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Carpenter Costin Blog

Improper Pruning Will Kill Your Trees

How Improper Pruning Affects Your Trees

An arborist is a specialist in the cultivation and care of trees and shrubs, including tree surgery, the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of tree diseases, and the control of pests as stated by dictionary.com. When an arborist prunes your trees, they plan how to make the certain cuts before jumping into it to make sure it is the best possible care for your tree.

Improper Pruning-1The image to the left is an example of improper tree pruning. Improper tree pruning can cause a variety of issues almost immediately but also causes severe issues long term.

Stub Cuts

One of the most common mistakes when making cuts on a tree is cutting it too close to the main trunk. When this is done, you are removing a very crucial part of the tree tissue called the branch collar, where the cells help heal the wound. Without the callous that the branch collar create to help prevent disease from entering the trunk you are simply opening a wound that allows disease and pests to affect the tree, which if left untreated can ultimately kill the tree. 

Excessive Pruning

When one third or more of a tree's canopy is removed, photosynthesis is greatly reduced, leaving the tree unable to provide enough energy to sustain itself. We strongly believe that pruning 5% - 10% of a mature tree's foliage is ideal and pruning no more than 15% to 20% is recommended for optimal tree vigor. Sunscald can also occur if sections on the trees bark are exposed to direct sunlight and heat after removal of foliage that previously sheltered the bark. This can cause cankers, as well as splits in the bark, which provides an entry point for disease and insects. 

Topping

Topping is cutting away a 50 to 100 percent of a tree's crown, or all the leafing branches across the top half of the tree. This can cause similar conditions to excessive pruning, reducing photosynthesis and causing dormant buds to become active, forcing the rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. The tree will need to put out a new crop of leaves soon after topping, and if it does not have the energy reserves to do so, will become seriously weakened and may die. Just like excessive pruning, sunscald may also occur as a result of topping. Topping a tree is never a recommended practice, but is sometimes done when trees outgrow their planned space, as a last result before cutting down. This pruning mistake is much more noticeable due to how it makes the tree look. This will leave you with an ugly and deformed tree that has a severely weakened branch structure. It is most common with trees that were planted in a space that is too small.

Timing

With pruning trees there are good times to prune and bad times. The proper pruning time depend on the species and the condition the tree is in. For example if a tree is already heavily stressed by growing conditions, insects or disease it would not be the best practice to heavily prune it. This would cause the tree to become more stressed while also trying to heal the wounds from pruning. Pruning too heavily in the hottest season could cause sunscald as mentioned above, which can damage the trunk bark with multiple wounds and cankers. Be sure to have a certified arborist take a look at your trees to assess their safety and health to assure their long term strength and beauty.

Proper Pruning Promotes Healthy Trees

Pruning, when done correctly will promote a happy and healthy tree! Check out why Pruning Trees and Shrubs is necessary.

If you have any questions or concerns about your trees please reach out to us at 877-308-8733.

 

 

Reasons For Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Pruning your trees and shrubs is definitely something you should be doing if you want them to be happy and healthy. If you are not already pruning your trees and shrubs or have trees and shrubs that have not been inspected or pruned before. Contact an arborist to come inspect your trees and property for a free consultation. In this post we will going over the basics of pruning your trees and shrubs.

Tracked Lift Tight Space Pruning TreeReasons To Prune Your Trees and Shrubs

  • Prune for Tree and Plant Health
  • Prune to maintain intended purposes for your landscape
  • Prune to improve appearance/aesthetics
  • Prune for the safety of people and your property

Prune For Tree Health and Plant Health

  • Remove dead or dying branches that were or are injured by disease, insect infestation, animals, storms, or other adverse mechanical damage
  • Remove branches that rub together
  • Remove branch stubs

Prune To Maintain Intended Purposes for Your Landscape

Pruning can be done in order to encourage flower and fruit development, maintain a dense hedge, and to help maintain or promote a desired plant or tree form/shape.

Prune To Improve Appearance/Aesthetics

For most landscapes, a plant or tree's natural form is best but the appearance in the landscape can be essential in the tree or plants usefulness. You want to prune to:

  • Control plant size and shape
  • Keep shrubby evergreens well-proportioned and dense
  • Remove unwanted branches, waterspouts, suckers and undesirable fruiting structures that detract from plant appearance

Prune For The Safety of People and Property

Trees can have hazardous branches or dead branches over a period of time especially after heavy winds or snow storms. With hazardous branches it is best to remove them before a storm to ensure the safety of your property and family.

To prune for safety you want to remove dead branches, prune out weak tree branches that overhang homes, garages, sidewalks, or any place where a falling limb could injury someone walking underneath. *Eliminate branches that interfere with street lights, traffic signals and overhead wires.*

*DO NOT try and prune near electrical or utility wires. You need to contact the utility companies or a city maintenance worker to handle this issue.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at 877-308-8733.

Renovate Your Lawn For Optimal Health

Overview

Lawn renovation is important to keep your lawn strong, healthy and lush. The healthier your lawn the easier it is to keep weeds from growing. In this post we will go over two of the main cultural practices; core aeration and over seeding and when you should have them done.

Core Aeration Process and Results

Aeration-Illustration-01-1024x683-e1527629607122

Core Aeration is the process in which a machine pulls out plugs of soil. The result is small holes which allow air, water and nutrients to reach the turf roots. The soil plugs are left on the lawn which then break down naturally. When the turf roots receive more air, water and nutrients they are able to produce a much more vigorous lawn.

The main reason to aerate your lawn is to reduce soil compaction. Soil compaction is a form of soil degradation. When the soil is compacted it compresses the soil and limits the amount of air and water available to the roots of the turf.

When Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

When to aerate your lawn is the big question. Should you do it in the spring? Summer? or Fall? The answer is anytime during the growing season. This is because during the growing season you will allow the turf roots to expand into growth spaces created during the core aeration process. All lawns need yearly aeration. No aeration can cause compaction issues and a struggling lawn in the future.

Over Seeding

Overseeding

Over seeding is the application of seed over existing lawns to improve the density. Although it seems simple, there is some specifications that you'll want to know when deciding when to over seed.

When Should You Over Seed?

The ideal time to over seed your lawn is in the fall. The reason is that in the fall the soil is still warm but the air is cooler. When the air is cooler and soil is just warm there are fewer weeds for the new grass to compete with.

Signs your lawn needs overseeding:

  • Brown spots spreading across your lawn.
  • You haven't overseeded in the past few years.
  • Your lawn has thin spots or bare areas

It is far more cost effective and efficient to over seed than to remove the existing turf and install a new lawn from seed or sod.

Our lawn care experts can advise you on these cultural practices, and provide the necessary services to improve the health and beauty of your lawn. Please inquire for a free consultation with one of our lawn care pros, and get your lawn looking healthy, lush and strong!

Consult With A Turf Pro

Contact us at 877-308-8733 or info@carpentercostin.net

How to Identify and Remove Yellow Nutsedge From Your Lawn

What is Yellow Nutsedge?

Yellow nutsedge is a difficult weed to control that is found in grass areas. It is important to know that yellow nutsedge is not a grass or broadleaf weed, it is a sedge. 

Yellow-Nutsedge-in-Lawn-1024x683-1

Yellow nutsedge is a perennial plant that reproduces by its underground tubers also known as "nutlets". These "nutlets" form at the end of Rhizomes (horizontal roots that allow new shoots to grow upwards). One plant can produce up to several hundred tubers during the summer.

Yellow-Nutsedge-1024x682-1

Yellow Nutsedge Life Cycle

Yellow nutsedge actively grows during the summer. It will continue to grow until the first frost in autumn but it doesn't stop there! A frost will only kill the part of the plant that is above the soil. The remaining portion of the plant (tubers) still remains and overwinters in the soil. Tubers that are not "active" can still germinate and come up the following season!

How To Identify Yellow Nutsedge

 

Pacocha-Nutsedge-Diagram-282x300-1

 

Yellow nutsedge is easiest to identify during the summer, as it's leaves grow much faster than grass and it will stick out like a sore thumb! Even if it is not summer there are other ways to identify it. For example, yellow nutsedge can be identified by its stem, leaves and color. It has a triangular stem as well as having leaves in groups of 3 (three-ranked). These leaves have a shiny/waxy look to them which sets them apart from the normal grass. The leaves are a light green to yellow color which can make it difficult to spot. If you look close enough it does not have tiny hairs on the leaf blades which many grasses do.

Natural Ways To Control Yellow Nutsedge

If you only have a few yellow nutsedge plants in your yard, you can hand pull them which will "eliminate" the weeds themselves. The tubers will still be in the soil. If you have a few of them and do pull them out the best way is to remove the ENTIRE plant by digging around the base leaving no trace of rhizome which can be difficult.

Yellow-Nutsedge

Yellow nutsedge is best controlled when your yard (turf) is well-drained and cut properly (not too short). Yellow nutsedge can still occur in well-drained areas specifically thin grass. The best way to solve that issue is to focus on growing a dense and healthy yard (turf) that can withstand a fight with weeds. To grow the dense turf consult a professional who practices proper turf management, fall fertilization and an irrigation system that can maintain the turf. A few ways to encourage dense grass growth is with core aeration and overseeding which work wonders together. 

Control Yellow Nutsedge with Herbicides

The only reason to consider herbicides is if you have very large patches of yellow nutsedge in your yard. The herbicides generally used for dandelions and crabgrass are ineffective against nutsedge due to it being a sedge. Even with the proper herbicide it still may take multiple applications to control it due to the tubers that are in the soil that have not yet begun to produce a plant.

If you have any questions about yellow nutsedge, interested in our turf management programs, or are interested in any of our other services please contact us at 877-308-8733 or email us at info@carpentercostin.net. We are here to help!

Consult With A Turf Pro

 

Rhododendrons VS Black Vine Weevil

What is a Black Vine Weevil?

The Black Vine Weevil (BVW) is an insect pest that injures plants, Rhododendrons being top choice throughout the US. In Massachusetts there are few natural predators of this species. 

IMG_7112 (2)

Adult Black Vine Weevils

The adult weevil is dark gray to black and has subtle white flecking. It has a short broad snout. It can lay as many as 300 eggs near plants over a period of 2-3 weeks. Eggs are laid near the base of the plants and will hatch in two weeks. Black Vine Weevils do not fly so they crawl from shrub to shrub. During daytime the adults hide in dark places; soil, garden debris, lead litter, mulch and even the crevices of the plant. The adult feeding rarely causes serious plant injury, however the feeding habit of the notching of leaves is evidence the pest is present. Action should be taken to mitigate damage by the next generation of BVW. 

Black Vine Weevil -

Black Vine Weevil Larvae

BVW Larvae are a creamy-white color with a brown head. They are the most destructive stage of the Black Vine Weevil. In August, the C-shaped larvae begin tunneling through roots and can girdle the stem feeding just below the soil line on cambium and cause plant death. When the BVW feeds it can cause nutrient deficiencies and poor functioning roots. If the plant has nutrient deficiencies or poor functioning roots the leaves yellow, wilt and plants can die. Thinner foliage is more susceptible than a thicker plant. 

Controlling Black Vine Weevil

BVW is an active feeder that will quickly drop to the ground if disturbed. This is when foliar applications work best. We recommend doing the following:

  • Pruning rhododendrons so foliage does not touch the ground reducing the Black Vine Weevil's access to the shrubs
  • Clear leaf litter to keep BVW from being able to hide underneath it
  • Apply two Summer Foliar Treatments
  • Fertilize your plants
  • Remove dead or infested foliage to limit overwintering sites

Are you seeing notches on your Rhododendron leaves? Is the damage so extensive that the entire leaf edges are jagged and unsightly? Give us a call now, young new growth is the particular foliage of choice for the BVW. We have more than one control option available.

Keeping plants healthy and happy is the first defense, fertilization is recommended!

If you have any questions about Black Vine Weevil or are interested in any of our services please do not hesitate to contact us at 877-308-8733 or click the link below!

Request A Free Consultation

Decline of Eastern White Pine in Eastern Massachusetts

Background on Eastern White Pine Trees

Eastern White Pine 2

The Eastern white pine tree was designated as the official state tree of Maine in 1945, which has been coined as the “The Pine Tree State” and appears on Maine’s state flag and seal. In 1955, the state of Michigan also chose the Eastern white pine to be their official state tree as a symbol of their logging history. The Eastern white pine is considered to be one of the largest conifer trees in the north eastern United States. Since 2009, the Eastern white pine has been experiencing dieback and general decline, which is a great concern regarding one of the most economically valuable and ecologically important forest trees in the northeast. Recently, the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst) posted information that begins to explain the reason for these symptoms of decline. According Dr. Nick Brazee, a plant pathologist at the UMass Amherst, it is a combination of climate change, several fungal pathogens, and a particular species of insects that are responsible for the decline in the Eastern white pines.

White Pine Needle Drop (WPND)

Disease is primarily responsible for the symptoms of declining pines, namely premature needle drop, yellowing of needles, resinosis, dieback of canopy, and branch and tree death. WPND is caused by several fungal pathogens. Once you see the needles begin to become discolored (yellow/brown), it is usually the cause of the root pathogens due to it affecting the entirety of the tree. At the same time, the environment for spore activity and germination has been fueled by the increase in temperatures and precipitation in the northeast region of the United States.

Caliciopsis Canker & Bast Scale

Caliciopsis Pine Canker Jen WeimerAnother fungus and insect complex that is also partially responsible for the dieback of Eastern white pines are the caliciopsis canker and white pine bast scale. Bast scale is tiny, black, oval-shaped scales that lack both eyes and legs. Bast scale use a long stylet to drain sap from outer layers of phloem (tissue) of twigs and branches. White pine bast scales live under lichens, which are slow growing plants that form crusty leaf-like growth on rocks and trees. These have been found on white pine branches. 

Recently, the white pine bast scale has been identified as a catalyst for the development of caliciopsis canker in white pine trees. Although the bast scale causes almost no damage to the tree, the feeding areas that they produce are extremely conducive to the development of caliciopsis cankers in trees. The primary problem with an outbreak of caliciopsis cankers is that they cause dead areas in the tree’s tissue and as more cankers develop, the affected branches will eventually be unable to disperse the water into the foliage and in which case, the tree will die. Root rot diseases can also affect the dieback of white pines, and will be addressed in a future post.

Ways to Manage White Pine Needle Drop

Young White Pine

In conclusion, tree thinning, or selective removal of branches, of existing white pines aids in the reduction of WPND by increasing radial growth, promoting crown vigor, and an overall general reduction in WPND. Many arborists have also found that fertilizing the tree with nitrogen can help to restore vigor, especially to trees highly stressed from WPND. Fungicide applications are often impractical for large trees or multiple trees, but focused applications on specimen or very young white pines can be helpful to control WPND. It has become clear that the issues affecting white pines are not going away any time soon, but can be controlled using an experienced, dedicated team of arborists.

If you have any questions, or you are interested in any of our tree services, please contact us at 877-308-8733, or request a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!

Request A Free Consultation

Bob Lees, MCLP

Photo of Caliciopsis Canker Courtesy of Jen Weimer

Kelp Treatment For Your Trees!

A New Way To Promote Healthy Trees & Shrubs

Treat Your Trees With Kelp!

Are your trees and shrubs looking stressed from the weather we have been having? Are they not blooming or vibrant in color like they used to? Consider an all-natural bio-stimulant treatment to boost growth and to promote optimal health. A soil drench of our kelp treatment can help add over 50 vitamins and minerals. Kelp contains almost every micro-nutrient in a fully chelated (immediately available) form. The algae is also full of carbohydrates, which plants use as building blocks of plant cells and are essential for plant growth. We only use the kelp species Ascophyllum nodosum, which is found only in the Atlantic Ocean. This species of kelp is known to contain the highest concentrations of micro-nutrients (magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, etc...), and is the most desirable kelp used in the organic plant health industry.

The Kelp Process

How can you spray, inject or drench a plant with Kelp? Good question! What happens is that the kelp is collected from the Atlantic Ocean which is then washed to remove salt, and then it is dried and turned into a powder. This powder is then used to create a liquid that we are able to spray, inject and drench with. Kelp has naturally occurring plant growth hormones known as gibberellins and cytokines. These hormones help promote a variety of benefits for plants. The kelp is harvested in a responsible manner and due to kelp's growth rate it is a highly renewable and ample source. Growth enhancement has been attributed to the presence of plant growth regulators (plant hormones). Ascophyllum is loaded with auxin, growth stimulants and amino acids – all of which help promote root growth and build cell wall strength. Kelp Treatment is administered throughout the year to optimize the benefits.

Kelp Treatment

Benefits of Kelp (seaweed extract)

Kelp's many benefits include an effective method proven helpful in combating plant stress. Seaweed extract is a good source of potassium, and contains the many micro-nutrients that plants need for optimal health. Kelp will also help promote root growth and build cell wall strength. Why is cell wall strength important? Strong cell walls resist disease, ward off insects, and retain water more effectively. All these improvements promote chlorophyll production, cell division and elongation and increase cell wall permeability. Seaweed extract is valued for its ability to encourage trees and shrubs to more effectively draw nutrients from soil and fertilizers. As an example of the enhancement; compare drinking out of a coffee stir for a long period of time and then suddenly you're given a normal straw. The amount of flow and volume is increased exponentially. The kelp is a soil conditioner that also stimulates the soils bacteria which increases the fertility of the soil and also moisture retention. The cation exchange capacity (CEC) can be improved increasing the likelihood of nutrients being grabbed. After your plants receive the Kelp Treatment you will likely see your plants have darker green foliage, larger more compact root system, increased flower production and enhanced color and bloom over a period of time. It’s best to keep plants in vigorous state of health so they are able to fight off insects, disease and maintain their optimal health.

List of benefits from using our Kelp Treatment Program:

  1. Promotes plant growth and vigorous root system
  2. Increases the ability to tolerate and recover from stress
  3. Increases cell wall permeability
  4. Increases translocation of water
  5. Stimulates cell division and elongation
  6. Promotes chlorophyll production
  7. Larger root system
  8. Darker green foliage
  9. Increase flower production
  10. Enhance color and bloom
  11. Advantageous for new transplants
  12. Fruit less prone to softening and grow larger

We provide the applications up to three visits yearly. Call us to help increase your tree and shrubs ability to tolerate and recover from stress.

If you have any questions, or you are interested in any of our tree services, please contact us at 877-308-8733, or request a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you! Request Kelp Treatment Appointment

Request Kelp Treatment

Invasive Vines: Black Swallow-Wort

What is Black Swallow-Wort?

Black swallow-wort and it’s “twin” Pale swallow-wort are two invasive vines currently growing in New England, and are deemed invasive in Massachusetts and Connecticut. These herbaceous, twining vines grow three to six feet, with opposite, shiny leaves 2” to 4” long. 

imageThe flowers on swallow-wort are dark, usually purple black on Black, and Maroon on Pale swallow-wort, and produces seedpods 1.5” to 3” long, bearing numerous seeds. Due to a strong fibrous root system, eradication by digging is difficult, as plants can regenerate from root fragments.  A healthy stand of swallow-wort may produce between 1000 and 2000 seeds per square meter, per year, depending on sunlight. Swallow-worts grow in full sun to partial shade, and are more invasive in full sunlight.

Problems Black Swallow-wort Cause

Black Swallow-wort and Pale Swallow-wort invade planting beds, climbing up your trees and shrubs and even under your storm windows. According to, http://nyis.info/invasive_species/swallow-wort/ they are two distinct species but share similar characteristics. A similar characteristic that they both share is that they are both perennial climbing vines. Which means that they don't just die over time, they just keep reoccurring through the thousands of seeds they produce. Once the Black Swallow-wort settles in, they form extensive patches that overgrow and smother the native vegetation.

How Invasive Vines affect Monarch Butterflies

Besides its ability to displace native plants, swallow-worts are also interfering with the reproductive success of the Monarch Butterfly, and possibly other species as well. 

Monarchs normally lay their eggs on native milkweeds, which are disappearing due to competitive pressure from swallow-worts. In addition, Monarch eggs which are laid on Black swallow-wort have nearly 0% hatching success. This is because when the larvae are born they can't ingest or use the toxin that is in either the Black Swallow-wort or the Pale Swallow-wort in which they won't be able to survive. 

How to control Black Swallow-wort

Control is particularly difficult, because of the rhizome root system and fibrous root. Early detection and physical removal is recommended as the best control method. It is crucial to dig out the roots completely. Chemical methods are rarely 100% effective, and there is no biological control at present. Being able to identify and remove the individuals before they seed and spread is an important tool in the effort to stop the species.

If you have any questions, or you are interested in any of our tree services, please contact us at 877-308-8733, or request a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!

Request A Free Consultation

Photo courtesy of Becky Gallery, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust

Sycamore Anthracnose Defoliates Trees

We have seen widespread defoliation of Sycamore trees this year due to Sycamore Anthracnose.

Sycamore Tree with Anthracnose

A picture of a Sycamore that has been affected by Sycamore Anthracnose

For those of you who do not know what Sycamore Anthracnose is, it is a fungal pathogen that is generally related to wet spring weather. Unfortunately wet spring weather is what we have been seeing a lot of. It infects newly developing shoots and leaves causing the buds to have very slow development to leaf out in the spring, or in some cases never leaf out. 

Signs and Symptoms of Sycamore Anthracnose

Infecting the vascular system of a tree this fungal disease attacks buds, leaves and twigs, defoliating the trees and damaging the small branches. Sycamore Anthracnose spreads from an infected tree to healthy ones when its fungal spores are transported by the wind. 

Sycamore Tree Branches with Anthracnose

Signs that a Sycamore tree is suffering from this disease:

  • Leaf blight or defoliation early in the summer
  • Twisted or gnarled branches or twigs
  • Formations of dead or dying twigs and small branches also called "witches brooms"
  • Lesions on leaves that are black or brown in color
  • Sunken cankers on younger twigs or small branches

 Managing Sycamore Anthracnose

From what we see these trees should re-foliate this year. In order to really get a handle on this disease to make sure it does not spread to a healthy tree. We recommend looking into some treatment plans.

Deep root fertilization is recommended to help invigorate trees as they have been stressed by the Anthracnose. This will give the tree the push it needs to flush new growth along with the help of warmer and drier weather. 

Early season treatment with fungicide applications or injection can help manage this disease. Contact an arborist today to come assess your trees and see what treatment would be best for you. 

If you have any questions, or you are interested in any of our tree services, please contact us at 877-308-8733, or request a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!

Request A Free Consultation

Extreme Spring Weather Causing Extreme Plant Response

Weeping Cherry Trees Negatively Affected

As many of you have already noticed we have not been having the beautiful spring weather we deserve. This gloomy, cold and rainy weather is causing issues for our trees and plants in our area. 

According to Jackie Carroll's article on Gardeningknowhow.com, she explains that Weeping Cherry Trees "grow and bloom best in full sun, but they tolerate light shade". Without well drained soil these trees are more prone to rot which is what we have been seeing this season. A Weeping Cherry Tree should look like the picture below during the spring with the pink flowers.

Weeping Cherry Tree Bloom 2

With the lack of sunlight this spring along with constant cold and wet weather it has caused plants to develop tender soft growth. The other picture is an example of what Weeping Cherry Trees we have been seeing in our area due to the "not so nice" weather. This is what they will look like when they defoliate earlier than the norm. This DOES NOT mean your tree is dying. Although, it is more vulnerable to plant diseases, especially fungus diseases. 

Weeping Cherry Trees across north shore

More issues you may see during this summer caused by this weather:

  • Leaves may brown and have damage
  • Barks of trees may develop oozing cankers
  • The Holly leaves may drop early
  • Tar spots on Maple trees

How to Manage Fungus Disease on Your Trees

With all this negative talk about how our trees and plants will be affected, what can we do about it?

Unfortunately with fungus diseases there is not much you can do to prevent it. Once found, there are different treatment plans that can take care of it. This would be a time to contact a certified arborist to come take a look and give you the run down on what treatments would be best for your tree or shrub. 

 

If you have any questions, or you are interested in any of our tree services, please contact us at 877-308-8733, or request a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!

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