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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

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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

Overview

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.

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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

 

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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.

Ways To Control Yellow Nutsedge (Naturally) 

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. 

Ways To Control Yellow Nutsedge (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

Overview

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. 

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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. 

Recommendations

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

Overview

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 leaflike 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.

Conclusion

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!

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Bob Lees, MCLP

Photo of Caliciopsis Canker Courtesy of Jen Weimer

Kelp Your Trees!

A New Way To Promote Healthy Trees & Shrubs

Want to Kelp Your Trees?

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.

Below is a 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 They 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 they 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?

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.

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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. 

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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 the Disease

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

Solution

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!

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.

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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.

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