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Carpenter Costin's Blog

Gypsy Moth Infestation Expected to Be Bad in Spring 2016

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Apr 6, 2016 8:30:00 AM

If you don’t remember the Gypsy moth infestation of the 80’s, you will be introduced to this insect in the Spring.  Last year we saw pockets of Gypsy Moth infestation in the Topsfield area and surrounding towns.  As their population increases, more and more local areas can expect tree damage from these nasty pests.

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The following description is from U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Insect Leaflet 162:

The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar Linnaeus, is one of the most notorious pests of hardwood trees in the Eastern United States. Since 1980, the gypsy moth has defoliated close to a million or more forested acres each year.

In 1981, a record 12.9 million acres were defoliated. This is an area larger than Rhode Island, Massachusetts,and Connecticut combined.

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A single gypsy moth caterpillar can eat a square foot of leaves a day.  Although trees have a second set of leaves ready to replace those they lose, this takes significant energy. Three or four years of complete defoliation can result in the death of even a large tree.  In wooded suburban areas, during periods of infestation, when trees are visibly defoliated, gypsy moth larvae crawl up and down walls, across roads, over outdoor furniture, and even inside homes.

Gypsy Moths emerge about one month after Winter Moth/Cankerworms, another ferocious feeder, extending the caterpillar feeding season by at least a month.  

How to Treat for Gypsy Moths:

Gypsy Moths are treated in the same way as Winter Moth/Cankerworms, by spray or injection. If you are treating your trees for Winter Moth/Cankerworms, an additional 1 or 2 treatments may be needed to protect your trees from Gypsy Moths.

If you'd like to schedule a free consultation with a Plant Health expert, click below:

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Topics: Insect & Disease Management, plant health care

Beech Trees Suffer Epidemic Decline

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Mar 31, 2016 3:57:11 PM

An epidemic decline is affecting European Beech trees up and down the east coast. Beech trees are being infected by a fungus that causes bleeding cankers on the lower trunk and eventual die-off in the upper branches. If this fungus is left untreated the tree will die within five years.

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Beech Phytophthora pathogen is the culprit. This fungus enters wounds and succulent roots causing cankers that ooze reddish-brown sap. Eventually, new leaves remain small and yellow, and branches begin to die.

These ‘bleeding’ cankers cause the cambium, the living layer of the tree where most vital cellular activity takes place, to lose moisture and dry out. This leads to root loss and canopy decline resulting in the death of the tree.

Treatment with a broad spectrum fungicide, applied to the trunk,  can stop the damage, allowing the tree to recover, essentially ‘healing the wounds’.  

Helping a tree to grow is the most important thing to improve the health of a sick tree. Radial trenching with an air spade, backfilling with compost and deep root, liquid fertilization have proven to be the best methods to increase and invigorate tree growth. [Learn more about plant health care here]

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Please note that Beech Phytophthora only affects European Beech trees, not American Beech.  European Beech are the most common variety used in landscape plantings.

If you would like a Certified Arborist to inspect your Beech trees, as well as the other trees and plants on your property, please click below for a free consultation.

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Topics: plant health care

Why Rhododendron Leaves Curl in Winter

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Feb 17, 2016 3:45:48 PM

Now that the weather has turned mighty cold, you may notice something strange happening to your Rhododendrons. The leaves on your plants are drooping down and curling up. Is something wrong with these plants?

You are seeing nature at its best. It’s cold, and when certain broadleaved evergreens winter-rhododendron.pngget cold, they take measures to protect themselves. They practice thermotropism. Much like a human wraps their arms around themselves or animals huddle when cold, rolling up their leaves offers these protection from cold winds. The inner part of the leaf, where a lot of moisture loss occurs, is hidden from the wind when rolled.

Gardeners claim they can tell the temperature by how their Rhododendron leaves appear; the more they roll and droop, the colder it is, until around zero they start to look like green beans hanging from the branches. As it warms again, the leaves unroll and stand up again. That is, unless it’s gotten so cold they have dried out completely and died, which can happen even with the hardiest rhododendrons.  Moisture loss is what causes most winter injury in plants.

Rhododendron_in_flower-sm.jpgIf you want your rhododendrons to look like this in the spring, you'll want to protect them from the winter elements.

Treating your broadleaved evergreens an antitranspirant in fall will help. This water based product seals the leaves and stems so that moisture is not released from them.  It’s something to remember for next fall.   

Also remember to plant broadleaved evergreens in areas protected from north winds to help prevent leaf desiccation and plant loss.

If you'd like to learn more about tree and plant health, take advantage of a free consultation with a Carpenter Costin arborist.

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Topics: plant health care

The Dangers of Volcano Mulch

Posted by Marc Bolcome

Jun 26, 2015 11:49:16 AM

Why Too Much Mulch Can Damage Your Trees

We've all seen it. You drive by a freshly mulched property, notice that distinct smell of fresh mulch, and take a closer look at the newly mulched flower and tree beds. To an untrained eye, you might see an appealing bed with a tree and a few other smaller plants. The trained eye, however, cannot look past the glaring danger that is commonly referred to as "volcano mulch."volcano-mulch-tree

The term "volcano mulch" is used to describe excessive mulch along the root flare and base of a tree, which ends up looking very much like a volcano.

Mulch against tree bark holds in excess moisture. This moisture suffocates and rots the inside layers of tissue cells (xylem/phloem) that transfer food up and down the plant. The following are commonly found issues with "volcano mulch":

  • Trees weakened and stressed by moisture/rot issues are susceptible to insects, fungi and bacteria.
  • Increased growth of unwanted suckers which will weaken structural development.
  • Water is prevented from penetrating to the tree’s roots and weak secondary roots will cause strangulation.

How to Mitigate Risks of Volcano Mulch

If your trees have been "volcano mulched" on a regular basis there could be substantially damage caused. A air-spadingsolution that we recommend for improving the health and reviving "volcano mulched" trees is air spading. This safe, effective, and economical solution is the best way to remove excess amounts of mulch without causing harm to the tree. Air spading will reduce soil compaction and help expose the root flare as nature intended. Your tree will no longer be stressed and look like a "volcano."

Request a free consultation if your trees have been "volcano mulched" and a Certified Arborist will be able to assess the damage and develop a plan for bringing the tree back to health.

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Topics: tree care, plant health care, Spring Landscape Care

Using Compost When Planting Annuals

Posted by Amy O'Hare

May 13, 2014 9:53:18 AM

Annual-Flower-Bed-2Annuals are a great way to add color and brighten up planting beds. One of the most important factors in planting annuals - and for any planting! - is starting with good soil.  For long lasting, vibrant blooms, many landscape contractors add compost to flower beds. 

Compost is often called black gold and many consider it the most important form of organic matter. Commercially produced compost is ‘green waste’, leaves or wood chips or products, which has decomposed into nutrient rich humus, similar to soil on a forest floor. 

Compost energizes the soil food web and enhances the ability of many plants to stand up to common diseases and insects. The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. 

You can buy bagged compost, or if you have the time, make it yourself. Compost is the end-product of the decomposition of organic matter and typical ingredients include leaves or grass clippings from your garden and vegetable trimmings from your kitchen. Put all biodegradable waste in a container and stir regularly. Compost is ready when it is dark brown, crumbly, and has an earthy smell. It should not be moldy, powdery, hot, or smell like ammonia. 

To add compost to your flower or vegetable garden, cover the top layer of soil with 3 to 4 inches of compost and rake thoroughly. Dig the holes, insert your plants, and sprinkle another layer of compost over the top of the soil layer. Water well. 

Don’t be surprised if you have many, many more blooms and vegetables than your neighbors!

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Topics: plant health care, Spring, compost

Plant Health and Pest Management Program Plus a 10% Prepay Discount

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Mar 4, 2014 10:39:48 AM

Understanding what is delivered in your plant health care and pest control programs will help set expectations and goals for your landscape.

Everyone wants the perfect landscape, with healthy and beautiful trees and shrubs; however, not everyone is willing to invest in a comprehensive plant health care program. Even those who do invest in plant health care may not understand the plant health care pest managementcomprehensiveness of their programs. Knowing what to expect from a landscape care program will help you achieve your goals, and limit landscape-associated headaches.

A plant health care or pest management program is comprised of a series of visits that include inspection and treatment of the trees and shrubs on your property. At Carpenter Costin, our Pest Management Program consists of five visits, and our Plant Health Care Program consists of eight visits.

Not all plant health care programs are equal. Programs depend on the knowledge and equipment that a company has, and determines if they’re capable of providing various technical services. Most providers offer programs based on timely visits, and usually start at three-visit programs and go up to comprehensive eight-visit programs. One-time target treatments are also available for specific prevention, such as Hemlock Woolly Adelgid or Ticks.

Determining which program is best for you should be based on your property and your budget; however, for optimal results, it is recommended that you opt for a minimum of five visits. A five visit program ensures control and prevention of insects, and also provides control on plant diseases. Opting for anything less than five visits jeopardizes the ability to control the pests, and is not the best investment for your landscape.

Many collegiate horticultural programs recommend property visits and treatments every two weeks throughout the growing season; however, at an average cost of about $80, the price tag for such a program would be substantial. A five visit program offers the best bang for your buck, while an eight visit program provides the most comprehensive control and prevention. If it fits your budget, more visits are better; however, five and eight visit programs are very economical without sacrificing quality.

Although plant health care experts are great at predicting when certain pests will become active based on factors of phenology, they cannot forecast this more than a few weeks to a month in advance - and so much is based on micro-climates (meaning pests active in Swampscott may not be active in Andover). Relying on a three visit program to handle your plant health care needs may jeopardize the ability to tailor due to current conditions and micro-climates.

For best results, we recommend that you choose a five visit or eight visit program. There is exceptional value in choosing a five or eight visit plan, and it ensures that your trees and shrubs maintain great health. A three visit program may be less expensive, but we urge you to be cautious when choosing a plan under five visits, as sacrifices must be made. For more plant health information, request a free consultation with one of our experts.

We're extending our 10% discount for prepaying for insect & disease management services until March 15. 

10% Prepayment Discount for Tree, Shrub, Lawn Treatments/Programs Until March 1

 

plant health and pest control

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Topics: plant disease management, pest management, plant health care

The Truth About Plant Health and Pest Management Programs

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Dec 7, 2012 3:39:00 PM

Understanding what is delivered in your plant health care and pest control programs will help set expectations and goals for your landscape.

Everyone wants the perfect landscape, with healthy and beautiful trees and shrubs; however, not everyone is willing to invest in a comprehensive plant health care program. Even those who do invest in plant health care may not understand the plant health care pest managementcomprehensiveness of their programs. Knowing what to expect from a landscape care program will help you achieve your goals, and limit landscape-associated headaches.

A plant health care or pest management program is comprised of a series of visits that include inspection and treatment of the trees and shrubs on your property. At Carpenter Costin, our Pest Management Program consists of five visits, and our Plant Health Care Program consists of eight visits.

Not all plant health care programs are equal. Programs depend on the knowledge and equipment that a company has, and determines if they’re capable of providing various technical services. Most providers offer programs based on timely visits, and usually start at three-visit programs and go up to comprehensive eight-visit programs. One-time target treatments are also available for specific prevention, such as Hemlock Woolly Adelgid or Ticks.

Determining which program is best for you should be based on your property and your budget; however, for optimal results, it is recommended that you opt for a minimum of five visits. A five visit program ensures control and prevention of insects, and also provides control on plant diseases. Opting for anything less than five visits jeopardizes the ability to control the pests, and is not the best investment for your landscape.

Many collegiate horticultural programs recommend property visits and treatments every two weeks throughout the growing season; however, at an average cost of about $80, the price tag for such a program would be substantial. A five visit program offers the best bang for your buck, while an eight visit program provides the most comprehensive control and prevention. If it fits your budget, more visits are better; however, five and eight visit programs are very economical without sacrificing quality.

Although plant health care experts are great at predicting when certain pests will become active based on factors of phenology, they cannot forecast this more than a few weeks to a month in advance - and so much is based on micro-climates (meaning pests active in Swampscott may not be active in Andover). Relying on a three visit program to handle your plant health care needs may jeopardize the ability to tailor due to current conditions and micro-climates.

For best results, we recommend that you choose a five visit or eight visit program. There is exceptional value in choosing a five or eight visit plan, and it ensures that your trees and shrubs maintain great health. A three visit program may be less expensive, but we urge you to be cautious when choosing a plan under five visits, as sacrifices must be made. For more plant health information, request a free consultation with one of our experts.

plant health and pest control

Ritzi staying busy with our plant health care and pest management programs.

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Topics: plant disease management, pest management, plant health care

Winter-Proofing Shrubs and Plants with Anti-Desiccant

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Nov 19, 2012 3:09:00 PM

Protect evergreen shrubs from harsh winter cold and winds with anti-desiccant applications.

Desiccation is the dehydration of a plant due to water loss in the leaves through transpiration that occurs during the winter, as brutally cold winds rip through our region. Protecting evergreen shrubs, which maintain their foliage through winter, from desiccation will ensure they do not dry out and die during our cold winter months. Applying an anti-desiccant (or anti-transpirant) will help make sure your evergreens stay healthy through the winter.

Anti-desiccant is a foliar, topical application that forms a waxy coating around the leaves of evergreens. This coating protects the leaves from losing water through transpiration caused by winter winds and cold temperatures. By maintaining the moisture in the leaves, broadleaf evergreens will be able to survive the winter, even when frozen ground limits the availability of water.

Although winter can cause damage to all trees and shrubs that maintain their foliage anti-desiccant applicationthroughout the winter, broadleaf evergreens are most susceptible to damage, and are most likely to experience harming long-term health effects from winter damage. Broadleaf evergreens that are prone to winter damage in New England include, but are not limited to, rhododendron, boxwood, and holly.

Anti-desiccant applications must be completed in the late fall and early winter when temperatures are between 50 degrees and 32 degrees. Applying anti-desiccant when temperatures are below freezing can actually do more harm than good for a shrub. It is important to pick a period of time that will be rain and frost-free for at least 24 hours, as both rain and frost can impact the application’s effectiveness. When applying anti-desiccant, be sure to apply it to both the topside and underside of the leaves.

Most garden centers or plant nurseries will sell anti-desiccant, and it may also be available at your local hardware store. If you want to leave the anti-desiccant applications to the professionals, click below for a free consultation. Preserving broadleaf evergreens through the winter will ensure they look great come spring!

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Topics: Winter Tree Service, plant health care

The Value of Professional Plant Health Care Programs

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Sep 4, 2012 4:15:00 PM

Comprehensive plant health care programs will keep your property’s trees and shrubs healthy year round, and ensure your landscape is adding optimal value to your property.

Plant health care programs comprise of multiple visits and treatments aimed at improving and plant health care programmaintaining the health and appeal of a landscape. Effective plant health care programs utilize proactive treatments to control and prevent insects, diseases, and other unwanted items in the landscape. Having a trained professional on your property multiple times in a growing season for inspections will also mitigate any other health and safety risks in the landscape.

Plant Health Care Overview

A comprehensive plant health care program will provide your trees and shrubs with the protection it needs from unwanted insects and diseases, while also providing valuable fertilizers to ensure your landscape gets the nutrients it needs. A professional plant health care vendor will offer a complete program that inspects and treats for:

  • Winter Moth
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
  • Aphids
  • Lacebugs
  • Scale
  • Cankerworm
  • Anthracnose
  • Tip Blight
  • Needle Blight
  • Apple Scab
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Leaf Spot

In addition to pest management and fertilization, winter protection and wilt proofing can be included to provide complete year round protection.

Delivering Value in Plant Health Care

In order to get the most value out of your Plant Health Care programs, you must work with a professional firm - with certified and trained technicians - who are licensed to handle pesticides. Choosing to work with a firm that is not certified is a risk you do not want to take, regardless of the price of their programs or treatments.

Also, ensure your vendor offers flexible programs, with great communication. Not only will it be helpful to know what has been treated after a visit, but it is also important to receive notification before treatments. This will ensure that your treatments do not interfere with any outdoor activity you have planned.

Keeping the trees and shrubs on your property in tip-top shape will help ensure you draw the maximum value out of your landscape. Investing in a plant health care program will also help you avoid severe pest damage that may require removal, which usually requires a much greater investment. Click below for a free plant health care consultation.

plant-health-care-consultation

plant health care treatments

Always choose a vendor with trained, licensed professionals.

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Topics: tree care, shrub care, plant health care

Tree and Shrub Fertilizer: Surface vs. Subsurface Applications

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Aug 28, 2012 3:10:00 PM

Discover the differences between granular surface fertilizer and subsurface liquid fertilizer, and find out which method is best for your trees and shrubs.

Fertilizing trees and shrubs in the fall is vital for optimal tree health and growth. Fall is the best time to fertilize trees and shrubs, as they are putting extra effort into root development – rather than flower or leaf development. Adding extra nutrients will only help the trees and shrubs develop stronger root systems, which helps promote long term health and appeal.  There are two main types of tree and shrub fertilizer applications that can be used in the fall: subsurface and surface fertilizers.subsurface tree fertilizer

Subsurface liquid fertilizers are applied through injections, and are injected directly into the root zone to ensure fast action from the fertilizer. Liquid fertilizer injections require fairly complex equipment and should only be completed by trained professionals. One drawback of subsurface fertilizer injection is that you can actually inject the fertilizer too deeply – effectively missing the root zone and rendering the fertilizer useless.

Although subsurface injections can be great when done properly, granular surface fertilizer is a wiser choice for homeowners. Granular fertilizer spread liberally through shrub beds and around the base of trees can be every bit as effective as (or more effective than) subsurface injections. Granular applications are less expensive than subsurface liquid injections, and often times they produce better results.

Fertilization of trees and shrubs in the fall is always a good idea for established, mature trees and shrubs; however, it is imperative to fertilize newly planted or transplanted specimens. Fall is an important time for root development, and young (or recently relocated) trees and shrubs can really use the added nutrients to help establish a strong root system.

To learn more about fertilization, request a free consultation with one of our plant health care specialists.

plant-health-care-consultation

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Topics: tree care, shrub care, plant health care