken hold since early July, stressing newly planted trees and shrubs, which need fertilizer, mulching, and other maintenance, said Scott Kirby, district manager. "We're seeing mostly drought damage," Mr. Kirby said. "You see a lot of discolored and burned leaves."

June's precipitation was 3.95 inches. Nationwide, activity for tree services overall is picking up after a dismal 2009, when the troubled economy hit such service businesses particularly hard as homeowners reduced spending, said Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist for the Tree Industry Association.

"It appears that our industry has turned the corner," Ms. Andersen said. "I think we're right back on track."

Although business is up for Woods Tree, Lawn & Landscape in Toledo, revenues are not keeping pace, owner Randall Woods said.

A deluge of start-up businesses that don't pay into workers compensation, insurance, and other expenses has hurt established tree service companies, Mr. Woods said.

"It forces us to lower our prices so that we can compete," he said.

Matt Kowalski, owner of Aaron Tree and Lawn in Toledo, also said such businesses cause a problem for legitimate firms.

Business is up because of weather-related conditions, however, including humidity that can weaken tree branches, he said.

Mr. Blanchard said there still is some business removing ash trees, especially among those who ignored problems caused by the invasive emerald ash borer.

Ash trees can be treated chemically to protect them, but it is costly, he said.

More business related to ash trees will crop up next year as municipalities receive federal grants for their removal, said Mr. Kirby of Davey Tree Expert.

The grants require a quarter of removed trees be replanted with other species, he said.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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