Will Blozan, president of Appalachian Arborists, said he typically get calls from property owners with concerns about trees that are in serious condition and may be past saving.
“For me as an arborist, the biggest issue is that it’s a very reactive service,” Blozan said.
He recalled a homeowner who had purchased a property largely because of a giant oak standing on it. However, after a tree assessment, the homeowner learned that the tree needed to be removed because of its deteriorated condition.
A much better plan for home buyers and builders is to have tree evaluations done by arborists before a purchase—or beginning a project on a wooded lot, Blozan said.
Many developers just put tape around a tree they intend to leave on a property when starting construction project, he noted.
“There’s a big difference between leaving a tree and keeping it healthy,” Blozan said.
If an arborist were to assess trees on lots before development, some mechanism could be put into place to preserve them, he said.
It is not that costly to have a tree assessment done before purchasing a home, or at a build site, Blozan said. However, such requests are rare, he noted.
Arborists also are able to give landscapers advice about planting trees properly so that they have a good chance of thriving. Many planted trees are “just thrown into the ground,” or are over-mulched, which suffocates the tree’s roots, Blozan said.
Appalachian Arborists is in the business of saving trees, if at all possible, Blozan said.
“Our company is preservation based,” he remarked.
Blozan’s company does very little tree removal. He and his staff also do selective pruning and trimming of tree branches.
“I only recommend removing dead branches it they are a hazard,” he said.
If live branches are removed, it’s better to have this done in the late fall or winter when the tree is dormant, Blozan advised.
During his extensive career, Blozan has treated numerous tree diseases including a currently prevalent one, the emerald ashe borer, which has killed millions of native ashe trees in this country. Ashe trees have been invaded by a non-native beetle that bores into them and can devastate them rather quickly.
This tree disease is so extensive that any ashe tree within a 3-mile radius of an infestation needs preventative treatment, Blozan said. Once this disease is advanced, there is nothing to be done, he added.
In the Asheville area there are few, if any, ashe trees left to save from this blight because of its prevalence, Blozan noted.
Blozan also has dealt extensively with hemlock woolly adelgid infestations that attack hemlock and spruce trees. After completing environmental studies at Warren Wilson College, he worked in forestry management for five years at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where he treated hemlocks stricken with this infestation.
Over the years, he has been involved in collaborative efforts to treat 80,000 eastern and Carolina hemlocks and 500 ashe trees affected by invasive pests.
A certified arborist, Blozan founded Appalachian Arborists in 1998. His business partner is Jason Childs who joined the company in 2004 and serves as vice president.
Blozan currently serves as president of the state Native Tree Society and has conducted many training workshops and conferences on tree health and management.
Most of his life Blozan has been drawn to trees. A native of Maryland, he became intrigued with tree work as a youngster while watching a crew deal with trees damaged by a hurricane that swept through the area.
“I thought it was the coolest thing in the world,” Blozan said of tree service work he observed as a kid.