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A Northeast Ohio Gem – Check Out the Fall Colors at the Hachs-Otis Nature Preserve

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Almost every autumn, I make the short trek out to Willoughby Hills to visit the little-known Hachs-Otis Nature Preserve and take the short loop trail out to a spectacular view of the Chagrin River valley. In the fall, when northeast Ohio’s trees are in their full glory, the steep shale cliffs and brilliant forests provide contrast to the rushing river and cracking canyon walls of Hach Otis State Preserve.

Along the short boardwalk and trail that leads out to the overlook, you’ll pass some spectacular trees. Then, before you know it, you find yourself at the clifftop opening where your eyes are treated to a wide panoramic view of the trees & river before you. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and to take plenty of photos!

How to Get There: Hachs-Otis Nature Preserve is located at the end of Skyline Drive, a short dead-end street off of River Rd (Rt 174), just north of Chardon Rd (Rt 6). If one takes I-90 to the Rt 91 (SOM Center Rd) exit (1st exit on I-90 East after the I-271 merge). Take Rt 91 south to Rt 6, turn left and drive east to River Rd (Rt 174). Skyline Drive will be the very first street on your left. Drive down to its ending at the Hachs-Otis Nature Preserver parking area.

Click Here for a Brief Hachs-Otis Video

The preserve is managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. Click Here to Check Out the Hachs-Otis webpage.

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Your Trees Are Thirsty, Too!

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Trees & Water.14Immediately after planting, all tree roots are in the original root ball or container area. Until new roots grow out & into the surrounding soil, water the original root ball area and just beyond. This area may dry out faster than the surrounding soil, so check the moisture in this area frequently for the first 1-2 months after planting. Overhead spray irrigation systems and natural rain falls are usually insufficient to thoroughly wet them.  Water must be directed on the transplanted root ball and applied slowly for absorption.

New trees need approximately 15 to 20 gallons of water at the time of planting, depending on how dry the soil is. Water twice a week for the first 2 weeks and once a week thereafter.  Stop if 2 inches or more of rain falls within a day or two.  Resume watering one week after rain stops.  Continue to water in early spring, late fall or even winter when temperatures are over 50 degrees and breezy.  If in doubt feel the root ball.

Trees & Water.15Watering is best accomplished by hand with a hose, bucket or setting up an irrigation system with specific emitters applying water directly around the stem for each individual plant. There are a variety of watering “bags” available that usually hold 20 gallons of water, and work great during hot summer months.

When using a hose, turn down the water pressure or force to 25% or fill a 5 gallon bucket with water after it is drilled with four 1/4 inch holes, one inch apart on one side and place next to the stem.

For shade, flowering and evergreen trees 8 to 15 feet in height, apply 10 gallons slowly.  Using a 5/8″ hose with an average of 40 pounds of water pressure it takes about 4 minutes to generate 10 gallons.  At 25% force or 10 pounds pressure it will take 12 minutes for each plant.

For shrubs and evergreens 2 to 6 feet in height apply 5 gallons slowly.  At 25% force or 10 pounds pressure it will take 6 minutes for each plant.

For a few annuals, perennials and ground covers apply 1 gallon slowly.  At 25% force or 10 pounds pressure it will take 1 minute per plant.  Since plants are small, water will saturate surrounding soil and keep plants from drying out quickly.  For many plants, use an overhead sprinkler or automatic irrigation system.  Apply 1 inch of water uniformly over the entire planting bed.  At 40 pounds pressure it will take 30 minutes for each area.


In summer, most people water their lawns, but often forget their trees!  A good, lush green lawn may require more frequent watering than established trees and shrubs, but it is possible to properly water your lawn while at the same time not meeting a tree’s needs.

It is recommended that established trees and shrubs get 1″ of water over their root zone every 7-10 days.  Natural rainfall may accomplish this on occasion, but our typical summer doesn’t provide adequate amounts of rain all the time.

Trees & Water.16Slow soaking is best, reducing wasteful runoff and evaporation loss.  An accurate way of measuring how much water you have applied is to place a sprinkler in the areas you wish to water and then place a container(s) with straight sides—such as a coffee mug, metal can, or plastic container – within the coverage area of the sprinkler. Then, turn the water on until 1″ of water has accumulated in the container, using a ruler to measure the depth of the water.

Be sure to cover as much of the area beneath the branch spread of the tree as possible.

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ENT or Groot?

Tree ENT or Groot - Bulgaria 2016-06-02.01Could this be an ENT, the race of beings in J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy world Middle-earth?

Or could this be Groot, the fictional superhero appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics and a fan favorite in the animated movie, Guardians of the Galaxy.

Well, actually, this 65 foot beech tree was found in the Balkan Mountains of Bulgaria.

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Trees are Essential to Thriving Cities

Rich Cochran, President & CEO of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, presents a Ted Talk in which he shows how communities reflect the laws of biology. Hi discusses how trees are the essential natural asset for all healthy human communities, and how we can design an enduring and prosperous region by observing a foundational law of biology.

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Spectacular American Elm Connects Property’s Past to the new South Euclid – Lyndhurst Library

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For nearly 100 years, the Forest City Tree Protection Co operated on South Green Rd in South Euclid on the grounds of what is now the new South Euclid – Lyndhurst Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. Although almost all evidence of their former presence is gone, a towering American elm tree remains thanks to the efforts of the tree care firm and its three generations of the Lanphear family ownership. And thanks to the its current owner and president, Lauren Lanphear, the elm will be cared for and protected for years to come.

Last year, when construction of the new library was at its earliest stages, the magnificent tree was in need of some critically needed care and attention. Roots of the tree were damaged during the demolition of buildings on the site, and during the excavation and grading of the land for the library and parking lot. Part of that work involved removal of four to five feet of soil from around the tree. The “stressed” root system weakened the tree, which led to nutrient starved branches, and wilting and off-color leaves.

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Nick Burnett, a Certified Arborist with the Forest City Tree Protection Co, applies the 2015 annual fall fertilization in preparation for the grand opening of the new South Euclid – Lyndhurst Library.

A tree preservation plan was developed by Lanphear to protect and rejuvenate the root system, and protect the tree from the fungi that causes the lethal Dutch elm disease. Natural root bio-stimulants were applied to the base of the tree to restore the biological life in the soil. A growth regulator was administered to redirect energy toward root development and stress tolerance. A direct sap stream injection – the equivalent of an I.V. for trees – was also part of the treatment. The injection will continue to protect the tree from the Dutch elm disease for the next two years, until it will be due for re-treatment. Finally, last fall it was provided a soil injection application of slow-release fertilizer.

All these services were provided free of charge. “This is our gift to the library and community,” says Lanphear. “We want this tree to be around for another 100 years.”

A commanding presence at the new library, “This is a very unique elm,” Lanphear says. “You won’t find many of them of this size anymore. Sadly, most have succumbed to Dutch elm disease.”

Lanphear, a past president of the International Society of Arboriculture, has a very personal connection to the elm. The tree was planted around 1916 by his grandfather and founder of the family tree care business, William P. Lanphear, Jr., when he moved the company from Cleveland to the site on South Green Road. The tree became a fixture at the site, which contained two family homes and three business buildings. The majestic elm was cared for by Forest City Tree Protection for nearly 100 years, until the land was sold to the library system in September of 2012. The company relocated to Beta Drive in Mayfield Village.

“In part, we are providing tree preservation services for sentimental reasons,” admits Lauren Lanphear, a Certified Arborist. “This historic tree has been around for longer than I have been alive. We have grown up around each other.”

In preparation for the Grand Opening, Forest City Tree Protection came out on Thursday October 15 to apply this year’s fall fertilization.

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The brilliant fall color of this American Elm frames the view of the new South Euclid – Lyndhurst Library.

Revitalizing and maintaining trees are hallmarks of the Forest City Tree Protection Co.  The company is internationally recognized for its expertise in providing year-round tree care services. Additionally, Lanphear was recognized by his alma mater, Hiram College with its 2015 J. J. Turner Society Award, presented each year to an alumnus who has made a significant contribution to the field of biology and for their work in the life sciences both nationally and internationally.

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Spotting Dangerous Trees and Limbs

Back in June 2015, Lauren Lanphear was interviewed for WOIO Channel 19 in Cleveland about steps one can take to reduce the risk of storm damage to your trees.  Recently, Rachel DePompa, On Your Side investigator with WWBT NBC12 out of Richmond, Virginia used footage and quotes from that June 2015 story to create her own story.

Spotting Dangerous Trees and Limbs

by Rachel DePompa

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Fallen trees and limbs are very familiar in storms around Virginia.

Experts say you should trim your trees every two to three years. You simply need to take a good look at the trees around your yard. There are often signs that can help you figure out which ones are in danger of coming down.

Video: Spotting Dangerous Trees and Limbs

It can get dangerous, fast, but some yard work can prevent that. Lauren Lanphear, owns a tree protection business and can easily spot the signs of trees at risk.

“Look at your tree for dead branches,” Lanphear explained. “If there’s dead branches, they’re going to be more brittle. If the bark is starting to come off, that will be more brittle.”

Falling branches can cause just as much destruction as falling trees.

“When a wind blows through, branches that may be dead or structurally weak that are catching the wind can become potential hazards, breaking off, falling onto houses, cars, driveways,” Lanphear said.

Another tip, check how much room your trees have around them. Branches shouldn’t be scraping your house or touching power-lines when it’s windy.

Lanphear recommends giving power-lines 10 feet of clearance at the top, and pay attention to the shape of the tree too.

“What might surprise people, branches that come off at a narrow angle tend to be weaker,” Lanphear said. “Like a V-shaped connection tends to be weaker than trees that come straight up at 90-degrees off of a trunk.”

If a tree comes down in your yard you should call a professional for help because if that tree is touching an electrical line it could still be very dangerous.

Copyright 2015 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved

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Protecting Trees from the Harsh Winter Ahead

WinterPlantProtection.01The “Farmer’s Almanac” predicts another major winter. I recommend several steps for people in the Greater Cleveland area to protect their trees from weather stress and injury.

Winter Snow Damaged Trees.01The polar vortex that enveloped much of the country last season caused significant damage to the tree population in Northeast Ohio, from breakage during heavy snow and ice storms to winter burn from harsh winds. Fortunately, we can do something now to prepare our trees and shrubs for what winter may bring.

Forest City Tree Protection recommends the following:

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  • Mulch – Add a thin, protective layer of organic mulch around your tree in the fall. This will help retain water and reduce stress from temperature extremes.
    • Water – Give your trees a drink. Winter droughts require watering as much as summer droughts. Occasional watering during the winter on young trees is recommended, but be sure to water only when soil and trees are cool – not frozen.
  • winter-tree-workPrune – Winter is one of the best times to prune trees:
    • Our best, full-time arborists are available at this time of year, ensuring that your work will be done in the professional manner we have provided since 1910.
    • During our slower season we offer special “Winter Rates“. For a no-obligation winter rate pruning inspection, call 440-421-9589 or 216-381-1700 or email
    • Without vision obstructed by foliage, it is easy to spot weak, broken, rubbing, interfering and obstructing limbs.
    • The felling of trees and dropping of limbs on firm ground does minimal damage to lawn areas. If needed, equipment is more easily driven onto frozen & firm lawn areas.
    • The spread of contagious diseases such as fireblight on crabapples and Dutch elm disease on American elms is prevented. Destructive insects and diseases that spend the winter in deadwood are destroyed.
    • Unsightly and hazardous branches are removed before the landscape setting is at its peak of beauty in spring and summer, and before the lawn is in use.
    • Flower beds or gardens under a tree may be damaged by summer pruning, but are not harmed Pruning Shrubs.01when pruned in the winter.
    • Shrubs and hedges, such as privet, can be reshaped and the size controlled. When done in summer, some shrubs may appear “woody” for the season. Winter pruning allows shrubs to leaf out full in the spring, for a better appearance.
  • Prevent Injury –  Heavy ice and snow accumulation can split or break branches, and animals cause harm by rubbing or chewing on trees. Protect young trees by wrapping the base in a plastic guard or a metal hardware cloth.
  • Winter burn – Winter burn is a common injury that occurs on many evergreens, resulting in dead or brown patches. Applying an anti-desiccant spray before the end of the year on broad or narrow-leafed evergreens can significantly reduce moisture loss during the winter months, maintain the evergreens’ natural color and protect from salt damage.

It’s believed record heat in 2012 combined with above average rainfall in 2013 created conditions ripe for stressing trees in the Midwest last winter.

EvergreenTreeInWinter.01.jpegEvergreen shrubs, rhododendrons and yews showed noticeable dieback, with many boxwoods not surviving into the spring of 2014. The buds of Sugar maples were killed or delayed, reducing sap flow that hurt the maple syrup industry. Other tree species were slow to leaf out and although not dead, they did not look healthy for most of the year.

Evergreen trees and shrubs are at additional risk this winter because they continue to evaporate moisture due to dry winds. When the soil is frozen, the water doesn’t get replaced. For this reason, I strongly recommend our Winter Protection anti-desiccant spray before the end of the year on broad or narrow-leafed evergreens.  It reduces moisture loss during the winter months, helping to maintain the natural color of your evergreens and protect from salt damage.

Still, trees and shrubs have the ability to survive a severe winter if provided the proper tree care. For further information call 440-421-9589 or 216-381-1700 or email  For more information about the proper care of trees and shrubs:

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