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Carpenter Costin Blog

Leaves Drop Early Due to Weather

Many of our local trees are suffering this year. Changes in seasonal weather are damaging the health and beauty of our trees, as long stretches of hot, humid weather and drought are taking their toll on our trees Leaf Scorch 1and shrubs. If you look around at your plants’ leaves you will see damaged, browned, and dried out edges. This is called Leaf Scorch. The leaves have also started dropping during the summer months instead of the fall months when they normally turn beautiful colors and then fall.

Here are some of the weather and environmental factors causing Leaf Scorch and massive, early leaf drop:

  • Several early spring storms with winds interrupted early leaf development
  • Waxy leaf coating, epidermis, did not develop properly causing leaves to be much thinner and more delicate than normal
  • Salt spray along the coast caused buds to be stunted and deformed
  • Long stretches of high humidity, lack of rain and heat has scorched leaf margins

Early loss of leaves limits the amount of time trees have to build up reserves through photosynthesis. Loss of leaves and drought stress can weaken trees and cause future limb loss. The impact of Leaf Scorch and early leaf drop will affect your trees for many years to come.

How to Save Your Plants

Here are the two best tactics that you can use for all of your plants to keep them as healthy as possible:

  1. Water plants during hot and dry spells
  2. Deep root, liquid fertilize your plants

Deep Root, Liquid Fertilization

Residential trees and shrubs do not get the natural nutrients found in a forest where fallen leaves break down into loamy humus. Deep root, liquid fertilization contains those missing nutrients which will invigorate and strengthen your plants. The fertilizer is injected directly into their root system supplying not only the missing vital materials, but also giving them a thorough watering.

For more information on Leaf Scorch or improving the health of your tree and shrubs, please give us a call at (877)308-8733 or (781)598-1924 and ask for Bonnie, or request a free consultation below.

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Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is Killing Our Trees

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Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) is a tiny insect that is barely visible.  It is atypical of most other insect species as it is dormant for much of the growing season and active throughout the winter.  

By mid-July, the immature insects settle on the stems, at the base of the needles, and become dormant, neither feeding nor developing.  By mid-October, the insect resumes feeding and development.  By mid-February they start producing new egg masses.  Most people become aware of this pest when they notice the white, cottony egg masses lined up at the base of the needles on their Hemlocks.

The HWA sucks the sap from Hemlock needles but also introduces a chemical from its saliva which acts as a toxin.  This toxin accelerates the demise of the tree.  The loss of sap will cause needles to brown and drop, leaving trees unable to produce food and energy via photosynthesis.

Healthy trees, in good growing sites, may withstand infestations for 5-10 years before being seriously affected.  Trees stressed from drought, soil compaction or those in poor growing sites may succumb to HWA within 3 years.

This pest attacks both the Eastern (Canada) Hemlock and the Carolina Hemlock, two species common to New England.  The Western Hemlock is resistant to this pest, but does not grow well in the Northeast.

Once this pest has been identified on Hemlocks, it must be managed quickly.  Applications of horticultural oil have been shown to be extremely effective against HWA.  The oil kills the organism by suffocation and is effective against all life stages, including the eggs.  Severely infested trees will need more intensive pesticide treatments.

Once the pest has been brought under control, the trees continue to require once or twice yearly treatments.  Untreated trees in surrounding areas will act a reservoir for this pest and serve to re-infest treated trees.  Wind and birds are primarily responsible for the movement of HWA from tree to tree.

HWA is a serious threat to our beautiful Hemlocks and should not be ignored. If you have Hemlocks on your property it is a good idea to schedule a free inspection with a Certified Arborist to ensure the health and safety of your Hemlock trees. Request a free evaluation below.

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Historically High Pollen Levels This Year

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You may be wondering why your allergies are worse this year than in the past. The reason is that pollen levels of Maple, Birch, and Cherry trees are at historically high levels this Spring.

If you are suffering now, it may be a while before you get any relief. In fact, in a few weeks you can expect even more allergy misery from Oak, Pine, and other heavy tree pollinators.

The reason for the high levels of pollen this year is that trees are responding to the drought conditions they experienced over the past few years. When a tree is under stress, they are genetically predisposed to produce as many seeds as possible to prevent the species from extinction.

For the trees to have seeds, there must first be flowers. An abundance of pollen is then produced by the male parts of the flowers, called anthers.

High pollen levels are symptoms of a tree that is under severe stress. If environmental conditions do not improve, decline of these trees can be expected in the foreseeable future.

If you have any questions, or would like one of our arborists to inspect your trees for any health and structural issues, please give us a call at (781)598-1924 or (877)308-8733 or request a consultation below.

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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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Drought-Stressed Trees: Know the Symptons & How to Mitigate Threats

As the long dry summer turns into a severe drought, our trees and shrubs are becoming more and more stressed, damaged, and even killed. Most all deciduous trees are suffering, but Cherry, Purple Leaf Plum, Katsuras, and Dogwoods have been especially stressed.

Here are some symptoms of severely drought-stressed trees:

  • Scorched leaves
  • Wilted foliage
  • Early leaf drop
  • Fall color that is way too early
  • Small fruit production
  • Increased ant population
  • Vascular diseases due to low hydration
  • Browning of leaves and needles
  • Poor root growth

Long Term Drought Symptoms

Your plants will show both short term and long term effects. Some trees may not show any symptoms for 3-4 years.  Here are some changes you will see over the next few years:

  • Stunted growth that may last for several seasons
  • Branch die-back
  • Sparse canopy, off color and undersized leaves
  • Increased insect/disease activity
  • Increase undesirable sucker growth
  • Dead trees and shrubs

Here's how you can help improve the health of your drought-stressed trees and shrubs:

Deep root, liquid fertilization: This process injects water with fertilizer into the root zone of the tree. This not only gives the plants a really good watering, it also gives it nutrients that will boost their reserves and increase vigor.

Soil conditioners/root growth enhancers: By stimulating microbial activity in the soil the tree will have more nutrients readily available, enhancing the natural process of soil science.

Treat shrubs such as Rhododendrons and Hollies: Plants that keep their leaves all winter should be treated with antitranspirant (wilt-proofing). This is a waxy material that will help keep the plant’s leaves from drying out in winter winds.

Water trees and shrubs thoroughly: Be sure to continuing watering this fall all the way up until the ground freezes.

Drought like conditions can do a number on your landscape, and drought-stressed trees can pose a serious safety risk on your property. Please be sure to have an Arborist inspect your trees for health and safety if you notice any of the above symptoms. Click below or give us a call to schedule a free evaluation.

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Carpenter Costin's Arborists Partake in Intensive 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.

The Dangers of Volcano Mulch

Why 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-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. The following are 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-spadingsolution 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."

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 health.

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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 certfied 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

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White Pine Needle Disease: Know the facts!

Needle_blightHere in the northeast much of our landscape is dominated by white pines. These trees are valuable habitat, forest, and landscape trees. In recent years we've been seeing several diseases that cause the needles to become damaged and die off.  While white pine can withstand a year or two of defoliation, subsequent defoliation will greatly decrease the trees overall health and will lead to larger more damaging problems.

How to combat the issues

To keep your white pines healthy and looking great we have a three point plan of protections: First, we fertilize in the spring to help the soft needles expand quickly through their vulnerable stage. Second, we begin fungicide applications to protect the outer surface of the needles. Third, a fall fertilization helps the tree put on woody mass so it can store more sugars for the following spring.

Keeping up on this trifecta of protection is the only way to help your pines. To have one of our certified arborists inspect your trees and offer a plan to keep them healthy, request a free consultation.

 

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Tree Fungus

Spring showers bring May flowers, but they also bring fungus diseases.  Theseare some of the most prevalent and damaging.

Dogwood Anthracnose

Dogwood_AnthracnoseAnthracnose infection begins in the leaves, causing them to brown and dry up.   Over time, infection of twigs and shoots may kill branches, usually beginning with those low on the tree, moving upward.  Infected trees may die within 1-3 years.  Spring treatments help control infection.

 

 

Apple Scab

Apple_scabFlowering Apples and Crabapples are susceptible to a fungus disease called Apple Scab.  The results of this disease are yellow and brown leaves and defoliation by early summer.    Foliar treatments can protect you trees from this disease. Varieties resistant to the disease are available.

 

Diplodia

DiplodiaDiplodia infects Austrian and Red Pines in our territory.  Symptoms show as brown, stunted new shoots with short, brown needles. Needles on infected new shoots often become discolored (tan, brown).  New shoots are killed rapidly by the fungus. Repeated infections reduce growth, deform trees, and ultimately kill them.

 

For more information about treatments call us or click below to request a free consultation.

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