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Carpenter Costin's Blog

Are Your Plants Out of Control?

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Jul 30, 2013 11:54:00 AM

Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s it was customary for home builders to overplant house lots with evergreens.  Now those Rhododendrons or Arborvitaes may be towering over, smothering or just plain hiding your home.

One option is to cut all those evergreen plants down and start over with smaller plants.  Another idea is to cut back and prune those out-of-control shrubs so they fit into the desired space. Yearly pruning will keep your plants from overgrowing their spots and covering your home.

How to Tame Out-of-Control Plants

  • Prune annually to keep plants contained to their site
  • Prune after blooming for the best crop of flowers next spring
  • Cut back new, ‘leggy’ growth for a neater appearance
  • Prune to separate and define plants
  • Thin overgrown shrubs and ornamental trees to improve light and air circulation
  • Don’t attempt this if you are not sure what you are doing, it is easy to damage your plants

You’ll be amazed the difference a little pruning can do to make your property look fantastic.

Need some help? Contact us and we’ll send an arborist out to meet with you for a free consultation.

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Topics: shrub care, shrub pruning, landscape tips

Faster and Safer Tree Work with our NEW Tracked Lift!

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Jul 28, 2013 2:51:00 PM

track lift resizedOur mission has always been to offer the best possible professional tree work, landscape design, and lawn care for our clients. We've been doing that for over 60 years and have some of the most delighted clients around. Now we can provide these services faster, safer, and more cost effectively. We're so excited for our newest piece of equipment, our Tracked Lift!

The tracked lift is so compact that it will fit thru a standard single door. The makeup of the lift allows us to move easily over soft, muddy or delicate finished surfaces without the damage that would be done by other types of wheeled equipment. It can even climb stairs!

Carpenter Costin will be using this beauty for things like:

  • Tree removal without climbing
  • Pruning large hedges without need for a ladder
  • Accessing yards that would otherwise be inaccessible because of fences and small gates

Track lift2 resizedLast week we had the perfect project for our new lift. Our client in Salem, MA had a large maple tree that was posing a hazard to a home with a slate roof. Not only do you want to avoid injury by having a tree fall on your house, but in this case it would be very expensive to repair or replace a slate roof! Like many properties in Salem, this home has a narrow driveway and two small garden gates for entry into the backyard. Without our new tracked lift, we wouldn't have been able to access the tree. Thanks to our new machine we were able to quickly and safely remove it for a much lower cost to the client.

We expect the tracked lift to be involved in a lot more projects going forward. If you have tree or yard work that needs to be done but thought it wouldn't be accessible, get in touch! We'll be happy to show this guy off!

 

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Topics: tree care, Tree Removal, shrub care, Featured Projects, tree pruning, tree trimming, shrub pruning, landscape maintenance, Tracked Lift

Pruning Timing Depends on Pruning Goals

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Jun 6, 2013 10:45:00 AM

pruningWhile it's true that most pruning can be done at any time of year, your pruning goals dictate when a shrub or tree should be pruned.

Size Control of Non-Flowering Shrubs

When pruning shrubs such as Yews, Holly, Juniper, Privet, Arborvitae or Burning Bush, the best time to prune is just after the initial flush of growth.  Bud break occurs on most shrubs in April or May based on temperature and rainfall.  Immediately following the opening of the buds, the shrubs explode with new growth.  This growing period subsides with summer heat and reduced rainfall.  It's at this time, late June to early July, that pruning begins, removing the excessive growth that can cause shrubs to outgrow their intended space.  Later in the summer, usually around September, a ‘touch up’ pruning is done to control the limited growth that occurs in the hot summer months.  This second pruning helps maintain a neat appearance during dormant months.

It should be noted that shearing of shrubs, other than hedges, is not an accepted practice by horticulturalists.    

Spring Flowering Shrubs

There are two main goals in pruning flowering shrubs:

  1. To maintain the shrub within its intended site
  2. To promote maximum flower display

The timing for pruning shrubs such as Viburnum, Honeysuckle, Forsythia, Potentilla and Weigela, is after they flower.  These types of shrubs produce flower buds later in the summer for next year’s blossoms.  Late June or July is the appropriate time to prune such plants to maximize the next year’s flowers.

Large Leaved Rhododendrons

rhododendronLarge leaved Rhododendrons should never be sheared.  Shearing damages the leaves, causing unsightly brown cut margins.  Also, shearing creates a dense outer crown that does not allow light and airflow to easily reach the inside of the shrub’s crown.  Shearing definitely increases insect and disease activity in all shrubs, especially Rhododendrons.

Carpenter Costin hand prunes all large leaved Rhododendrons, maintaining a natural appearance, while maintaining the size of the plant within its intended space.  Rhododendrons are pruned shortly after flowering, which usually occurs sometime in late June.

It should be noted that plant development does not occur based on our calendar, but rather on daily temperature, called ‘Degree Days Heating.’

Summer Flowering Shrubs

blue hydrangeaAs with other flowering shrubs, pruning shortly after flowering is the best time.  Shrubs such as Clethra, Spirea, Rose of Sharon, and Hydrangea flower later in the season.  Summer flowers are produced on the new wood/shoots and develop in the same calendar year.  Hence, pruning too early will remove flowers getting ready for this year’s display. 

Our Strategy

At Carpenter Costin Landscape Management we plan for 3 separate prunings each season targeting specific shrubs.  The timing of our target pruning dates is completely dictated by the shrub’s development and species.  (We monitor Degree Day Heating through the University of Massachusetts for a variety of purposes).

First Pruning

As we can all see, large leaved Rhododendrons are in bloom right now.  I estimate that these shrubs will be pruned at the end of June, just after their flowers fall.

Second Pruning

Spring and early summer shrubs are either flowering now or have just passed flowering.  Pruning of these shrubs and the first pruning of non-flowering shrubs will occur approximately 4 weeks from now, or early July.  This timing will assure that we get the most out of our spring and early summer flowering shrubs and get the best flower development for next year’s blossoms.

Also, the initial growth spurt will be behind us for non-flowering shrubs, allowing for a longer period of time with a managed shape.

Third Pruning

Late summer pruning, to ‘touch up’ the almost certain additional growth of non-flowering shrubs, and the proper pruning time for summer flower shrubs, is September.

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Topics: tree care, shrub care, tree pruning, tree trimming, Carpenter Costin, shrub pruning, landscape care

Prune Now For Spring Flowers

Posted by Carpenter Costin

May 19, 2013 7:42:00 PM

Flowering plants require summer pruning

Craig pruning 2011 resized 600Ask an arborist when the best time to prune your trees and shrubs and he’ll tell you ‘when the saw is sharp.’  For most plants this is true but others have a specific pruning schedule.

Flowering shrubs such as Rhododendron, Lilac, Azalea and ornamental trees such as Dogwood, Crabapple and Hawthorn has completed their flowering for this year and will soon develop buds for next year’s blossoms.  These plants should be pruned now for the best crop of flowers next spring.  If you wait until fall when buds have already set, you will be removing next season’s flowers.

Now is also the perfect time to prune your hedges back into shape.  ‘Leggy’ growth will appear at this time of year on Hemlocks, Yews, Privet, Juniper, and Arborvitae.  Bring them back into shape by hand pruning the long spindly branches.  Reduction of plant height will help maintain strong stems and help protect them from snow damage.  It’s also a good time to prune out deadwood and broken branches for healthy, attractive plants. 

Don’t procrastinate. Give us a call to arrange a property review with one of our arborists and keep your plants blooming beautifully. 877.308.8733

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Topics: tree care, shrub care, tree pruning, tree trimming, landscape tips

Tips for Protecting Shrubs in the Winter

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Nov 29, 2012 3:51:00 PM

Keep your shrubs safe from winter elements with these simple winter shrub care tips.

If you ensure your shrubs make it through the winter damage-free, you’ll be preventing many landscape-associated headaches come spring time. The main threats for shrub damage in the winter include wind damage, snow-weight damage, and salt damage. protect shrubs in winter

Wind Damage

The cold winter wind is capable of excessively drying out the shrubs that maintain their foliage in the winter. The drying process occurs through transpiration of the water within the shrub’s foliage, and is also known as desiccation. To protect your shrubs from drying out, you can apply anti-desiccant liquid to all your broadleaf evergreen shrubs.

Wrapping your shrubs in burlap, or creating a burlap screen, will also help protect your shrubs from damaging winds.

Snow Damage

Depending on which New England winter shows up (100” season like 2010 or hardly a dusting like 2011); your shrubs could potentially be damaged by heavy snowfall, and the placement of snow by shovelers, snow blowers, and plows. The weight of heavy snow alone can be enough to damage shrubs. Compounding that weight by clearing snow from your walkways, driveways, decks, and patios onto your shrubs can cause serious harm. If possible, try to limit the amount of snow weight on your shrubs, especially the younger, less established ones.

Salt Damage

The salt that is used to melt snow and ice is another threat to your shrubs in the winter. Salt acts as an herbicide and can seriously damage or kill the shrubs in its path. There is very little you can do for your shrubs that line the streets that are salted by the town or state; however, on your own driveways and walkways, try to limit the amount of salt used near your shrubs, as it will have a negative impact on their health. If you are experiencing salt damage year after year, you should consider planting a salt-tolerable variety of shrub. Burlapping may help protect from salt damage slightly; however, it is very possible that salt will penetrate the burlap.

If you can limit the damage that the wind, snow, and salt cause to your shrubs in the winter, you’ll be much happier with your landscape come spring. It is also a wise idea to have an Arborist inspect the shrubs and trees on your property before winter hits to ensure everything is in a safe, healthy condition.

 

(Image by Clementina - Wikimedia Commons)

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Topics: shrub care, Winter Tree Service, landscape 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

Summertime Watering of Your Shrubs and Plants

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Jul 31, 2012 3:44:00 PM

Remember to properly water your shrubs and plants this summer to avoid damage from dry soil and hot temperatures.

Watering shrubs and plants cannot be forgotten during the summertime, period! This holds especially true if they have been planted this year or last year. The plentiful rains of spring usually end by mid-June and from then on, the homeowner is responsible for the irrigation of the property’s trees and shrubs. This can be done by adding a professional irrigation system with drip-irrigation; or a well placed garden hose. It doesn’t matter which route you decide to follow – just be sure you’re watering!

During the summer, a deep watering of shrubs and plants once a week is necessary. This can be accomplished simply by putting a garden hose on low and letting it rest around the base of the shrub or plant for a few minutes, allowing the water to slowly penetrate the soil and sink deep into the root system. Doing this should keep the soil around the shrub moist enough for the week and help ensure that the shrub remains healthy throughout the summer. Be sure not to have the water pressure too high as it will just run off, especially if the soil is very dry. Remember, this is extremely important for newly planted or transplanted shrubs!

When watering, always abide by your town’s water restrictions. Drought conditions can be tough on plants, but you still need to follow the regulations. If you give your shrubs and plants a deep watering once a week, they'll come through summer healthy and looking great.

summer watering shrubs

Though complex drip irrigation may be the best and most convenient watering solution; a simple garden hose can be your shrub's ally in the summer.

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Topics: shrub care, plant health care, landscape tips

Prune Before Shrubs Grow Out of Control

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Jul 17, 2012 1:37:00 PM

Don’t wait until it’s too late; regular pruning is not only easier than restoration pruning, but it will ensure your shrubs look great every year!

Waiting too long to prune your shrubs can leave you with the daunting task that is restoration pruning. Pruning your shrubs every year (or multiple times a year when needed) will help keep your shrubs under control and looking great. If you neglect to prune a shrub for a few seasons, you may find that the shrub has grown uncontrollably to a point of no return.

It is best to prune shrubs in the summer, after the shrub has flowered, but before the buds develop for next year. This is especially important after a spring with optimal growing conditions, with plenty of rain and warm temperatures, as shrubs can grow significantly - even in a short period of time. Pruning in the summer after strong growing conditions is critical to ensure your shrubs do not get out of hand.

Regular pruning of shrubs will help keep your landscape attractive and healthy year after year. Should you miss a few years of pruning, you may need to partake in restoration pruning, which is very labor-intensive, has a long turnaround time, and is difficult to achieve without a skilled hand pruner.

If you’re not up for pruning your shrubs yourself, request a free consultation and we can have our professional pruners out to do it for you.

free-shrub-ornamental-pruning-consult

overgrown shrub

This forsythia flowered beautifully early in the spring, but optimal growing conditions in the late spring led the shrub to grow uncontrollably. It must be pruned this summer or else it will be beyond restoration next year.

regular hand pruning

Hand pruning may be tedious, but if you prune your shrubs each summer you'll keep them in check and looking great!

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Topics: shrub care, tree pruning, shrub pruning

Time for Shrub and Ornamental Tree Pruning

Posted by Carpenter Costin

May 25, 2012 3:10:00 PM

As we inch closer to the official start of summer, it’s time to start thinking about pruning your shrubs and ornamental trees.

Spring is a glorious time to be in the landscape. Shrubs and ornamental trees of all sorts will be flowering at various times throughout the spring, adding tremendous color and appeal to the landscape. Just remember, once the shrubs and ornamentals are done flowering you need to prune them to ensure they retain their desired shape, and remain insect and disease free. Pruning this summer will help promote optimal flowering next spring as well.

Ornamental tree and shrub pruning can be a “do it yourself” project, as long as you know a few things beforehand. First, ensure your pruning shears are sharp. Sharp tools will not only make the job easier for you, but it will be better for the tree or shrub being pruned. Just be careful to avoid injury. Next, be sure you know a little about the tree or shrub being pruned to ensure that the pruning is beneficial and not detrimental. For example, pruning fruit trees usually requires different sprout management than flowering trees.

Once you’ve sharpened your tools and identified any specific pruning needs, you’re ready to get started – just make sure you go slowly, and take the occasional step back to see the entire pruning subject before you snip off too much!

If you’d like to leave your shrub and ornamental tree pruning up to the experts, we’d be happy to help out. Click the button below for your free pruning consultation from a Certified Arborist.

free-shrub-ornamental-pruning-consult

ornamental tree and shrub pruning

"Frenchy" hand pruning shrubs last June.

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Topics: tree care, tree planting, shrub care, shrub pruning