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Your Tree Removal Experts


At Stonaker Tree Service we are here to help you with jobs big and small.  From residential and commercial tree pruning and maintence to large scale excavation projects - we can safely protect and enhance your property.  

By John Stonaker, Dec 26 2019 03:44PM

While you want your trees to be as hardy as possible, some varieties of trees or special circumstances require a little extra attention to give your trees the help they need to make it to spring. While trees in central NJ tend to be hardy, in some cases, precautions should still be taken due to the chance of extreme weather.

Young or newly planted trees definitely need extra protection through their first few winters. Their roots are shallow and their bark is thin. There are other thin-barked trees, such as maple, poplar, aspen, and sycamore, that will need protection in colder climates or locations with high winds. If any of your trees are indigenous to climates warmer than your own, you should always provide them with special winter care. Finally, trees planted near roads or driveways must be protected from rock salt and plows that can damage them.

Take some or all of these precautions to keep your trees healthy through the winter:

Water well in the autumn. Besides hydrating the trees and keeping them healthier, water acts as an insulator because wet soil retains heat longer than dry soil does.

Remove any irrigation bags from the trees. Remember, these bags should be for temporary use only since prolonged use encourages roots to grow close to the trunk and provides opportunities for insect infestation and disease.

Stop fertilizing at least 6 weeks prior to the first frost date in your region. Fertilizer stimulates growth, and as the trees enter the autumn season, they should be transferring their energy to their roots, not to new growth.

Do not prune your trees in the autumn. Like fertilizing, pruning encourages growth. If, however, you are concerned that major branches are in danger of breakage from winter weather, talk to your tree specialist who can recommend the best approach, whether that be pruning, bracing, or cabling. Never prune major limbs yourself. Serious damage to the tree or property or injury to yourself or others could result.

After the ground has frozen, apply a 3-6” layer of shredded wood mulch around your tree to insulate the roots, but keep the mulch 6” from the trunk to prevent rot or cover for rodents or insects. The depth of the mulch depends on your climate zone.

Discourage chewing rodents with a barrier of ¼” mesh around the tree. Try to bury it 2” deep to prevent them from burrowing under it. Make sure it goes higher than the usual snow level so the rodents don’t just sit on the top of the snow and feast on your tree’s bark.

Certain trees may benefit from wrapping. If your trees are young, or if you have thin-barked trees that get strong winter sun, such trees may benefit from wrapping to avoid sunscald. Sunscald occurs when warm winter sun heats up the delicate tissue below thin bark, which is then damaged when the sun goes down and freezing temperatures return. Wrap these trees from the base to the lowest branches with tree-wrapping material. Your tree expert can recommend what is best for your tree variety.

If your trees are near a road or driveway, erect a barrier with burlap and stakes to protect the tree from splashes of melted rock salt and other road debris and to provide some defense against piles of heavy snow shoved onto your property by snowplows. A barrier of this type is also recommended if your trees are exposed to very high winds.

Certain basic precautions for all your trees, such as watering and mulching, as well as additional protections for particular needs will help your trees make it through the winter. Contact us here at Stonaker in Central New Jersey to see how we can help you.

By John Stonaker, Nov 26 2019 12:18AM

Pruning encourages growth. Therefore, the very worst time to prune is in the fall, just as your trees are getting ready for a long winter’s nap. During autumn and heading into winter, your tree is transferring its energy to the roots. By pruning now and stimulating growth, you’re dividing the tree’s energy and weakening it by causing energy to transfer to the new growth. As the cold weather comes, the new growth has not had time to harden and will be more likely to suffer in the winter weather.

Besides causing new growth at just the wrong time, pruning can further weaken the tree because the tree doesn’t have the energy to properly seal and heal the damage from the cuts. Thus, a tree that’s pruned in the fall is more susceptible to disease and insect infestation – especially since insects are also looking for a nice place to settle for the winter, and a fresh cut looks to them like a wide-open door with a welcome mat.

So when do you prune? The best time is in later winter or as spring approaches. The tree is completely dormant, but the time of new growth and vigor is coming soon. If you have your tree properly pruned by an expert, the tree will be shaped in such a way that the new growth will create a beautiful, strong, and healthy branch structure for the new growing season. The wounds will heal quickly since the tree is at its peak period of energy and vigor, giving insects and disease little chance to settle in.

If you’re set on pruning before the winter cold settles in, wait until the leaves have fallen – and then wait a little longer. In fact, wait as long as you can, in order to give your tree a chance to fall asleep and the insects and disease a chance to die off. Again, only trust a certified tree specialist for these jobs. Doing your own pruning can compromise your own safety as well as that of the tree.

The exception to the no-pruning-in-the-fall rule is if there are damaged, diseased, or dead branches. If so, be sure to have the branches removed before the harsh weather of winter sets in to avoid branch loss that could damage people or property. Contact us here at Stonaker to see how we can help you keep your trees healthy and your property and loved ones safe.

By John Stonaker, Nov 26 2019 12:14AM

The Emerald Ash Borer is a small metallic green beetle from Asia that, in the last 14 years, has killed millions of ash trees and threatens billions more in forests wherever this invasive insect has been found. You must take immediate action to protect your trees because the ash tree dies within 2-3 years of infestation. Pre-treating healthy trees is recommended, as well as immediate treatment of infected trees at the first sign of infestation. No time can be wasted, and treatment must be ongoing to keep this destructive beetle at bay.

The adult beetle does not harm people and does minimal damage to trees, except to lay its larvae under the bark of the ash tree. These larvae remain in the tree for 1-2 years, chewing through the wood right beneath the bark, called the xylem, which carries water and nutrients throughout the tree. As the xylem is destroyed, so is the tree’s ability to provide nutrients to its extremities, and it begins to die.

Signs of infestation

Look for the following signs of infestation:

• Tree canopy die-back: the tree dies from top-down because the xylem cannot carry water to extremities

• Leaves that look discolored or chewed, ragged on the edges because of adult feeding

• Exit holes on trees that look like a 1/8th-inch D-shape or half-circle caused by emerging adult ash borers

• Woodpecker activity as woodpeckers feed on larvae

• Paths called galleries on the inner bark from the larvae feeding on the inner bark and xylem – not visible exteriorly


Appropriate treatment depends on the level of infestation. If the tree has lost more than 50% of its canopy, treatment is not likely to save it. It should be cut down and chipped quickly to prevent spreading, preferably in the fall or winter when the larvae are dormant. All chips should remain local and wood can be burned locally as firewood.

However, if the damage is not yet that serious, you may choose to treat it. Treatment involves the application of chemicals – either by drilling holes and injecting chemicals into the xylem or by heavily treating the bark. These chemicals are then carried through the tree by the xylem, the very part of the tree the larvae feed on. Drenching the soil with the chemical is also a safe option if the tree is healthy enough to draw sufficient nutrients from the soil.

Young larvae are more susceptible than older larvae, so summer applications are more effective. However, if you discover the problem at a different time of the year, do not wait for further damage. Have the tree treated, but consider more frequent applications to kill the older larvae. Foliar spray can also be performed to treat adult or emerging beetles. Pruning of all damaged limbs should, of course, be a part of the treatment.

Pruning and the application of chemicals should only be performed by a licensed tree professional, for your own safety and the safety of your property.

If you have an ash tree and it still looks relatively healthy, don’t press your luck. Immediately contact a qualified tree service to begin treatment, because it is estimated that 99% of untreated ash trees will succumb to ash borer infestation. By preventing an infestation with regular treatment, you can save your tree and prevent the further spread of this invasive pest.

By John Stonaker, Oct 29 2019 10:05PM

Homeowners associations have many rules regarding the use of property, and that includes trees. Since trees are such a major part of landscaping and the environment, there needs to be a balance between what’s best for the community and the ecosystem and what’s best for individual members.

Trees have many benefits but must be cared for properly to avoid damage to people or property. Your tree specialist can help you care for trees on common property and advise you on proper care of trees in disputes among members.

Common tree problems in managed communities

Often in a planned neighborhood community, many young trees are planted close to each other to create quick curb appeal, but as the trees grow, they may become a nuisance or become diseased due to overcrowding.

Further, trees that are not properly pruned can grow irregularly, which can increase the risk of limb drop or even the whole tree falling. Those that are placed too close to buildings or hardscaping can grow into foundations or cause cracking in sidewalks or parking areas, creating a risk of personal injury and possible subsequent lawsuits.

Often a tree on one resident’s property can become a source of contention with another homeowner. Here your professional tree service can help by examining the situation and making suggestions to help satisfy both parties, if possible. If the neighbor objects to limbs over the property line, a proper pruning and maintenance program might satisfy that homeowner. However, if the tree is diseased or causing damage to property or a threat to life or limb, your tree expert can act as the unbiased professional who can explain this to the tree owner, possibly decreasing tension.

Proper Tree Care

A regular schedule of tree care can deter many of the problems mentioned above and correct problems at their inception before they become major problems. Regular upkeep can include:

• Regular pruning to maintain the health and beauty of the trees

• Regular fertilization and nutrient correction

• Supplemental watering during periods of drought or new plantings

• Pest monitoring and treatment

By taking care of your trees on a regular, scheduled basis, you will be increasing the value of the community property and decreasing the likelihood of complicated, costly, or dangerous issues associated with poorly planted or uncared-for trees.

By John Stonaker, Oct 29 2019 09:59PM

A piece of real estate, whether residential, commercial, or industrial, usually includes property that requires maintenance by a landscaper. It’s understandable, then, that many property owners assume their landscaper can also take care of their trees. However, unless the landscaping company is certified as a tree expert, it is very important not to entrust tree care to them.

What landscapers do

Landscaping tasks typically include lawn maintenance, weed control, pest control, fertilizing, seasonal planting and cleanup, mulch applications, sprinkler system maintenance, and shrub pruning. With so many services available, it’s understandable that property owners and the landscapers themselves consider tree care a natural addition to services rendered.

Why landscapers should not provide tree care

The equipment required for tree care is considerably different from that which is used in shrub pruning or lawn maintenance. Not only does tree care require more powerful tools, but it is also significantly more dangerous—to the tree, your property, and any people nearby. It also requires specialized training in pruning, disease control, and injury avoidance and repair. An untrained person can do significant damage, weakening your tree and threatening your property with possible limb drop or pest infiltration.

Because of the additional dangers associated with tree maintenance, tree services are required to carry special workman’s compensation insurance and liability insurance. Landscapers’ workman’s comp insurance typically does not even allow landscapers to step on a ladder as part of their work. Using a landscaper to care for your trees opens up the potential for injury to the worker and others, and could potentially embroil you in a lawsuit.

Finding the right contractor for the job

There is no doubt that landscapers provide valuable service. But just as you would not hire an electrician to fix your plumbing, don’t hire a landscaper to care for your trees. Your professional tree service can identify hazardous tree conditions, address needs for tree health, protect nearby property, and manage a safe job site, following industry standards. Your landscaper and your tree service can work together to create a well-orchestrated plan of care for your property.

If you are in the central New Jersey area, reach out to us here at Stonaker to help you maintain the health of your trees and the value of your property.

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