Be a Georgia Tree Know-It-All: Lacebark Elm

Get to know Georgia’s beautiful array of trees and how you can take care of your own! We feature some of the most popular trees in the state, with past features including the Possumhaw, Yellow Buckeye, and Southern Magnolia.

We’re showcasing a versatile tree with roots that can be traced back to 18th Century China — the lacebark elm!


While the lacebark is now a popular landscape feature in many parts of the U.S., it wasn’t always found on our shores. In 1794, the tree was introduced from China, which is how it got its nickname, the “Chinese elm.”

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, this elm variety is considered both a shade and ornamental tree. It can reach heights of 40 to 50 feet at maturity, and its crown may spread 35 to 45 feet.

The tree’s shiny green leaves produce a display of autumn splendor when they turn to shades of yellow and purple in the fall. Its bark is also known for its unique appearance, boasting an alluring mottled pattern with tones of gray, green, brown, and orange when it exfoliates in the winter.

Growing Conditions

Lacebark elms thrive in full sun, growing best in areas with at least six hours of direct light. Though they can survive in partial shade without harm, their leaves are most vibrant with full sun exposure.

The tree can withstand a variety of soil conditions, including dry, moist, and alkaline soil. Though not well suited for heavily saturated soil, it can be adaptable in terms of soil acidity. The lacebark elm can also withstand a certain degree of drought.

The Southern Group of State Foresters notes that lacebark elms can grow in hardiness zones 5B through 10A (Atlanta and North Georgia are in zone 7), and is evergreen at the southernmost areas of its growth range.

Tree Care

Lacebark elms require little maintenance. Structural pruning to prevent weather-related breakage can keep the tree healthy in most climates. While the tree has low wind resistance, pruning young trees can help develop good branch structure to prevent weather-related damage.

Fortunately, these lovely trees also have a high resistance to Dutch elm disease, a deadly fungal disease carried by airborne bark beetles, as well as strong resistance to elm leaf beetles. With its hardy characteristics, Organic Gardening & Living talk show host Howard Garrett asserts the lacebark elm is “extremely easy to grow.”

Signs of Distress

Although they’re resistant to most conditions that may befall other elm species, some lacebark elms are susceptible to elm yellows. Named after the symptom it produces – a rapid yellowing of the leaves – this phytoplasma is spread by leafhoppers and spittlebugs. The notable discoloration may start with just one branch, but eventually it will move to the entire tree and turn the trunk tissue dark brown. Unfortunately, the only way to manage a lacebark elm that’s become infected is to remove it.

Another issue this elm faces is cotton root rot. Characterized by leaves that wilt in the spring or summer, this soil-borne fungus often affects the uppermost leaves first. Unfortunately once these signs are showing, typically the root system has already begun to decay. While a fully infected lacebark elm must be removed, heavy pruning could help to save a tree in the earliest stages of cotton root rot.

Whether you’re experiencing issues with a lacebark elm (or another tree on your property) — or simply need help with routine pruning, turn to Premier Tree Solutions. Contact us online or by calling (404) 252-6448.

Trick or Tree-ats: Fun Ways to Decorate Your Yard for Halloween

Halloween decorations have come a long way in recent years, prompting many homeowners to transform their properties to celebrate the autumn holiday. More than half of U.S. consumers partake in the festivities, each spending nearly $100 on decorations, candy, and other essentials annually. 

If you’re planning to decorate your yard this year, here are a few ideas to consider.

Creatively Creepy

For some, Halloween is all about thrills and chills. Give your yard a spooky edge with these creepy decorations.

The Modern Graveyard

Headstones are a staple for the haunted house look. Take it up a notch by adding hands and feet emerging from the ground. While you can find pre-made limbs at most party or home improvement stores, you could also construct your own out of pool noodles.

The Resident Skeleton

Skeletons propped on porches or seated on benches are classic. For a fun twist, prop it up so it’s riding a bicycle, filling the bird bath, or planting in the garden.

Giant Spiders

Spray paint foam balls and attach tubing to create a giant spider. Place it in your shrubs, along with decorative spiderwebs (placed loosely over branches). Just be sure to bring your eight-legged friend inside on windy days.


Kid-Friendly Fun

Whether you have kids of your own, or just want to let the smallest trick-or-treaters know they’re welcome, here’s how to get the littlest Halloween lovers excited.

Spooky Eyes

Turn your small trees or plants into friendly ghouls with large googly eyes. Paint black dots on white paper plates, and gently affix them to branches using twine. To keep your foliage safe, make sure your knots aren’t too tight and don’t cause any branches to bend awkwardly.

Pirate’s Map

Lead tykes to treasure by creating black “footprints” on your walkway using washable chalk. Cut an “X” to mark the spot from an inexpensive black doormat, and on Halloween night, fill a child-size treasure chest with the booty. (You may even don your own pirate costume to join in the fun!) 

Friendly Ghosts & Bats

Whether you purchase ahead, or your child makes them on their own, ghosts and bats are always a fun sight on Halloween night. Use fishing line or twine to hang them from branches, but be sure to only suspend lightweight decorations to avoid damaging your trees’ branches or bark.

Country Classic

If you prefer more of a farmhouse feel without the creepy factor, here are some ideas for you.


Bring the friendliness (and brilliance) of Oz’s Scarecrow to your home by creating one from hay found at a landscape or hardware store, some old clothes and pillows, and a hand-drawn face on a flour sack or pillowcase. Involve your neighbors in the creativity, and you might find yourself with a whole cornfield’s worth! 

Landscape Lanterns

Light the way for little witches and goblins by placing lanterns on your walkway. Fill the bottom of a small paper bag with sand, tie festive ribbons to the tops, decorate them with stickers or drawings, and use battery-powered “candles” with orange flames inside to illuminate October nights — not just Halloween! 

Plentiful Pumpkins

For a rustic touch, you can’t go wrong with pumpkins and other decorative gourds. Consider stacking them in different sizes and colors near your front door, or create a pumpkin waterfall cascading down your steps.

Whether or not you choose to decorate, Premier Tree Solutions can treat your lawn with professional tree care, pruning and removal year-round. To schedule a service, contact us online or call (404) 252-6448.

When Do I Need a Tree Removal Permit? And Who Handles That?

If you’re a first-time homeowner, live in a historic neighborhood, or just haven’t dealt with tree removal before, you may be wondering what legal responsibilities you have during the process. The experts at Premier Tree Services are here to break it down!

City of Atlanta 

Within the city of Atlanta, permits are required by the Tree Conservation Commission, a citizen board appointed by the Mayor and City Council Members. The mission of this board is to “assist in the protection, maintenance, and regeneration of the trees and other forest resources of Atlanta.” 

Operating under the Atlanta Tree Ordinance, the Tree Conservation Commission’s site for removal permits lists requirements for the following: 

Public Property

You need a permit to remove, destroy, or injure any tree on city-owned property, regardless of size. 

Private Property

You need a permit to remove, destroy, or injure any tree of 6 inches or greater diameter-at-breast-height (DBH) on private property. There are no exceptions, either by species or present condition. 

Dead and Dying Trees

You need a permit to remove dead and dying trees from private property. These permits can be obtained free of charge by contacting the Arborist Division.” 

The application for removal is available here. If you are unsure whether your tree (or your property) qualifies, we can help you through the permitting process. Though we won’t be able to guarantee your permit will be approved by the city, we can provide inspection, consultation, and advice. 

Outside of Atlanta 

If you’re considering tree removal outside Atlanta, we recommend you check in with your city or county government offices to determine whether or not a permit is necessary, and how requirements may differ from those for Atlanta. 

  • In Roswell, GA, for example, an application is required for trees larger than 3” in diameter. 
  • The City of Decatur also has a Tree Canopy Conservation Ordinance, under which “property owners in residential zoning districts are allowed to remove up to 3 healthy, protected trees during an 18 month period.” A permit still must be filed with the City, to help track removal and consider potential replanting.
  • Private single-property homeowners of Marietta, GA, are not required to have a permit for tree removal, though the City’s Code of Ordinances spells out several restrictions for commercial and multifamily properties. 
  • Forsyth County just recently revised its Tree Protection and Replacement Ordinance, though they do not require a permit if residential property owners are interested in removing a tree. 
  • Norcross, GA’s Code of Ordinances meanwhile clearly states that “No person, corporation or association shall remove or destroy any tree either on public or private property with a DBH of six inches or greater without having first obtained a tree removal permit from the Community Development Department.” 

There are several other areas we serve that may have different tree removal permit requirements. If you’re in a location not listed here (or are simply still scratching your head over how, when, where, and why you might need a permit), call us at 404.252.6448 or reach out to us online for inspection and advice.

Best Places in Georgia for Leaf-Peeping

Autumn is just a few weeks away. Time for flannels, turtlenecks, pumpkin-flavored everything, and, of course, the changing of both light and leaves. 

Though determining the exact dates for peak fall foliage in Georgia isn’t an exact science, on average you can expect them toward the end of October and early November, when warm sunny days are coupled with chilly (but not freezing) temperatures in the evening. 

Once that combination becomes consistent, strike out to these destinations to experience some striking fall color. 

Brasstown Bald 

Georgia’s tallest mountain might be at the top of your list this year. Brasstown Bald provides dramatic views at any season, but especially in the fall. The paved Summit Trail leads from the parking area to the Visitor’s Center, and is only a 0.6 mile hike, but is also very steep. The park provides shuttle service daily as an alternative. Can’t make the trip? Live streaming webcams are also available. 

Cloudland Canyon State Park 

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources dramatically describes this park as “Home to thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, wild caves, waterfalls, cascading creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife.” Providing multiple stunning overlooks, Cloudland Canyon is also equipped with opportunities for horseback riding, fishing, picnicking, mountain biking, disc golf, and several overnighting options. 

George L. Smith State Park 

For a more unusual fall foliage experience, enjoy the deep orange of cypress trees reflecting off this park’s blackwater pond. Pack a thermos of cider and visit the refurbished Parrish Mill and Pond, originally built in 1880 with a combination gristmill, sawmill, covered bridge and dam.

Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls 

Whether you’ve visited before or are brand-new to this state park, you’ll be glad you took in the waterfalls and scenery of what Explore Georgia describes as “One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern U.S.” Permits are required to access the gorge floor, but a suspension bridge swings 80 feet above the river, and there are several other activities as well. 

Unicoi State Park & Lodge 

If you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a little bit of both, Unicoi State Park and Lodge may fit the bill. With zip lines, hiking, paddle boarding, fly fishing, archery, scavenger hunts, plus a restaurant and lodge, you’ll find something for everyone — including breathtaking views of both foliage and falls. 

Victoria Bryant State Park 

Perhaps you’ve never heard of this secret Georgia gem, but if there’s a golfer in your family, you may want to add it to your list of fall destinations. The Highland Walk Golf Course is a beautiful—but challenging—course, while the stream and two hiking trail options will provide enjoyment for everyone else after tee time. 

No matter where you are in Georgia, you can experience a spectrum of color by looking out for red oaks, sweetgums, eastern redbuds and others right in your own backyard. And Georgia’s State Parks offer an online “Leaf Watch,” where others post their most fabulous fall finds. To care for your trees during this change of season — no matter their color — reach out to us online or give us a call at 404.252.6448. 

Can Trees Help With Yard Drainage? Yes, And Here’s How!

With summer showers out in full force (and another strong hurricane season upon us), you may be dealing with muddy yards, pooling water, flooding, or other drainage issues. Did you know trees can be a part of the solution?

Here’s how saplings (and stronger stands) can help soak up the sop. 

Fighting Flooding

Thanks to their penetrative roots (both large and small), trees create pockets (or “macropores”)  in the soil around and underneath them. This means more water travels more deeply into the ground rather than contributing to flooding by simply streaming over the surface. According to the Institute of Chartered Foresters, “In compacted soils, tree roots have been shown to improve infiltration by 153% compared with unplanted controls.” 

Even though just one tree can make a measurable difference, be mindful about what you’re planting. The Michigan State University Extension indicates that several trees popular in the Southeast may not withstand heavy flooding as well as others. Their complete list of trees in this category entails:

  • Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)
  • Yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava)
  • Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata)
  • Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)
  • American beech (Fagus grandifolia)
  • Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus)
  • Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
  • Junipers (Juniperus spp.)
  • Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
  • Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)
  • Pines (Pinus spp.)
  • Red oak (Quercus rubra)
  • White oak (Quercus alba)
  • Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
  • American basswood (Tilia americana)

Relegating Runoff

Because urban areas have more “impenetrable” ground cover (such as highways, parking lots, and building complexes) they can be more prone to damaging floods. While a well-kept infrastructure of gutters, drains and sewer pipes is designed to move water to local streams, rivers, or lakes, heavy rain can overwhelm these systems. 

“Trees in urban areas can reduce these sudden waves . . . giving time for more water to infiltrate soils. This mitigates heavy rainfall by essentially spreading out the rain event, resulting in less and slower runoff,” Trees for Energy Conservation explains

Groups like Trees Atlanta are making efforts to not only plant more trees around the city, but to ensure the health of existing forests by removing invasive species and planting those that are more natively suited to the area and climate. 

Damage-Controlling Droplets 

Campaigns officer at 10:10 Climate Action, Emma Kemp, explained to the The Ecologist that “leaves intercept rainfall, slowing the rate that water flows into rivers and reducing the risk it’ll burst its banks.” As these drops trickle down the tree’s branches and trunk, some of that water also gets absorbed by the bark. 

Inevitably, a measurable amount of rainwater also remains on each leaf. “[A]nd when the sun comes out, that water evaporates without ever reaching the ground,” Beth Botts, staff writer for The Morton Arboretum told The Chicago Tribune

So from the very tops to their deepest depths, trees protect us from water damage in multiple ways. It’s why you’ll want to take good care of them during storm season — and why we want to help. Our specialists can also offer consultation on where else you might plant a few additional trees to improve water management. To discuss these options and more, call us at 404.252.6448 or reach out to us online.

Be a Georgia Tree Know-It-All: Southern Magnolia

Get to know Georgia’s beautiful array of trees and how you can take care of your own! Each month, we feature some of the most popular trees in the state, including the Devilwood tree, Butternut, and Two-Winged Silverbell tree

We are showcasing the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora L.) — one of the South’s most beautiful staples! 


You may be surprised to learn that the Southern Magnolia is an evergreen. Its deep green, shiny, leathery leaves can range in length from five to ten inches. Despite its evergreen status, however, “If you can’t abide leaf drop, this isn’t the magnolia for you,” Southern Living warns, “because the leaves of M. grandiflora drop 365 days a year.”

While the Southern Magnolia normally reaches 50 feet in height, it can potentially grow up to 100 feet tall and 40 feet wide. 

Perhaps its most cherished characteristic, the magnolia’s fragrant blossoms are cup-shaped and eight inches in diameter. After their initial blossoming, these thick-petaled flowers open in the morning, then close in the evening for two to three days. This cycle continues (along with new blossoms) throughout the summer and into the fall. 

After the blooming season, Southern Magnolia’s flowers produce cone-like seedpods that contain the tree’s large red seeds.

Growing Conditions

The Southern Magnolia thrives in both full sun and partial shade. The Arbor Day Foundation recommends that it should receive a minimum of four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day. 

In terms of soil quality and pest resistance, the Southern Magnolia is relatively flexible. “It grows well throughout Georgia, is widely adaptable to a variety of soils and has few pest problems,” the University of Georgia Extension confirms.

Once established, the Southern Magnolia can also be relatively drought-tolerant, but in the early stages of growth, they will need plenty of water. Rich, moist, well-drained soil will be ideal to help your Southern Magnolia thrive across hardiness zones 6 through 10. (Atlanta and North Georgia are in zone 7.)

Tree Care

A quick-growing tree, the Southern Magnolia should be pruned during the colder seasons, after blooming is complete. Dead, damaged or broken limbs need to be trimmed away to promote healthy growth.  

If you choose to handle pruning yourself, Garden Guides recommends making your cuts at the tree collar (the thickest section next to a joint shared with another limb) for maximum healing. For thicker, longer, or higher-up branches, we recommend bringing in a tree professional. 

In the northern areas of its hardiness range, the tree may require protection against winter winds and ice, which can cause branch breakage and bark damage. 

Signs of Distress

During dry spells, give your Southern Magnolia a thorough soaking, as prolonged drought can be a major stressor. Signs of water stress include wilting and drooping leaves at the top and center of the tree. An excessive amount of falling leaves and thinness throughout the tree could also suggest insufficient water. 

Verticillium wilt is another common issue in magnolias. The soil-borne fungus prevents nutrients from reaching the tree and causes branches to die off. Look for sudden wilting on one side of the tree, or browning along leaf edges. 

We want to help keep your majestic Southern Magnolias in good health throughout the year. For help with your trees’ pruning, trimming, or disease prevention care, reach out to us online or give us a call at 404.252.6448. 

Premier Tree Solutions Experts Featured on WSB Radio’s “Green and Growing” Program

Rafael Santiago, Arborist at Premier Tree Solutions

Premier Tree Solutions Founder, Jeff Roth, and Arborist, Rafael Santiago, had the pleasure of being recent guests on 95.5 WSB Radio’s “Green and Growing” program hosted by Ashley Frassca.

Jeff Roth, Founder of Premier Tree Solutions

The two will be regular guests moving forward, joining the program to discuss the art of arboriculture, landscaping, and all things tree care. Tune into 95.5 WSB Radio Saturdays from 6 to 9 AM to learn more!

Jeff and Rafael talking to Ashley Frassca, the host of 95.5 WSB Radio's

Need a helping hand with your trees? Contact us today by calling 404.252.6448 for a consultation. For emergencies, please call 404.569.8897.

Premier Tree Solutions Provides Service for President Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter

While doing work in Andersonville, Georgia for the Secret Service and the National Park Service, Jeff and his Premier Tree Solutions team were called to serve President Jimmy Carter at his compound in Plains, Georgia.

Premier Tree Solutions removed a number of trees that fell on his house and property in the wake of Hurricane Michael, and were honored to provide services for such a president.

Looking for tree help? Contact Premier Tree Solutions today. We specialize in helping tree owners feel secure and help keep their landscapes safe. In addition to protecting trees from wind and floods and other natural disasters, we also do branch thinning and pruning, storm cleanup, tree removal, stump grinding, and more. Call 404.252.6448 for a consultation today, or in an emergency, 404.569.8897.