The trees

The Trunks of the garden
Trees, at the height of their maturity, whether they have deciduous leaves or are evergreen, are for fruit or decoration, constitute an important element of every garden, even those of limited proportions, where, with their majesty (which does not necessarily mean large dimensions) they give prospective depth and create intimate and refined corners. In summer the caducous trees offer pleasant shade, whereas in the winter, through their bare branches, they let the beneficial sun rays pass through. Evergreen plants, on the other hand, are especially appreciated in the winter months, when the garden does not offer much variety of color. Trees have a long life and put down deep roots. It is therefore important to choose, right from the start, the right tree for the right place and for the right purpose.

How to choose the right tree?

A good idea is to have or create a list of suitable trees for the area. You can also try asking the municipal service
for public green areas. Factors to take into consideration include the size of the tree, its shape and its speed of growth; whether it is caducous or evergreen, climactic adaptability, water and soil needs, resistance to illnesses, quantity of leaves, fruit or wastes produced. And also of course the ornamental characteristics of the tree: inflorescence, bark color, color of the leaves in the autumn as well as in the other seasons.

Is that all?

Once you have drawn up a list of candidates, it is a good idea to contact local nurseries: the list will shorten further still and you will be able to consider variables such as flowers, the moment of flowering or the autumn colors, so as to face the final choice. Finally you must find in the area a mature example of the chosen species, so as to have a look “into the future”. If the tree you choose is not immediately available, you need to be patient: better to have a healthy specimen of the right tree than to plant something right now at all costs.

When to plant a tree?

Caducous leaf trees (practically all fruit trees) and most ornamental trees are placed from the end of October until the end of March, according to the climate of the area. Evergreen trees are planted from October to November or from March to April, when the ground is damp but not frozen. Conifers are a special case, which lose their leaves after transplanting until their roots have absorbed enough humidity for the soil: they should be planted in March or April.
trees (practically all fruit trees) and most ornamental trees are placed , according to the climate of the area. trees are planted are a special case, which lose their leaves after transplanting until their roots have absorbed enough humidity for the soil: they should be planted

How to plant a tree?

If it comes from a nursery, planting must take place at the same depth as which it was cultivated. The collar, which can be identified by the mark left by the earth on the trunk, is the exact point that must remain at ground level after transplanting and after the ground has settled. Before planting it is necessary to perform a slight pruning of the end branches. The ground must not be too wet. Once the proper location for the hole has been located, hold the tree and the stake (best if there are two of you) and start filling up the hole, shaking the tree if necessary to properly settle the earth between the roots. Once the roots are covered, spread rapid-acting fertilizer, level the ground with a pitchfork and keep the area around the trunk free of grass. Finally, water if the ground is too dry.

Do all trees need a stake?

Yes, all new trees in the first years of growth need to be supported. A pointed pole in wood, plastic or plastified wood must be placed in the hole prior to planting.

How to water?

Trees with bare roots do not need any more water until two to four weeks after they start growing again. Trees coming from a vase or with (few) roots in a block of earth need regular watering until their roots have taken hold in the new earth. In the case of very hot temperatures, water every two or three days.

What do citrus trees need?

Citrus fruit trees are sub-tropical evergreen plants, find suitable living conditions in warm areas and can be used as ornamental plants. Lemon, orange and mandarin orange trees can be cultivated in small gardens and even on terraces, in large vases which in winter are taken in and protected (these vases must have a diameter equal to two thirds of the foliage of the plant). For all citrus trees the ground must be light, fertile, somewhat sandy and with excellent drainage.

Where (not) to plant a tree?

Avoid rapidly growing plants too near the house: the roots could damage walls and foundations. Trees are not just for giving shade: a large specimen in front of the dwelling in limited space may look out of place. In the case of groups of trees, the distance between them must be equal to one-half of the sum of the width of the two specimens. It is also necessary to take into account national and local regulations which limit planting near property borders.

When to prune?

It is a good practice to check the growth of the trees at least once a year. Overly protruding branches may be dangerous, especially if they fall outside your property. The foliage of large trees can be regulated with opportune prunings. To obtain balanced branching around the central axis and proper lateral growth several operations may be necessary. Plants which show excessive branch growth must be lightened up with slight pruning. It is a good practice to get rid of branches which are weak, dried out or damaged. Usually conifers are not pruned, unless the tree gives origin to two tops. It is also useful to get rid of the lower and dead branches of old plants, cutting them down to the level of the trunk. Deciduous trees are pruned after the leaves have fallen, which means from November to February. Evergreen trees, if necessary, are pruned in March or April.

Advice if felling is necessary

There are many reasons for felling: old age, illness, excessive growth, incorrect position. If the tree is very large and you are not sure what you’re doing, it is better to call in a specialist. For medium-sized trees a good technique consists in fastening a rope, obviously longer than the height of the tree, to a branch facing in the direction in which you intend to fell the tree (pruned as much as possible beforehand). Then use a chain saw to make a wedge-shaped cut, still on the opposite of the falling side and then make the tree fall by pulling on the rope. It is best if there are two of you, and dress properly with full-length clothing, gloves, heavy shoes (preferably cut-resistant) and of course a safety visor to protect against wood chips and other debris. Ear plugs or ear protectors will help you work better
with less noise.

Why a chain saw?

For hobby work, for pruning, for cutting wood for the fireplace, for felling, and cutting up a tree, for cutting a log into pieces. Just these things give some idea of their power and extreme versatility.

Is it difficult to use?

With a few instructions and a bit of care, absolutely not. Rule number one for using a chain saw is to relax. Rule number two is to learn right from the start how to use it safely. If you don’t have a more expert friend to help you put the advice in the manufacturer’s use and maintenance manual in practice, get in touch with  the shopkeeper. A good retailer will not sell you a chain saw until you have shown that you know how to tighten the chain properly, start the tool safely and hold it correctly. You can also always contact the retail outlet for sharpening the chain, periodic checkups and off-season maintenance.

Which model to choose?

The choice of model depends on the type of work to be done, its intensity and its frequency. There is a wide choice and it runs form electric models, designed for small private jobs, where silence, light weight and ease of use are needed, to models with petrol engines, which are distinguished by different displacements, power, shaft lengths and optionals. The models with smaller engine sizes, equipped with numerous solutions to ease starting and use, are ideal for the maintenance of garden plants, cutting firewood and for felling small to medium sized trunks. The more professional models are suited to frequent and particularly challenging jobs, such as felling, limbing and cutting up of medium to large-sized plants.

Are there chain saws for specific purposes?

Specific chain saws are available for pruning which are lightweight, compact and easy to handle, while being powerful
and fast, to obtain precise, clean cuts which do not damage the tree. They are equipped with a special handgrip with a rest for the thumb.

What safety devices are there?

Always ask for chain saws with anti-kickback chains, equipped with systems for the prevention of accidental starting
and inertial chain brake. This device is located in front of the front handgrip and automatically stops the chain in
case of kickback, which is the abrupt backwards movement which may be caused by an improper angle of approach of the tool - the tip, for example - to the wood.

How to start a chain saw?

The safest way is to place it on flat ground, making sure there no obstructions nearby and that the chain is not in contact with the ground, stones, rocks or shrubs. Then place one foot in the rear handgrip, activate the chain brake, insert the starter and press the starter switch. Placing the other hand on the front handgrip, pull the starting cord all the way out with a rapid movement. Once started, deactivate the starter and, after having disengaged the chain brake, push the accelerator a couple of times.

How does a pruner work?

By simply removing the head from a brushcutter and replacing it with this application. Basically it is a small chain saw, particularly suited to pruning work; thanks to the length of the transmission shaft it makes it possible to work up high while staying comfortably on the ground, without the need of ladders or mechanical means. The special profile avoids any chance of kickback effect, thus guaranteeing the utmost safety.

A final piece of advice, which could be the first

Consider technical clothing as a part of the price of the chain saw and only after having made this purchase, learn how to use it. Therefore, a cut-resistant jacket, trousers and shoes, helmet, gloves, safety visor and ear protectors must not be considered as optionals.
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