Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday's Trees- Measurement

One of my goals in the past year or two has been to be able to learn more about trees. I know I mentioned this a while ago when I shared the books that I used to make my identifications. Click here to see. In order to further my knowledge base a tree will be profiled each Tuesday, starting next week, with photos and information about said tree. This is my approach to gaining more horticultural information, one piece at a time. It is my hope that you will read along and perhaps learn about a tree or two.

While reading through one of the books last night I read about a method to measure the height of a tree. Part of the process in knowing about a tree is to know how tall it is OR how tall it can become. Today I will be using this technique to see if I can get a rough idea how tall my Crape Myrtle is.

1. Get a straight stick (I am using a yardstick) that is as long as the distance from your eye to your outstretched fist. (Since I am using a yardstick I put a rubber band at the correct length)
2. Stand where you can see the top and the bottom of the tree.
3. With the stick held vertically at arm's length, line up the top of the stick with the top of the tree and the bottom of the stick with the base of the tree. You will need to move towards the tree or away from the tree to get it to be a good fit.
4. Once you are in the correct place for the stick and the tree to line up, mark this spot on the ground (mark where the stick is not your feet). Using a measuring tape, measure from the mark to the tree -- that distance it the height of your tree.

Around my house are mostly very large pines. Some of my neighbors have some very mature oaks but I will not measure them today. Since I mentioned my Crape Myrtle 'Tuscarora' in the last post --that will be the one I measure. You can see a side view of it in the collage. It is about 13 and 1/2 feet tall.

Next week's tree- Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum


  1. My algebra teacher in high school taught us this. I thought it was so cool! But I was such a nerd too. I had forgotten how to do it all these years. I am thinking I'll be out measuring some tall trees today as I've been dying to know how to do it again! In our citizen forester class the instructors did not teach us and when I suggested this way but couldn't remember it, they discounted it. It really is a good way for us non tree folks to get a good estimate and I think a tree's height is important. Now to go measure some oaks-I want to make sure that if they fall they do not hit my house:)

  2. Janet,

    Don't quite get the theory here, but somehow I can estimate tree height anyway. Enjoyed this posting!!

  3. Evening Tina, I was happy to find this method. While it isn't exact, it gives you a close estimate. You are right about the 'how close to the house' assessment of your trees...good to know!

    Hi Randy, Glad you enjoyed the posting. Some people can estimate tree height, some can estimate distances....I can do neither.

    My extension agent showed me this stick with all sorts of measurements on it that he used to measure the height of a tree. It seemed like globble-dee gook as the time. Think I may swing by the office tomorrow and see if it makes more sense.

  4. I think I recall this method from school days too Janet but thanks for the refresher. I need to learn more about trees as well so it will be interesting following you on your journey.
    I'm glad I could introduce you to Cerinthe too. Its hardy in zones 8-10 so maybe it would overwinter in your garden if it were in a little microclimate?? I bet you would like it. I'll be posting more photos as it continues to open.

  5. Hi Kathleen, I don't know that I ever learned this technique, but my Geometry class in high school was 100 years ago. I will keep watching your Cerinthe. Will waiting til we go to SC to see about a microclimate for one in my garden. Hope you enjoy the trees.

  6. Great idea, Janet! I think I learned this in high school, as if I remembered it:) There is also a method to determine the age of a tree according to its size. I was curious about our old Bur Oak tree last year and found a link through Kylee of My Little Acre's blog. It's neat to get a rough idea about some of the older trees; my oak is somewhere between 200-300 years old, if I measured it correctly.

  7. Hi Rose, I know, high school is distant memory! I will have to jump over to Kylee's blog and see if I can find the tree age link. Sounds interesting. That is some kind of tree being 200- 300 years old!


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