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Fall Tree Care for New England Trees

Fall may seem like the time of year when things begin to slow down heading into the winter months, but tree care should continue in order to protect all of your plantings including shrubbery and mature trees. Here at Carpenter Costin we want to review some of the steps you can take to care for your trees and plantings this fall. 


Plant New Trees

Fall can actually be a great time to plant new trees, shrubbery, or even grass. The cooler temperatures allow for roots to take hold and plantings to experience less stress. Don’t forget if you are planting in the fall to allow for long and deep watering that allows the roots to grow downward and thus stronger. 

Remove Dead Branches 

Fall should be a time when homeowners take note of branches that are dead or dying to be trimmed before the brutal winter weather settles in. 

Between snow storms, wind storms, and the occasional hurricane that can make its way up the coast, trees with damaged branches are especially vulnerable to breakage. 

Dead or damaged branches should be trimmed and removed so that they do not fall during a storm and cause injury or damage to the property. 

Keep in mind that the fall is not the best time for pruning trees as that should be done more in the spring while ornamental trees and shrubs are best done in the summer months. 

Prepare for Winter 

While humans have the opportunity to head indoors for the harsh New England winters or at least dress warmer, trees and shrubs are not afforded that luxury. 

To avoid winter injury to ornamental shrubs and bushes as well as your mature trees it is advised to take a few last minute care steps before the ground freezes. Most arborists will tell you to give your shrubs, bushes, and trees one last watering before the ground becomes frozen. Watering before the trees and bushes go dormant can help them better tolerate winter conditions. 

In addition to one last watering, ornamental shrubs and bushes should also be protected from the hazards of heavy snow, ice burn, and the potential of de-icing or salt damage. 

To avoid heavy snow or damage that can occur when a storm hits our area, cover your shrubbery with burlap or a wooden structure so that piles of snow do not break branches. Salt is also another chemical hazard that can get into the soil causing issues for early spring growth. 

Now that fall is in full swing and the temperatures are headed downward, it might be a good time for homeowners to take inventory of their plantings to ensure they make it safely to next spring. 

How Landscape Can Boost Your Curb Appeal

The housing market is currently exploding with more home buyers than inventory on the market. That means that homes are going fast and well over the asking price. Sellers are rightfully excited about the prospect of a bidding war on their home. However, this real estate market, like everything, is sure to evolve and change over the next year or so. As such, homeowners should consider maintaining their curb appeal to entice home buyers.  One way to do that is through landscaping. 


What is Landscaping? 

Landscaping involves many disciplines that must come together to create both an aesthetically pleasing layout, as well as a practical one. From certified arborists, who can help determine the right species of trees, bushes and planting for the yard, to landscape engineers who can plan a purposeful layout to highlight the best part of the yard, landscaping can be a complex process that can add major curb appeal to your property, if done well. 

Types of Landscaping 

Depending upon the yard, landscaping can take on a different meaning. Some homeowners love gardens, both perennial and annual, to add color and depth to the property. Others like the idea of the addition of stone walls, hardscape walkways, or even entertaining areas including a kitchen or fire pit area. 

Carpenter Costin landscape specialists, along with our landscape designers and construction engineers, can help you create a beautiful, custom designed look for your yard. 

We take into account the native species and natural elements in your patios, walkways, walls, driveways, and plantings. Some of our more recent projects have included: stone walls, retaining walls, walkways, paver patios, fire pit areas, natural privacy shields, paver driveways, and all types of gardens. 

Benefits of Landscaping for Curb Appeal 

Landscaping can not only make your property look better (especially to potential buyers) but utilize each aspect of your yard in a way that makes it more pragmatic as well. 

Landscaping, in the form of a hardscape such as a paver patio, driveway, or a fire pit makes your yard more appealing, because now, instead of unused space, there is a distinct function to the area. 

Landscaping can add usable square footage to any yard in the form of an entertaining space that is clearly defined with stone walls, pavers, gardens, or outdoor furnishings. What was once a spare outdoor space can become your favorite place to entertain friends and family during the spring, summer, and well into fall. 

Landscaping also adds a “wow” factor when visitors, neighbors, or friends come by. Who doesn’t like to show off the many areas of the yard with native plantings, a sitting area, and beautifully blooming gardens?

Whether you plan to sell your house sometime in the future or just want to take your curb appeal to the next level, we can help your backyard become the yard of your dreams. 

End of Season Pruning for Ornamental Shrubs and Trees

As the summer comes to a screeching halt over the next few days and weeks, it is a good idea to consider getting in some trimming and pruning of your ornamental shrubs and trees before the cooler weather settles in. 



Proper pruning is vital to maintaining the health and longevity of your plantings from your ornamental shrubs to your flowering or fruit producing trees. To successfully prune, you will want to understand why you're pruning, when to do it for the type of tree, and how to do it properly, if you plan to attempt it on your own. 

What is Ornamental Tree Pruning?

Ornamental tree pruning involves the selective removal of parts of a plant. This could include: branches, buds, or roots. The main purpose of ornamental tree or shrub pruning is to prevent overgrowth, stimulate flowering and fruiting, prevent damage, remove dead/damaged areas, and shape the tree or shrub to appear visually pleasing.  

When To Prune 

Pruning the landscape of your property can occur at different times throughout the year. When to specifically do this for each species of tree or shrub really depends on their growth and flowering patterns. 

Horticultural experts at the Purdue University Extension have made things a bit easier for those without proper training and scheduling knowledge to know how and when to plan their pruning. Check out their charts and diagrams regarding how and when to properly prune. 

Since we are currently at the end of the growing season and looking into the dormant period (known as the winter months) you may be wondering if you should take care of those ornamentals now or wait until spring. 

If your flowering trees have already bloomed throughout the summer months you can prune them now to handle any shaping and encourage buds for next year’s bloom. The Spruce recommends, “pruning the following trees immediately after flowering,” including:

  • Azalea (Rhododendron species)
  • Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)
  • Bridal wreath spirea (Spirea x vanhouttei)
  • Flowering crabapple (Malus species and cultivars)
  • Flowering plum (Prunus blireana)
  • Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)
  • Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)
  • Hydrangea, Bigleaf (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  • Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
  • Magnolia (Magnolia species and cultivars)
  • Mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius)
  • Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
  • Rhododendron (Rhododendron species)
  • Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora)
  • Slender deutzia (Deutzia gracilis)
  • Weigela (Weigela florida)

Following this schedule allows for plenty of time to create the new wood that produces good summer flowering the next season. It also allows for shaping and removal of dead or damaged branches due to wind storms or summer draught. 

Once you have determined each ornamental tree’s pruning needs and timing, make sure your pruning shears are freshly sharpened and that you occasionally take a step back to see how your shaping is going. Go slow and prune small areas at a time. 

If you don’t want to go it alone on pruning the shrubs and trees in your yard, please reach out to our experts who can help you out, beginning with a free consultation. 

The Danger of the Asian Longhorned Beetle

First discovered in Brooklyn, New York in 1996, the Asian Longhorned Beetle has caused destruction in six states and threatens to kill ornamental trees across the eastern half of the country. Homeowners in three key states should be vigilant for these destructive and invasive wood-boring pests as they can cause tree death to many beloved hardwoods in our region. 

the danger of the Asian Longhorned Beetle

What Are Asian Longhorned Beetles? 

While not native to the United States, the Asian Longhorned beetle (ALB) feeds on hardwoods by boring into the bark and eventually destroying the tree they inhabit. The ALB is considered an invasive and destructive species and has spread from New York initially to five other states where quarantines were enacted to reduce the spread. Those states include: Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, and South Carolina. 

The trees that are most at risk are Ash, Birch, Elm, Poplar, Sycamore, and Willow trees. These trees are currently at highest risk in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and South Carolina. 

Identification of these pests depends upon the stage they are in on their life cycle. The adult ALB are very unique looking in that they have black shiny bodies (about an inch to an inch and a half long) with distinctive white band markings and very long antenna. 

It’s during the larvae stage that the ALB does the most damage however. The larvae bore under the bark of the tree and feed on the tree much like the Emerald Ash Borer. The loss of nutrients can be deadly to the tree and cause irreversible damage. After boring to the core of the tree and pupating under the bark, the adult ALb then tunnels its way out causing a pencil-sized hole in the tree. 

As you can imagine both the larva stage and adult tunneling (boring) can put major stress on the trees and cause a depletion of much needed nutrients. 

Signs of ALB infestation

Signs & Symptoms Your Trees Are Infested with ALB

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, signs of ALB infestation “start to show about 3 to 4 years after infestation, with tree death occurring in 10 to 15 years depending on the tree’s overall health and site conditions.” 

Here are some signs that homeowners in these states mentioned above should take special care to be vigilant for as they inspect their trees regularly. 


  • Sightings of adult ALBs, larvae, pupa, or eggs on your hardwood trees.
  • Chewed round depressions in the bark. 
  • Frass or sawdust like droppings at the base of the tree. 
  • Pencil-sized exit holes caused by adults exiting the tree. 
  • Yellowed or drooping leaves. 

What You Can Do To Stop the Spread of ALB

In order to stop the spread of these invasive pests, homeowners should have the trees on their property inspected annually by a certified arborist, especially if you have noticed any of the signs listed above. Learn about the quarantines that currently exist in your area. 

In addition to learning about these destructive pests, homeowners should avoid moving firewood that could have the egg, pupa, larva, or even the adult ALB still hidden inside the bark.

If you should spot any of the signs of this species on your property, please report it immediately by calling 1-866-702-9938 or report online. 

The Effect of Storms on Your Trees

Trees are such an integral part of our world. We name streets after them, lounge under their shade, swing from them in our youth, and eat fruit from them. Even part of the quintessential American dream is to live on a quaint tree lined street. 


storm damage on your trees

Trees however need to be protected from nature’s elements like strong winds and storms that can batter our Massachusetts coastline. 

From hurricanes in the summer and fall to nor’easters in the winter months, New England is known for the storms that can wreak havoc on our area. Trees can be especially vulnerable to the storms experienced rather regularly. 

Let’s take a look at how storms can impact trees and some precautions homeowners can take to protect these essential parts of our ecosystem. 

Tree Uprooting 

One of the more common sights after a strong storm has blown through our state, is to see trees that have toppled, ripping the roots right up from the ground. 

Most trees can handle a normal amount of flexing in the wind. Sadly, trees that have root damage due to pests, nearby construction, a shallow root structure, or an unestablished root system such as those found in newly planted trees. 

These root issues usually go unanswered and don’t cause a major problem until a strong wind from a storm puts too much stress on the roots. 

Think of a tree like a sailboat. The top leaves and full canopy of a tree act in a similar way to a sail on a sailboat. They catch the wind and cause the object (either a boat or a tree) to move and sway with the wind. Unfortunately, trees can not move themselves to where the wind directs them to go, like a sailboat can. Instead, if the wind is too strong and the root system too weak, the tree could topple and land on your home, car, or across a street. 

Having an arborist inspect your mature trees regularly can help determine the health of your root system and the tree itself. 

arborists can help evaluate trees

Limb Breakage 

Another common type of injury that can occur during New England storms is limb breakage. This can happen high in the canopy and lower, near the trunk. 

Decaying wood from fungal infections, pest infestations, or damage caused by a human improperly pruning, can create a scenario where branches can break under the stress of a storm. 

Concern about where a large, heavy limb may land is a primary concern especially if the tree is near any structures like a garage, shed, or your home. What should also worry homeowners is the weakening and vulnerability of the tree to further pest invasions and fungal growth due to the limb breakage. 

Structural Damage 

Depending upon the strength of the storm that blows through our region, homeowners may aso worry about structural damage that may impact a tree. Having an arborist inspect your trees before and after a big storm might be a good idea, especially if any of your trees are already showing signs of structural vulnerability such as leaning to one side or improper and excessive pruning making a tree look like it may have more weight on one side than the other. 


Recognizing Lace Bug Damage

Ever take a walk around your yard and marvel at the beauty of nature? The trees, leaves, flowers, and wildlife all work together in a complex ecosystem. Unfortunately, sometimes that ecosystem requires that critters feed off plants or bushes native to our area in order to survive. Lace Bugs are one such critter that could be feeding off your azaleas, rhododendrons, broadleaf evergreens or a range of deciduous trees. 


recognizing Lace Bug damage


Would you be able to recognize the damage on your plants in your yard and know what steps to take to treat your plantings? Carpenter Costin has years of experience identifying insects that could be damaging your plantings. 

Today, we are examining the Lace Bug, including what they are, how they got their unique name, the type of damage they can inflict, and how homeowners should proceed should they find that this bug is infesting their yard. 

What Are Lace Bugs & How Did They Get Their Name? 

Lace Bugs are fairly tiny insects (about ⅛ - ⅓ of an inch long at the adult phase). They have light colored bodies with wings that emerge from the thorax. 

The uncommon look of the Lace Bug will help you understand the origin of its name. The entire outer body of the Lace Bug is covered in cells or veins that resemble lace. The net-like pattern of this “lace” looks very delicate but can cause some damage to the leaves of your plantings, most specially azaleas and rhododendrons in our region. 

first signs of Lace Bug Damage

What Kind of Damage Can They Do? 

Most Lace Bug damage becomes clearly noticeable on the leaves of plantings by mid-to-late summer. The damage that most homeowners first notice includes white or yellow mottled spots

on the leaves caused by the adult or nymph Lace Bug inserting its needle-like mouthparts into it to feed. 

As a Lace Bug sucks the nutrients out of the leaves of the planting, it causes damage due to a loss of nutrients and damage to the underside of the leaf due to the piercing of the surface. If the feeding is heavy enough, it can lead to brown or yellow spots to appear and possibly early leaf drop. 

Over the course of a few years of Lace Bug damage, a planting can experience reduced plant growth or even progress to a point of being beyond rescue. 

How To Treat For Lace Bugs

When identified early, Lace Bugs can be controlled through systemic insecticide. We also recommend preventative measures for plantings that commonly become infested. 

  • Begin plant inspections in early spring to catch an infestation early. Be sure to check under the leaves for these small bugs. 
  • Use preventative treatments that can keep the bugs at bay on plantings that commonly become infested. 
  • Use a high power washer that can wash away the nymphs. Since nymphs do not have wings they will be unable to return to the planting to continue to feed and grow. 
  • Consider natural predators of LaceBugs that could keep them under control in your yard such as mites, spiders, and lady beetles. 

If you have a Lace Bug issue in your yard, request a free consultation and our team can inspect and come up with a proper and comprehensive course of treatment right for your property. 

How Pruning Enhances the Safety, Aesthetics, & Health of Your Trees

Massachusetts has approximately 3 million acres of forests with an estimated 1.6 billion trees throughout the entirety of the Bay State. Since the state is densely populated, there is a good chance that your property has a few of these trees that need proper care and pruning on a regular basis. 

How well a homeowner takes care of the trees on their property can determine how long that tree lives, how healthy it is, the safety of the structures around it, how aesthetically pleasing it looks, and how pests or disease could possibly attack the tree. 

Each of these issues could be solved through an evaluation by a certified arborist and regular professional pruning. Here are a few of the ways that pruning can help increase the safety, health, and aesthetics of your landscaping.

Pruning for Safety 

Trees that are regularly pruned for dead or dying branches are safer. 

Think about your property for a moment. It’s possible that your yard has trees that overhang your home, pool, garage, shed, or your children’s play area. Dead or dying branches pose a serious injury risk to the people below and could cause major damage should they fall on the structures in the area. 

Pruning can remove those branches that may be loosened during a storm, attacked by pests,  or weakened through disease. The removal of branches by our climbers can ensure that your family and structures remain safe. 

In addition to providing safety for the people and structures in the yard, a pruned tree can be kept away from power lines and potential hazards during wind storms and winter weather that could cause power outages.

Pruning For Aesthetics 

Pruned trees tend to have a better shape and overall more beautiful appearance. Not only can pruning remove dead or damaged branches, but it can encourage better growth and increased blooms for flowering trees. A well-managed and well-pruned tree will have even growth patterns that give a polished look to the landscaping.  


Pruning To Detect Disease and Pests 

Regular pruning, completed by an experienced and knowledgeable arborist, is good for the overall health of the tree. 

When a tree is regularly pruned it gives the climber a chance to inspect and detect pest infestations and the progression of any disease that the tree may be experiencing. Early detection means earlier treatment and gives the tree a fighting chance to be nursed back to health. 

Pruning for Sun Exposure 

Regular tree pruning can also help expose parts of the tree that have been hidden from sunlight to experience the much needed ingredient that will help it grow and prosper. More efficient nourishment can happen when the leaves of the tree beyond the canopy have access to the power of sunlight and photosynthesis. 

Pruning goes well beyond just the aesthetic purpose of making your landscaping look clean and shapely. It can help prevent risks of falling limbs or branches, detect early signs of disease or pests, and encourage healthy growth needed for a tree to thrive. 

Adding Home Value Through Landscape Design

Are you one of the millions of Americans who chose to stay busy during the pandemic by taking on home improvement projects? From small paint projects to “down-to-the-studs” bathroom remodels, Americans went all out to add home value through home improvement projects. 


Landscape design is one such project that many homeowners have found to be an excellent return on investment and a major boost to curb appeal for their property. 

According to a recent report in Statistica, more than 76% of homeowners (who responded to their survey) reported, “making at least one improvement to their home during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States in 2020.” Renovations and remodels of bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, decks, patios, and yes, landscape design were completed not only as a way to keep ourselves busy during this unusual time period, but also as a way to add value to a home. 

Real Estate Experts Weigh In on Home Improvements

Real estate agents have their collective fingers on the pulse of what home improvements can increase a home’s value and those that do not. Fortune Builders, a real estate development company, recently created a list of the top home improvements and their return on investment (ROI) that we thought would be helpful to share given our landscape design expertise in Massachusetts. 

Top 5 home improvement projects with ROI. 

  1. Minor Bathroom Remodel: Returns an average of 102%
  2. Landscaping: Returns an average of 100%
  3. Minor Kitchen Remodel: Returns an average of 98.5%
  4. Attic Bedroom Conversion: Returns an average of 93.5%
  5. Major Bathroom Remodel: Returns an average of 93.2% (Source: Fortune Builders

A Word on Curb Appeal 

Not only does landscape design have a fantastic return on investment and a boost to your home value, it can also help your home sell even years down the line. 

In one HomeLight survey, 94% of top agents said that great curb appeal equals money in your bank account at closing. Houses with exceptional landscaping and landscape design sell faster and at higher levels than homes of comparable size and location. 

In the same HomeLight study, top real estate agents across the country reported that well-landscaped homes are worth anywhere from 1% to 10% more than homes with no landscaping.

Well-designed walkways, patios, gardens, and strategically placed plantings can change the entire aesthetics of a property. A landscape project can be completed in one season and mean years of enjoyment. 

Picture the Possibilities of Landscape Design 

Carpenter Costin Landscape Design can help create an oasis in your yard using: retaining walls, stone walls, Perennial gardens, outdoor fire pits, paver driveways and walkways, hardscape patios, and natural privacy shields. The sky's the limit when it comes to how you want your property to look.

Our professional team can listen to your design ideas and customize a plan for the topography and size of your property. Not only will you improve your curb appeal, but also increase the value of your home while creating an outdoor space you can use year after year.

Can Cabling & Bracing Save My Tree?

Here in the northeast we commonly experience heavy snow and ice in the winter, high winds during storms all year, and heavy foliage on our beautiful trees, especially in the summer and fall. While most hardy New Englanders can handle the shifts in the weather and the sometimes harsh storms, our precious trees sometimes need some help to remain structurally sound. That’s where cabling and bracing can help trees bear the brunt of these weather phenomena and remain healthy throughout the year. 


What is Cabling and Bracing? 

Cabling and bracing are two proactive and preventative techniques used to support a tree, or grouping of trees, that may have a weak or poor structure due to weather, disease, or environmental reasons. 

Certified arborists often use these techniques to help fix structural integrity when they diagnose a tree as being in crisis. These rescue methods can help a tree regain its health while averting a structural failure. 


Signs a Tree May Need Cabling or Bracing 

Trees across Massachusetts face a number of hazards throughout the year from drought, to severe weather to the growth of fungus and pests. These issues can cause a few situations where trees may need to be braced or cabled to provide much needed support. 

Some of signs that could cause structural failure and the need for cabling or bracing include: 

  • Split branches 
  • Poor root systems
  • Areas of decay or rot
  • Cracked limb structure
  • Signs of pest infestation
  • Improper pruning


Saving a Tree with Cabling & Bracing 

Each tree situation is different, but our certified arborists can evaluate the cause of the structural issue and determine the best course of action to help save your tree whether it is relieving the stress on the tree through baling and bracing or if complete removal is needed. 

The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) explains that cabling and bracing is an extremely specific science that can add 10 to 15 years of healthy life to a tree. Tree care specialists and certified arborists can follow the national standards set forth by TCIA to help lengthen the life of a struggling tree through the use of these specialized tools. 

By properly placing cables between limbs, arborists can help redistribute the load of weight, allowing the limbs or trunks to support each other. Likewise, bracing rods are often used to support splitting limbs by bolting them together.  Both of these techniques are meant to provide supplemental support, especially during times of crisis such as wind storms, heavy snow, or hurricanes. 

Minimizing the movement of branches and limbs during a storm through these rescue methods can dramatically help stop the splitting and weakening of the tree as a whole. It can also stop weakened branches from falling and causing injury to people or damage to surrounding structures. Sadly, the process is not a full solution but rather an attempt to stop any further structural problems and shore up the structure to give the tree a fighting chance. 


Caring for Crabapple Trees

The colorful pink, red, and white blooming crabapple trees are a welcome sight every spring across the northeast. These beautiful ornamental trees dot our landscape with pops of color and practically scream, “Spring is finally here!” 

After the harsh winters we experience here in Massachusetts, the sight of these flowering trees can’t come soon enough for many of us anxious to get the planting season going. 

4 Seasons of Joy 

If your property happens to be lucky enough to have one of these deciduous trees, you know that they are enjoyable all year long. They begin their spring season with leaves that bud and bloom with fragrant flowers in colors ranging from startling white to soft pinks and deep reds. 

Once the flowers fade during the summer months, the small red and pink fruits that are produced attract birds of many species and squirrels looking to get their fill as well. 

During the fall months, like many other trees in our region, the crabapple tree puts on an equally spectacular show of color as do its cousins the Oak and Maple. 

During the early winter the crabapple tree will still have some bright fruits and they will stand in contrast to the white snow our region often gets, leaving homeowners to be in awe of its beauty year round. 


Caring for Your Crabapple Trees 

Given that these trees can add so much to your landscaping all year, it is a good idea to make sure that you are caring for the health and safety of your tree. 


While crabapple trees do not need extra watering and tend to be drought resistant, it is a good idea to water the tree at the base if your area is suffering a prolonged drought. Otherwise they can usually thrive with the regular rainfall in our region. Check out Gardening Know How for specific watering solutions.  

Access to Light 

As with all things living, your trees need access to light to survive. If your crabapple trees are under a canopy of taller trees, you may want to prune and trim those trees to give your crabapple tree adequate access to the light it so needs to thrive. 

Soil: Erosion & Fertilizer

Crabapple trees are pretty low maintenance trees but they do need care when it comes to making sure there is no erosion of the soil around the base of the tree. In addition, you will want to make sure the soil is healthy and has enough nutrients to nourish the tree throughout the year. Soil testing can help with this and fertilizer can also aid with growth. 

Pruning & Disease

Crabapple trees need very little pruning unless you see dead or damaged branches from storms or disease. Apple Scab is one such fungal disease that can negatively impact crabapple trees. 

Proper pruning, raking, and destroying infected leaves can help lessen the disease for the next year’s growth. We also recommend a topical fungicide to prevent spread of the disease. 

Enjoy four seasons of joy with these beautiful trees. Drop us a picture of your crabapple and tell us what you love about them. 

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