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Carpenter Costin Blog

Time for Shrub and Ornamental Tree Pruning

As we inch closer to the official start of summer, it’s time to start thinking about pruning your shrubs and ornamental trees.

Spring is a glorious time to be in the landscape. Shrubs and ornamental trees of all sorts will be flowering at various times throughout the spring, adding tremendous color and appeal to the landscape. Just remember, once the shrubs and ornamentals are done flowering you need to prune them to ensure they retain their desired shape, and remain insect and disease free. Pruning this summer will help promote optimal flowering next spring as well.

Ornamental tree and shrub pruning can be a “do it yourself” project, as long as you know a few things beforehand. First, ensure your pruning shears are sharp. Sharp tools will not only make the job easier for you, but it will be better for the tree or shrub being pruned. Just be careful to avoid injury. Next, be sure you know a little about the tree or shrub being pruned to ensure that the pruning is beneficial and not detrimental. For example, pruning fruit trees usually requires different sprout management than flowering trees.

Once you’ve sharpened your tools and identified any specific pruning needs, you’re ready to get started – just make sure you go slowly, and take the occasional step back to see the entire pruning subject before you snip off too much!

If you’d like to leave your shrub and ornamental tree pruning up to the experts, we’d be happy to help out. Click the button below for your free pruning consultation from a Certified Arborist.

Request A Free Consultation

ornamental tree and shrub pruning

"Frenchy" hand pruning shrubs last June.

Cover Shrubs with Burlap for Winter Protection

Don't get burned by cold winter wind - Protect your shrubs with burlap.

Despite the mildness of this fall; the cold, whipping winds of winter will be here before you know it. Without proper protection, your shrubs can be severly damaged by cold winter wind. One method of defense is to use anti-transpirants; however, in areas with excessive wind, a burlap cover or wind screen may be your best bet.

Burlapping shrubs protects them from the wind, but still allows air to circulate through the small mesh holes, promoting good plant health throughout the winter. In addition to protecting from harsh winter winds, burlap also helps regulate the shrubs temperature. In 2011, there burlap for shrub coverwas so much snow that our shrubs were actually insulated by snow (much like an igloo). However, in winters with little snow fall, yet extremely cold temperatures, burlapping can be the difference between preserving your existing shrubs, and needing to plant new ones come spring.

Although we offer burlapping services, it is actually very easy to do yourself. Start with quite a bit of burlap and wrap it around a shrub a couple of times. To secure the burlap, it is best to use twine. Wrap the twine over the burlap tight enough that it will not come loose during periods of high winds; however, not too tight that you may compromise the shrub's integrity. An alternative to wrapping the entire shrub would be to create a wind screen. This works exceptionally well with immature shrubs. A wind screen is constructed using wooden stakes and burlap. Put the stakes in the ground on the windward side of the shrubs about three feet apart, for as long as you need to to cover them. Then lay the burlap along the stakes and staple it to the stakes

Protecting your shrubs with burlap will help you get off on the right foot come spring time. Simply unwrap the burlap, or remove your wind screen, and you should find that your shrubs have not been dried or damaged by the winter wind.


Rose Bush Care: Tips for the Fall

Follow these tips for fall rose bush care to ensure beautiful, healthy roses next spring.

There are many tasks that need to be completed in order to bring your roses through the winter. Effort invested now will be rewarded next spring as beautiful rose blossoms pop up.

The following tips can help your rose bushes survive this winter and thrive next spring:

  • Roses is pots should be brought into a cold, dark place, but kept out of the snow and elements. A garage will work perfectly.rosh bush pink
For roses that are not in pots, we recommend the following:
  • Rose canes should be cut back to around 12"
  • Mound up the base of roses with soil or mulch to prevent roots from freezing
  • Wrap delicate roses in burlap with straw for added protection against drying and frigid winds.
  • Lastly, ensure that they are watered thoroughly before the ground freezes.

These tips will help your beautiful roses make it through the harsh New England winter. To learn more about rose bush care, and other plant health care, please call 877-308-8733 or request a free consultation with a plant health specialist.


Fall Fertilization of Your Trees and Shrubs

Fertilize your trees and shrubs now to ensure beautiful and healthy results next spring and summer.

Fall tree and shrub care is often overlooked, simply because most people feel that tree care is more of a spring game - preparing your landscape for the upcoming growing and showing season. However, proper fall tree and shrub care is essential for tree health and growth.fall tree fertilization

Fall fertilization of trees is aimed at root growth and development. Even after the leaves change color and then fall to the ground, your trees' roots are growing. Unlike in the spring, when much of the tree's energy is spent on leaf and flower development, the fall is a time for root growth, and a tree will place all its energy on developing a strong root system. Fertilizing in the fall will only help ensure that the proper root development is occuring.

Fertilization can be achieved through soil injections and granular applications, with the latter being most appropriate for home owners who are trying to self-treat. If you're looking to fertilize your trees and shrubs this fall, we recommend a free consultation with one of our Certified Arborists.


Useful Tips For Summer Ornamental Tree and Shrub Care

Take the time now to ensure you have beautiful ornamental trees and flowering shrubs next spring.

Unlike shade tree pruning, ornamental trees and shrubs are best pruned in the summer before the buds for next year's flowers develop. If you wait too long to prune your ornamental trees and shrubs you will actually end up removing buds that have already begun to develop.

Our Arborists recommend pruning ornamental trees and shrubs in July and August, and by September it is usually too late to prune. Though an expert Arborist can still prune an ornamental or shrub in the fall and winter, summer pruning is much more conducive to the future health and development of the plant.

Dogwood Tree BlossumsPruning in the summer is the best way to improve the appeal of an ornamental tree or shrub, but the pruner must be careful when servicing said tree or shrub not to spread any insect & disease infestations, as pest problems often develop during the summer months filled with heat, humidity, and rain. Misguided pruning can actually spread insect & disease issues through open wounds, and also through the pruning equipment. A Certified Arborist will know if pruning is safe or not, but if you decide to self-prune, take a careful look at the state of the tree. If pest problems are evident, consult with an Arborist before you prune.

Summer ornamental tree and shrub pruning is the way to go; however, if you are not diligent, pruning can actually harm your trees and shrubs. If you would like to be speak with a Certified Arborist regarding your pruning, click here, or call 877-308-8733.

Powdery Mildew a Concern Across Our Region

What is Powdery Mildew?

Powdery Mildew is caused by several types of fungi, which is beginning to show fairly heavily across New England. It appears as white, dusty coating on plant and tree foliage, Powdery Mildew can create a very unsightly appearance on your trees and shrubs. On the North Shore and around the Greater Boston Area, Powdery Mildew most commonly affects dogwoods, maples, oaks, lilacs, and birches.

Though the dusty appearance of Powdery Mildew is unsightly, rarely does the fungus ever fatally damage a tree. Without proper care, however, Powdery Mildew can spread quickly and develop across your entire landscape.powdery mildew fungus

Treating Powdery Mildew requires a combination of fungicide treatments, and good cultural practices. Pruning and destroying affected areas is a great way to stop the spread of the disease. Combine fungicides, or topical treatments of summer horticultural oil, with good cultural practices, such as pruning, to protect your trees and plants from Powdery Mildew.

If you see Powdery Mildew on the leaves, shoots, and flowers in your yard, we recommend consulting with a Certified Arborist. Our disease management treatment programs are designed to prevent Powdery Mildew and other fungal diseases.


Plant, Tree, and Lawn Health Care

We truly pride ourselves on providing the best possible service, and our technical division is one area in which we place a lot of effort and resources in order to serve our customers the best we can.

With that being said, we feel that it is time we introduce our tech department andPlant Health Care Inspection resized 600 give credit where credit is due. Ritzi (pictured), our Technical Services Manager, is the driving force behind our technical services and has been for quite some time. His expertise in arboriculture and plant health care is second to none. We never get tired of hearing all the calls with great reviews of Ritzi.

Our newest addition to the department is Technical Services Director, Paul Miller, who is the resident turf expert on the North Shore of MA. Keep an eye out for some blog and newsletter content written by Paul, as his expertise in turf management is hard to beat, not only in Massachusetts, but across the country.

Carpenter Costin specializes in multi-visit plant health care and pest management programs. Our programs include the 5-visit, 8-visit, and custom plant health care program, which services your lawn, trees, shrubs, and plants. To learn more about our plant health care program, request a consultation with an Arborist, or call 877-308-8733.

Plant Health Foundation Plantings resized 600

Look Out For Flowering Hydrangeas

Keep an eye out for flowering hydrangeas over the next week. Our native bigleaf and smooth hydrangeas are some of my favorite flowering shrubs!

bigleaf hydrandeaAs much as I love what the Rhododendron flowering bloom means to our region (the coming of warm weather), the hydrangea bloom may actually be my favorite time of the year, horticulturally speaking. Maybe it is because I grew up with both the bigleaf (left image) and smooth (right image) hydrangeas at my childhood home. Maybe it is because of the great color these give off, especially when the blue contrasts with it's surroundings. Whatever it is, I enjoy it for sure.

smooth hydrangea

We all have our favorite plants, shrubs, or trees, and regardless of type they each need attention and care. I recommend taking a good look at all your shrubs and trees for any signs of insects or diseases. Our roller coaster ride of weather change this year is sure to have an affect on your shrubs, just be sure you don't get caught up in it and suffer from pest infestation as a result. View our glossary if you'd like to learn more about insect & disease management, or consult with an Arborist to discuss shrub care options.

View the Glossary Ask an Arborist

Shrub Maintenance: Pruning vs Shearing

natural shrub pruningThe shrub maintenance debate: Take the quick and easy way out with shrub shearing, or put in the time to acheive optimal results with natural hand pruning.

Maintaining shrubs and ornamental trees can be a daunting task, especially when they form a large hedge or privacy barrier in your yard. Shearing large hedges is often the easiest form of shrub maintenance. Large barrier hedges would require countless man hours in order to hand prune; therefore, our Certified Arborists recommened shearing methods on large hedges. However, for smaller shrub hedges and individual shrubs and ornamental trees, natural pruning is the way to go.

Natural pruning removes dead wood, improving air flow and sunlight exposure, and improves tree health. Shearing can have an adverse affect, as it damages foliage and creates areas that are susceptible to disease infestation, and also does not increase air and light flow.

The pros at Carpenter Costin recommend natural pruning when possible, and our professional tree and shrub pruners are the best in the business. Talking with an Arborist can help you figure out the most appropriate way to care for your shrubs and ornamental trees.

Ask an Arborist

Plants, Pests, and Phenology in Full Bloom

The recent increase in warm weather has boosted plant and pest development.

A few weeks ago, as we were still stuck in the cold and wet early spring, we decided to blog about phenology, and its affect on the development of plants and pests. Well, since then, the weather has certainly rebounded to the warm spring that we had been longing for, but with it comes an increase in pest activity and plant growth.

Depending on where you are located, Winter Moth activity could be in its early stages, in full swing, or starting the decline. Look for these pests to continue to feast in our region for a few more weeks. Treating Winter Moths is still recommended as the threat will remain high for two to three more weeks. Lace bug, sawfly, and beetle activity is beginning to increase as well. Keep an eye on your plants and trees, and look for evidence of pest activity.

In addition to insects and diseases, invasive shrubs, plants, and trees will prosper as the weather warms. This is a great time to prune your Burning Bush shrubs to ensure they do not take over your landscapes. For more information on trimming and pruning invasive or overgrown shrubs and trees, consult with a Certified Arborist. If pest activity is evident on your plants, a pest management program or target treatment is recommended.

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