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Carpenter Costin Blog

Should I Try Pruning My Own Trees or Call a Professional?

Tree trimming and pruning may not look that difficult, right? A snip here and a snip there and all should be good. Lumberjack equipment, tools (and of course the flannel shirts) may seem pretty fun, but you may want to weigh your options before you pick up your pruning shears, or worse yet, your chainsaw. Take a moment to consider why a professional may be your best option to keep your trees (and yourself) safe, healthy, and growing. 

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What is Tree Pruning? 

Tree pruning is a whole lot more than haphazardly cutting branches off a tree or shrub. In fact, our arborists carefully consider the shape, size, and health of the tree before ever taking a tool to a branch. We look at each part of the tree, determine what is healthy and what is not, examine the ultimate goal of the pruning and take actions to that end. We do this not only for the aesthetic and shape of the tree, but also to encourage healthy growth and to remove any damaged or diseased portions of the tree. 

Pruning during different seasons can bring about different results. For instance, pruning in the spring can help encourage stronger blooms the next year. Pruning during the winter can help remove damaged branches that may have been injured during a snow or wind storm. Our timetable can help you determine when the best time might be to consider pruning the variety of trees in your yard. 

Why You Should Call a Professional Arborist

There are several reasons why calling a professional to trim and prune your trees is a smart idea. From safety for life and limb, to having the right equipment and knowledge for the job at hand, hiring a professional can save you time, effort, and possibly a trip to the hospital. 

Safety First 

As always, we advocate safety first. More often than not, trees need to be trimmed or pruned from a height above your reach. As professionals, we not only have the experience to wield heavy equipment from a height, but also have the proper safety harnesses and tools to reach tree limbs above our reach. 

We take into account how to keep our climbers and our crew on the ground safe, as well as the best way to protect your home and other structures on your property from falling limbs or branches. 

According to the Tree Care Industry Association, “being struck by a falling branch when pruning is a leading cause of death for homeowners who attempt their own tree removal or pruning.”

In addition to having safety training and experience in trees of all shapes, sizes, and heights, our arborists are fully insured. 

Proper Equipment 

Not many homeowners have the right equipment necessary to access all areas of trees for trimming and pruning. Our climbers and crane handlers are experts in their field and know how to accurately and safely use our professional grade equipment and tools to access even the most difficult trees. Tight areas and diseased trees are no match for our crew. 

Expertise & Experience

It takes years to learn to identify all the ways a tree can be damaged or diseased. Our crew has years of experience and specialized training to know exactly how to prune and trim your trees to promote growth and deter disease and damage from harming the overall health of a tree. 

Before you crank up your chainsaw, consider the safety, experience, and access to proper equipment that a professional could bring to your pruning project. Call our team today for a free estimate and get started on making your trees safer and healthier. 

Mulching Benefits for Tree and Landscaping Health

What if I told you there was a product you could use in your yard and garden that would make your landscaping look dramatically better, reduce your watering needs, increase airflow and nutrients to the soil and roots, and deter weeds from growing? 

No it’s not some magic product. It’s mulch! 

Lawn Care ServicesTypes of Mulch 

Mulch comes in several different colors and a variety of different forms. Most homeowners choose organic mulches that will decompose over the course of a year such as wood chips, shredded bark, or even evergreen needles. These come in colors like red, dark brown, and black to complement the flowers or landscaping in your yard. 

Inorganic mulch, such as rocks, stones, or rubber chips can create a more permanent look as this type of mulch will not decompose, but will still give some of the main benefits that organic mulch does. 

What’s the Purpose of Mulch? 

The last time you took a walk through a forest you probably noticed that the path was strewn with bark, twigs, pine needles, and leaves. These organic pieces of the environment are serving a purpose even in the middle of a wooded forest. It is nature's form of mulching. 

Mulch around your plantings, trees, and gardens in your yard need the same type of protection that mulch can provide. 

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What Are the Benefits of Mulch? 

Mulching your gardens and trees may seem like just one of those chores you complete every spring as the weather gets warmer. What may seem like a chore meant to make your landscaping look amazing, is actually a healthy process for your plantings and trees throughout your yard. 


Let’s face it, gardens, flower beds, and trees that are lined with mulch just look more attractive and well manicured than those without. Since mulch comes in a wide variety of colors and forms, homeowners have the opportunity to make their flower beds and trees look colorful and beautiful all spring, summer, and into the fall. 

Water Conservation 

Mulch can help hold moisture in the soil. Since summers in Massachusetts often involve some level of drought, this water absorption and lack of evaporation due to mulching can be a real lifesaver for your trees and shrubs. 

Weed Deterrent 

No one wants to spend their weekends weeding their flower beds. Mulch can be a major weed deterrent. While mulch will not stop all weeds, it can prevent many weeds from germinating in the soil. 

Adds Nutrients to the Soil 

Adding organic mulch, like shredded or chipped wood, can help your soil thrive throughout the growing season. As the mulch decomposes the nutrients are added to the soil and can help trees and shrubs get the nutrients they need. 

If your lawn and gardens are not mulched every year, consider this healthy and easy process for your soil, plantings, and trees this year. 


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

Preparing Your Lawn for Spring

A healthy lawn does a lot for your yard: it ties together all your landscaping elements, provides a plush place for kids to play, and it provides curb appeal. All homeowners want a beautifully, healthy lawn to enjoy. With the rough winter weather behind us (we hope, at least!), it's time to start preparing your lawn for spring. 

1. Clear the lawn: Preparing your lawn starts with removing dead sticks, leaves and other debris to provide a clean slate so you can assess areas that may need reseeding.

2. Reseed. If you do need to reseed, rake the area to bring healthy soil to the surface and then spread the seed. Be sure to water well.

3. Trim, Don't Cut. There's a misconception that you should mow your grass as low as possible to avoid having to cut it as often. This isn't true and, in fact, a higher mow allows the grass to offer shade that prevents the yard from drying out and establishes a better root system that creates a plusher lawn.

 If you’d like to have some professional help with your lawn, or are thinking about a turf health program, please take advantage of our free consultations and meet with a Carpenter Costin pro.

Request a Free Consultation


Maintenance Tips For Your Spring Landscape

With temperatures skimming 50 all week I think it's safe to say that winter is behind us. It's time to focus on spring! This is the perfect time to plan your spring landscape so you can enjoy your yard through spring, summer, and fall.

Essential Steps For Your Spring Landscape:

Early Spring (April – Early May)

1.       Inspect trees and shrubs for damaged or hazardous branches

2.       Fertilize trees and shrubs to promote growth and improve vigor

3.       Begin fungicide treatments to Dogwoods, Crabapples, and Hawthornes

4.       Dethatch and core aerate lawn to allow water, soil, and nutrient flow.

5.       Slice seed thin areas in lawn

6.       Fertilize lawn and apply crabgrass control

7.       Apply Horticultural Oil to Hemlocks to control Hemlock Woolly Adelgid


Mid-to-Late Spring (Late April – Mid May)

1.       Treat Austrian and Red Pines for Diplodia Tip Blight fungus disease

2.       Mulch trees and shrubs to retain soil moisture

3.       Treat Birches for leafminer

4.       Treat plants for Winter Moth and Canker Worms

Contact us for a free landscape consultation.

Request a Free Consultation


Preparing for Spring Landscaping

Landscaping Services in the Spring

It doesn't feel like Spring is around the corner but in reality now is a great time to start planning your Spring landscape. To begin, think about how you want to use your yard this year and consider areas for kids or pets, entertaining or outdoor living. If you're not sure, our landscape architects have great ideas and will help you envision your yard as a perfect place to play and relax.

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Here are some ideas for Spring Landscaping:

  1. Bring warmth and fun to your backyard with a stone fire pit

  2. Redefine the entrance to your home with a new walkway

  3. Add a beautiful flowering tree for an interesting focal point

  4. Introduce seasonal color to your property by adding flowers that bloom all season

  5. Add outdoor living space with a new patio

  6. Remove or transplant overgrown shrubs that detract from curb appeal

  7. Install a stone wall to delineate a seating area

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Carpenter Costin’s landscape architects will work with you to explore the possibilities of your property and turn your dreams into reality. Call now for a no obligation consultation on spring landscaping, 877-308-8733.

Tips for a Great Lawn This Spring

Take advantage of the weather this spring and make some significant improvements to your lawn.

It seems like we’ve settled into a normal spring weather pattern. A few days of moderate temperatures, cloud cover, and precipitation followed by a couple of warm, sunny days. This cycle usually occurs for about four weeks each spring before settling into a more summer-like pattern, and it can be a tremendous time to make improvements to your lawn, without any back-breaking or wallet-wrenching work.

First step to improving your lawn is to ensure it is clean of all leaves and debris, which usually occurs in a spring clean up. Clearing your turf of debris will help minimize pest activity and will allow for photosynthesis to occur without disruption. Next, you should dethatch your lawn and remove the dead “thatch.” This can be done with a rake and strong shoulders, or a dethatching machine that can be rented at your local equipment rental store.

The next step to take to improve your turf is to create a thicker, healthier lawn by over-seeding. This is a simple process that requires broadcast spreading new seed over your turf. As the seed establishes it will create lush turf and out-compete weeds. Weather conditions are perfect this time of year, allowing seed to germinate very quickly; however, don’t forget to water if we’re not receiving enough rain. Also, if we’re expecting torrential downpours, don’t spread seed right before as it will just wash away with the water. A good slow soaking rain is the best to help the seed germinate.

Following these easy steps will undoubtedly improve your lawn this spring and help create a thick, lush lawn that will last all summer long. If you’d like to have some professional help with your lawn, or are thinking about a turf health program, please take advantage of our free consultations and meet with a Carpenter Costin pro.


spring lawn care tips

Following the above tips will help create a thick, lush lawn this spring.

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.

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.



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