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Carpenter Costin Blog

Summer Lawn Care Practices to Follow

Help your lawn through the summer and follow these lawn care practices.

Lawn care is often a forgotten practice in the summer, as home owners submit to the hot, humid, and dry weather. These summer conditions make it difficult to keep your turf lush and green, but that doesn’t mean you should stop caring for your lawn. The following practices will help you keep your lawn looking great through the summer.

Raise the Blades

Increasing the mow height of your lawn in the summer will help your turf out-compete weeds, such as crab grass, and also helps to promote photosynthesis - as longer blades of grass have more surface area. If you mow your lawn too short, crab grass will quickly sprout up higher than the turf, resulting in an unattractive look. Since you’re mowing less in the summer, raising the blades usually doesn’t require increasing the frequencies of mows.

Don’t Forget the Water

Ensure your turf is getting enough water throughout the summer. The general rule of thumb is 1” of water per week. If you don’t have a preprogrammed irrigation system, be sure you are manually watering your turf in either the morning or evening to be certain your lawn gets the 1” per week that it needs.

Inspect for Grubs

Grubs are a nuisance in the summer, as are the creatures that eat them. Some animals, such as skunks, find grubs to be quite the delicacy and will destroy your lawn digging for their next meal. If the skunks haven’t got to your grubs yet, that doesn’t mean damage isn’t being done. Grubs will eat at the root system of your lawn, effectively damaging it from below.

Top-Dress and Over-Seed

Top dressing and over seeding is usually a spring and fall trick, but it can help in the summer as well. Lightly spreading some organic soil and grass seed will help fill in thin spots and create a denser lawn in the future. This new soil will help provide essential food for your turf and help hold in some moisture. Don’t expect the new seed to sprout up this summer, but it will germinate come fall.

Following these lawn care practices will help you maintain a great lawn throughout the summer. Remember, lawn care is not just a fall and spring activity – it requires active participation throughout the summer as well. To learn more about lawn care, or for a free lawn care consultation, click the button below.


summer lawn care

Lush, green turf is achievable in the summer months!

Review Your Landscape this Summer with a Landscape Architect

Have a Landscape Architect over to review your landscape, and start planning projects for the fall or spring 2013.

Summer is a great time to review your existing landscape. In the summer, a trained Landscape Architect will be able to see all the plants in your landscape, including perennials in full flower, and get an excellent idea of exactly what can be done in your landscape. Evaluating your landscape at this time will allow an Architect to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses of your landscape, and design a plan to highlight the strengths and remove the weaknesses.

Consulting with a Landscape Architect this summer is also a great idea because it will allow you to begin installation in the late summer and early fall should you choose to make any improvements. The fall is a great time for plant installation and should not be overlooked for hardscape construction as well.

Carpenter Costin’s landscape evaluations are completely cost and obligation free. Our Landscape Architects are here to help, so take advantage of our free consultations and meet with one of them this summer.

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landscape design a construction

Avoid Soil and Turf Compaction this Summer

Limit the amount of foot and vehicle traffic on your turf this summer to avoid compaction, and maintain a healthy lawn.

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of outdoor cookout and gathering season, which often entails heavy foot traffic, and even vehicle traffic, on your beloved lawn. If you work hard to have a great looking lawn, by all means enjoy it, but beware that excessive foot and vehicle keep off grasstraffic will lead to soil compaction and turf compression, which can seriously damage your lawn.

Once the soil is severely compacted it can really only be relieved through core aeration (which is best in the early spring and late fall) and time; therefore, it is best to pay attention to traffic paths on your property, and install a walkway, patio, or even a turf stone area that is suitable for driving and parking on constantly.

A more frugal alternative is to simple mix up the high traffic areas on your property. Don’t always set up a buffet table in the same spot on your lawn, rather rotate where you direct guests to avoid putting too much pressure on a certain part of turf.

If you love entertaining outdoors, but do not like the toll it takes on your lawn, considering adding a hardscape feature, like a patio, that is perfect for entertaining and will take the stress of your turf. Avoiding turf compression and soil compaction will help keep your lawn healthy and attractive throughout the summer. Click the button below for a free consultation with a Landscape Architect to discuss outdoor entertaining area ideas.


stone patio entertaining

Save your turf, install a patio and improve your outdoor entertaining space.

Think That Tree is Dead? Don’t Count It Out Just Yet

If you think you have dead trees on your property, don’t write them off just yet. They may just leaf-out or bloom late, like Locust trees.

The wacky weather this spring has had quite an impact on our landscape. Some flowering trees bloomed very early, only to be damaged by freezing temperatures a few nights later; while others may be a little behind schedule. Due to the earlier than usual bloom/leaf-out, many home owners are surprised to see other trees and shrubs in their landscape that look completely dormant. If this is happening in your landscape, don’t be so quick to write off the tree as dead, it may just leaf-out or bloom late.

Some trees, like the Locust, and shrubs, like Clethra, are late arrivals to the landscape scene. Often times a landscape will be full of green leaves and colorful flowers, but there is a bare Locust tree that most people will swear is dead. It truly is difficult to believe that a tree is healthy while it is completely bare and surrounded by thriving, colorful trees and shrubs, but it happens every year, and we get calls every year from people worried about their locust trees (sometimes the same people year after year).

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consult with a Certified Arborist if you think you may have an unhealthy tree. If you have any questions regarding any tree or shrub on your property it is a good idea to have a Certified Arborist out for a free consultation. Not only can they evaluate tree and shrub health, but they will be able to provide an education on specific trees and shrubs in your landscape – and ensure you that the locust tree around back is in fact healthy!  Please note that phenology can change significantly across Eastern Massachusetts. If your cousin that lives two towns over has a tree that is flowering, it does not mean that your tree needs to be flowering at the exact same time.


Enhance Your Landscape with Plantings this Spring

Consider adding softscape features to your landscape this spring while the weather is still conducive for successful planting.

If you’re looking to add plants to your landscape consider doing it sooner rather than later. Waiting too long to plant could actually hinder plant development, and may require a plant replacement next year. Spring and fall are really the best times to plant, so if you want to have a plant-filled landscape this summer, we recommend planting as soon as possible.

Planting in the spring is a good idea because conditions are usually great for plant growth and root development. With ample moisture and light, and warming, but still moderate temperatures, newly installed plants will thrive through April and May. Fall likely gets the nod for better planting season for trees and shrubs due to the excelled root development, but if you’re looking to enjoy your landscape throughout the summer, you need to plant in the spring!

This doesn’t mean that planting can’t be done in the summer, because with the right landscape professional and consistent watering throughout the summer, it can be done successfully. However, for optimal results, try to stick to spring and fall planting.

If you’re thinking of adding some plants to your landscape this spring please take advantage of our free consultations and meet with a Landscape Architect. Our Architects can not only recommend the best plants to install and design them perfectly into your existing landscape, but we also have the crews to install them. Click below for a free consultation.


spring landscape planting

Add plants to your landscape this spring for great, natural appeal.

Construction Can Kill Your Trees

Ensure your trees aren't damaged by construction, consult with a Certified Arborist prior to construction starting.

Spring is here and you may have plans for a home renovation project, or even a landscape construction project in the coming weeks or months. Before you begin, consider consulting with a Certified Arborist to evaluate the impact that the construction may have on your trees and landscape.

Construction can cause serious damage to your trees and landscape, most of which is caused by the heavy equipment used on most construction sites. The most obvious damage is caused by the digging or trenching to lay underground infastructure and build foundations. Digging can cause serious damage to the root systems of trees, which can severly stress a tree and lead to an untimely death.

Severing a tree's roots is by far the biggest concern when dealing with construction near your trees. The second biggest concern, however, is much harder to detect - and that is excessive soil compaction. Heavy machinery continuously driving over, and parking on, a tree's root system will seriously compact the soil, effectively blocking water from penetrating deep into the root system. Compacted soil will cause leaf and twig die back, and can potentially even kill the tree.

If you're planning on some construction this spring, be sure to have a Certified Arborist visit your property first to prevent damage to your trees and landscape.

trees in construction zone

Digging can sever a tree's root system and lead to serious damage and ultimately kill the tree.

Proper Spring Watering

Ensure your turf, trees, and shrubs are getting enough water this spring.

April is usually a month full of precipitation, but 2012 has been different. With very little rain, much of our region has been bordering on drought conditions. This does not bode well for plant and turf health, as ample water is necessary this time of year to ensure healthy growth in our landscape. Without enough rain water, you’ll need to take it upon yourself to keep your spring wateringsoil, turf, and plants watered.

If you have an irrigation system, with or without rain sensors, you may feel as though you are covered and you do not need to do any extra watering. This may be the case for your turf; however, most irrigation systems are not set up to water your trees and shrubs. A common misconception among homeowners with irrigation systems is that their whole landscape is covered – this is often untrue, so be sure you’re trees and shrubs are being watered too.

The general rule of thumb is to make sure your turf, shrubs, and trees get at least one inch of water each week. In an average spring we can get an inch or more of rain each week, but this spring has been different so be sure you're watering your landscape. Failure to water your landscape can lead to long-term health issues in your trees, shrubs, and lawn. Stressed trees and shrubs will be more susceptible to insect and disease infestation,and internal damage.

Take advantage of our free consultations and learn more about tree and turf health care from a Carpenter Costin pro.


watering tips for lawn and trees

Make sure you're watering this spring to keep your landscape green and healthy.

Proper Mulching Techniques

Preserve the health of your trees and avoid over-mulching this spring.

Adding mulch to your landscape in the spring is almost like a rite of passage from winter to spring each year. Mulch stimulates both the eyes and the nose, adding extra appeal and a pleasant smell to your landscape, all the while helping to keep the weeds in your flowerbeds down. It can also provide great benefits to your trees and shrubs by keeping them moist; however, if you over-mulch your trees and shrubs you can actually do damage to them.

Over-mulching occurs when you add too much mulch and cover the trunk flare at the base of a tree. When too much mulch is piled up around the trunk flare and root base it can actually cause excessive moisture which can lead to root rot and permanently damage a tree. This will also limit the oxygen levels which will hinder root growth.

The environment created by over-mulching can be conducive to fungus and canker diseases. The excessive heat and moisture within thick mulch is the perfect environment for damaging fungus and bacteria, which can severely damage the tree or shrub under the cover of the mulch and never been seen. These diseases usually gain entry through decaying bark that is common on over-mulched trunk flares and work their way through the entire tree.

Mulch is a great addition to a landscape in the spring; however, when applied incorrectly it can be hazardous to a tree or shrub. Be sure to keep the mulch a few inches off the trunk flare and spread it very thinly over root areas. When over-mulched, a tree or shrub can be stressed and even killed. If you have any questions regarding mulch application or general tree and shrub health, please don’t hesitate to request a free property evaluation with a Carpenter Costin professional.


over mulched tree

This over-mulched tree has evidence of canker disease highlighted by the red circle.

Creative Driveway Alternatives

Consider a paver, crushed stone, or crushed oyster shell driveway to add appeal to your property.

Your driveway needs to be a functional part of your property, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be attractive. Creative driveway solutions using pavers, crushed stones, or crushed shells can add attractiveness without jeopardizing functionality and durability.

Paver Driveways

If you’d like to make your driveway appealing, but worry about durability, then pavers are your best bet. A paver driveway is extremely durable and functional, yet it is still way more attractive than your standard concrete or blacktop driveway. Pavers can add both color and shapes or patterns to your driveway, and the durability is greater than that of concrete.

Crushed Stone Driveways

Constructing a crushed stone driveway is an inexpensive way to add appeal to your property. Crushed stone is very durable, and is more pleasing to look at than blacktop. When installed correctly, a crushed stone driveway is a wonderful addition to your property.

Crushed Oyster Shell Driveways

Crushed oyster shells were used by Native Americans hundreds of years ago to harden their muddy paths each spring. The oysters were consumed, and then the shells were crushed and placed on paths which provided a permeable, yet sturdy passage way. Crushed shells are a great addition to a coastal house; or a great way to add coastal appeal to your house. The shells are durable and extremely attractive, and they even provide an enjoyable sound when walked and driven on.

Don’t let your blacktop or concrete driveway hold you back. There are ways to make your driveway attractive without losing durability and functionality. Take advantage of our free consultations and meet with a Landscape Architect to discuss how you can make your driveway beautiful.


paver driveway

Pavers are very durable, yet still add plenty of appeal.

crushed stone driveway

Crushed stone is great for driveways and walkways.

crushed oyster shell driveway

Oyster shells are great for coastal homes, or homes looking to have a "coastal feel."

Prepare for April Showers by Adding Proper Drainage Systems

April showers bring May flowers; but they also bring drainage issues to many households across the North East. Avoid these problems with proper drainage systems.

Are you tired of water building up in your yard, or even finding its way into your basement? You shouldn’t need to accept it as something that happens every spring – or every rain event. Designing and constructing proper drainage systems can help rid your property of backed up water this spring, and alleviate all the headaches associated with it.

Water build up can happen for many different reasons, both natural and man-made. Often times, a poorly constructed driveway, with improper pitch, will funnel water into a valuable spot in your yard or even indirectly into your basement.  Other man-made drainage problems occur when hardscape walls are made incorrectly, without a permeable aspect to the wall. This creates backup which will destroy the wall and create flooding issues. In fact, it is frightening how many drainage issues we see that are actually man-made.

We also come across many “natural” drainage issues that have existed for many years. Very old houses commonly have drainage issues because they were built without proper site evaluation. This was fine when foundations were made out of native granite and basements used very little; but as the space transitions into a more useful area (laundry rooms, etc) and foundations begin to wear down over time, proper drainage becomes imperative.

A qualified Landscape Architect can solve any drainage problem, with various different approaches ranging from drainage pipes, to creative swales that funnel water into a rain garden or pond. Drainage doesn’t need to be a problem anymore – actually it can create a very attractive landscape feature if you construct a rain garden or swale. Take advantage of our free consultations and see how we can solve your drainage problems this spring.



A swale can funnel water away from problem areas and into a beautiful rain garden.

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