‘Tree nerd’ keeping town cool

Jesse Dickson, self-proclaimed “tree nerd” and Town arborist, has been busy lately pruning and trimming the trees that the Town of Wickenburg owns. (Shawn Byrne/Sun photo)

By Shawn Byrne

Sun Editor/Photographer

Earth Day may have come and went with barely a whimper April 22 because of the COVID-19 crisis, but the small Town of Wickenburg tree crew is out and about, busy pruning to keep the Town’s tree-scape healthy.

“This is a very hot climate and we need more shade,” said Jesse Dickson, Town arborist. “Trees are important. They produce oxygen, clean our air, and bring up property values – not just for homeowners but also brings up value in a town or city.”

Dickson came to work for the Town of Wickenburg in August with 18 years experience in tree care and credentials from the International Society of Arboriculture. He first went to work for the City of Scottsdale when he was 18, and after four years moved on to the City of Phoenix where he had been for the past 14 years.

“What really made me want to start getting into tree work was that every single one of my supervisors were aborists,” he said. “I took interest in how to properly prune trees and they guided and taught me.”

Dickson was no stranger to Wickenburg when he arrived because he grew up in Yarnell. He remembers driving through and admiring Wickenburg and thinking how much the town stood out. He enjoys that downtown is beautifully landscaped, which attracts people and tourists.

“This place has an awesome significance to me,” he said. “It stands out because Wickenburg is still holding on and keeping that western vibe and heritage in it. The community, the people seem really nice and really care.”

Cole King, 21, works alongside Dickson as the two form a team maintaining Wickenburg’s trees. Dickson is excited in the energy King brings to the job, hopefully making the trees in safe hands for years to come.

“Cole’s taken an interest in learning arboriculture work,” Dickson said. “He wants to know how to make proper cuts. It’s really important to make proper cuts on a tree.”

When people cut their own trees without some basic knowledge, they’re in danger of butchering their trees. There is plenty of information out there for tree owners, and they don’t even have to leave their homes in this COVID-19 times. Dickson invites folks to call him through the Town’s Parks and Recreation Department, local nurseries should be of help, and there is always the internet with videos that show how to properly care for trees.

“The way you prune a tree is going to affect its health,” Dickson said. “I’m such a tree nerd. No matter where I go, I’m always looking up at the trees.”

When the team is out in the field and maintaining trees, it can appear what is being done to the trees is for aesthetics. While that is a concern to be considered when pruning, it isn’t the first priority.

“I look at trees from a different aspect than most others,” Dickson said. “I prune them for the health of the tree. Every tree in the desert landscape needs a certain type of attention. You can’t prune every one the same way.”

A date hasn’t been set in stone, but the Town is planning on planting new trees sometime next month at Sunset Park. Many Chinese pistache trees will be planted, which can withstand harsh conditions and grow to a height of 25-35 feet.

“It’s one of my favorite trees,” Dickson said. “It’s a beautiful shade tree.”

He said there would not be a problem if people wanted to volunteer and assist in the planting, if by then social distancing guidelines allow it.

“It would definitely be nice to have a lot of the public out there,” he said. “We’re always happy to have volunteers who want to learn how to properly plant a tree or just volunteer to put one in the ground.”

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