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Carpenter Costin Blog

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.

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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.

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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

Gypsy Moth Infestation Expected to Be Bad in Spring 2016

If you don’t remember the Gypsy moth infestation of the 80’s, you will be introduced to this insect in the Spring.  Last year we saw pockets of Gypsy Moth infestation in the Topsfield area and surrounding towns. As their population increases, more and more local areas can expect tree damage from these nasty pests.

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The following description is from U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Insect Leaflet 162:

The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar Linnaeus, is one of the most notorious pests of hardwood trees in the Eastern United States. Since 1980, the gypsy moth has defoliated close to a million or more forested acres each year.

In 1981, a record 12.9 million acres were defoliated. This is an area larger than Rhode Island, Massachusetts,and Connecticut combined.

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A single gypsy moth caterpillar can eat a square foot of leaves a day.  Although trees have a second set of leaves ready to replace those they lose, this takes significant energy. Three or four years of complete defoliation can result in the death of even a large tree.  In wooded suburban areas, during periods of infestation, when trees are visibly defoliated, gypsy moth larvae crawl up and down walls, across roads, over outdoor furniture, and even inside homes.

Gypsy Moths emerge about one month after Winter Moth/Cankerworms, another ferocious feeder, extending the caterpillar feeding season by at least a month.

How to Treat for Gypsy Moths:

Gypsy Moths are treated in the same way as Winter Moth/Cankerworms, by spray or injection. If you are treating your trees for Winter Moth/Cankerworms, an additional 1 or 2 treatments may be needed to protect your trees from Gypsy Moths.

If you'd like to schedule a free consultation with a Plant Health expert, click below:

Request a Free Consultation

Beech Trees Suffer Epidemic Decline

An epidemic decline is affecting European Beech trees up and down the east coast. Beech trees are being infected by a fungus that causes bleeding cankers on the lower trunk and eventual die-off in the upper branches. If this fungus is left untreated the tree will die within five years.

Phytophthora on Beech Tree

Beech Phytophthora pathogen is the culprit. This fungus enters wounds and succulent roots causing cankers that ooze reddish-brown sap. Eventually, new leaves remain small and yellow, and branches begin to die.

These ‘bleeding’ cankers cause the cambium, the living layer of the tree where most vital cellular activity takes place, to lose moisture and dry out. This leads to root loss and canopy decline resulting in the death of the tree.

How to Treat Beech Phytophthora

Treatment with a broad spectrum fungicide, applied to the trunk, can stop the damage, allowing the tree to recover, essentially ‘healing the wounds’.

Helping a tree to grow is the most important thing to improve the health of a sick tree. Radial trenching with an air spade, back filling with compost and deep root, liquid fertilization have proven to be the best methods to increase and invigorate tree growth. [Learn more about plant health care here]

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Please note that Beech Phytophthora only affects European Beech trees, not American Beech. European Beech are the most common variety used in landscape plantings.

If you would like a Certified Arborist to inspect your Beech trees, as well as the other trees and plants on your property, please call us at 877-308-8733 or click below for a free consultation.

Request a Free Consultation

Why Rhododendron Leaves Curl in Winter

Now that the weather has turned mighty cold, you may notice something strange happening to your Rhododendrons. The leaves on your plants are drooping down and curling up. Is something wrong with these plants?

rhododendron leaves curling in Winter

You are seeing nature at its best. It’s cold, and when certain broad-leaved evergreens get cold, they take measures to protect themselves. They practice thermotropism. Much like a human wraps their arms around themselves or animals huddle when cold, rolling up their leaves offers these protection from cold winds. The inner part of the leaf, where a lot of moisture loss occurs, is hidden from the wind when rolled.

Gardeners claim they can tell the temperature by how their Rhododendron leaves appear; the more they roll and droop, the colder it is, until around zero they start to look like green beans hanging from the branches. As it warms again, the leaves unroll and stand up again. That is, unless it’s gotten so cold they have dried out completely and died, which can happen even with the hardiest rhododendrons. Moisture loss is what causes most winter injury in plants.

Rhododendron FloweringIf you want your rhododendrons to look like this in the spring, you'll want to protect them from the winter elements.

Treating Your Broad-Leaved Evergreens

Treating your broad-leaved evergreens an antitranspirant in fall will help. This water based product seals the leaves and stems so that moisture is not released from them. It’s something to remember for next fall. Also remember to plant broad-leaved evergreens in areas protected from north winds to help prevent leaf desiccation and plant loss.

If you'd like to learn more about tree and plant health, take advantage of a free consultation with a Carpenter Costin arborist.

Request a Free Consultation

Carpenter Costin's Arborists Partake in ISA Certification Program

Crew Members Join an Elite Rank of ISA Certified Tree Workers

On September 11th and 12th, members of Carpenter Costin's tree crews participated in a 2 day, International Society of Arboriculture climbing skills and arboriculture education training program in Amesbury, MA.  

Carpenter Costin brought in a Certified Arborist instructor from North American Training Solutions, an industry-renowned company that travels the world training tree workers.  Roughly only 1% of tree companies in this country train their workers to the level of International Society of Arboriculture Tree Worker Climber Specialist.

Training included a comprehensive look at modern climbing techniques, knot tying, equipment integrity, work positioning, job site safety, as well as emergency response preparedness.

After 1 ½ days of intense training, two examiners from the International Society of Arboriculture tested each crew member in a rigorous practical climbing exam where all their skills and equipment use had to be properly demonstrated.    

Following the practical exam, the crew members were given a written exam that tested them on industry rules and standards, OSHA regulations, and arboriculture systems and practices.

What does this mean for you?

Our arborists have always demonstrated precise and expert tree care services, and now we can say they are all part of an elite class of ISA certified tree workers. This will result in safer, more efficient work; without sacrificing the high quality work product we've become known for.

Featured Project: Tired Courtyard Receives New Landscape Design

Often times the best designs are not born of a single mind, but of a collaboration between many.

The First-Calvary Baptist Church and it's members, reached out to Carpenter Costin during the summer of 2014 for landscape architectural services. The issue was a central courtyard in dire need of a redesign, in order to provide a space for reflection and prayer within a garden setting.

Old Landscape in Courtyard

Courtyard before landscaping project

The original courtyard required a much needed redesign

Being a larger-scale project representing the needs of many, the church requested full landscape architectural services and plan sets. After the plan sets were completed, multiple contractors (including Carpenter Costin) would be able to bid on the construction aspect of the job. This would ensure fair, unbiased, and independent design + construction services.

Brendan Carey RLA from Grounded Growing Landscape Architects was selected as the designer and consultant by the church board members. He developed a series of conceptual plans focusing on circulation, drainage, and overall aesthetic. After a few weeks of intensive design work and meetings, Brendan had a set of drawings ready for landscape contractors to bid on.

Carpenter Costin was quickly selected as the winning bid for the landscape construction portion of the job

Siting strong analysis and understanding of the landscape architect's plan set, along with a competitive price, the church board members turned to Carpenter Costin to turn their plans into reality.

Being a courtyard in the middle of a place of worship, there were unique issues that took both acute sensitivity along with simple brute strength to solve. All materials stripped out of and brought into the courtyard, had to fit through a standard-sized door frame. Our crews crossed finished floors throughout the process and made sure to be extra careful of window walls surrounding the work zone.

Working closely with the landscape architect and the onsite representative of the church, we streamlined this process as much as possible.

Landscape Project In Progress

Blue Stone Placement for Landscaping Project

Blue Stone Outlining the Courtyard

In the end, the sum was greater than its parts.

Natural Stone Surrounding Sod

Creating this beautiful and reflective memorial garden in the heart of a church took more than one entity...it took wonderful and understanding clients, a thoughtful and talented landscape architect, and a resourceful construction team here at Carpenter Costin.

View of Natural Stone and Sod Installation

An inspirational view of the new courtyard from the inside.

Final Look of the Redesigned Courtyard

The final look of the redesigned courtyard.

*More pictures to come will show the depth of color and beauty from over 100 perennials in mid-summer. 

The Dangers of Volcano Mulch

Too Much Mulch Can Damage Your Trees

We've all seen it. You drive by a freshly mulched property, notice that distinct smell of fresh mulch, and take a closer look at the newly mulched flower and tree beds. To an untrained eye, you might see an appealing bed with a tree and a few other smaller plants. The trained eye, however, cannot look past the glaring danger that is commonly referred to as "volcano mulch."volcano mulch on Tree

The term "volcano mulch" is used to describe excessive mulch along the root flare and base of a tree, which ends up looking very much like a volcano.

Mulch against tree bark holds in excess moisture. This moisture suffocates and rots the inside layers of tissue cells (xylem/phloem) that transfer food up and down the plant.

Commonly found issues with "volcano mulch":

  • Trees weakened and stressed by moisture/rot issues are susceptible to insects, fungi and bacteria.
  • Increased growth of unwanted suckers which will weaken structural development.
  • Water is prevented from penetrating to the tree’s roots and weak secondary roots will cause strangulation.

How to Mitigate Risks of Volcano Mulch

If your trees have been "volcano mulched" on a regular basis there could be substantially damage caused. A Air Spading with Treesolution that we recommend for improving the health and reviving "volcano mulched" trees is air spading. This safe, effective, and economical solution is the best way to remove excess amounts of mulch without causing harm to the tree. Air spading will reduce soil compaction and help expose the root flare as nature intended. Your tree will no longer be stressed and look like a "volcano."

Contact us at 877-308-8733 or Request a free consultation if your trees have been "volcano mulched" and a Certified Arborist will be able to assess the damage and develop a plan for bringing the tree back to optimal health.

Request a Free Consultation

Why Heavy Winter Snowfall Can Lead to a Bad Tick Season

Expect a bad tick season as this winter's thick layer of snow served as insulation for the over-wintering tick population

Before we completely put this past winter behind us, let's not forget about a problem that lurks on the horizon as a result of the tremendous amount of snow we received. The tick population is expected to explode this year due to the protection they received from the blanket of insulating snow. Usually a significant portion of the over-wintering ticks die from freezing conditions, but the snow was in their favor this past season.

[Click here to Learn How to Treat Your Property for Deer Ticks] 

An interesting fact is that ticks are not actually insects, since they have two distinct body parts and 8 legs. In fact, they have more in common with arthropods like spiders and mites. Their evolution comes from crustaceans, but try not to think of that when eating lobster. In New England we are primarily concerned with the Suborder Ixodida, otherwise known as hard ticks. There are several species of hard ticks and they are the vectors of many diseases, most notably Lyme disease. Nearly 300,000 new cases are documented in the US each year and the rate continues to rise year after year. The numbers have reached epidemic proportions and billions are spent each year trying to treat the symptoms of this debilitating disease.

Tick Disease Powassan

Unfortunately, there is a newly identified disease called Powassan that is also transmitted by ticks with devastating consequences. Although most people who are infected do not show signs of the disease, others do suffer encephalitis and even death. It goes without saying that those with low immunity systems are most at risk and should avoid wooded areas or tall grassy fields.

On average, a female tick will lay approximately 2,000 eggs in May. These pest are most vulnerable for treatment during the summer months and a product using Permethrin is best used for controls. The best means of applying the controls is spraying with a high pressure commercial hydraulic spray unit, specifically directed towards areas of tick habitation.

If you'd like to protect your loved ones from ticks, consider consulting with an Arborist or Plant Health Care Specialist to see what you can do to mitigate the threat of ticks on your property.

Request a Free Consultation

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