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Saving Customers’ Trees with Technology

An interview with Fred Hoppe, Board Certified Master Arborist, ISA Qualified Tree Risk Assessor, and Co-Owner and Sales Manager, Hoppe Tree Service

With tree care technologies, Hoppe Tree Service can provide advanced evaluation of a tree’s structural condition and give homeowners more informed recommendations for their decision-making.

Q: Why is the use of tree assessment technologies so beneficial?

FREDDY: “Is my tree safe?” is a frequent question we get from customers. Using technology, we can determine the soundness of trees that have a structural defect, such as a crack or cavity, with a high degree of accuracy. Defects may look serious, but often, we find there is little decay inside the tree, and so the risk isn’t high. Whereas in the past, homeowners may have felt they had no choice but to have the tree removed, now we can save those trees and give our customers peace of mind.

Q: How do you go about assessing tree risk?

FREDDY: We always start with the least invasive methods and work from there. The least invasive is a simple sounding mallet – by tapping along the stem, or trunk, we can hear where wood is sound and where it is decayed. For a more advanced assessment, we use a stress wave timer, which sends sound waves through the trunk from outside the bark and measures the transit time from multiple sensors. The longer the transit time, the higher the likelihood of significant decay. If the readings from the stress timer indicate a fair amount of decay, the next step is to use a micro-resistance drill. This involves drilling very small holes in different parts of the trunk, and using a sensor to measure the amount of electrical resistance in each cross-section. These are all great tools that help us preserve our customers’ large trees, especially those growing near their home or overhanging patio or play spaces in their yards.

Q: We hear you have a drone…..

FREDDY: Yes! In some situations the drone can give us a better vantage point for examining tall trees, especially when there is a clear defect and we’re not sure it’s safe to put an arborist in the tree. It’s also fast and convenient. We don’t need to get a lift crew onsite in order to see what’s happening in the canopy.

Q: What other tech is Hoppe using to improve tree care?

FREDDY: We have two digital tree inventory systems we can use to help customers manage their trees or even simply understand what they have in their yards. With this tech, we can capture data on every tree on the property, including species, size, GPS location, health, services recommended and thumbnail photos. It’s a great tool for us, and it’s also really interesting for homeowners who have a deep interest in their yards and their trees. Having all the data in one spot is helpful.

Q: Is it an expensive service?

FREDDY: No, not really. For a typical urban yard, the cost is about $150 and includes our recommendations and the digital report. The cost depends on the size of the yard, and it can be as a low as $75. We are doing it more and more as a gift for new homeowners from their parents or friends, and for people who plan to be in their home for many years to come.

Q: It sounds like tree risk assessment is a special interest for you.

FREDDY: It really is. I’ve always been interested in this area of tree care, and so I pursued additional training and testing to earn the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Tree Risk Assessment Qualification. It’s a bonus that we have so many technologies available to help us provide professional, data-backed recommendations. Being able to let customers know with certainty that their favorite trees aren’t a risk makes my day!

If you are interested in a tree inventory or tree assessment, please take a minute to tell us about your property and your concerns. We look forward to working with you.

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