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Tree Service Glossary


Tree Service Key Terms

Understanding all the key terms related to tree services can be a challenge for someone without a background in trees. We’ve made a glossary of key terms we think you might find useful when looking for services related to Lethbridge trees.

Arboriculture: The study and care of trees in a landscape. This is an overarching term for the study and a professional focus on trees. This is a great area of specialization for people interested in the environment, the role and importance of trees, and who want to bring that passion to their career.

Arborist: This is an expert at all things tree-related. They can plant, remove, and assess your trees. They are professionals at evaluating your tree and the conditions of the soil/area it’s growing in. They can manage both residential and commercial trees.

Aspen poplar: This tree can grow up to 30m in height, is greenish-white, and darkens with age. This species has a long straight trunk and a rounded crown. It’s more common in the forested regions but grows best in well-drained soils. 

Balsam fir: This symmetrical confider has a narrow crown and can go up to 18 meters high. The leaves are needle-shaped, flattened, bent upward, rounded, or blunt-tipped. These are common in the north-eastern Alberta but can adapt to a variety of soils and climates.

Bark: The outside layer of a tree. This hard surface protects the inside from pests, and diseases and also insulates them against extreme weather. A tree with damage to its bark may be susceptible to diseases and other critters.

Bracing: This process is used to bind a leaning tree with an artificial cable to keep it from leaning over and protecting it from strong winds. It uses braces, sometimes called thread rods to support the branches.

Bud: These appear on the branch, trunk, or stems of trees and with proper sunlight and nutrition, can develop into a flower, leaf, or shoot once the season changes. Different species of trees have different styles of buds and can be used to identify the tree easily.

Cabling: The practice of using cables and bolts in the crown of the tree to reduce the movement of branches, limiting the likelihood of the branches falling or breaking during storms or other types of rough weather.

Cankers: These form under the bark of twigs, branches, trunks, or crowns of trees and are caused by fungus. They can also be caused by chemical damage, weed whackers, and insects. 

Cavity: An opening or hollowed part of a trunk or limb of the tree. These are oftentimes caused by decay or damage. A tree can still survive with a cavity as long as it doesn’t disrupt its structural integrity. We recommend having a professional arborist perform a tree assessment if you’re concerned about a cavity in your tree.

Clay: A very fine soil, with very small mineral particles. Not a common type of soil for planting trees in.

Conifer trees: This category of trees has needles instead of leaves and they don’t change colour in the fall. They use cones instead of flowers to spread their seeds. Common conifers include the Spruce, Fir, and Larch species.

Crown: Sometimes called the canopy, it’s the part of the tree including and above its first major lateral branches. This is the majority of the tree and the part that arborists deal with the most for pruning and maintenance.

Crown lifting/reduction: This is a pruning technique used to remove the weight from the end of branches back to a healthy, lateral branch to form a new crown. This will remove any long, heavy, or overextended branches. The goal is a smaller crown with more structural integrity.

Crown thinning: also called crown reduction is the process of reducing the number of branches in the crown. This will provide more structural integrity by having a lighter crown making it less vulnerable to breakage from high-velocity winds and storms.

Deadwood: The dead branches or wood on a tree.

Dead wooding: The removal of deadwood from a tree. This prevents any dead branches from falling and damaging property or anything beneath it.

Deciduous trees: This category of trees has broad leaves that change colour in the fall and will spread their seeds using flowers. These trees lose their leaves as winter comes. The most common species include Ash, Larch, Oak, and Maple.

Emerald ash borer: A species of beetle known to destroy Ash trees. 99% of Ash trees are killed within 8-10 years once the beetle arrives in that area. The signs of an emerald Ash borer infestation include wilting leaves, small “D” shaped holes left in the tree’s bark, and “S” shaped pathways left behind by the beetle’s larvae as they chew their way through the bark. 

Epicormic shoots: These are those plants or sticks you see growing up alongside your tree’s trunk. They are often grown from the tree experiencing stress from issues such as poor soil conditions, damage, or diseases.

Felling: A technique used to remove a tree by cutting it at the base and aiming it to fall in a certain area. This method has a high impact on the ground and is a dangerous method of tree removal.

Fertilization: Adding these products to your tree will help it develop a strong root system and encourage new branch growth. They are usually comprised of a combination of macronutrients and micronutrients.

Hazardous trees: These are trees that are damaged or diseased heavily to the point where they are at risk of falling or have branches that could fall. This can be hazardous to your home and property depending on the location of the tree.

Heartwood: The innermost part of a tree trunk, the densest and sturdy part for providing support to the tree.

Herbicide: A spray used for killing/controlling plants. This is often used for removing shoots from the base of trees for aesthetic purposes.

Jack pine: A common species of a conifer tree. Jack Pines have short needles that are sharp, grow in pairs, and are slightly curved. They are common in sandy and gravelly sites in central and northern Alberta.

Lateral branch: These are secondary branches that emerge from the tree’s scaffold branches. They are sometimes removed when heavy pruning is performed.

Mature height: the tallest anticipated height a tree is expected to grow.  This is useful when planning where to plant your trees as they could be at risk of hitting powerlines or blocking your home’s windows.

Mildew: A plant disease characterized by a thin coating of mycelial growth. It can be identified as a white or grayish fungal growth on the surface of foliage.

Oak: A common hardwood species in southern Alberta that is most recognized by its large crown and distinctive leaves. Animals are often attracted by the acorns that Oaks produce and their wood is a highly valued timber for use in trim, furniture, and flooring.

Oak wilt: This is a fungal disease that can affect all oak species and is spread by sap-feeding beetles. Common symptoms include early leaf dropping during the summer and fungal mats found under the bark which may cause the bark to split.

Root ball: The roots of the tree that tangle into a ball when removed from the soil. These are especially important when transplanting a tree.

Root pruning: The process of removing certain roots from a tree. This can be performed to save a tree from any damage it may have faced underground or to prepare it for moving.

Rings: These rings on the inside of a tree show the age of the tree as one is added each year. Sometimes called annual rings, they track how much a tree grows each year.

Sapwood: An inner layer of bark that carries water and nutrients from the ground via the roots to the leaves. Eventually, as new layers grow out, the sapwood will dry out and become hardwood.

Sapling: A younger tree, larger than a seedling, but smaller than a juvenile.

Scaffold branches: These are the primary limbs that form a tree’s canopy, they stem from the tree’s trunk and are typically the largest branches.

Spade truck: This is a truck that has a large spade attached, used for properly excavating larger trees from the ground and digging holes for them. Here at Legacy Trees, we utilize a 90” trunk-mounted spade to move any tree from a 3-inch caliper to a 10-inch.

Stump grinding: This quick and easy process is affordable and less invasive to your property. Equipment is used to make quick work of any unwanted stumps, leaving woodchips as all that remains.

Stump removal: This is a more invasive, time-consuming process that involves removing the entire root system from the ground. It’s used when roots can’t be left in the ground, for example, farmland would require full root removal so machinery doesn’t damage its blades on a hidden underground root.

Topping: The process of cutting a significant or entire portion of the crown of a tree. Removing the uppermost sections has the potential for many serious consequences and is reserved as a last resort effort when trees have become a risk to buildings surrounding them.

Tree assessment: Typically performed by a professional arborist, your tree will be examined to look for health issues or potential growth problems. This is a great service if you’re worried your tree may be damaged beyond repair or not growing properly.

Tree maintenance: This involves pruning dead branches, and adding fertilizer where it’s needed. An arborist can also check the tree for any growth problems and test the soil to make sure it’s the proper pH for the species. Pests can also be removed from the tree during this maintenance.

Tree moving: The process of digging up one tree and moving it to a new location. Proper attention and care are needed for the highest chance of the tree surviving. For more information check out our tree moving guide.

Tree planting: The process of bringing a sapling to the property and inserting it into a dug hole. View our detailed tree planting guide to learn more.

Tree pollard: This is a serious form of pruning that removes all the green growth and foliage. It helps limit the amount of shade cast by the tree and prevents it from outgrowing its space. 

Tree pruning: This process involves selectively removing branches or stems to improve the health and appearance of the tree. This is also called trimming. Proper pruning can be beneficial to the tree by removing branches that are broken or damaged that the tree is still using energy on trying to heal. It can also remove any decayed or diseased branches, helping the tree’s health.

Tree removal: This process requires fully removing a tree from your property. Often performed when a tree is damaged beyond repair or dying/dead. This will save you damage to your property by pre-emptively removing it.

Tree spraying: To spray liquid insecticides and fungicides on trees to protect them from pest infestations and other tree diseases.

Tree supply: This involves visiting a selection of different species and ranges of trees and purchasing them to add to your home. These are similar to a tree nursery. However, bigger, more mature trees will also be available for sale.

White birch: Ranging from 6 to 20m in height, it’s whitish or silvery grey. These species are widespread and common along river banks and moist wooded areas throughout the central and northern parts of Alberta.

Wood chips: These are left behind when a stump is ground down. They can provide small amounts of nutrients to surrounding trees and will increase the organic matter of the soil. They will become absorbed over time by the lawn and can provide a nice natural aesthetic to your backyard.

Verticillium wilt: A serious fungal disease that causes injury or death to many types of plants, especially trees. It is a disease that affects the water-conducting tissues in the plant and should be quickly dealt with in order to save the tree.

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