Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Tree Issues in Somerset?
- 2 Does the City of Somerset Provide Any Assistance in Tree Removal Problems?
- 3 Who Is Responsible For Fallen Tree Removal in Somerset?
- 4 How Does the Soil Affect Trees in Somerset?
- 5 Does Weather Affect Tree Health in Somerset?
- 6 What if Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines in Somerset?
- 7 How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in Somerset?
What Are the Most Common Tree Issues in Somerset?
You’re forgiven if you don’t put much thought into the trees in Somerset and the trees in your yard. Everything about the area is wonderful for a variety of big, happy trees. But some diseases are coming hard into Southeastern Kentucky, and this does include Somerset.
Emerald Ash Borer
The biggest current threat to local trees is the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Although it only affects ash trees, over six million of those in Pulaski County – the fourth biggest population in Kentucky. The good news is that the EAB infestation has “hit a plateau,” according to the Pulaski County Extension Agency.
It has just about decimated the ash trees in Colorado, and the beetle is now munching its way through 35 states, including Kentucky. The larvae tunnel into the tree, where they nibble at the vascular system of the trunk. Once they have matured, they exit the tree through a D-shaped hole that’s a tell-tale sign of the disease.
Another sign that an ash tree may have EAB is when woodpeckers are hanging out – they feast on the beetles, so they’re attracted to infected trees.
Bacterial Leaf Scorch
Pin oaks are vulnerable to bacterial leaf scorch (BLS), an epidemic that arborists have been fighting since the early 1980s. Leafhoppers and other tiny tree insects spread the disease, but for some reason, it does not spread rapidly. This is a good thing since BLS is a chronic and eventually fatal disease that attacks these native trees.
- Pin oak
- Red oak
- Red maple
- Sugar maple
- Silver maple
- London plane
Signs of BLS are leaves that turn brown early, so it’s most noticeable in the fall. Defoliation is another sign, and twigs and limbs eventually die off. Infected trees appear to leaf out the first year or two they are infected, but more branches usually die in the late summer. As the disease progresses, fewer leaves develop in the spring, turning brown earlier every year.
Rhizosphaera and Stigmina Needle Cast Diseases
Spruce trees are beautiful evergreens, but they are not well suited to the Somerset area. The Colorado spruce, typically Blue spruce locally, is not a good idea as these trees are at high risk of Rhizosphaera disease, not to mention the spider mites and bagworms that you sort of expect to see on spruce trees. Stigmina isn’t as common as Rhizosphaera, but the symptoms are so similar it’s hard to tell the difference.
These are fungal diseases that present small bumps on the tree needles. You can identify the bumps with a magnifying glass and confirm needle cast when you see them. Lower branches of trees infected with the disease turn purplish-brown or brown in the summer, then the needles fall off, leaving bare branches.
Needle cast diseases take hold during the wet weather that accompanies a Kentucky spring and spread via water splashing or wind-driven rain. It can take up to a year from infection for the symptoms to appear, so when you notice the dead needles, the disease is well underway.
The best way to combat this is to plant something besides Colorado spruce trees.
Does the City of Somerset Provide Any Assistance in Tree Removal Problems?
The city will remove any trees that are deemed hazardous to traffic or pedestrians, even if they are on private property. It’s a good idea to have our tree specialists inspect your trees annually to ensure that none of your trees are at risk for a free city trim. While that may be appealing economically, remember that a city crew is pruning for efficiency, not aesthetics. Be proactive about your trimming, and you won’t have to hire our arborists to come and repair the looks after the city has left an unsightly mess.
The city of Somerset will collect fallen leaves in October; just call 606.679.1106 to report that you have readied yours for pickup.
Who Is Responsible For Fallen Tree Removal in Somerset?
Trees are occasionally tricky things when it comes to who’s responsible for them. Big trees like pin oaks may be well inside your property boundary but provide shade that your neighbors depend on over their patio. That same tree could have a root base that extends to their driveway, causing it to buckle and be a hazard on their property. How do you manage trees that aren’t yours, exactly, but have an impact on your land?
If you’re a homeowner?
You might be surprised to learn that if your tree falls onto your neighbor’s house, you’re probably not going to have to pay for the damages (it would be a nice gesture, but it’s not legally required). Kentucky statutes say that sort of incident is an unforeseen “act of God” and that you could not have reasonably known the tree would collapse during a weather event (usually the impetus for the act of God ruling). On the other hand, if the tree in question is diseased or dead, it’s completely your responsibility to pay for the damage. Negligence is not an excuse – your trees on your property are your responsibility to maintain.
There’s another instance where you would be responsible, and it’s the polar opposite of negligence. If you decide to get out your chainsaw and prune the tree yourself – typically not a good idea – any damage to your neighbor’s property from falling limbs is yours to amend.
Check your homeowner’s policy to make sure it covers tree negligence.
If you’re a renter?
Your landlord is responsible for any tree damage that results from any events that happen to the property or is the result of one of your trees falling over. If you did something to stress the tree, that’s between you and the landlord, but they are on the hook for any damages.
If you’re a landlord?
Since any trees are part of your property, you are liable for any damages that result from their falling. Maintaining any trees on your rental properties is just good business – healthy trees help your property values increase.
If you’re a neighbor?
The state of Kentucky believes that anything that crosses the boundary line to your property is yours. In this case, you can do whatever you like to the portion of a tree that is on your land. This gets a little complicated when a large portion of the tree and roots are in your yard. Since you are not allowed to lessen the value of the tree via pruning, the best course of action is to agree on who the tree’s actual owner is so that nobody gets sued.
How Does the Soil Affect Trees in Somerset?
Kentucky is rightfully renowned for having some of the best soil in the world, and Somerset does share in that particular bounty. The dirt here – Lake Cumberland soil as opposed to the Crider soil further upstate – is a deep silty loam with lots of limestones, making it just about perfect. The pH levels are also about perfect; the majority of the soil in Pulaski County is neutral. This means that it’s balanced between acidic and alkaline, so just about anything grows.
Does Weather Affect Tree Health in Somerset?
Weather is not really a factor for trees here except in extreme conditions – a strong storm with lots of wind may cause some damage, or a winter freeze with an ice buildup on branches can cause the heavy limbs to fall on power lines. But drought isn’t an ongoing concern here, although sometimes, the city will restrict watering in the dry summer months.
The real threat to the trees here is climate change. As the temperatures get warmer, some trees that thrive in a colder environment are dying off – sugar maples are a prime example. The American beech is also at risk for dying off in southeastern Kentucky as well. As this happens, trees in the South are thriving in the area, so expect to see more trees like the Southern magnolia.
A second issue with climate change is that the growing season is getting longer, which means that pests have more time to breed and infect trees. In particular, the spider and mites that munch on spruce and hemlocks are a problem in a warmer and drier climate.
What if Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines in Somerset?
The South Kentucky Rural Electrical Cooperative Corporation (SKRECC) will take care of any trees that hinder or threaten power lines in Somerset. They recommend that before you plant a tree, find out how tall and wide the tree will be at maturity. If it’s going to be within ten feet of overhead lines, move it back. Also, don’t plant anything that’s within six feet of the meter.
SKRECC has the same approach to pruning as the city of Somerset – they don’t really care how the tree looks, only that power crews can safely get to the lines. If you care how your trees look, have our arborists prune them to the SKRECC standards so that they don’t look lopsided.
How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in Somerset?
The average cost to remove a tree in Somerset is about $600, but totals can run anywhere from $150 to $1,900 or more. Three fundamental factors go into the cost of tree removal, and our arborists need to inspect the tree to give you a realistic estimate.
Like any emergency service, the urgency of the request determines the cost. In other words, that dead tree near the driveway will be a lot cheaper to move now instead of when it’s in the driveway and blocking your cars, Or worse, on the garage roof and threatening your cars.
The overall size of the tree is the primary factor in determining cost. An old oak tree, tall and wide, will cost more to remove than a short one. But a tall skinny tree will cost more than a fat one since our crew can’t climb a skinny tree, and our arborist will have to use more equipment.
Location, location, location. Trees in Somerset can get pretty big, and one with a lovely leaf canopy has an equally lovely and extensive root system. If it’s near the house or another structure, our arborist needs a light touch with pretty heavy equipment, which takes more time, skill, and safety equipment.
The health of the tree is the third factor. It’s counterintuitive, but the healthier the tree, the cheaper to remove. Why? Because our crew can climb a healthy tree and the removal is pretty basic. A dead or diseased tree is dangerous to climb, so they need to rent more equipment and more of our staff to operate it. Sick trees also have to be carefully removed from the site as preventing the spread of disease is a part of the service. With a healthy tree, you can have it chipped into mulch or turned into firewood on your property. The only thing you can do with a diseased tree is burn the carcass.