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Carpenter Costin Blog

Excessive Drought Damages Evergreen Trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Have Your Trees Inspected for Winter Damage

It's been a long, cold winter and it feels a little like there's no end in sight. This is the time to stay positive, enjoy any sunshine we get (even if it's accompanied by bitter cold wind), and hope the thaw comes soon.

This is also the time to have your trees inspected for winter damage. With record-breaking snowfall this year many properties are suffering damage from fallen trees or broken limbs and evergreens have been crushed from the weight of the snow. You may not even realize the severity of some of your tree damage until an expert inspects it.  

Carpenter Costin offers a no obligation tree inspection and property review. Let one of our certified arborists inspect the condition of your trees. While broken branches must be removed, bent branches can sometimes be saved by cabling. If your tree needs to be removed, we'll take it down carefully and safely. 

Let us evaluate your trees and assess any winter damage. We'll present you with all options available to keep them safe, beautiful and healthy! 

Call 877-308-8733 to schedule a free consultation or click below

Request a Free Consultation

 

Spring Has Sprung! Assess Winter Damage

It's officially Spring, although the temperatures only grazed the 50s this weekend. Still, after a long, snowy and freezing cold winter it feels absolutely wonderful to leave the house in something other than a glorified sleeping bag with arms! Soon we'll be soaking up the warmth of the sun and enjoying the bursts of color and greenery.

Before we celebrate the flowers blooming, though, it's important to remember that this is the time to appraise and repair the damage done to our trees, shrubs and lawn. 

With record snowfall this year many properties suffered damage from fallen trees or broken limbs and evergreens and shrubs have been crushed from the weight of the snow.  

Carpenter Costin offers a no obligation tree inspection and property review. Let one of our certfied arborists inspect the condition of your trees. While broken branches must be removed, bent branches can sometimes be saved by cabling them straight. If your tree or shrub needs to be removed, we will take it down carefully and safely. 

Let us evaluate your trees and shrubs and assess any winter damage. We'll present you with all options available to keep them safe, beautiful and healthy! 

Call 877-308-8733 to schedule a free consultation or click below

Request a Free Consultation

 

installing_cable_in_tree

 

What Causes Trees to Split?

describe the imageBetween wind and rain, Mother Nature can take a toll on your trees and put your homes, cars, and family at risk! A couple of weeks ago we got a call about an Oak tree in Swampscott that started to split on a calm day. During the month of July we had five calls for similar issues; trees or branches failing for seemingly no apparent reason. 
It's hard to remember now that we're enjoying the summer heat, but we had two significant storms this winter. Those hurricane force winds have damaged our trees, and now that the added weight of water and leaves are in the tree canopies, we're seeing the flaws manifest. 
This reminder reinforces the need to have a free arborist evaluation. A professional eye will see what you may not before you end up with a tree on your roof!

Understanding Included Bark and Its Impact on Trees

Included bark is not a household term, but understanding how it identifies potential weaknesses in trees will help keep your property free of tree damage.

Unless you’ve spent some time in a forestry or arboriculture educational program, you’ve likelyincluded bark never even heard of included bark – and that is alright. Knowing what included bark is, or knowing how to define it is not important; however, identifying included bark on your trees can help prevent broken limbs and damage from falling branches.

How to Identify Included Bark?

There are two main identifiers to search for when looking for included bark. First, you can look for the sharp “V” shapes in the junction of branches. The more the tree grows, the deeper the “V” gets, and ultimately the weaker the junction gets. The second identifier can be spotted when looking at the “side profile” of a tree. Included bark will create a bulging effect, as it is essentially sandwiched between two stems as the tree grows.

Included bark forms in the junctions of co-dominant stems where there is a narrow angle union – meaning the junction looks like a “V” rather than a “U.” As the tree grows (picture the age rings of a tree) the narrow union will essentially fill with bark and create a growing area of structural weakness in the tree. Even in young trees, when you notice a very narrow angle (creating a “V” at the junction of branches) it is likely that stress put on the either of the co-dominant stems can cause splitting, or even cause the stem to break off at the junction.

As a tree ages and grows, included bark becomes more of a danger to your trees and property. In New England, storms can deliver high winds and heavy snow that puts significant stress on tree branch unions, ultimately causing them to split and break at the junction.

Preventing and Managing

Preventing and mitigating risk on trees with narrow joints (and included bark) can be accomplished through:

  • Crown Reduction Pruning – Reduces the stress on the joint and limits the leverage of the wind and snow during storms
  • Cabling and Bracing – Properly installing cables or through bolts can prevent wind and snow damage and secure the limbs in place
  • Removal of the tree – This should be a last resort, but may be necessary in some cases

If you identify a tree that may possibly have included bark we advise you to contact a Certified Arborist to inspect the tree for safety.

included bark split tree

Included bark can cause concern for any type of tree, but in our area it is very common in varieties such as the Bradford Pear Tree seen here. The narrow joint here gave way to the high winds of Hurricane Sandy. Evidence of included bark was noticed, and it is likely that cabling the tree would have saved it.

Do You Have Grubs?

Now is the time to check for grubs in your lawn!

All gardens and lawns have grubs. In small numbers, grubs are not an issue; grubs img cred purduehowever, in ideal weather conditions, grubs can increase to damaging levels.

What are Grubs?

Grubs are beetle larvae that hatch in the soil and feed on turf roots. As the grubs feed, they destroy the roots, damaging the turf's ability to take up water, effectively turning your lawn brown. Often, grub damage will remain invisible until it is too late.

When should you inspect for Grubs?

Grub inspections during the summer months will determine whether or not treatment is needed. To inspect for grubs, peel back a section of your lawn. If you see 7 to 10 grubs in a 1 square foot area then treatment is needed.

Other tell tale signs of grubs include browning spots, spongy turf texture, and birds and skunks digging in your lawn. If the turf pulls up easily, it usually means grubs have destroyed the root system.

Preventative grub applications will help keep your lawn free of grub infestation. If your lawn is currently infested, an insecticide application will take care of them.

If you suspect you have grubs, or want to ensure that you don't get them, contact a Lawn Care professional from Carpenter Costin, or call 877-308-8733.

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