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Treat Your Trees: Go Native

The use of native plants and trees in the urban landscape is promoted heavily and often nowadays. If you find yourself wondering why, consider that planting natives instead of exotic species in your yard and in your neighborhood can be of great benefit to both you and the environment. For you, native plants are easier to find and more affordable. They are extremely easy to cultivate and require less care. A native plant already knows how to thrive in the environment where you live with minimal effort on your part. Plants are great at fighting off disease and infection when they are in their natural habitat. They have adapted over time to survive almost anything they encounter in that area including natural disasters. Because native plants belong there, they tend be naturally beautiful with little or no design work from you. For the environment, natives require less water which is becoming a scarcer resource as time goes by. The temptation to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides all but disappears due to their natural ability to thrive. Neighboring plants, animals and insects can all coexist with your native plants. The ecosystem may even reap the benefit of attracting wildlife to your yard by providing food and shelter. Finally, planting natives ensures that you do not introduce invasive species. Native plants in some areas of California have already been completely replaced by exotics, weeds, fire, and other activities of man.

If these tidbits have piqued your curiosity about native trees and plants, you should attend Tree Musketeers’ Treat Your Trees workshop on natives. Mark your calendar for Saturday Feb. 2 and 19 starting at 10am and finishing by 1pm. Kids and adults can call Tree Musketeers at 310/322- 0263 or email to register.

You can also try a new test feature (easy signup) below… Simply fill out the fields and submit!

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Don’t Top Your Trees!!

Trimming is for bushes, pruning is for trees and topping is for hacks!

Topping is cutting off the top or ends of branches. It can cause problems:

Starvation when a tree can’t make enough food, because too many leaves are lost.

Shock from losing too many leaves at once may permanently weaken or even kill a tree.

Insects and Disease may set in from the many large, open wounds.

Weak Limbs that are potentially hazardous sprout from mutilated branches.

Ugliness is permanent as a topped tree will never regain its full grace and beauty.

Cost may be less for topping, but more frequent care, liabilities, perhaps removal and reduced property values can cost you big!

When done properly, pruning is the strategic removal of branches using professional cuts at appropriate points for tree structure, health, safety and to eliminate conflicts.

Whether you are interested in pruning your own trees or being more knowledgeable when you hire someone else to do it, you should attend Tree Musketeers’ Treat Your Trees workshop on pruning. Mark your calendar for Saturday Jan. 19th 10am-1pm. Kids and adults can call Tree Musketeers at 310/322-0263 or email to register.

We prune trees for multiple reasons:
Structure –To create a good, natural form for a long healthy life.

Tree Health – To remove dead, diseased, or broken branches.

Safety – To reduce hazards, create clearance underneath, or to make traffic signs more visible.

Conflicts – To eliminate conflicts with structures, power lines, pedestrians, etc.

Preventative – To thin and lighten the load on lateral branches to reduce the chance of tree failure in storms.

Structural pruning is done in the 2nd or 3rd year after planting. Light pruning to remove dead, broken or diseased branches can take place anytime. Heavy pruning is generally best while trees are dormant or asleep in the winter and before new growth in the spring. This is a hard and fast rule for pines and other coniferous trees. Pruning rules vary to some extent with evergreens and by species, so ask a Certified Arborist or other tree expert for advice.

Whether you are interested in pruning your own trees or being more knowledgeable when you hire someone else to do it, you should attend Tree Musketeers’ Treat Your Trees workshop on pruning. Mark your calendar for Saturday Jan. 19th 10am-1pm. Kids and adults can call Tree Musketeers at 310/322-0263 or email to register.

Treat Your Trees – Proper Pruning

Even if you are trained in the art of pruning, there are times when it is best to call a professional:

• When you need a ladder or to climb to prune.
• If a hand saw can’t do the job.
• When power lines are near a tree.
• If a branch is heavy enough to cause damage when falling.
• When the tree appears to be diseased.

Avoid the temptation to save a few bucks by engaging those folks who drop cards on our doorsteps offering services ranging from washing windows to babysitting and tree pruning. Owning a chainsaw and pickup truck does not make a professional. While the charge may be less, hiring these unlicensed and uninsured people can cost you and your tree big time.
Improper pruning can be far worse than no care at all. Once the cut is made, it is permanent. Beyond destroying its natural grandeur, the tree’s health and safety may be compromised. In sum, untrained people should not go near a tree with sharp tools.

True professionals are ISA Certified Arborists. Call Tree Musketeers for pruning help or find another local Certified Arborist at If anyone agrees to top your trees when you ask for it, do not hire them. Remember, trimming is for bushes, pruning if for trees and topping is for hacks!

Treat Your Trees with love, respect and proper pruning.

For more info about pruning your trees, view our tree pruning brochure. It gives info essential for caring for your tree.

Kids: Learn to Supervise Volunteers and Plant Trees

2009, 03-07 Arbor Day, Talia, Bill Fisher and friends

Learn to plant trees properly and to supervise youth and adult volunteers. Youth Tree Planting Supervisor Training is available for kids age 10-18. Sign up for classes:
January 26 (Sat) 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
February 23 (Sat) 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
It starts with two hours of classroom time about the benefits of trees, youth leadership in the field, supervising volunteers and the basics of tree planting. Following a lunch break, everyone convenes on Memory Row for field training. Each of the more than one million trees planted under TREE MUSKETEERS programs was supervised by a trained youth leader. Join the Tree Team!
Click here for the enrollment form and find more details on the LEAD page or call (310)322-0263.

Treat Your Trees: Know Your Christmas Tree

This is the season when trees come indoors to make our holidays festive. There are environmental arguments for and against any tree you may choose. If you opt for an artificial tree, be certain you will use it for years to come since nonrenewable resources were used to produce it. There are two ways to minimize the environmental impact of cut trees. Try to get a locally grown tree to reduce pollution associated with transporting it, and be sure it gets recycled after the holidays.

The other choice is a living tree that, instead of becoming trash, can be planted after the holidays. There are precautions to be taken to ensure this noble outcome.

Check the species before you buy. Will it live in a Southern California coastal area? Is its eventual size practical for your yard or other spaces should you donate it to a nonprofit such as Tree Musketeers? Many living trees are Italian Stone Pines that reach 80 feet in height and crown width at maturity.

Ignore labels boasting that living trees can be in the house longer. That is true only if tree survival is unimportant. Ten to fourteen days is about all of the warm indoors time a tree can tolerate. Keep a saucer under the pot before, during and after its time inside. These trees are root bound meaning there is little soil in the pot, and water runs straight through. The saucer will collect that water allowing the roots to drink at their leisure.

Learn to identify trees by species at Tree Musketeers’ Treat Your Trees workshops on Saturday Dec. 15th 10am-1pm. People who participate in each of five free Treat Your Trees workshops can earn a Tree Caregiver Certificate. Kids and adults can call Tree Musketeers at 310/322-0263 or email to register.

Treat Your Trees: Tree Identification!

How many of us know the trees that stand in our yards and along our streets? If we are going to have a relationship with trees, we should call them by name!

Beyond satisfying our curiosity, knowing how to identify trees has practical applications even if we are not Arborists. We can look up one that we like on the Internet and learn about its space requirements and personality traits before planting. We can check on any special needs of trees we already have to give them the best possible care. We might also impress our walking buddies with this new found knowledge.

Learn to identify trees by species at Tree Musketeers’ Treat Your Trees workshops on Saturday Dec. 1st and 15th 10am-1pm. People who participate in each of five free Treat Your Trees workshops can earn a Tree Caregiver Certificate. Kids and adults can call Tree Musketeers at 310/322-0263 or email to register.

Memory Tree Reservations Open!

Tree planting season all over the world varies by geography and coincides with the dormant months for trees. In California, we plant trees November through March. Tree Musketeers is hosting the first Memory Tree planting of the season on Sunday, November 17, 2012. Two more opportunities to plant or adopt a living tribute for a special person or event are set for January and February 2013.
Make your reservation as early as possible since these very intimate plantings are limited to a maximum of 10 trees. Click here for the Memory Tree Reservation Form which contains all the details.
Beyond keeping beautiful memories alive (literally), Memory Trees enlarge the community forest by forming a lush passive park and each one is a living clean air machine to help curb global warming. The public is invited to participate.

Treat Your Trees – Mulching!

We all know about those three “R’s”, and mulching is one way to “reduce.” Materials otherwise destined to become trash or landfill cover can instead benefit your trees or other plants. Once you have collected pine needles, dry leaves, bark or wood chips, the mulching process is simple.

Remove weeds or grass from the areas to be mulched. Spread a layer of mulch up to 4” thick. The one important thing to know is that the mulch must not touch tree trunks. Trunks are wood and will join the mulch in decomposing, known as root crown rot, which is fatal for trees. Just ensure a couple of inches of space between.

You will need to refresh your mulch about once a year. Just put new material on top of the old to facilitate the biodegrading benefit of mulching. With that, you have taken another step to having a sustainable yard and Treated Your Trees!

Earn a Tree Caregiver Certificate by taking one each of five free Treat Your Trees workshops! Mulching is the topic on Saturday 17th 10am-1pm. Kids and adults can call Tree Musketeers at 310/322-0263 or email to register.

For California’s Tree Lovers

California ReLeaf was founded in 1989 as a program of a large organization. Our executive director, Gail Church, was one of the architects who incorporated it as an independent nonprofit in 2004. Gail has served on its board of directors since holding the offices of secretary, treasurer and president.

The mission of ReLeaf is to empower grassroots efforts and build strategic partnerships that preserve, protect and enhance California’s urban and community forests. California ReLeaf works statewide to promote alliances among community-based groups, individuals, industry, and government agencies, encouraging each to contribute to the livability of our cities and the protection of our environment by planting and caring for trees. California ReLeaf also serves as the State’s volunteer coordinator for urban forestry in partnership with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

California ReLeaf’s core programs and services are:

  • Administering urban forestry Grants
  • Coordinating the California ReLeaf Network, an alliance of urban forestry groups throughout the state
  • Monitoring state and federal legislation for opportunities to influence Public Policy on behalf of urban trees
  • Providing Assistance and information to individuals and organizations managing urban forests in California communities
  • Publishing California Trees, a newsletter that explores current issues in urban forestry
  • Co-hosting the annual California Urban Forest Conference, attracting over 150 professionals to hear about current trends in urban forestry
  • Coordinating California Arbor Week, California’s annual celebration recognizing the tremendous value trees provide to Growing Happy Communities

Be informed, follow related happenings at the state capital, learn or find a California ReLeaf Network group near you at .

TREE MUSKETEERS Joins Vote with Your Mission

If all of us who work and volunteer in the environmental movement voted, wouldn’t we have better policies and funding for the environment?

That’s why TREE MUSKETEERS is proud to sign on to Vote with Your Mission, a new, nonpartisan voter initiative sponsored by the California Association of Nonprofits to get 100% of nonprofit staff and volunteers to vote.

Just think of what could happen if more people voted with the ideals and values that they bring to the nonprofit sector. Just think of what is possible if we are able to galvanize the power of the nonprofit community leading up to the November 2012 General Election.

So, all of us involved with TREE MUSKETEERS – staff, volunteers, and board – let’s do our part and vote on November 6. Make sure you’re registered to vote by the October 22 deadline. You can’t vote if you’re not registered!

Since its launch on May 1, Vote with Your Mission has picked up the support of a diverse array of nonprofits across California. We hope many other California nonprofits will join us in signing on to Vote with Your Mission today. Together, we can ensure that our voices – as citizens as well as participants of nonprofit organizations – are heard on Election Day. For more information and to sign on, visit