When that lovely mountain laurel tree out front needs a bit of pruning, there are some factors to take into consideration before you haul out the ladder and loppers. Perhaps recent growth has it reaching just a bit too close to the house or fence. Or maybe it has been overgrown for years and you’re only now finding the time to tackle the project. On the advice of a local professional, think through that decision and then think again.

“Anything that involves climbing onto a ladder and overreaching just seems like a good point to step back and assess the pros and cons of doing that work yourself,” suggested Frank Uribe, owner of Uribes Tree Service. “Even us as tree care professionals hate ladders for tree work because they are so prone to tipping over and injuring people.”

Despite its cold semi-arid climate and an average of less than 10 inches of precipitation a year, the Yakima region is blessed with irrigation water enough to turn it into an oasis. Beyond the obvious vast orchards, there are few neighborhoods without a wide variety of trees and shrubs, which are plants that require ongoing maintenance.

The evergreens and deciduous alike provide shelter and food for critters as well as relief for humans from the Yakima sunshine. The majestic pine, fir and spruce trees grow side by side with dogwood, magnolia, flowering plum, and weeping cherry. But they can also be growing too close to your home, wreaking property damage in several ways.

Uribe explained that trees can cause foundation issues, lift shingles off roofs, and encroach on power lines. Those conditions are all good reasons to seek the advice and services of a tree care professional. As are split or hung-up limbs, signs of uprooting, or unmaintained trees which often have heavy limbs prone to fail and perhaps harm people or property.

While thanking the nearby Cascade Range for providing irrigation water to our parched, rain-shadowed valley, allowing hawthorns, crabapples or cedars to flourish here, it is also wise to understand that plants not native to our region may require special care.

So the next time a lacy Japanese maple or a brilliant quaking aspen brings out a “wow,” remember that it could also elicit a “Noooo!” just as quickly if toppled by a Yakima Valley thunderstorm. The best prevention for that is to seek a reputable tree service, easily found with an internet search. More good advice from Uribe is to do some research before hiring a service.

“Make sure that the company is licensed, bonded and insured,” he said. “Also, that it carries the necessary workers’ compensation insurance through the Department of Labor and Industries to have employees.”

Uribe’s company provides online and phone “ballpark” estimates but an onsite inspection is needed to give a detailed written quote of services to be provided and the cost. Another resource is reviews of past customers, often posted on social media or other internet sites. And speaking of resources, one of the best to consult before even planting a tree or shrub is in our own backyard at 1401 Arboretum Drive, off of Nob Hill Boulevard/Highway 24, just east of Interstate 82.

The Yakima Area Arboretum is 46 acres of city-owned property dedicated to cultivating natural areas, display gardens, and tree collections. It is open to the public and the perfect place to view firsthand what trees and shrubs thrive in our region and which do not, since our hardiness Zone 6B with myriad mini-climates does not suit all plants.

Boasting four distinct seasons and temperatures both colder and hotter than most of the rest of eastern Washington, our little biome here in the valley can present unique challenges to growers and gardeners.

Resources like the Arboretum, with the mission “to inspire people of all ages to discover and connect with nature through a diverse collection of trees and shrubs hardy to the Inland Northwest,” make some of those challenges easier. The knowledgeable staff there can help you dig into the best plants to suit your needs. And maybe even prevent a toppled tree from uprooting your landscaping and your budget.