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As I drive around Helena, once condition exists more than any other, regardless of tree species: drought stress. Many of the shade trees in Helena are not native to this area. They come from a climate where water is more plentiful, so they require more water than they get during a normal year anyway. In a dry year, this requirement becomes life threatening. The dead branches you see on the tops of trees around Helena most certainly indicate drought stress. A sapling should have at least five gallons a week. Drought affects the very young, the very old, and stressed trees the most Not all trees require a professional arborist but they all require adequate moisture. The single most important thing you can do for your trees is to water them!

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Did you know that Dutch Elm disease has spread from the Midwest all the way to lovely Montana? The American Elm trees in Great Falls and Billings are already being devastated by this destructive pathogen. One truckload of infected wood brought to Helena would release enough Elm Bark Beetles to being the destruction of the entire American Elm Forest here as we know it. Elm trees can only be trimmed during the winter months when the disease is dormant. Failure to follow this simple principle, combined with improper disposal of infected wood has contributed to the spread of this disease. Once an elm is infected only immediate treatment by a competent arborist with extensive experience treating Dutch Elm Disease can save your trees. I can help you save your trees and make them less vulnerable.

In almost every neighborhood in Helena, you can see trees that have been "topped." This is an extremely dangerous practice which ruins your trees, depreciates your property value, and creates a hazardous condition for years to come. Once a tree has been topped there it is difficult to restore it to its natural condition. The new growth which emerges from the cuts is at most 50% of the strength of the original wood. Rot, insects, and other pathogens enter the tree. This continues until the tree has to be removed. A tree which has been "topped" adds no value to your property and can even detract from the value of your real estate; trees topped in the summer are especially vulnerable. Help put an end to this scourge and dont hire tree companies who top trees.

A healthy tree can easily add a thousand or more dollars to your property value. Let me help you with your trees so that you can make your yard a better asset for you.


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John Opitz
Helena, Montana

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Certified ISA Arborist

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