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Carpenter Costin's Blog

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

Avoid Over-Mulching Your Trees

Posted by Amy O'Hare

Apr 14, 2014 10:20:46 AM

Mulch is any material spread over soil as a covering. Often, mulch used in landscaping around trees is made from bark chips and is used to inhibit weed growth, hold in soil moisture, and creates aesthetic appeal. Mulch is a excellent part of any landscaping plan, but many people don’t realize that they can kill their trees with too much mulch. 

Over-mulching can create a waterlogged soil and root zone, resulting in root suffocation. Roots need to take in oxygen, unlike leaves that give off oxygen. The problems that are caused from yearly over-mulching are not immediate and symptoms can take up to three to five years to show. When oxygen levels drop below 10 percent, root growth declines. Unfortunately, by the time you recognize the symptoms (off-color foliage, abnormally small leaves, poor growth and die-back of older branches), it's usually too late to apply corrective measures and the plant has begun an irreversible decline. Sugar Maple, Beech, Dogwood, Oak, Tulip, Spruce and Pine trees are most easily damaged by excessive mulch or grade changes. 

Follow these tips to avoid and correct over-mulching:

  • Never add significant amounts of soil or mulch around tree trunks
  • Follow the rule of thumb of keeping mulch and soil below the area of the trunk flare (the trunk spread at the base of tree).
  • If your trees are already over-mulched, help them ‘breathe’ by lowering the depth of the mulch below the root flare.

For more information on tree mulching, please give us a call at 877-308-8733 or request a free consultation.

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Topics: tree care, Spring Landscape Care, Spring, Mulch

Preparing Your Lawn for Spring

Posted by Amy O'Hare

Apr 10, 2014 7:00:00 AM

A healthy lawn does a lot for your yard: it ties together all your landscaping elements, provides a plush place for kids to play, and it provides curb appeal. All homeowners want a beautifully, healthy lawn to enjoy. With the rough winter weather behind us (we hope, at least!), it's time to start preparing your lawn for spring. 

1. Clear the lawn: Preparing your lawn starts with removing dead sticks, leaves and other debris to provide a clean slate so you can assess areas that may need reseeding.

2. Reseed. If you do need to reseed, rake the area to bring healthy soil to the surface and then spread the seed. Be sure to water well.

3. Trim, Don't Cut. There's a misconception that you should mow your grass as low as possible to avoid having to cut it as often. This isn't true and, in fact, a higher mow allows the grass to offer shade that prevents the yard from drying out and establishes a better root system that creates a plusher lawn.

 If you’d like to have some professional help with your lawn, or are thinking about a turf health program, please take advantage of our free consultations and meet with a Carpenter Costin pro.

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Topics: Lawn Care, Spring Landscape Care, Spring

Maintenance Tips For Your Spring Landscape

Posted by Amy O'Hare

Apr 3, 2014 7:00:00 AM

With temperatures skimming 50 all week I think it's safe to say that winter is behind us. It's time to focus on spring! This is the perfect time to plan your spring landscape so you can enjoy your yard through spring, summer, and fall.

Essential Steps For Your Spring Landscape:

Early Spring (April – Early May)

1.       Inspect trees and shrubs for damaged or hazardous branches

2.       Fertilize trees and shrubs to promote growth and improve vigor

3.       Begin fungicide treatments to Dogwoods, Crabapples, and Hawthornes

4.       Dethatch and core aerate lawn to allow water, soil, and nutrient flow.

5.       Slice seed thin areas in lawn

6.       Fertilize lawn and apply crabgrass control

7.       Apply Horticultural Oil to Hemlocks to control Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

 

Mid-to-Late Spring (Late April – Mid May)

1.       Treat Austrian and Red Pines for Diplodia Tip Blight fungus disease

2.       Mulch trees and shrubs to retain soil moisture

3.       Treat Birches for leafminer

4.       Treat plants for Winter Moth and Canker Worms

Contact us for a free landscape consultation.

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Topics: landscape maintenance, landscape tips, landscape care, Spring Landscape Care, Spring

Preparing for Spring Landscaping

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Mar 3, 2014 10:37:00 AM

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It doens't feel like Spring is around the corner but in reality now is a great time to start planning your Spring landscape. To begin, think about how you want to use your yard this year and consider areas for kids or pets, entertaining or outdoor living. If you're not sure, our landscape architects have great ideas and will help you envision your yard as a perfect place to play and relax. 

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Here are some ideas for Spring Landscaping:

  1. Bring warmth and fun to your backyard with a stone fire pit.
  2. Redefine the entrance to your home with a new walkway.
  3. Add a beautiful flowering tree for an interesting focal point.
  4. Introduce seasonal color to your property by adding flowers that bloom all season.
  5. Add outdoor living space with a new patio.
  6. Remove or transplant overgrown shrubs that detract from curb appeal.
  7. Install a stone wall to delineate a seating area.

Carpenter Costin’s landscape architects will work with you to explore the possibilities of your property and turn your dreams into reality.  Call now for a no obligation consultation on spring landscaping, 877/308-8733.  

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Topics: tree planting, hardscape design, Carpenter Costin, Landscape Design, Landscape Construction, landscape tips, Spring Landscape Care, Spring

Tips for a Great Lawn This Spring

Posted by Carpenter Costin

May 8, 2012 9:07:00 AM

Take advantage of the weather this spring and make some significant improvements to your lawn.

It seems like we’ve settled into a normal spring weather pattern. A few days of moderate temperatures, cloud cover, and precipitation followed by a couple of warm, sunny days. This cycle usually occurs for about four weeks each spring before settling into a more summer-like pattern, and it can be a tremendous time to make improvements to your lawn, without any back-breaking or wallet-wrenching work.

First step to improving your lawn is to ensure it is clean of all leaves and debris, which usually occurs in a spring clean up. Clearing your turf of debris will help minimize pest activity and will allow for photosynthesis to occur without disruption. Next, you should dethatch your lawn and remove the dead “thatch.” This can be done with a rake and strong shoulders, or a dethatching machine that can be rented at your local equipment rental store.

The next step to take to improve your turf is to create a thicker, healthier lawn by over-seeding. This is a simple process that requires broadcast spreading new seed over your turf. As the seed establishes it will create lush turf and out-compete weeds. Weather conditions are perfect this time of year, allowing seed to germinate very quickly; however, don’t forget to water if we’re not receiving enough rain. Also, if we’re expecting torrential downpours, don’t spread seed right before as it will just wash away with the water. A good slow soaking rain is the best to help the seed germinate.

Following these easy steps will undoubtedly improve your lawn this spring and help create a thick, lush lawn that will last all summer long. If you’d like to have some professional help with your lawn, or are thinking about a turf health program, please take advantage of our free consultations and meet with a Carpenter Costin pro.

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spring lawn care tips

Following the above tips will help create a thick, lush lawn this spring.

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Topics: Lawn Care, landscape care, Spring Landscape Care

Proper Spring Watering

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Apr 19, 2012 10:39:00 AM

Ensure your turf, trees, and shrubs are getting enough water this spring.

April is usually a month full of precipitation, but 2012 has been different. With very little rain, much of our region has been bordering on drought conditions. This does not bode well for plant and turf health, as ample water is necessary this time of year to ensure healthy growth in our landscape. Without enough rain water, you’ll need to take it upon yourself to keep your spring wateringsoil, turf, and plants watered.

If you have an irrigation system, with or without rain sensors, you may feel as though you are covered and you do not need to do any extra watering. This may be the case for your turf; however, most irrigation systems are not set up to water your trees and shrubs. A common misconception among homeowners with irrigation systems is that their whole landscape is covered – this is often untrue, so be sure you’re trees and shrubs are being watered too.

The general rule of thumb is to make sure your turf, shrubs, and trees get at least one inch of water each week. In an average spring we can get an inch or more of rain each week, but this spring has been different so be sure you're watering your landscape. Failure to water your landscape can lead to long-term health issues in your trees, shrubs, and lawn. Stressed trees and shrubs will be more susceptible to insect and disease infestation,and internal damage.

Take advantage of our free consultations and learn more about tree and turf health care from a Carpenter Costin pro.

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watering tips for lawn and trees

Make sure you're watering this spring to keep your landscape green and healthy.

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Topics: plant health care, landscape tips, Turf Management, Spring Landscape Care

Proper Mulching Techniques

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Apr 11, 2012 1:47:00 PM

Preserve the health of your trees and avoid over-mulching this spring.

Adding mulch to your landscape in the spring is almost like a rite of passage from winter to spring each year. Mulch stimulates both the eyes and the nose, adding extra appeal and a pleasant smell to your landscape, all the while helping to keep the weeds in your flowerbeds down. It can also provide great benefits to your trees and shrubs by keeping them moist; however, if you over-mulch your trees and shrubs you can actually do damage to them.

Over-mulching occurs when you add too much mulch and cover the trunk flare at the base of a tree. When too much mulch is piled up around the trunk flare and root base it can actually cause excessive moisture which can lead to root rot and permanently damage a tree. This will also limit the oxygen levels which will hinder root growth.

The environment created by over-mulching can be conducive to fungus and canker diseases. The excessive heat and moisture within thick mulch is the perfect environment for damaging fungus and bacteria, which can severely damage the tree or shrub under the cover of the mulch and never been seen. These diseases usually gain entry through decaying bark that is common on over-mulched trunk flares and work their way through the entire tree.

Mulch is a great addition to a landscape in the spring; however, when applied incorrectly it can be hazardous to a tree or shrub. Be sure to keep the mulch a few inches off the trunk flare and spread it very thinly over root areas. When over-mulched, a tree or shrub can be stressed and even killed. If you have any questions regarding mulch application or general tree and shrub health, please don’t hesitate to request a free property evaluation with a Carpenter Costin professional.

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over mulched tree

This over-mulched tree has evidence of canker disease highlighted by the red circle.

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Topics: plant health care, landscape tips, Spring Landscape Care