carpenter_costin_logo_new.png
hero_bg_image_2.jpg

Carpenter Costin Blog

Leaves Drop Early Due to Weather

Many of our local trees are suffering this year. Changes in seasonal weather are damaging the health and beauty of our trees, as long stretches of hot, humid weather and drought are taking their toll on our trees Leaf Scorch 1and shrubs. If you look around at your plants’ leaves you will see damaged, browned, and dried out edges. This is called Leaf Scorch. The leaves have also started dropping during the summer months instead of the fall months when they normally turn beautiful colors and then fall.

Here are some of the weather and environmental factors causing Leaf Scorch and massive, early leaf drop:

  • Several early spring storms with winds interrupted early leaf development
  • Waxy leaf coating, epidermis, did not develop properly causing leaves to be much thinner and more delicate than normal
  • Salt spray along the coast caused buds to be stunted and deformed
  • Long stretches of high humidity, lack of rain and heat has scorched leaf margins

Early loss of leaves limits the amount of time trees have to build up reserves through photosynthesis. Loss of leaves and drought stress can weaken trees and cause future limb loss. The impact of Leaf Scorch and early leaf drop will affect your trees for many years to come.

How to Save Your Plants

Here are the two best tactics that you can use for all of your plants to keep them as healthy as possible:

  1. Water plants during hot and dry spells
  2. Deep root, liquid fertilize your plants

Deep Root, Liquid Fertilization

Residential trees and shrubs do not get the natural nutrients found in a forest where fallen leaves break down into loamy humus. Deep root, liquid fertilization contains those missing nutrients which will invigorate and strengthen your plants. The fertilizer is injected directly into their root system supplying not only the missing vital materials, but also giving them a thorough watering.

For more information on Leaf Scorch or improving the health of your tree and shrubs, please give us a call at (877)308-8733 or (781)598-1924 and ask for Bonnie, or request a free consultation below.

REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION

Are Your Plants Overgrown?

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 startshrub-pruning-service over with new, smaller plants.  Another idea is to cut back and prune those out-of-control shrubs so they fit into the desired space.  The best option would be to conduct yearly pruning to keep your plants from overgrowing their spots and covering your home, deck, patio, and fence.  This would ensure optimal health and aesthetics.

The following six tips will help you tame your out-of-control plants:

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

You’ll be amazed at the difference a little pruning will make to your property.

Need some help?  Give us a call, or request a free consultation, and we’ll send an arborist out to meet with you to discuss your pruning needs.

REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is Killing Our Trees

Hemlock-woolly-adelgid.jpeg

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) is a tiny insect that is barely visible.  It is atypical of most other insect species as it is dormant for much of the growing season and active throughout the winter.  

By mid-July, the immature insects settle on the stems, at the base of the needles, and become dormant, neither feeding nor developing.  By mid-October, the insect resumes feeding and development.  By mid-February they start producing new egg masses.  Most people become aware of this pest when they notice the white, cottony egg masses lined up at the base of the needles on their Hemlocks.

The HWA sucks the sap from Hemlock needles but also introduces a chemical from its saliva which acts as a toxin.  This toxin accelerates the demise of the tree.  The loss of sap will cause needles to brown and drop, leaving trees unable to produce food and energy via photosynthesis.

Healthy trees, in good growing sites, may withstand infestations for 5-10 years before being seriously affected.  Trees stressed from drought, soil compaction or those in poor growing sites may succumb to HWA within 3 years.

This pest attacks both the Eastern (Canada) Hemlock and the Carolina Hemlock, two species common to New England.  The Western Hemlock is resistant to this pest, but does not grow well in the Northeast.

Once this pest has been identified on Hemlocks, it must be managed quickly.  Applications of horticultural oil have been shown to be extremely effective against HWA.  The oil kills the organism by suffocation and is effective against all life stages, including the eggs.  Severely infested trees will need more intensive pesticide treatments.

Once the pest has been brought under control, the trees continue to require once or twice yearly treatments.  Untreated trees in surrounding areas will act a reservoir for this pest and serve to re-infest treated trees.  Wind and birds are primarily responsible for the movement of HWA from tree to tree.

HWA is a serious threat to our beautiful Hemlocks and should not be ignored. If you have Hemlocks on your property it is a good idea to schedule a free inspection with a Certified Arborist to ensure the health and safety of your Hemlock trees. Request a free evaluation below.

REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION

 

Historically High Pollen Levels This Year

Pear trees at long hill.jpg

You may be wondering why your allergies are worse this year than in the past. The reason is that pollen levels of Maple, Birch, and Cherry trees are at historically high levels this Spring.

If you are suffering now, it may be a while before you get any relief. In fact, in a few weeks you can expect even more allergy misery from Oak, Pine, and other heavy tree pollinators.

The reason for the high levels of pollen this year is that trees are responding to the drought conditions they experienced over the past few years. When a tree is under stress, they are genetically predisposed to produce as many seeds as possible to prevent the species from extinction.

For the trees to have seeds, there must first be flowers. An abundance of pollen is then produced by the male parts of the flowers, called anthers.

High pollen levels are symptoms of a tree that is under severe stress. If environmental conditions do not improve, decline of these trees can be expected in the foreseeable future.

If you have any questions, or would like one of our arborists to inspect your trees for any health and structural issues, please give us a call at (781)598-1924 or (877)308-8733 or request a consultation below.

REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION

Excessive Drought Damages Evergreen Trees

There is a defoliation problem with evergreen trees which started last year. Fertilization and added soil inoculants can help, but the effects of multiple years of environmental stress (drought) are taking its toll. The problem is region-wide and is serious. Please see the following report from my alma mater, UMass, that goes into great detail concerning this matter.

Based on my own experience, the UMass research, and several discussions with fellow arborist - I summarize the problem as follows:

1. Several years of drought have greatly affected trees with low energy reserves by weakening their defense systems to the point of exposing them to secondary pathogens that never cause the demise of healthy, well hydrated trees. Unfortunately, Darwin's theory of 'survival of the fittest' is at play here and you may expect the loss of some trees as they are just too weak to survive. There is no magic potion that would have prevented the death of these trees (rain would have helped) and to blindly blast them with poisonous fungicides would be irresponsible. [More information from the UMass Extension Plant Diagnostics Lab]

2. Excessive layering of mulch is also a contributing factor to the weakening of these trees. Please see the attached report from Rutgers University that explains in detail the problems associated with mulching. My biggest concern is the stripping away of needles (spring and fall clean up) that the trees produce to counterbalance the effects of drought. Trees know when they are stressed and the defoliation is the tree's way of increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil to sustain specific microbial vitality. 'Air spading' in the fall/early winter of to can help reverse the effects of excessive mulching. [More information from the Rutgers NJAES]

3. SALT - There was a time when sand/salt mix was an acceptable winter roadway application. About 10 years ago, this changed and now we are collectively addicted to salt in the greater route 128 belt. This has a negative impact on trees and in my opinion is a leading cause to the decline of trees that line our roadways. Please see the attached fact sheet from UMass regarding the negative effects of salt. Aside from the obvious problem with salt wicking moisture from living cells, my biggest concern is the binding up of the soil on a molecular level, otherwise known as 'cation exchange'. This will result in neutralizing the soil to extent that the trees are not able to absorb nutrients. [More information from UMass]

Hopefully this information based on science will bring greater awareness to the challenges that trees are now facing. If you are experiencing defoliation in your evergreens, or any other symptoms that indicate your trees are damaged, please take advantage of a free consultation with a Certified Arborist.

REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION

Pear Blossoms Damaged by February Warmth

Pear trees at long hill.jpg

Recently we fielded a lot of calls about Pear trees not blossoming this spring. This is actually a weather related issue and not caused by insect or disease damage. This past February there was one day where the temperature reached 70 degrees. People were celebrating with barbecues. The Pear trees thinking spring arrived, broke dormancy and expanded their buds. But spring had not arrived and when the cold weather returned, it killed off the tender buds.

The bad news is that you missed out on this year’s beautiful spring Pear blossoms. The good news is that the cold weather did not damage the trees’ leaf buds.

Undamaged leaf buds mean that your trees will leaf out normally and their health should not be negatively impacted.

If your Pear trees or any of your trees do not leaf out this spring, they may have been severely damaged by the stress of years of drought conditions. If this is the case, we recommend having them inspected by an Arborist. Click below to request a free consultation with one of our Arborists.

REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION 

Why Your Evergreen Needles Turn Yellow

Fall brings us beautiful colors on Oaks, Maples and other trees in New England, but fall also brings changes in the needles of conifers, such as Pines, Spruces and Arborvitae.

These types of trees are commonly termed evergreens because their needles stay green year round. Well, at least most of the needles stay green. The average lifespan of evergreen needles is three years. In the fall of their third year, the oldest needles turn yellow and drop from the tree, leaving only the one and two year old needles on the outside of the branch.

New needles form in the spring, at the tips of limbs, so again there is three years of needle growth on the tree. So if your evergreen has been healthy all season and then suddenly, in September or October, some of the needles turn yellow, don’t be alarmed, it’s natural - except in seasons of extended drought, where yellow needles can indicate tree health issues. Such is the case in years like this year where we have experienced a season with excessive drought stress. This will lead to more than the average amount of needle drop, and in some cases, defoliation.

If you are concerned about your evergreens, please request a free consultation with an Arborist, as they are trained to identify drought stress and differentiate it from natural third year needle drop.

Request a Free Consultation

Why Do Leaves Turn Color in Fall?

Autumn in the Northeast can be a spectacular season of bright blue skies, cool temperatures, and brilliant leaf color.

fall-leaves.png

Tree and plant leaves contain pigments that give them their color. Three pigments are involved in fall color:

  • Chlorophyll — gives leaves their green color
  • Carotenoids — provide the yellow, orange, and brown colors
  • Anthocyanins — give the red and purple colors. In contrast to the other two pigments, anthocyanins are produced in the autumn, in response to bright light and excess plant sugars in the leaf cells

During the growing season, most tree leaves are green because they are full of chlorophyll. Plants use chlorophyll to capture sunlight for photosynthesis, the process that enables them to manufacture their own food. The amount of chlorophyll is so high during the summer that the green color masks all other pigments present in the leaf. As the days grow shorter in the fall, chlorophyll production slows down and eventually stops. The carotenoids and anthocyanins that are present in the leaf then become visible.

Do Different Kinds of Trees Turn Different Colors?
Certain colors of leaves are characteristic of particular species of trees.

  • Oaks turn red, brown, or russet;
  • Hickories turn golden bronze;
  • Dogwood turns purplish red;
  • Beech turns light tan;
  • Red Maple turns brilliant scarlet;
  • Sugar Maple turns orange-red;
  • Black Maple turns glowing yellow;
  • Sourwood turn crimson;
  • Birches turn golden yellow.

Why Do Leaves Fall?
Deciduous trees drop their leaves in order to survive the harsh conditions of winter. Stems, twigs, and buds are equipped to survive extreme cold. Tender leaf tissues however, would freeze in winter, so plants must either protect their leaves or shed them.

Fallen leaves are not wasted, they decompose and restock the soil with nutrients. The rich layer of decomposing leaves protects the roots of other plants on the forest floor and absorbs and holds rainfall. Imitating nature by mulching with shredded leaves provides similar benefits for trees and shrubs in the home landscape.

**Excerpts from US Dept of Agriculture, Northeastern Area Fact Sheet SP-01-01

Drought-Stressed Trees: Know the Symptons & How to Mitigate Threats

As the long dry summer turns into a severe drought, our trees and shrubs are becoming more and more stressed, damaged, and even killed. Most all deciduous trees are suffering, but Cherry, Purple Leaf Plum, Katsuras, and Dogwoods have been especially stressed.

Here are some symptoms of severely drought-stressed trees:

  • Scorched leaves
  • Wilted foliage
  • Early leaf drop
  • Fall color that is way too early
  • Small fruit production
  • Increased ant population
  • Vascular diseases due to low hydration
  • Browning of leaves and needles
  • Poor root growth

Long Term Drought Symptoms

Your plants will show both short term and long term effects. Some trees may not show any symptoms for 3-4 years.  Here are some changes you will see over the next few years:

  • Stunted growth that may last for several seasons
  • Branch die-back
  • Sparse canopy, off color and undersized leaves
  • Increased insect/disease activity
  • Increase undesirable sucker growth
  • Dead trees and shrubs

Here's how you can help improve the health of your drought-stressed trees and shrubs:

Deep root, liquid fertilization: This process injects water with fertilizer into the root zone of the tree. This not only gives the plants a really good watering, it also gives it nutrients that will boost their reserves and increase vigor.

Soil conditioners/root growth enhancers: By stimulating microbial activity in the soil the tree will have more nutrients readily available, enhancing the natural process of soil science.

Treat shrubs such as Rhododendrons and Hollies: Plants that keep their leaves all winter should be treated with antitranspirant (wilt-proofing). This is a waxy material that will help keep the plant’s leaves from drying out in winter winds.

Water trees and shrubs thoroughly: Be sure to continuing watering this fall all the way up until the ground freezes.

Drought like conditions can do a number on your landscape, and drought-stressed trees can pose a serious safety risk on your property. Please be sure to have an Arborist inspect your trees for health and safety if you notice any of the above symptoms. Click below or give us a call to schedule a free evaluation.

Request a Free Consultation

Caring for Drought-Stressed Lawns

To help your lawn recover from drought stress and enhance its vigor and overall health, our turf experts recommend Core Aeration and Overseeding for your lawn this fall.

Core Aeration and Overseeding are an essential and necessary component of any lawn care program. Due to the extended lack of moisture, some lawn areas may not recover even when cooler temperatures and fall rains arrive. To solve this problem, we recommend Core Aerating and Overseeding to reestablish the lawn in these dead areas.

Core Aeration:
Loosens compact soil, creates room for new turf growth, and allows more water and nutrients to reach the root zone. Core Aeration is so essential to lawn health, that golf courses Core Aerate their turf two times per year.

core-aeration.jpg

Overseeding:
This process will introduce new grass plants into your lawn and add more desirable species of grasses. Overseeding is a great way to modify the types of grasses in your lawn, without a doing a total renovation.

Now is the best time to Core Aerate and Overseed. If your lawn is stressed from drought, please give us call or click below for a free lawn care consultation.

Request a Free Consultation

Search

Recent Posts

Subscribe to Blog