— Art & Aesthetics

As “Treescape Artists” working in and around Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Northern NM, we pride ourselves in being able to either subtly or not so subtly transform a landscape by working with the trees and shrubs, leaving a landscape that is natural, appealing, and safe to enjoy. With our low impact techniques and artistic sensibility, that transformation is usually not as far out of reach as you might think. We will work with you and your family to understand how you want to experience your wooded landscape and check in with you along the way to ensure our finish product exceeds your expectations.

Vistas – Who knew that transforming just two trees into firewood would give you a view to the distant hills? We specialize in selective removal of trees for revealing a hidden landscape you might not have known you had. We can work with existing vistas to maintain them efficiently, or create new ones.

Park-Like Setting – Some people like the wildness of grown over patch of woodland, and others find that having a slightly more tended woodland can be more inviting. By managing the understory, shrub layer, and downed woody debris we can transform your “back lot” into a “wooded glen” for rejuvenation and contemplation. We’ll even help you design and install trails, access, and benches using the natural materials already on your property!

Light Management – If you’re finding yourself becoming more claustrophobic as the forest slowly reclaims your house lot, we can help. By strategically removing limbs or whole trees at a variety of distances from your house, we can create a greater sense of expansiveness without turning your woodlot into a field. We can determine the paths of the sun in winter and summer, and clear for maximum solar gain, which is essential for your solar hot water or photovoltaic panels.

— Trimming
— Safety

Just like all other living things, trees have a life span, and there is a myriad of circumstances that can reduce that life span. A tree that has been stressed is more susceptible to irreversible insect infestation, fungal infections, and accidents – so the first step in the process is to determine whether or not your tree is stressed, and by what.

The earlier you detect a decline in your tree’s health, the less expensive in the long run it will be to deal with it. Often times there is nothing we will be able to do to “cure” a tree, but there are plenty of things we can do to reduce the chances of a catastrophic failure, or to prolong it’s life. Below are several things that may indicate that your tree might be in poor health, or might be susceptible to poor health in the near future. If you notice anything like this with your trees, don’t put off contacting us. An inexpensive pruning job now is much better than an expensive removal with a lift later.

Barren soil – If the soil around a tree is barren from vegetation or covered with pavement or other infrastructure, there’s a good chance the soil around the tree is compacted. This can make it difficult for the roots to do their job properly, causing the tree to decline slowly. Using compressed air we can “de-compact” the soil around the roots and in the process mix in a nutrient rich compost that will invigorate the roots.

Die-back – It is not uncommon for smaller branches to stop producing leaves on an older tree, but if you notice a large area of the tree no longer producing leaves, then something is out of the ordinary. This could also look like a thinning overall in the trees ability to produce leaves. We will be able to determine what’s most likely causing the decline, and recommend a course of action ranging from soil-decompaction to removal.

Mushrooms – There are hundreds of kinds of mushrooms that will grow on trees, and all of them indicate that some part of your tree is in poor health. They are often indicative of rotten areas in a tree due to too much moisture or other stressors, and surely point towards further decline. We can determine how much of the tree might be rotten and if it is in danger of failure.

Insect Infestation – Sometimes insects can be the cause of a trees poor health, and other times they can be an indicator of it. If we discover signs of insect damage we can determine what insect it is, and to what extent it will impact your landscape. From there we can create a plan to mitigate any hazards that could arise from those projected impacts. Some insects will only show up an affect your tree only after the tree has been in decline, such as carpenter ants. Woodpecker holes are the results of the birds going after ants in trees that are already rotten.

— Pruning

Anyone can cut a branch off of a tree, but it takes an uncanny ability to see into a tree’s future to be able to do it skillfully. How and where you cut a stem will determine if your cut will do more harm than good, so having the proper knowledge will go a long way in managing your trees for the future.

Fruit – There are a few right ways and many wrong ways to prune a fruit tree, and each fruit species gets a slightly different treatment. Access to fruit and supportive structure are a couple of common concepts to factor in, but did you know that branches can get “sunburned” with too much light all of a sudden? Or that the most effective structure for an apple tree is more like a Christmas tree than an umbrella?

We are happy to tend yearly to your backyard fruit trees, or your small orchard. We can even help you tame those unkempt fruit trees for more longevity and aesthetics. We also love giving people the knowledge to prune their own trees properly.

Aesthetics – Here at The Whole Tree, we think that trees are some of the most beautiful forms nature can take. With that in mind, what better pallet could we have as artists? We won’t trim your shrubs into Mickey Mouse, but we will carefully and tastefully reduce the vegetation in your hedgerow so it still looks natural, but no longer scratches your car. We will remove some interior branches in that maple tree off your deck to let in more dappled sunshine and to expose the beautiful arc of a particular limb or the distant hillside in a vista.

Tree Health and Safety – Trees have evolved over the millennia to “self-prune” in heavy winds or ice loads, by which a branch with a weaker connection will break off leaving the remaining tree with less surface area for the wind or ice to have an effect. If this didn’t happen, trees would not survive as they would snap at the trunk or became uprooted. With the trained eyes, and skilled discernment of an experienced arborist, we can reduce or remove those very branches so they are less likely to break, on a day when it’s not windy and your car is not parked underneath it.

— Limb Removal

In the forest when a tree is damaged or diseased, it either slowly decays branch by branch, or topples over all at once in the wind. This is usually not a problem except when your house is in that forest, or that tree is in your yard. Tree removal is occasionally the best option for eliminating the potential hazard of that tree failing and causing damage to your property. We do it just like nature does, either one branch at a time, or all at once, except we use specialized techniques and tools to make everything land right where WE want it to!

Felling – Often the safest and most efficient option for tree removal is what we affectionately call “basal pruning” (pruning it at the base!). This is only an option when the tree is sound, and not significantly leaning over any buildings, wires, or other such infrastructure. Occasionally an operation will require the use of ropes to ensure that the tree falls in the direction we are intending.

Climbing – Our most common and preferred strategy for removal, this involves getting into the top of the tree with a rope, and cutting the branches so they fall directly beneath the tree. This makes it easy to process the branches and is much easier to clean up after. In many instances, such as tight quarters, or in manicured yards or gardens, we will slowly lower each branch to the ground so as to not disturb the ground, vegetation, or infrastructure underneath. This is a slow and deliberate process, and is often the only way to not damage or disturb property.

Lift Removal – If a tree is decayed or damaged to the point where we have determined that it is not safe to climb, we will use a hydraulic lift. This allows us to access the tree from a stable machine safely and quickly in order remove the tree branch by branch.

— Selection
— Planting

Planting a tree takes a lot more than just digging a hole and just adding water and love. It also takes an understanding of the soils, tree and root growth characteristics, knowledge of how the nursery grew it, how to prepare the roots, where best to put it, and usually a lot more water and love than you’d think. Trees are extremely hardy plants but are on a different time line than most. Early stresses or improper planting may not show up in the health of the tree until 5-10 years later.

Transplanting – The process of taking a tree from one place and replanting it somewhere else, even large ones, is not as unreasonable as you might think. We used a specialized tool called an Air Knife to blow the soil away from the roots so as not to damage them more than is needed to remove the tree from it’s original location. This method has been proven to be the least stressful and is very effective on larger trees.

Choosing the Tree – Every species of tree has different characteristics, and every nursery treats their trees differently. Some trees are messy, others need a lot of water or do better in shade. Some nurseries do not remove girdling roots before selling them to you, causing decline years after the tree has been planted. This is why it can be very helpful to have a trained arborist involved in the process of planting your trees.

Preparing the Site – Did you know that most trees don’t have a “taproot”? Unless it’s growing in very sandy soil, most trees roots are within a couple feet of the surface. This common misconception, as well as the techniques used in removing trees at nurseries, causes even experienced landscapers to dig holes too deep and thus planting the tree too deep.

Installing the Tree – Removing the wire basket, burlap, or other container is critical, as well as exposing the roots to make sure there are no roots that have encircled the bottom of the tree while growing in a container (girdling roots). Many times it’s even advisable to remove all the soil from the root ball and prune the root structure, depending on how it’s grown. Planting a tree with the flared part of the trunk under the soil can cause major health problems down the road so it’s essential to get it just right, as well as adding amendments and LOTS of water to the soil when filling in the hole.

Monitoring – To get the most life out of your tree, we can’t overstate the importance of making sure it is stabilized properly, watered regularly, pruned to promote healthy growth characteristics, and watched for distress signs early on.