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Branching Out
Fall 2014


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In This Issue
Top 10 Trees
Featured Tree: Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn
Support Tree Care in Your Community
EAB's Takeover
Avoiding Winter Burn
Mulching and Leaf Diseases
Get to Know Your Neighbors
Featured Customer: Joanne Weber
RECAP: Tour des Trees

Top 10 Trees for Fall Color


 Are you looking to add some color to your fall landscape?  Check out some of our favorite trees and shrubs that are sure to add a little pop to your yard.


1. Gingko Tree:
Best for a big yard, gingkos put on a spectacular yellow show throughout the fall.

2. Smokebush: Also known as smoketree, this plant doubles as a shrub or a small tree.  As summer fades, long stalks spring from the plant's flowers and appear smoke-like before the entire bush turns yellow, orange, red or purple depending on the species.

3. Quaking Aspen: Another yellow beauty, this tree simply glows as the leaves change color in mid to late autumn. 

4. Sugar Maple:  Standing 75-feet tall and 40-feet wide, sugar maples turn shades of red, orange and yellow as soon as autumn arrives.

5. Autumn Blaze Maple: This very popular cross between a red maple and a silver maple turns a very predictable orangish red in mid-autumn.  This tree can be grown throughout Southeast and Central Wisconsin.

6. Staghorn Sumac: Pleasant to the nose and the eyes, this aromatic plant turns red and orange come autumn.

7. Chanticleer Pear:  This ornamental pear tree provides late season color in reds, purple and orange.

8. Tamarack (Larch): As one of the few conifers that lose its needles, the tamarack trades its blue-green needles for vibrant yellow ones in fall.

9. Honey Locust: Bursting with yellow color, the honey locust tree is a vibrant addition to fall landscapes across the state.

10. Red Maple: A Central and Northern Wisconsin staple with spectacular early season scarlet fall color, this tree grows best on acidic (low Ph) soils. Unfortunately, it is not suited to Southeastern Wisconsin.


Featured Tree: Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn


As far as fall goes, there are a few items at the top of everyone's list of favorite things: pumpkin spice lattes, apple picking and brilliant fall colors.  Adding its own fall flair to urban and country landscapes is the flat-topped thornless cockspur hawthorn.



Standing about 15-feet tall and 20-feet wide at maturity, the thornless cockspur hawthorn thrives in almost any environment, provided it is planted in full view of the sun.  Its adaptability to nearly all well-draining soil types, and high tolerance for pollution, make the tree the perfect addition to urban and inner city streets.


A year-round beauty, the thornless cockspur hawthorn's dark green leaves are met with clusters of white flowers, blooming in late May.  Later in the summer, the tree bears a bright red fruit that lasts well into the winter and serves as a source of food for birds and other wildlife.



But the time when the thornless cockspur hawthorn really shines is in the fall, as its leaves turn to a rich multi-colored array of red, purple, orange and yellow.  Serving as a four-season ornamental tree, the thornless cockspur hawthorn is an ideal accent, adding a little pop to the surrounding scenery.   

It's Budget Time: Support Tree Care in Your Community!

Budget time for 2015 is at hand.  As local budget hearings quickly approach, we encourage you to take the time to review the proposed city and county budgets in your area and take action to support urban forestry initiatives.




Local government tree programs help beautify our streets and make the city a better place to live for all residents.  Urban forestry initiatives are vital to creating scenic land and streetscapes, and can add substantial value to your yard or property.  It's time to take action and make an effort to include tree care funding on your political agenda. 


Tree Quote


"To plant trees is to give body and life to one's dreams of a better world." 


- Russell Page 

Contact Us


If you have specific concerns about your trees, please contact your arborist: 


Stevens Point (Mark/Paul) 



Wausau (Mark) 



Southeast WI - Mequon Office (Nolan/Ken/Jeff) 



Marshfield (Mark) 



Junction City/ Plover/ Nekoosa/ Wisc. Rapids (Mark/Paul) 



Waupaca (Paul) 



Season's Greetings!

Ken Ottman


As we settle in to the fall, the crisp cool air reminds us that winter is just around the corner. Trees and shrubs will once again be subjected to the brutal Wisconsin winter and may come out on the other side looking a little worse for wear. That is, unless you take a few preventative measures to ensure they'll make it through to spring.


In this issue of Branching Out, you will find tips to eliminate and reduce emerald ash borer infestations and winter burn on your trees, as well as some do's and don'ts for mulching this fall that will hopefully save you time and money on your seasonal cleanup. In addition to regular maintenance, we encourage you to take an extra step in your tree care plan by getting to know your neighbor! With a little extra effort, you can ensure that your trees remain top notch all year round.



Ken Ottman, Owner, First Choice Tree Care 

EAB's Takeover of Wisconsin


Earlier this month the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was found in yet another Wisconsin county. The tiny, green beetle was recently spotted in Rhinelander, adding Oneida to the list of 37 infested counties throughout the state. With more than half of the state's counties under quarantine, EAB continues to threaten to wipe out the nearly 770 million ash trees in Wisconsin's forests and urban areas.


Not only has the infestation spread from county to county, but we are also finding new infestations every day in the southern part of the state. EAB spreads easily from one tree to the next and has been known to hitch a ride on firewood, ending up miles from a previously known infestation. 


As we head into the cold winter months, pay close attention to the trees and wood around your home. Look for D-shaped holes and signs of woodpecker damage. Do not move firewood from one location to the next. If you are planning a trip, purchase your firewood once you have arrived at your destination, and be sure to use all of it before you head back home.      


Because infestations are difficult to detect in the first three or four years, we are just now starting to see the effects of these invasive beetles. With each passing year, the population will continue to multiply, causing the mortality rate of ash trees to reach nearly 100 percent.


First Choice Tree Care is offering a treatment plan that is 100 percent effective in the prevention of future EAB infestations and treatment of existing infestations. Now is the time to treat your trees and prevent the population from spreading. 



Avoiding Winter Burn

After last winter's polar vortex, you may have noticed some discoloration on your evergreens and shrubs this spring. The browning or yellowing of needles in the spring may be disease related, but it is much more likely a symptom of winter burn. 


As the evergreens bask in the sunshine all winter long, they lose water through photosynthesis. To replace the water they have lost, needles pull up water from the tree's roots. The problem occurs when the ground freezes and cuts off the tree's water supply. Without a sufficient amount of water, the leaves desiccate (dry out) and the leaf pigment, chlorophyll, is destroyed, causing the leaves to turn brown. 


To protect your trees, especially young evergreens, from winter burn, our arborists recommend having your evergreens and shrubs sprayed with an antidessicant like Wilt Pruf this fall. The treatment guards against moisture loss and will help minimize the effects of winter burn. In addition, continue to water evergreens and shrubs regularly until the ground is frozen so they have an ample water supply going into the winter season.

 Mulching and Leaf Diseases


One of the best things about fall is the brilliant colors of leaves everywhere you look. Unfortunately, every picturesque landscape eventually turns into one filled with bare trees and fallen leaves in need of raking. 


For all of you who dread spending hours raking up and disposing of leaves, there's good news! Mulching is actually a much more effective use of fallen leaves. Not only does it save you time and money on disposal, but it provides rich, organic nutrients for your soil, leaving your grass luscious and green come spring.



Before you go ahead and begin mulching, you will want to make sure that you are using only healthy leaves. One way to tell if the leaves are diseased is to monitor their changing colors. Different tree species begin dormancy at different times, but if you notice trees changing color and losing their leaves 4-8 weeks ahead of other trees of the same species, that could be a problem. This often indicates girdling roots, insect problems, disease or other environmental problems.


It is also important to examine a few leaves before mulching to make sure they are healthy. Look for signs of disease including leaf spots and unusual discoloration around the edges or near the leaf's veins. If you suspect that your tree may have a disease, give us a call.


Once a diseased tree is identified, it is best to remove all fallen leaves and needles. Diseased leaves should be removed or burned to reduce the chance of reinfection the following year.

How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?
Maybe you only see them a couple times a year, or maybe you see them a couple times a week. Regardless of the frequency, knowing certain things about your neighbors can be beneficial to you - things like, do they have a tree care service provider that is also an arborist?

If the answer is no, then you should be concerned. Diseases and insect problems can spread easily between trees and shrubs that are close in proximity. Oak wilt, Dutch elm disease and anthracnose diseases all have the potential to quickly extend from your neighbor's yard into your own. Not to mention, emerald ash borer populations are multiplying and spreading like wildfire. 

If your neighbors are not taking a proactive approach to their tree care maintenance, they are putting your trees in jeopardy. Without proper treatment for your own trees as well as the ones surrounding your property, you could end up with more damage than you should. Tree health is a community wide concern affecting everyone in that community. 

Protect your trees by forwarding this newsletter to your neighbors and/or talking to them about their tree care maintenance plan - or better yet, share their email addresses with us! You can send addresses to info@firstchoice.com and we'll be sure to include them on our newsletter distribution list, so they become better informed.
Featured Customer: Joanne Weber, Marshfield Resident



In the heart of central Wisconsin lies a city filled with small-town character that offers residents much needed relief from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life. Residents of Marshfield, Wisconsin enjoy taking a break from their daily routine to enjoy the countryside and explore all that the city has to offer. One such resident is Joanne Weber.


In August of this year, Joanne was told that a few of her trees needed to be trimmed. Joanne called upon First Choice Tree Care, who received glowing reviews from two of her neighbors, to come out and assess the situation.


After an initial examination of the heavily wooded property, co-owner Mark Pinkalla spoke candidly with Joanne about the job. He pointed out areas of specific trees where trimming could damage the integrity of the tree and provided alternative solutions and recommendations.


"I was thoroughly impressed with Mark's knowledge of trees," said Joanne. "He really seemed to know the do's and don'ts of tree trimming. He also calmed my nerves about having my lawn and surrounding landscaping ruined by heavy equipment."


"The crew of three young employees were very polite and took the time to answer all of my questions," she continued. "They were so courteous of my landscaping and went the extra mile to ensure that there was no damage to the area. From start to finish, the whole experience was fantastic. I would highly recommend the company to anyone who needs an honorable and trustworthy tree service."


Customer relationships are of the utmost importance to us. We are happy to partner with residents like Joanne throughout central and south eastern Wisconsin to help them meet their tree care needs.


Do you know someone who would like to share their First Choice Tree Care story? Get in touch with us at info@firstchoicetreecare.com and you could be featured in our next newsletter!

RECAP: Tour des Tree 


The Tree Research and Education Endowment (TREE) Fund officially launched its 2014 fundraising efforts with the STIHL Tour des Trees on July 27. The tour began as 85 cyclists took off from the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee and started their weeklong, 600-mile trek across Wisconsin. 


A resounding success, the event raised over $608,000 for the TREE Fund and generated awareness of the value that healthy trees bring to our communities. As a proud sponsor, First Choice Tree Care was honored to participate in this year's event!


Pictured from left to right: Dr. Bob Miller, retired UWSP professor and honoree; Christine Thomas, Dean of UWSP College of Natural Resources; Ken Ottman, owner of First Choice Tree Care; and Marlene Miller, wife of Dr. Bob Miller.

As part of the Stevens Point Tour des Trees reception, a tree was dedicated to retired professor and founder of the UW-Stevens Point Urban Forestry Program, Dr. Bob Miller. Rather than champagne, beer from the local Stevens Point Brewery was used to christen the newly planted tree.


For more information on the Tour des Trees, please visit http://stihltourdestrees.org/


Tree Resources