Truck & Chipper W Tree in background

Carpenter Costin Blog

The Effect of Storms on Your Trees

Trees are such an integral part of our world. We name streets after them, lounge under their shade, swing from them in our youth, and eat fruit from them. Even part of the quintessential American dream is to live on a quaint tree lined street. 


storm damage on your trees

Trees however need to be protected from nature’s elements like strong winds and storms that can batter our Massachusetts coastline. 

From hurricanes in the summer and fall to nor’easters in the winter months, New England is known for the storms that can wreak havoc on our area. Trees can be especially vulnerable to the storms experienced rather regularly. 

Let’s take a look at how storms can impact trees and some precautions homeowners can take to protect these essential parts of our ecosystem. 

Tree Uprooting 

One of the more common sights after a strong storm has blown through our state, is to see trees that have toppled, ripping the roots right up from the ground. 

Most trees can handle a normal amount of flexing in the wind. Sadly, trees that have root damage due to pests, nearby construction, a shallow root structure, or an unestablished root system such as those found in newly planted trees. 

These root issues usually go unanswered and don’t cause a major problem until a strong wind from a storm puts too much stress on the roots. 

Think of a tree like a sailboat. The top leaves and full canopy of a tree act in a similar way to a sail on a sailboat. They catch the wind and cause the object (either a boat or a tree) to move and sway with the wind. Unfortunately, trees can not move themselves to where the wind directs them to go, like a sailboat can. Instead, if the wind is too strong and the root system too weak, the tree could topple and land on your home, car, or across a street. 

Having an arborist inspect your mature trees regularly can help determine the health of your root system and the tree itself. 

arborists can help evaluate trees

Limb Breakage 

Another common type of injury that can occur during New England storms is limb breakage. This can happen high in the canopy and lower, near the trunk. 

Decaying wood from fungal infections, pest infestations, or damage caused by a human improperly pruning, can create a scenario where branches can break under the stress of a storm. 

Concern about where a large, heavy limb may land is a primary concern especially if the tree is near any structures like a garage, shed, or your home. What should also worry homeowners is the weakening and vulnerability of the tree to further pest invasions and fungal growth due to the limb breakage. 

Structural Damage 

Depending upon the strength of the storm that blows through our region, homeowners may aso worry about structural damage that may impact a tree. Having an arborist inspect your trees before and after a big storm might be a good idea, especially if any of your trees are already showing signs of structural vulnerability such as leaning to one side or improper and excessive pruning making a tree look like it may have more weight on one side than the other. 


Improper Pruning Will Kill Your Trees

How Improper Pruning Affects Your Trees

An arborist is a specialist in the cultivation and care of trees and shrubs, including tree surgery, the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of tree diseases, and the control of pests as stated by When an arborist prunes your trees, they plan how to make the certain cuts before jumping into it to make sure it is the best possible care for your tree.

Improper Pruning-1The image to the left is an example of improper tree pruning. Improper tree pruning can cause a variety of issues almost immediately but also causes severe issues long term.

Stub Cuts

One of the most common mistakes when making cuts on a tree is cutting it too close to the main trunk. When this is done, you are removing a very crucial part of the tree tissue called the branch collar, where the cells help heal the wound. Without the callous that the branch collar create to help prevent disease from entering the trunk you are simply opening a wound that allows disease and pests to affect the tree, which if left untreated can ultimately kill the tree. 

Excessive Pruning

When one third or more of a tree's canopy is removed, photosynthesis is greatly reduced, leaving the tree unable to provide enough energy to sustain itself. We strongly believe that pruning 5% - 10% of a mature tree's foliage is ideal and pruning no more than 15% to 20% is recommended for optimal tree vigor. Sunscald can also occur if sections on the trees bark are exposed to direct sunlight and heat after removal of foliage that previously sheltered the bark. This can cause cankers, as well as splits in the bark, which provides an entry point for disease and insects. 


Topping is cutting away a 50 to 100 percent of a tree's crown, or all the leafing branches across the top half of the tree. This can cause similar conditions to excessive pruning, reducing photosynthesis and causing dormant buds to become active, forcing the rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. The tree will need to put out a new crop of leaves soon after topping, and if it does not have the energy reserves to do so, will become seriously weakened and may die. Just like excessive pruning, sunscald may also occur as a result of topping. Topping a tree is never a recommended practice, but is sometimes done when trees outgrow their planned space, as a last result before cutting down. This pruning mistake is much more noticeable due to how it makes the tree look. This will leave you with an ugly and deformed tree that has a severely weakened branch structure. It is most common with trees that were planted in a space that is too small.


With pruning trees there are good times to prune and bad times. The proper pruning time depend on the species and the condition the tree is in. For example if a tree is already heavily stressed by growing conditions, insects or disease it would not be the best practice to heavily prune it. This would cause the tree to become more stressed while also trying to heal the wounds from pruning. Pruning too heavily in the hottest season could cause sunscald as mentioned above, which can damage the trunk bark with multiple wounds and cankers. Be sure to have a certified arborist take a look at your trees to assess their safety and health to assure their long term strength and beauty.

Proper Pruning Promotes Healthy Trees

Pruning, when done correctly will promote a happy and healthy tree! Check out why Pruning Trees and Shrubs is necessary.

If you have any questions or concerns about your trees please reach out to us at 877-308-8733.



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 certified 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

Request a Free Consultation


Winter Tree Work in MA - 10% Discount

It's time for winter tree work. Have your trees serviced between Dec - Mar and get a 10% discounTree removal and tree pruning in the winter is ideal for a number of reasons. Firm ground, low foliage, and reduced outdoor activity make tree service easier for the Arborist. Carpenter Costin's 10%  winter discount makes tree service much easier for the property owner as well.

Tree service in the winter is also recommended for areas that are constantly used in the growing season, such as golf courses and athletic fields. Servicing trees in these locations during the winter will ensure that there is no damage to the turf.


With clear sight lines, Arborists can easily analyze and prune out dead wood and hanging limbs, and identify any structural weaknesses that can be pruned or cabled to ensure safety.

Consider Carpenter Costin's winter tree services to help improve the appeal and safety of your trees. You'll be glad come spring time.

Faster and Safer Tree Work with our NEW Tracked Lift!

track lift resizedOur mission has always been to offer the best possible professional tree work, landscape design, and lawn care for our clients. We've been doing that for over 60 years and have some of the most delighted clients around. Now we can provide these services faster, safer, and more cost effectively. We're so excited for our newest piece of equipment, our Tracked Lift!

The tracked lift is so compact that it will fit thru a standard single door. The makeup of the lift allows us to move easily over soft, muddy or delicate finished surfaces without the damage that would be done by other types of wheeled equipment. It can even climb stairs!

Carpenter Costin will be using this beauty for things like:

  • Tree removal without climbing
  • Pruning large hedges without need for a ladder
  • Accessing yards that would otherwise be inaccessible because of fences and small gates

Track lift2 resizedUsing The New Tracked Lift

Last week we had the perfect project for our new lift. Our client in Salem, MA had a large maple tree that was posing a hazard to a home with a slate roof. Not only do you want to avoid injury by having a tree fall on your house, but in this case it would be very expensive to repair or replace a slate roof! Like many properties in Salem, this home has a narrow driveway and two small garden gates for entry into the backyard. Without our new tracked lift, we wouldn't have been able to access the tree. Thanks to our new machine we were able to quickly and safely remove it for a much lower cost to the client.

We expect the tracked lift to be involved in a lot more projects going forward. If you have tree or yard work that needs to be done but thought it wouldn't be accessible, get in touch! We'll be happy to show this guy off!


Pruning Timing Depends on Pruning Goals

pruningWhile it's true that most pruning can be done at any time of year, your pruning goals dictate when a shrub or tree should be pruned.

Size Control of Non-Flowering Shrubs

When pruning shrubs such as Yews, Holly, Juniper, Privet, Arborvitae or Burning Bush, the best time to prune is just after the initial flush of growth.  Bud break occurs on most shrubs in April or May based on temperature and rainfall.  Immediately following the opening of the buds, the shrubs explode with new growth.  This growing period subsides with summer heat and reduced rainfall.  It's at this time, late June to early July, that pruning begins, removing the excessive growth that can cause shrubs to outgrow their intended space.  Later in the summer, usually around September, a ‘touch up’ pruning is done to control the limited growth that occurs in the hot summer months.  This second pruning helps maintain a neat appearance during dormant months.

It should be noted that shearing of shrubs, other than hedges, is not an accepted practice by horticulturalists.    

Spring Flowering Shrubs

There are two main goals in pruning flowering shrubs:

  1. To maintain the shrub within its intended site
  2. To promote maximum flower display

The timing for pruning shrubs such as Viburnum, Honeysuckle, Forsythia, Potentilla and Weigela, is after they flower.  These types of shrubs produce flower buds later in the summer for next year’s blossoms.  Late June or July is the appropriate time to prune such plants to maximize the next year’s flowers.

Large Leaved Rhododendrons

rhododendronLarge leaved Rhododendrons should never be sheared.  Shearing damages the leaves, causing unsightly brown cut margins.  Also, shearing creates a dense outer crown that does not allow light and airflow to easily reach the inside of the shrub’s crown.  Shearing definitely increases insect and disease activity in all shrubs, especially Rhododendrons.

Carpenter Costin hand prunes all large leaved Rhododendrons, maintaining a natural appearance, while maintaining the size of the plant within its intended space.  Rhododendrons are pruned shortly after flowering, which usually occurs sometime in late June.

It should be noted that plant development does not occur based on our calendar, but rather on daily temperature, called ‘Degree Days Heating.’

Summer Flowering Shrubs

blue hydrangeaAs with other flowering shrubs, pruning shortly after flowering is the best time.  Shrubs such as Clethra, Spirea, Rose of Sharon, and Hydrangea flower later in the season.  Summer flowers are produced on the new wood/shoots and develop in the same calendar year.  Hence, pruning too early will remove flowers getting ready for this year’s display. 

Our Strategy

At Carpenter Costin Landscape Management we plan for 3 separate prunings each season targeting specific shrubs.  The timing of our target pruning dates is completely dictated by the shrub’s development and species.  (We monitor Degree Day Heating through the University of Massachusetts for a variety of purposes).

First Pruning

As we can all see, large leaved Rhododendrons are in bloom right now.  I estimate that these shrubs will be pruned at the end of June, just after their flowers fall.

Second Pruning

Spring and early summer shrubs are either flowering now or have just passed flowering.  Pruning of these shrubs and the first pruning of non-flowering shrubs will occur approximately 4 weeks from now, or early July.  This timing will assure that we get the most out of our spring and early summer flowering shrubs and get the best flower development for next year’s blossoms.

Also, the initial growth spurt will be behind us for non-flowering shrubs, allowing for a longer period of time with a managed shape.

Third Pruning

Late summer pruning, to ‘touch up’ the almost certain additional growth of non-flowering shrubs, and the proper pruning time for summer flower shrubs, is September.

Spring Flowers Require Pruning

Flowering Plants Require Summer Pruning

Craig pruning 2011 resized 600Ask an arborist when the best time to prune your trees and shrubs and he’ll tell you ‘when the saw is sharp.’ For most plants this is true but others have a specific pruning schedule.

Pruning Flowering Shrubs & Ornamental Trees

Flowering shrubs and ornamental trees have completed their flowering for the year by end of May and will soon develop buds for next year's blossoms.

Flowering Shrubs

  • Rhododendrons
  • Lilac
  • Azalea 

Ornamental Trees

  • Dogwood
  • Crabapple
  • Hawthorn 

These plants should be pruned right after they bloom for the best crop of flowers next spring. If you wait until late fall when buds have already set, you will be removing next season’s flowers.

Pruning Mistakes with Flowering Trees and Shrubs

Pruning is beneficial for all trees and shrubs but timing is crucial depending on the tree or shrub. we have a wide variety of different trees and plants in our area so be sure to ask an arborist when the best time to prune your specific trees and plants is. Be sure to check out our "Why Prune your Trees and Shrubs" post where it will go into detail why pruning is something you should always consider with trees and plants on your property.

Late May into early June is also the perfect time to prune your hedges back into shape. ‘Leggy’ growth will appear at this time of year on Hemlocks, Yews, Privet, Juniper, and Arborvitae. Bring them back into shape by hand pruning the long spindly branches. Reduction of plant height will help maintain strong stems and help protect them from snow damage. It’s also a good time to prune out deadwood and broken branches for healthy, attractive plants.

Don’t procrastinate. Give us a call to arrange a property review with one of our arborists and keep your plants blooming beautifully. 877.308.8733

What is Vista Pruning?

Vista pruning is commonly used jargon in the world of arboriculture, but what exactly does it mean to the interested homeowner?

A vista is defined as a “pleasing view, especially one seen through a long, narrow opening.” (Google) As it relates to tree care, vista pruning is essentially the pruning of trees to create a pleasing view, whether through a series of trees, or over a serious of pruning

In New England it is common that homeowners enlist the services of a tree pruner to vista prune trees in order to improve a view of the ocean, pond, stream, mountain, or various other beautiful settings we are fortunate enough to have in our corner of the country.

There are two main techniques that are used when vista pruning; and they are crown reduction, and tree thinning.

Crown Reduction

Reducing the crown consists of pruning the upper portion of the tree, effectively opening up views above the trees. Crown reduction works especially well when the desired view is in the distance and the viewing platform – be it a house, deck, patio, etc – is elevated.

Tree Thinning

Thinning a tree is a common pruning practice, as it improves light and air flow, making for a healthier tree; however, thinning can also be used after vista pruning to open up views through the trees. This is common along water-front properties, as homeowners are looking to improve their views, without cutting down the trees that add both appeal and privacy to their property.

Trees can be vista pruned year-round; however, the winter is the best for vista pruning because the limited foliage allows for clear sight lines, and the firm ground allows for easier access with pruning equipment. We recommend vista pruning every two years or so, but some properties may need it more frequently in order to maintain those desirable views.

If you have any questions or concerns please call us 877-308-8733 or click the button to request a free consultation!

Request A Free Consultation

Trees in Tight Spaces

Trees in Tight Quarters Can be Difficult, but with experienced tree climbing Arborists, the job can be done safely and efficiently!

A lot of the communities that we service up and down the North Shore can be categorized as tightly quartered - whether it is a small coastal community or a bustling urban setting. Though both situations can be very different in nature, these areas share a commonality when it comes to tree care; as the proximity of buildings present various tree pruning and tree removal challenges.

Different Options for Tree Services in Tight Spaces


One option for tree services in tight spaces is a crane. Cranes are effective at plucking large trees from tight spaces and lifting them above obstacles, such as houses. However, cranes need ample space in the driveway or on the street to set up, and there is always risk involved when lifting large trees over building structures.

Tree Climber

Another (more appropriate and affordable) option is to enlist the services of a tree climber. Tree climbing isTree Climber becoming a lost art form since cranes and bucket trucks entered the scene, but in densely populated areas, tree climbing can be a saving grace. An experienced team of tree climbers can scale and service even the largest trees in the tightest spaces, making tree climbing the best bet for tree care in these areas.

Nifty/Tracked Lift

A new efficient and multi-use piece of equipment that we use for tree removals and tree pruning is called a Nifty Lift or a Tracked Lift. The Nifty Lift is a very unique piece of equipment that is able to fit through most tight places.

Don’t let the fact that you live in a densely populated area prohibit you from pruning trees when needed. We’re continuously stressing the importance of pruning, and it’s for good reason. Pruning your trees will ensure that your property (and your neighbors’ properties) remain safe from damage due to broken tree limbs. Pruning will also help increase the sunlight into your property.

Consider having a Certified Arborist out to inspect the trees in your property. It doesn’t matter if you live in a close-quartered coastal community or a fast-paced urban area, servicing your trees will make for a safer and more enjoyable property.


The skill needed to successfully scale a tree and safely remove or prune a tree in tight spaces is nothing to shake a stick at.

Summer Pruning Keeps Flowers Blooming

Don’t Wait to Prune Flowering Shrubs and Ornamental Trees

Dogwood blossoms

Flowering trees and shrubs greet us in the spring with a glorious show of colorful blossoms. Knowledge of each plant’s growth habits is essential to maintain a good display of blossoms each spring.

Ornamental trees and shrubs such as Dogwoods, Crabapples, Magnolias,  Rhododendrons, etc., develop buds over the summer months for flowers next spring. These plants should be pruned after spring flowering so that they have enough time to set new buds prior to the end of the growing season. If you wait until late fall to prune, the buds will have developed by then and you will be removing them causing to not have a bloom next spring.

Don’t be disappointed next spring, prune flowering trees and shrubs now

Don’t hesitate. Give us a call to arrange a review with one of our arborists and keep your trees blooming beautifully. 877.308.8733

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