CSI: Complete Septic Infiltration…

I was recently called to give an estimate in the Cobble Hill area. The homeowner had discovered his septic system was clogged and backing up. He suspected trees were to blame.

On the uphill side of the septic system, only set back 8-10 feet, were six Alder trees. These trees were most certainly the culprits. They were thirsty for water and had discovered a never-ending supply…..the d-box.

When I arrived on scene, the homeowner was literally, in the process of digging up his plugged lines. I walked up to him and said “hi, I’m Nolan from Forty Oaks.”  I  advanced to a handshake and he said “you probably don’t want to do that…..” Needless to say, he had been digging up his septic distribution box to find the following evidence…


The top ring is a portion of a clear distribution line. The bottom ring is a portion of the clogged distribution line. The tree roots had broken through the side of the d-box and traveled down the septic field lines causing full obstruction of the line and the septic system to back up.

Not to panic…

It is important to know your septic schematic. Know where the important parts of your septic system lie. Look at the trees that surround your septic system. Identify whether they are deciduous or conifer.

Deciduous trees are more prone to seek water than conifer trees. Common deciduous trees include Alder, Willow, Maple, Poplar. These trees grow exponentially each year and require large amounts of water to do so.

So now you are wondering….what would the “tree guy” say. The answer is not so simple. I would NEVER say to just cut the trees down because they were in somewhat of a close proximity to your septic field (whatever a “close proximity” may be.) If you have a tree that you suspect is a direct threat to your septic system (or a dying/dead tree that could fall on your septic field – which is another problem!) you could call an Arborist and have a discussion about options. There are factors to consider in any decision to remove a tree. Ultimately, it is your decision about whether or not you remove trees that may be a threat but an Arborist may be able to shed some light on a specific circumstance.

What I could say, with 100% certainty, is avoid planting trees near your septic system, especially deciduous trees! Always be mindful of site selection when tree planting. When planting a tree, it is also important to consider where the power/service lines are, identifying structures that will end up below the mature tree, location of possible underground utilities, etc. Consider how big the tree is going to get, the micro climates it will create and what it will require for maintenance.

Know your trees and how they are contributing to or inhibiting the functionality of your property and your home.

40 – out.

one oak down…


Last Saturday we tackled this tree, a 70 foot Garry Oak in North Cowichan, BC. The homeowner had purchased the home last year and was concerned about the tree, which overhung her entire home. It would constantly drop branches on to her roof, which made her very uneasy.

We arrived on site around 8am. Did a bit of pruning and deadwooding and tightened up a hedge before moving on to the Oak removal. Started cutting the Oak around 10am. The video shows the removal of the large lower dominant limbs overhanging the house. We finished the removal around 2pm, and then had some clean up.

FIrst, I climbed up and opened a hole in the upper canopy to run my ropes freely in order to rig down the large lower branches. I hung my climb and rig lines in separate stems to avoid tangle. The stem that I rigged out of was the largest back crotch possible.

Then I strategically picked apart the large branches, dropping them into the open hole; missing the roof and safely lowering down to my ground man (who is on the other end of the rope) in the backyard. The order of branch removal is approached very strategically.

I have been asked before, what it is that I am thinking about when up in the tree. There are a number of things:

I always have to be one step ahead.
I have to know my next tie-in point.
I have to make sure not to cut a branch or stub that is going to be useful strategically.
Don’t fall.
It is second nature for me to lift my ear protection on my hard hat immediately after I turn my saw off,…every.single.time. I am always listening for creaks and cracks and oddities in the tree.
I am always conscious of what is underneath me. Some of these chunks of wood in this video weigh 300+ pounds.

As you can imagine, every removal has circumstances that are unique. Trees are like fingerprints…no two are the same.


Stay tuned…..more video footage to come. 40 out.

What the Oak???

Your most pressing tree queries answered to the best of our ability…..


How much does it cost to remove a tree?

As you likely imagine, it is impossible to give a set price on tree removals. There are a number of factors that affect the price of a removal, here are the most common considerations for price:

  1. Location of the tree. Structures such as houses or outbuildings and sprinklers and irrigation, septic systems/fields, mature gardens and landscape/lawns, etc. will all make the removal trickier and therefore take longer.
  2. Condition of the tree. Trees that are dead and decaying add another element of risk to the job.
  3. Lean and direction of the tree. If the tree is leaning at a house or structure, as above.
  4. Size of the tree.
  5. Clean up. How much clean up do you require, if any. How far does waste need to be physically moved to clean the site.

All of the above factors will determine which tools and crew are required to complete the job. The aborist will analyze all of these factors and come up with a detailed removal plan, and thus a price quote.



When is the best time to prune trees?

The late dormant season is the best time to prune most trees. There are some flowering trees that you would prune right after bloom. For most deciduous trees (lose leaves in the winter) late dormant is between late winter and early spring, prior to new growth. Conifers (evergreen) can be pruned any time.


What do I do if trees are touching my power lines?

“Survey shows nearly 75% of us don’t know safe distance from power lines”

If any vegetation is touching or within 3 meters (one car length) of the power lines on your property this can be dangerous and it is your responsibility to maintain the lines on your property. You need to call a Certified Utility Arborist (someone who is qualified to work within the proximity of the lines). Forty Oaks offers free consultations and we will recommend an appropriate course of action.

This News Release from BC Hydro explains that many homeowners are unaware of the hazards in their yards regarding power lines and trees News Release February 27, 2018

It is extremely important to know that trees rubbing on your utility wires (telephone, internet, cable, and power) can cause electrical shock, causing serious injury or death. The trees may also rub through the weather stripping and cause electrical damage to household appliances. Pruning Near Power Lines

Additionally, 12% of power lines are underground. Before you dig make sure you know what is underneath. To find out what’s buried and where not to dig, call 1 800 474 6886 or use the Click to Dig

This News Release from BC Hydro explains that many homeowners are unaware of the hazards in their yards regarding power lines and trees News Release February 27, 2018


Can I cut my neighbour’s overhanging tree?

If your neighbour’s tree is overhanging your land, then you may remove overhanging branches and roots to your property line.  However, any costs you incur are your costs. Also, you may not encroach on the neighbour’s property to trim the tree unless the overhanging limbs pose immediate and irreparable harm.

If you have any concerns or your neighbour is non-cooperative with a threatening tree then call an arborist to come and make a report on the tree.


Will spurs or spikes harm my tree?

If used improperly, spurs or spikes could harm your tree. This all depends on the level of experience and care taken by the climber. Spurs make tree climbing much safer and more efficient. If the climber is experienced and cautious there would be no tearing of the bark to cause entry ways for pathogens, which is the primary concern around climbing with spurs. Spur-less climbing is used when pruning a tree to make fine pruning cuts in the canopy of the tree that are not accessible using spurs (which anchor the climber to the trunk/stem). Spur-less climbing is often performed to satisfy a Municipal by-law in highly populated areas to control any damage caused by inexperienced climbers. However, BC Hydro mandates climbing with spurs around energized power lines for obvious safety reason, and this mandate supersedes any Municipal by-law. Utility Tree Workers Safety Guide

The recommendation is, research the level of climbing experience and knowledge before hiring a tree professional. Or, if you desire spur-less climbing, then request it ahead of time, but know that it may cost you more as it is more time consuming. A professional climber should always be equipped to perform spur-less climbing upon personal request of a home-owner or commercial customer.














raccoon urine and hornet nests…

Welcome to Forty Oaks!!! Thanks for visiting the site. A little about us….

I have been climbing trees for over 10 years, professionally, but don’t discount the many many years of practice as a little boy!! I have watched my father, THE BEST, climb trees my entire life. Big E, as he is so fondly known as, ( Eric Heavenor), has been a Utility Arborist for 40 years. I was lucky enough to apprentice under him and learn the fine line between old-school and new-school.

Before becoming a Utility Arborist, lacrosse was my passion. My Dad was also integral in that realm. Minor lacrosse led into an NCAA scholarship (Limestone College in South Carolina) which led to being drafted to play in the NLL (National Lacrosse League). I played alongside some of the most elite athletes in North America and won an NLL Championship in 2009. I proudly wore the #40, so the company name should make sense now!!


I retired from the NLL in 2013 to be home with my family and to dedicate myself to my Arborist career. I also have a lot of children, which takes dedication!!

We are new to this whole blogging business….but definitely not new to the tree business……there are some really cool stories to be shared in our line of work. Much of our work involves trimming, pruning, thinning, topping, dead-wooding, line clearing…..mostly routine work. But then there are those jobs that involve a high degree of athleticism, mathematical analysis, mechanical systems (pulleys, knots, rigging, friction) and pure adrenaline. Over the past 10 or so years, I have climbed and removed some of the most challenging trees on and around Vancouver Island, piece by piece, section by section, hour by hour (14 hours up one particular tree 150 feet tall and 7 feet 8 inches through the base!).

big fir

It is no picnic up there…….I have been urinated on by raccoons, stung so many times in the face at once by hornets that my face swelled to an unrecognizable lump, had spiders the size of tea cups crawl across my face and had crows dive-bomb my head. But I have also rescued cats, saved birds’ nests….I even built a Blue Heron habitat perch in Beacon Hill Park (that I am pretty sure only crows and seagulls live in). Every day is different, challenging in its own way and always keeps me on my toes, or spurs.

Stay tuned fir more stories that yew can be sure will knot disappoint….#40-out.