Dead trees are a danger on many levels. Hire a professional to remove them.

A crew works to remove a dead tree

Smoke sure makes people snap to attention when it comes to dead spruce trees on their properties. In fact, the live trees are probably more dangerous because the terpenes they contain make them more volatile when burning. Still, we must deal with those dead ones.

I wrote about our particular dead trees a few weeks back. Aesthetics was my rationale to act, but as the Municipality of Anchorage has noted, the real problem with these trees is that they are danger trees. A good wind, or even just a bad moment when decay has reached a certain limit, and limbs or whole trees can come crashing down. I can tell you from personal experience that when one of these trees falls on a roof, a limb or two can pierce shingles and roofing. Worse, my uncle suffered a concussion and his hiking companion was killed by a falling limb.

My advice is to get a professional to do the job. Not only is it dangerous as all get-out to fell a big tree, you probably do not have the proper equipment. I know my puny battery chain saw wouldn’t cut it — not that my wife would allow me to try. And, I don’t have a pair of those spikes that would get me up into the tree.

Then, too, big trees have lots of biomass in the form of limbs. How are you going to take care of that part of the problem? These most probably need chipping, another extremely dangerous activity even if you own a chipper. Get a professional. Save yourself exposure to things you are not qualified to handle.

What to do with the trunks? There are lots of folks who will come and take the trunks of felled cottonwoods away for free. My wonderful neighbor used a Facebook Marketplace page to alert people and away they went within hours! This is not so with the limbs, however.

A crew mulches up tree branches through a chipper

One more cottonwood comment. Cottonwood fluff was used to ignite Confederate gunpowder during the Civil War, I am told. It is highly flammable and should be respected as such. Get it out of your grill before you use it.

Next, I get lots of pictures sent to me to see if I can ID a plant. Why send me a photo when you can use a neat ID feature that has been integrated into your cellphone? I am an iPhone guy. Snap a picture, select it out of Photos and tap the ID icon — a circle with an “i” in its center. Android phones owners get similar results, I am told, using Google lens. So, there is now no need to ask me what a plant is. If you do, I am just going to use my phone for the ID. Cut out the middleman.


OK, on to the heat. Bolting is occurring, or already has because of the record high temperatures. Spinach? Forget it. Swiss chard, iffy. Certain kinds of arugula just don’t develop.

On the other hand, snap peas are going crazy. Pick pods young so the plants will keep growing and flowering. Do not let the pods mature. If you want peas from snaps, wait until mid-August before allowing some pods to get big and swell so you can enjoy young pods first.

Finally, now is when you should be dealing with perennial spreaders. Everyone has them, plants that you either didn’t know would take over a garden bed or that simply snuck in from someone else’s yard. Pull them, cut them down with a weed eater, apply organic herbicides. However, above all else do not let them flower. And start working on those butter and eggs!

Jeff’s Garden Calendar

Alaska Botanical Garden: So much going on! Did you know your visitors can take a shuttle to and from the Downtown Log Cabin Friday through Wednesday this summer in June, July, and August. Schedule:

Raspberries: Water if you want decent fruit.

Watering: One long watering is better than lots of short ones.

Jeff Lowenfels | Alaska gardening and growing

Jeff Lowenfels has written a weekly gardening column for the ADN for more than 45 years. His columns won the 2022 gold medal at the Garden Communicators International conference. He’s authored several books on organic gardening, and his latest book, "Teaming With Bacteria," is available on Amazon. Reach him at