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Common Tree Myths in Alabama



Trees grow naturally and no maintenance is required. "Leave it alone and let it do its thing."


Trees living in the urban environment certainly need regular maintenance to ensure they are healthy, vibrant, and safe. As a Board Certified Master Arborist who inspects hundreds of trees each year; I can attest to the fact most trees are neglected and largely taken for granted. Generally very little $$ is invested in trees. Even most clients that claim they love their trees have no management plan for their trees. Most urban trees live in an environment of soil compaction, limited soil volume for roots to grow, low soil nutrient levels, and uninformed landscape maintenance practices that negatively affect them. This actually increases the need for tree maintenance versus a tree growing in the forest. 

Black ants (Carpenter Ants) are damaging my tree.


Carpenter Ants are one of the only two insects we use to positively identify decay in trees. They are basically moving into the decayed areas of the tree and creating a home or nesting area. Carpenter ants are not causing the decay or damaging your tree.

Tree canopy needs to be pruned because of roots being damaged / severed or ....Tree canopy needs to be pruned to compensate for root loss during planting.


This is actually backwards. Trees use certain natural chemicals (growth regulators) to regulate growth of the tree canopy and root system. In a way the tree canopy and root system literally talk with one another. If a tree has had a situation where the root system has been damaged or cut; the last thing you want to do is prune the tree canopy. When pruning the canopy in this scenario the tree canopy has less ability to communicate with the root system (because it has been removed) and these growth regulators cant be sent therefore causing the root system to not grow.

Apply black pruning paint on tree wounds or pruning cuts to help seal off the damage and prevent insect or disease problems.


This paint is available at most large hardware stores. Research has shown that this black pruning paint provides no benefits to the tree and actually causes more harm. Leave it on the shelf and tell all your neighbors.

Tree roots go down deep and is basically a mirror image of the tree canopy.


Actually the majority of all roots are located in the top 3 feet of soil. Yes...the top 3 feet of soil. They grow out laterally much further (a general guideline is  2.5 times the drip line of tree canopy where allowed) than growing downward. Most of the available nutrients, air, and water is in this upper 3 feet of soil. Locally; our clay, rocky soils also prevent roots from growing further downward compared to sandy soils. 

Trees should be topped to make them more safe. 


Please don't allow someone to top your tree. This is arboricultural dyslexia. A copycat practice that destroys the structure of your tree, introduces decay at the branch ends that were cut, and has been repeatedly spoken against industry wide the whole 20 years I've been in this industry! It does not reduce tree risk but actually increases future risk.

Trees close to the home should be removed because of safety concerns.


Large trees around your home will always pose some level of risk. A large limb could potentially fail and cause damage.The chances are greater of having a car accident driving to the grocery store than a limb or complete tree failing and damaging your home. Now we don't stop driving to the grocery store because we "might" get in an accident. You need to have your tree inspected for problems but removing the tree because someone tells you it is too close to the home is just plain wrong. I would rater have a huge tree 10 feet from my home than 50 feet away. Why? Call me for a tree consultation and I will expose this fear tactic as a myth.

Trenching or tunneling won't hurt that big old tree.


There is some false mind set that because a tree is big nothing is going to damage the tree. Now...I see a lot of trees and the older a tree is the less tolerance it has to damage or stress. Trenching or tunneling around a tree is something to avoid like the plague. No the tree won't be dead the next morning but it can begin the downward spiral of tree decline that leads to its death. I've seen trees die within a year and sometimes 3-7 years later or even longer. There are better alternatives that will save your tree. Call me. 

No problem adding soil or removing existing soil around trees. Roots grow in the "Dirt" and it won't hurt the tree.


Adding soil around existing trees during construction. Grading a site and adding back fill over tree rooting areas is never a good idea. If your tree looks like a telephone pole coming out of the ground instead of having its natural trunk flair around base of tree; you are going to have some problems. Depending on the amount of excessive soil and overall health of tree this could take years to negatively affect your tree. Know this... if not corrected; you will likely see the tree being removed.

Won't be "swinging in the shade" on this tree. Please don't allow someone to butcher your tree. Find a competent reliable service to properly prune your tree.

Need A Tree Planted for Your Home or Business?

Whether you need one tree or many we can help. Call today for a tree install consultation.


Have that tree installed correctly for the long term enjoyment and return of your investment. No one wants to waste their money or years of time. If the wrong tree is selected or improperly planted; it will never become that beautiful tree expected.

Trees to avoid and never plant in Birmingham, Alabama area.

  1. Leyland Cypress

  2. Red Maple

  3. Zelcova

  4. Bradford Pear

  5. Silver Maple

  6. Ginko Bioloba (female)

  7. Mimosa

  8. American Elm

  9. Paulownia tomentosa - Princess tree

  10. Ailanthus altissima - Tree-of-heaven

  11. Firmiana simplex - Chinese parasol tree

  12. Quercus acutissima - Sawtooth Oak 

  13. Melia azedarach - Chinaberry tree

Some of the Best Trees you should plant in the Birmingham, Alabama area.

Trees for the Birmingham, Alabama area in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7b, 8a

Shade Trees
  • Fraxinus pennsylvanica 'Urbanite' - Ash

  • Carpinus caroliniana - American Hornbeam

  • Acer buergeranum - Trident Maple

  • Pistachia Chinensis - Chinese Pistache

  • Ginko bioloba - Ginko Tree (Male Only)

  • Liriodendron tulipfera - Tulip Poplar

  • Nyssa sylvatica - Black Gum

  • Platanus acerifolia 'Yarwood'  - Plane Tree

  • Platanus x acerifolia 'Bloodgood' - London Planetree

  • Quercus lyrata - Overcup Oak

  • Quercus nuttalli - Nuttall Oak

  • Quercus phellos - Willow Oak

  • Quercus shumardii - Shumard Oak

  • Taxodium distichum - Bald Cypress

  • Ulmus parviflolia 'Emer II' Allee - Allee® Chinese Elm

  • Ulmus parvifolia 'UPTMF' Bosque® - Bosque® Elm

  • Ulmus parvifolia 'Athena' - Athena Elm

Evergreen Trees
* Large Shrub
  • Cryptomeria japonica 'Yoshino'

  • Ilex 'Nellie R. Stevens'

  • Ilex latifolia -Lusterleaf Holly

  • Ilex 'Emily Brunner - Emily Brunner Holly

  • Juniperus virginiana 'Burkii' - Burkii Red Cedar

  • Juniperus virginiana 'Brodie' - Brodie Red Cedar

  • Juniperus virginiana 'Idyllwild' - Idyllwild Red Cedar

  • Magnolia grandiflora 'Bracken's Brown Beauty'

  • Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem'

  • Myrica cerifera - Wax Myrtle

  • *Osmanthus x fortunei 'Fruitlandii'- Fruitlands Tea Olive

  • Thuja 'Green Giant' - Green Giant Arborvitae

  • Cedrus deodara - Deodar Cedar

  • Pinus palustris - Longleaf Pine

Ornamental Trees


  • Acer palmatum dissectum - Japanese Maple

  • Acer palmatum - Bloodgood Japanese Maple

  • Acer palmatum - Coral Bark Japanese Maple

  • Acer palmatum - Glowing Embers Japanese Maple

  • Cladrastis kentuckea - American Yellowwood

  • Chionanthus retusus - Chinese Fringetree

  • Crataegus viridis - Winterking Hawthorne

  • Vitex agnus-castus - Chastetree

  • Chionanthus virginicus - Old Man’s Beard Fringe Tree

  • Lagerstroemia - Crape Myrtle - Various

  • Cornus angustata 'Elsbry' - Empress of China Dogwood

  • Cornus x 'Rutdan' - Dogwood

  • Cornus x 'Rutcan'- Dogwood 

  • Malus x zumi 'Calocarpa' - Crabapple

  • Magnolia virginiana - Sweet Bay Magnolia

  • Prunus x 'Okame' - Cherry Tree

  • Cercis canadensis - Eastern Redbud

  • Cercis canadensis - Lavender Twist Redbud 

  • Amelanchier x grandiflora - Serviceberry

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