Tree Care for Your Church

by Danny Shuler
St Thomas, Salem

With a few exceptions, the churches in the Diocese of Springfield have one thing in common, they’re pretty old. Old churches, with a few exceptions, have something else in common, they’re surrounded by old trees. Old trees can be a lovely site, they can also
be a hazard and costly to trim or remove. The cost of tree trimming or removal can be multiplied or even wasted, if the wrong tree care folks are hired to do the job.

A true tree care professional is called an arborist. A couple of old boys with a chainsaw, ladder, and a pickup truck, are not usually trained professional arborists. Don’t make that mistake. A trained arborist will know where and how to make proper cuts while trimming trees and, will have the proper tools and equipment to safely remove a tree that is past the point of trimming or needing chemical treatment. The true professional will be able to remove dead and/or hazardous limbs without further damage to the remaining tree. A well-trimmed tree will appear to the novice as though it had not been trimmed at all.

There are a number of tree care products on the market today. The most effective ones require a license to purchase and apply. Trained arborists who apply these products have taken training and are required to pass a test given by state or federal agriculture agencies in order to apply them. The tree care chemicals that individuals can purchase at your local farm store or on line are not usually worth your money and time.

The most common treatments for tree health used in our area of the mid-west are concentrated on the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle that has killed the vast majority of the ash trees here, and the Gall Wasp that is attacking the Pin Oak trees in our same area. It might be safe to say that the only ash trees still alive are the ones that were treated a few years ago. If you have ash trees in your church yard that have not been treated, plan on having them removed, the sooner the better.

The Pin Oaks in your yards can still be treated by injection and fertilizer if they are not too far along with oak gall. Have a trained arborist who treats these ailments in your area evaluate your Pin Oaks for gall and leaf coverage. Chemical treatments are not cheap, but they are considerably less expensive than a removal, and you cannot replace a fifty year old tree, Finding trained professional tree care providers in your town may not be as easy as pie. The internet will help. The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) is one area to check. Call their toll free number to find a member in your area.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is another option. Angie’s List, your local Chamber of Commerce, and the Illinois Commerce Commission is a good spot to find out if a local firm has insurance. When you find a company in your area, keep in mind a reputable firm will be a few, if not, several weeks behind. Someone who tells you they can be there tomorrow should be a red flag, so be cautious. Always, always, always ask for insurance. Get a phone number for their insurance company and call that number to confirm they are covered by both general liability and workman’s comp. insurance. Never take their word. And never hire someone to do tree work who knocks on your door unsolicited. And never, ever pay for tree work until they are done and you are satisfied.

By writing this article I am not trying to solicit your business, unless you live in the Salem, Centralia or Mt. Vernon area, and most of the folks who read this, don’t. We are too far away to help you out. On your way into church next Sunday, stop in the parking area and look up. Those are trees up there, they’re living breathing beautiful things. God gave them to us, let’s take care of them.


Danny Shuler is an arborist and a postulant in the Diocese