Ask the Experts

| Canyon Country Magazine | September 11, 2018

Arborist Chris Miller

What do homeowners typically do wrong, when it comes to watering their trees?

Homeowners make mistakes in both directions: You can damage a tree from not watering it enough, of course, but you can also drown a tree from watering it too much.

A lot of times when people put in new trees, they think they need to water them a whole lot and that’s when they end up drowning them. The root system needs to breathe oxygen from the soil. You want to water to the end of the branches – at the drip line – which is sometimes 10 feet from the trunk. When roots go out and away from the trunk, that’s the end of the pipeline, which is where you catch the most roots. Some roots are close to the trunk, but the majority are out searching for minerals and water.

We recommend a 3-foot penetration of water, because that’s how you get 90 percent of the roots watered. The top section of the soil is the organic layer – roots stay up toward the top for water, minerals and the oxygen they breathe. The deeper they get, the less they get of all three.


Between watering, let your tree dry out. Your palm trees and things like that can take more water because they are tropical plants. And some soils will drain better than others. Use the school of common sense: If you have rocky or sandy soil you need to water more often, but with clay soil you don’t need to water as much. If trees aren’t getting enough water you’ll see their leaves curling up, because they perspire through their leaves.

Chris Miller is a certified arborist and district supervisor for Tip Top Arborists of Santa Clarita. For an arborist consultation, call 661-902-9930 or visit tiptoparborists.com

What Steps Should I Take to Buy a Home?

Many people I talk to are always asking me what they have to do to buy a home. I put together a short list of items to take care of before making a purchase.

Check your credit score: This is super important and can be the difference between buying now or taking 6 to 12 months to get your score up. Your credit score will be a factor in the loan you qualify for, as well as the interest rate and cost of mortgage insurance. It’s also good to check for errors that can be fixed quickly because a Federal Trade Commission study found that one in four people identified errors on their report. The first thing I do with clients is pay for a credit report and go over it with a qualified lender.

How much can I afford? This is where you will need to talk to a qualified lender. They will usually look for a total debt load of no more than 43-50 percent of your gross monthly income, depending on whether it is a Conventional, FHA or VA loan. This is called the debt-to-income ratio and it will include the mortgage and other debts like a car loan, student loan and credit cards. I offer all my clients a free consultation with my lender to find out how much they can afford and what the interest rate will be.

Down payment: The standard down payment for most mortgages is 20 percent of the cost of the home. If you can do this, your loan costs and mortgage will be less, you will have a better interest rate and you will avoid the cost of mortgage insurance, which can save hundreds more a month. Like a lot of first-time buyers, it is hard to save that much, but if your credit score is good, you can qualify for 3 percent down on a Conventional loan and 3.5 percent down on an FHA loan. Military vets that qualify can put 0 down and have no mortgage insurance costs. Also, remember that any deposit funds will have to be seasoned in your account for 60 to 90 days. The good news is that you can also receive the funds as a gift from a family member.

Finding a home: Now that you have good credit, you found out what you qualify for, and have a deposit, it is time to find a home. I truly believe in finding a local real estate agent who is an expert in the neighborhood that you are interested in moving. When you are buying a home, most agents get compensated from the selling side and there should not be a cost to you. Just beware of any agency compliance fees, and ask your agent to waive them if they come up.

Benefits of an agent: Finding the right agent to help you in the home-buying process will be greatly beneficial. All of my services are free and I offer, at my expense, a loan consultation and credit report, as well as up to $5,000 for your closing costs and a free local move when I help you buy a home.


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