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Carpenter Costin Blog

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. 










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. 

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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

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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. 

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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. 

Watering

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. 

What’s the Best Time to Prune Flowering Trees & Shrubs?

New England is home to some of the most diverse and naturally beautiful types of trees across our country. From flowering Dogwoods, to towering Maples and blooming Cherry trees, we have quite the spectacular array of trees in our region. The species, size, and care of these trees varies so much that many homeowners are not aware of the best time to prune the trees they have right in their own backyard. 

Our Certified Arborists and Landscape Design Architects can help homeowners not only understand the trees and shrubs they have on their property, but also how and when to properly prune them for the results they desire. 

What is Pruning? 

Pruning a tree or shrub is the selective and careful removal of certain parts of a tree, plant, or shrub. Often when one thinks about pruning they think about removal of branches, roots, or even the buds. 

The whole purpose of this action is to help improve the health of the tree and encourage growth that may have been harmed by dead, infected, or storm-damaged branches. In general, pruning is meant to improve the aesthetic of the tree as well as the overall aesthetic of the landscaping. 

Pruning is slightly different from trimming in that pruning is done for the health of the tree or shrub, while trimming tends to be completed in order to shape and determine the size of a planting. 

Luciano Pruning W Pole Navy Yard 2

Pruning Timetable

The timing and frequency of pruning differs according to the plant, tree species, and your intended result. For instance, do you want to remove dead, diseased or damaged branches? Do you want to encourage growth? Or conversely, do you hope to dwarf the growth? 

All of these things must be taken into consideration when determining a pruning timetable. Check out our article regarding pruning for shade trees, ornamental trees, and shrubs

Spring pruning is aimed at improving flowering trees and shrubs. Spring is also a good time to remove any branches that may have been damaged during fall or winter storms. It’s a great time for an arborist to examine the tree for any decay or potential pest issues. 

Our arborists suggest that an ideal time to prune spring blooming trees is right after the bloom or show. This way gardeners or homeowners can visually enjoy the early blooms and then take care of the pruning. This particular timing gives the tree a chance to initiate new buds for the next season. 

Some examples of spring blooming trees and shrubs include: Dogwood trees, Forsythia bushes, Rhododendron, Maple trees, Cherry trees, and Lilacs. All beautiful additions to any landscaping, but all need annual care. Regular pruning can not only help the health of these trees and shrubs, but also improve their shape for the growing season. 

The amount of pruning needed is determined by the current condition of the tree or shrub. For instance, if the planting is fairly overgrown or has lost its shape, more serious pruning may need to take place in order to rejuvenate the tree. 

A Final Word

Spring is the busy season for pruning flowering trees and shrubs. While pruning can, and does, take place throughout the year on many different species of trees, this is the best time to get started reclaiming the health and overall aesthetic of the trees and shrubs in your yard. 

 

 

 

Decline of Eastern White Pine in Eastern Massachusetts

Background on Eastern White Pine Trees

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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

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

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.

Storm Clean Up of Local Trees

High Winds Causing Damage To Trees in Massachusetts

Recent high winds have caused many trees to fall or to be severely damaged in our area. Carpenter Costin crews have been called on to remove trees from houses, driveways and yards.  Have an Arborist evaluate your trees for structural damage such as cracked branches and leaders.

Inspect Your Trees For Damages

A Certified Arborist is the best person to inspect your trees for hazardous or dangerous branches, or damage caused by wind, freezing and thawing temperatures, structural weakness or snow load. Certified Arborists can educate and guide you, not just in emergency winter situations, but in the care and maintenance of all of your trees and shrubs throughout all seasons.

What it Means To Be An Arborist

Massachusetts Certified Arborists and those certified by the International Society of Arboriculture are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care, through formal education, at least three years of experience and have passed a comprehensive examination. They are also required to continue their education in order to maintain their certification, ensuring their knowledge is updated on the latest arboriculture techniques.

Certified Arborists, years ago called tree surgeons, are trained to ­­­:

  • Recognize safety issues and make recommendations regarding structural problems in trees, such as weak branch unions, dangerous leaders, and other potentially hazardous concerns.
  • Evaluate the overall health of your trees and shrubs
  • Diagnose insect or disease problems and advise on treatment strategies
  • Avoid taking down trees that can be salvaged

Consulting with a Certified Arborist will give you the assurance that your trees are safe and healthy. 

For a complimentary evaluation of your trees and shrubs by a Certified Arborist, please give us a call at (877)308-8733.

Carpenter Costin's 10% Winter Discount on Tree Work From Dec. 1st through March 31st

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