July 2023 Treecologist Tribune

An Ideal Growing Season

During late May and most of June, we saw increasingly dry conditions. We had less than an inch of rain (some areas had none), most of which fell during the weekend of May 27. Luckily, June was not too terribly hot. There were a few peaks here and there (notably on the 16th and 25th), but overall the weather has been quite tolerable compared to previous growing seasons.

The rain changed dramatically on the week of June 19 when we saw continuous rain for many days. Depending on your location, you may have registered as much as 5 inches during this rainy spell!

All of this is good news for trees and shrubs, especially those planted this past dormant season. We are in the midst of an ideal growing season, something we have not experienced for several years.

Because of this, we are likely seeing later pest emergence and lower pest pressure than usual. Bagworms and Japanese Beetles are just now emerging and appear to be in smaller force than last year. Speaking of pests, the period during which we can inoculate Ash trees against the Emerald Ash Borer is almost over. If you have a tree to be inoculated, please let us know so we can schedule your work immediately. Read more about the Emerald Ash Borer and the harm it is causing in North Carolina.

This month I’m addressing a topic from one of our clients. Jerilyn wrote:

“We (and the neighbors) liked the electric chain saws that L&L uses. They are quiet and effective! I know the chipper creates a racket, but that is the nature of the beast. I believe they are less efficient, but electric blowers cleaning up debris are much quieter without the emissions (especially from the two-cycle engines). Maybe Basil could reflect on this, because the transition can be expensive.”

Yes, I would love to reflect on our use of electric tools; thank you, Jerilyn! (Note to other readers: if you have questions or want to hear more about a topic, please email us – we read every single email we get!)

Several years ago, we decided to transition to electric tools, back when the market for professional electric tools was emerging (it is still very young). We spread out our purchases to help with cash flow and were able to recoup some of the expenses by selling our old equipment. There are risks associated with being an early adopter, and prices are generally more expensive. But we believe strongly in the merits of electric tools and wanted to put our money towards supporting this endeavor. There are four reasons why:

  1. First and foremost, they are safer for of the health our staff. We love that they do not vibrate as much, reducing the likelihood of carpal tunnel. Also, they do not emit the harmful exhaust that comes from most gasoline-powered equipment. That exhaust is loaded with pollutants that cause health issues like cardiovascular disease, stroke, respiratory disease, cancer, and neurological conditions. 1 This is nasty stuff you do not want to breathe. Worse yet, power tools emit more pollutants than a full-size pickup truck! 2 If you have ever worked with a power tool, you know how hard it is to avoid breathing in this exhaust. Electric tools completely eliminate these harmful impacts.
  2. Second, they are easier to use. They start with the push of a button (no pull cord or choke necessary), making a far more manageable experience for the user. It’s annoying to pull-start a chainsaw while in the canopy of a tree! They also have far fewer moving parts, which reduces the work required for maintenance and general repairs.
  3. Third, we like that they have fewer CO2 emissions and pollutants contributing to local air quality alerts. Helping reduce our negative impacts on the health of this beautiful planet is a top objective at Leaf & Limb.
  4. Finally, to everyone’s delight, they are so much quieter. It is a standing joke at Leaf & Limb that no matter where you travel in the Triangle during a day in the growing season, there will be at least one power tool creating noise pollution. The constant drone of mowers and blowers is a nuisance, and we don’t want to contribute to this. Reducing noise also makes for a more pleasant, less stressful work site. We enjoy our quiet work sites where we can easily communicate with one another r and our clients (and listen to the birds sing).

Still, electric tools are an emerging market. Battery life is good but could be better. We carry a lot of spare batteries, and managing the charging station at our office is relatively easy but can be a bit cumbersome. The blowers work for 95% of situations, but sometimes we need the power of a large, gas-powered blower. Although electric chippers are not available yet, there is some promise of engineless chippers run by high-powered hydraulics in the future.

The industry for electric tools is still young, but as popularity increases, so will their performance. Recently, Stihl announced the arrival of a new electric top-handle saw, which is exciting. But, even without future advancements, we still find electric tools far superior to gas-powered ones. If you want to know more about which tools we love best – please do not hesitate to reach out.

Well, y’all, the longest day of the year has passed, which is hard to believe. We are on the steady march to Winter Solstice. Time is moving so fast – don’t forget to take some time to go out and enjoy this gorgeous summer! Be present, breathe, feel the warm sun on your skin, and give an extra-long hug to somebody you love.

Note About this Treecologist Tribune

(written in a later edition of the Tribune)

Per a request from one of our readers, I wrote about our transition from gas-powered to electric tools here at Leaf & Limb. Since then, I learned that cobalt – a critical component of most batteries – is being mined inhumanely. A recent book called Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives by Siddharth Kara takes a deep dive into the horrors of cobalt mining. Kara risked his life to go undercover in these mines, where he found child labor, enslavement, no protective equipment, and regular fatalities due to mine shafts collapsing. The suffering is heart-wrenching. Worse yet, hugely profitable tech giants like Apple, Samsung, Tesla, and many others look the other way and continue to mislead consumers. This has since given us pause as we consider electric tools moving forward. As with most decisions, this one comes with shades of grey, but we want to share this information so that you can also make the best decision when purchasing new tools.

Like this article? Pass it on.

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