Tree Tips

Selecting a Tree Care Service 

  • Ask for City business license and verify with the City of Paducah Finance Department.

  • Get at least three companies to give estimates.

  • Have the tree company give you a written statement of the work to be performed and the cost.

  • Ask for references and check them.

  • Ask for proof of insurance and check with the insurance company for recent claims.

  • Before work begins, re-verify the cost.  If changes are made, get the changes in writing.  If you feel you are being mistreated, stop the work and/or get another bid.

  • Take pictures of the area before work begins and other areas of your property that could be affected.  If there are problems, you have a reference.

  • After work begins and you feel there are safety issues or the work is not being done in accordance to the work contract, contact the company owner or supervisor.  Take pictures, if necessary, and supply copies to the company.  If this does not yield results, then contact the Kentucky State Department of Occupational Safety.
  • Make sure the tree service understands they are responsible for the removal of tree debris and clean up.  If a tree service leaves debris for the City to remove, the City will charge the homeowner.
  • Never pay for services until the work has been performed and you are satisfied with the work according to written estimates and agreements.
  • Be understanding of the weather and how it may affect the tree service company's workload.
  • If you are unsatisfied with the company's work, let the company know verbally and in writing explaining the deficiencies and acceptable fixes.
  • Other avenues to settle a dispute are through a tree company's insurance company, the Better Business Bureau, or the court system and arbitration.

Proper Planting Tips

Adding landscaping to your home may add up to 27% more value to your house.  Trees and shrubs enhance the aesthetic, environmental, and economic value of your property.  Trees insulate your home and block wind during the cool nights, and they shade your doors and windows during the warm days.  You can save up to one-third off your energy bill with proper tree and shrub placement.  For more information about which trees and shrubs would work best for your conditions, information is available at, your local Cooperative Extension Service Office, the Paducah Tree Advisory Board, or through a certified professional landscape contractor.  Below are some helpful hints for a successful planting program.

Choose the right plant for the purpose you have in mind and the space you have--for shade in your lawn, choose a larger tree that is also sturdy.  To increase aesthetic value, look for a graceful form, showy foliage, or flowers.  Make sure the plant won't outgrow the site to reduce future care and excessive pruning.
Don't plant large trees near power lines, sewer, or water lines--look up, down, and next door to see if there are any conflicts that should be addressed before selecting a tree or shrub.  Make sure it won't cross over to your neighbor's area, or they may trim it and ruin its shape or function.
Avoid weak-wooded, fast growing trees--trees such as Bradford pear, silver maple, Lombardy poplar, and Siberian elm are susceptible to wind and ice damage.
Pick the right plant for the environmental conditions--does the plant prefer shade, like a dogwood, but you have full sun?  Consider an alternative with a Shasta viburnum which blooms at the same time and looks like a dogwood from a distance.
Plant your tree correctly--dig a hole that is at least three times as wide as the container or root ball to loosen the soil for the plant's roots to expand and grow.  Use natural soil to plant trees, so the roots can adapt to their new environment.  Do not add soil amendments or fertilizer at planting.
Help your landscape survive--water deeply twice a week during the growing season.  However, don't overwater.  Add mulch to within two inches of the base of the tree or shrub to control weeds, conserve moisture, and insulate from heat and cold.  As the mulch breaks down, it will add nutrients to the root zone while it protects your trees and shrubs from mowers and trimmers.

Protecting Trees from Winter Salt Damage

The winter season often brings heavy snowfall and/or ice.  Salt is great for clearing roads, driveways, and sidewalks of ice and snow; however, a good thing for streets and walkways can be rotten for your trees, according to the tree experts at the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). 

Excessive exposure to salt can cause widespread damage to your trees, leading to permanent decline and sometimes death.  The problem with salt damage is that it might not show up on your trees until summer, when deicing salt is the last culprit you would expect.

To minimize the damage done to trees by deicing salts, certified arborists at ISA offer the following tips:  

  • Use less salt.  Mix deicing salt with abrasives such as sand, cinders, and ash, or use alternatives such as calcium magnesium acetate and calcium chloride.
  • Protect your trees from salt trucks on the street.  If possible, set up barriers between the street and your trees to keep salt spray from hitting tree trunks.
  • Plant salt-resistant trees.  Trees such as sycamore maple, white spruce, willow, and birch tend to be more salt-resistant than other species.  How well they fare varies from climate to climate across the country.
  • Improve soil drainage.  Add organic matter to your soil to help filter salt deposits.
  • Irrigate to flush the salts from the soils in spring.
  • Mulch sufficiently to reduce water loss.
  • Control pest infestations and destructive tree diseases. 

Know Your Trees Before Planting

Not all trees are created equal.  Just because a species of tree is native to the area doesn't mean that all varieties or cultivars of that species will work in your specific landscape location.

Before planting a tree, do your homework first.  For instance white birches cannot be planted in dry, hot sites, or they will be stressed and prone to bronze birch borers, a flying insect, which, in its larval stage, can kill a tree.  Plant a different variety such as river birches in that location since they are not as susceptible to those insects.

Another example:  many people like the look of the ornamental Bradford pear tree.  They have beautiful blooms in the spring, glossy lush leaves in the summer, brilliant fall foliage, and a wonderfully tight branch structure in the winter.  However, most Bradford species have such brittle wood and poor branch connections, the tree typically only lasts 12-20 years before being severely damaged or destroyed in ice or windstorms.  The Bradford culltivar Chanticleer, also known as Cleveland Select, doesn't suffer from the poor branch connections.