Casual bird-watching was a staple of my childhood. My family has always lived in areas with trees, so a couple of bird feeders and a birdbath attracts a lot of birds. Just today while doing my lunch dishes I saw some downy woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, cardinals, and sparrows just outside the window. Occasionally, we see more exotic birds like hummingbirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, and bluebirds.

Red-bellied woodpecker on birdfeeder

Obviously if you live in an area with no trees it’s going to be much harder to attract our feathered friends. But if you’re willing to put forth a little bit of time and effort, some relatively simple landscaping can make your yard much more more bird-friendly. As the Cornell Lab of Ornithology explains, there are three basic things that birds need: food, water, and shelter:

Landscaping for Birds

Putting up a feeder is an easy way to attract birds. But if you want to attract a wider variety of species, prefer your backyard birds to get a more natural diet, or wish to satisfy more than birds’ nutritional needs, …

A birdbath is a simple way to provide water for birds. We have a small heater in ours to keep it from freezing in the winter. When everything else is frozen over, the birds flock to it. As for food, you can purchase a variety of birdfeeders, though you’ll probably want something that is “squirrel-proof”. Now I know from experience that pretty much no feeder, no matter how it is marketed, is 100% squirrel-proof. But you can at least try make it a challenge for the squirrels to eat all of your seed.

Squirrel on birdfeeder

Sunflower seed is probably the most common birdseed, as most birds enjoy it. Goldfinches are particularly attracted to thistle seed, and you can also put out suet for the woodpeckers.

When it comes to shelter for the birds, that’s where the landscaping comes in. We’ve learned over the years that if our birdfeeders are too far away from trees or bushes the birds won’t come. They need to have a place close by to retreat to if they feel threatened. So, you will need to provide some trees, shrubbery, bushes, etc. for the birds to hide in. Here’re some tips:

Creating a Bird-Friendly Yard – Landscaping for Birds

The habitat you provide in your yard will influence the number and types of birds that you attract.   You can attract birds by adding bird feeders, nest boxes, and bird baths to your yard. … 

Some other things to consider are the kinds of plants and trees that birds are attracted to, and whether or not they might attract different birds as the seasons change. This article offers some suggestions:

Selecting Trees and Shrubs to Attract Birds

A good habitat requires several layers of plant material. This includes ground level, shrub level and tree level. Since different birds nest at different heights, several layers provide space for a variety of birds. …

And that’s it. Provide your birds with food, water, and some shelter, and they should be flocking to your porch in no time.

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Spring is (Sort of) in the Air!


Spring has sprung! Ok, I know it’s still cold today, but it’s officially been spring since Thursday, and the sun is out and birds are chirping! In a couple of weeks it should be about the perfect time to start in on some early spring tree care in Fairfax. Fruit trees, especially, require some extra work for very rewarding (and tasty) results:

Fruit Tree Care in Early Spring

Early-spring maintenance of fruit trees is important to start the growing season correctly and to prepare the trees for healthy, vigorous growth and an abundant harvest. Without early-spring fertilizing, pest and disease control, trunk protection, weeding and mulching…

As soon as we’re sure that no more frosts are coming it’s time to start preparing your fruit trees for the spring and summer months. One of the best things you can do is spray your trees to keeps the bugs off even before they’ve started budding:

“Fruit trees should also receive an application of dormant oil spray before they begin to bud out. Dormant oil is used to control or suppress scale and spider mites on apple and pear trees. Lime-sulphur is used for the same purpose on plum, peach, apricot and cherry. It will also help control peach leaf curl and plum pocket.”

Peach tree branches

For more tips on bug prevention, pruning, and more, read the following:

Spring Care of Fruit Trees

Spring care and maintenance of your fruit trees can reap rewards later in summer. Careful pruning, training, feeding and protection against disease and pests can result in larger, healthier crops. …

Why not use these last few days of cold to plan out how best to care for your trees this spring?

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Possibly Dangerous Trees


If we have a beautiful old oak tree in our yard many of us would be loath to remove it, even if it might be posing a threat. Sometimes it feels like a crime to chop down something that could be a hundred years old. But have you considered the consequences if the tree should fall during a windstorm? Falling on your own car would be bad enough, but what if it falls on your neighbor’s house, or worse, on your neighbor’s kid? Consider the following:

Is Your Tree A Liability? 

Do you have a tree on your property that has you wondering what would happen if it fell in a storm? What if it fell on your neighbor’s house? Would you have to pay for the damages? This question is asked a lot when wind storms are rolling in and out. …

Big tree

The difficulty is, of course, when to know that you need to have your tree removed. A few weeks ago we discussed this dilemma in the post “Should I Have My Tree Removed”? You might want to glance over that for a few thoughts on the subject. You can also read this article which tells you signs to look for that a tree might be in danger of falling:

6 Signs It Might Be Time to Remove Your Tree

Trees.  They’re shields of protection along the edges of your property. They’re Mother Nature’s masterpieces in your own backyard. They’re beautiful, comforting and unconditional-loving. They’re family. …

You need to be very careful when you examine your trees. Just because a tree is a little sick does not necessarily mean that it is in danger of falling. Some diseases make a tree look horrible but can easily be cured, with the proper care.

Common spring tree diseases – identification & management

You can’t deny it – warm weather, though not consistent, is on it’s way. And this change in the weather can bring changes to your trees as well, but not always for the better – they can introduce pests, make conditions ideal for bacteria & viruses, and encourage decay. …

Always examine your trees carefully before deciding that removal is the only option. But you must never underestimate the danger of a tree that could fall. When it comes down to the decision, do what you know will keep you and your family the safest – even if it means saying goodbye to a favorite tree.

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Landscaping on the Cheap


The thought of performing a large landscaping job can be a bit daunting at first. Most of us don’t think we have the talent to do it ourselves, or the money to hire a professional. But if you do some research on your own and learn enough about what you want, you have a much better chance of accomplishing a budget landscape. And, once you know what you’re looking for, you can start working with a landscape professional who will help you accomplish your goals. First off, check out these tips for saving money on your landscaping without getting swindled:

12 Money-Saving Landscaping Tips

Trying to get yourself a bargain on the plants, soil, wood, and rocks you need to build up your outdoor living area means making sense of the huge variations in prices among sources and regions. As if that’s not challenging enough, prices for many materials — such as lumber — fluctuate quickly and seasonally. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you shop for your yard. …

Landscaped flowers

I also found the following article rather interesting. It simply and straightforwardly tells you some things everyone should know about landscaping, but most people won’t tell you:

13 Things Your Landscaper Won’t Tell You

 1. Ditch the mower bag. Those grass clippings will become food for earthworms and microbes that will help make your lawn green and healthy. …

Finally, here’re seven ideas for buying plants and decorations that are affordable:

How to Landscape Your Home on the Cheap

Hardscapes, however beautiful, will kill your budget. Items like decks, patios, gazebos, and arbors always cost more than you think. However, there are many sophisticated landscapes that use recycled materials. Used wood, bricks, and even broken concrete can be inexpensive alternatives to pricey pavers and new materials. …

Good luck!

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Fallen Tree Uses


FirewoodMany of us have faced the problem of having a beautiful tree die or fall over in our yard. We then have to decide what to do with it. If you have a large dead tree that needs to be removed, you should always contact your local Fairfax tree removal company. Tree removal can be very dangerous and should usually only be attempted by professionals. If, however, the tree falls on its own, you have some options for removing it. Probably the most common solution is to chop the tree up for mulch or firewood, which can often then be sold. This article explains how to safely chop up a fallen tree:

What to Do when a Tree Falls Down in Your Yard

Anyone who lives in a house probably has trees near that house. That means that almost any time of year, there is a possibility of a sizable tree falling down in your yard. Trees fall during heavy snows or ice storms. Trees fall during heavy showers or when there is lots of wind. Sometimes, trees just fall down for no apparent reason. …

But before you chop your tree up for mulch, consider your other options. The following article lists thirty possible uses for a dead tree:

30 Uses for a Dead Tree.

If you logged on to your local Craigslist, chances are you’d see at least one household with a dead or recently removed tree, begging for someone to help reuse the material. “Cool,” you’d say, “but what would I do with a dead tree?” …

Sometimes youmay lose a tree that has some sentimental value. Perhaps, for instance, you have fond memories of playing in it as a child, or it was planted by your great-grandfather. If this is the case, you could consider doing something creative with the wood that would allow the tree to be memorialized, and so live on:

7 Ways to Give New Life to Dead Trees in Your Backyard

Growing up, the property neighboring me had a young pear tree that served many functions to the neighborhood kids. In the heat of summer it provided us with shade, it acted as our third base during softball games, and it gave us neighborhood fruit that we’d proudly carry in our shirts home to our mothers. …

Don’t despair next time a tree falls in your yard. Put a little bit of thought into it, and it could turn into a blessing!

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Tree Pruning DIY


Tree pruning can be a relatively simple do-it-yourself job. But before you begin hacking away at your trees there a few things that you need to know. First off, you need to know what time of year to prune:

When to Prune

This depends to a large extent on why you prune. Light pruning and the removal of dead wood can be done anytime. Otherwise, here are some guidelines, but recognizing that individual species may differ is important to remember. …

You also need to know the best pruning tool to use for your particular job. Lowes has a great video showing you the basic varieties:

If you’ve never pruned before, you’re also going to want to do a bit of research into appropriate pruning techniques, lest you accidentally damage the tree in your enthusiasm. This article should get you started, but feel free to do more research on your own:

How to Prune a Tree

Pruning helps trees grow strong and look neat and attractive. One prunes a tree to remove damaged branches, allow for new growth or create a distinctive shape. It’s important to do it correctly, so you don’t end up damaging the tree. Read on to learn the basics. …

And of course, some pruning jobs are just too challenging or difficult to do yourself. And that’s where your local Fairfax tree trimming professional comes in. It’s not worth falling out of a tree and injuring yourself just to save a few dollars. If you’re concerned about the difficulty of a job, don’t hesitate to call in the professionals.

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Celebrity Trees


I ran across this article today about ‘famous trees’ in films, and I had to read it. I thought it was an interesting and creative idea:

The Academy Awards—Trees in Film

Hollywood is only a few weeks away from celebrating one of the largest red carpet events of the year—the Academy Awards. The annual award ceremony will honor the achievements of actors, directors, and many others involved in creating motion pictures. With the faces of Hollywood being recognized for some of their best work…

It got me thinking about the idea of ‘celebrity’ trees, and what trees might be famous for. Different cultures set value in different things, so the reasons behind something being famous are quite widespread. This article shows a number of examples of famous trees, including their backstories:

10 Most Famous Trees in the World
Famous trees come and go. L’Arbre du Ténéré was once considered the most isolated tree on Earth, a landmark on caravan routes in the Sahara, until it was knocked down by a drunk Libyan truck driver in 1973. This year in August, the famous Anne Frank tree in Amsterdam was blown down by high winds during a storm. Luckily, there are still many special trees out there. An overview of the most famous trees in the world. …

I think, however, that trees earn their celebrity status most from how old they can grow. Did you know that there are some trees that have been alive for over 4000 years? That means that they were alive during the Bronze Age! To have lived for 4000 years of history….it’s rather unimaginable. But it’s happened:

MethuselahThe world’s 10 oldest living trees

There are colonies of clonal trees that have lived for tens of thousands of years, but there’s something majestic about a single tree able to stand on its own for millennia. These ancient trees have bore witness to the rise and fall of civilizations, survived changing climates, and even persevered through the fervent development of human industry…

If trees can live for thousands of years, then perhaps we ought to treat them with a little more respect. I don’t mean we all need to go out on wild “save the trees” campaigns. But perhaps we can start simply with practicing proper tree care with the trees in our yards. Who knows – maybe they’ll live another 3000 years!

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