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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.

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stone patio entertaining

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

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.

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ornamental tree and shrub pruning

"Frenchy" hand pruning shrubs last June.

Benefits of Paver Driveways

  
  
  

Opt for engineered pavers for a driveway with exceptional appeal and durability that is very easy to maintain.

Pavers are a great option to consider when building a new driveway because they offer three main benefits: appeal, durability, and ease of maintenance. Whether you need to replace an old blacktop or concrete driveway, or are building a new home, a paver driveway might be the best option for you.

Appeal

There are three differentiating factors that separate paver driveways from asphalt or concrete driveways when considering appeal or attractiveness, and they are color, shape, and texture. Pavers come in many different colors, shapes, and textures which allows you to get the look and feel you desire. The various shapes and colors allow a professional landscape mason to create attractive patterns in your driveway to suit your tastes.

Durability

Engineered pavers are very dense and thus very durable and strong. Due to the density, pavers are not suspect to winter freezing and thawing damage. The smooth, flat surface of pavers also allows for easy snow removal without any damage. Most engineered pavers can withstand 8000 pounds of pressure per square inch, which is about four times greater than concrete.

Ease of Maintenance

Caring for paver driveways in the New England winter is easy, as they are resistant to damage from snow plows, snow blowers, and shovels. In the summer months, paver driveways can be pressure washed to keep them clean and free of dirt. If a paver becomes stained or broken, it is easy enough to pull it up and replace it with a new one.

Paver driveways can be a great addition to your property, but it is highly recommended that you have a Landscape Architect design the driveway and professional landscape masons install it to ensure you get optimum results. If pavers aren’t the right choice for you, there are various other driveway alternatives. Click the button below to learn more about paver driveways from a Landscape Architect.

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paver driveway

A paver driveway is a great addition to your property.

Adding a Professional Landscape to your Pool Area

  
  
  

A pool is an enjoyable feature to add to your property, and with a professional landscape design around it, it can be a very attractive feature as well!

In-ground pools are great for cooling off on a hot summer day or showing off your latest version of the swan dive, but with some attention from a Landscape Architect, an in-ground pool can be a truly remarkable landscape feature. Landscaping around a pool will not only add beauty, but it can add functionality, and value to your home as well.

Deciding to add a landscape around your pool is only half the battle. Once you decide that you’re going to add a new landscape to your pool area you then need to start making decisions on the look and feel that you want to achieve. Natural stone will give it a classic look that works great with teak or wood furniture. Concrete pavers will create a more modern look, and will be more durable in case you prefer metal or aluminum lounge chairs and furniture. Whichever hardscape material you decide to use, be sure you fill in the perimeter with plants and a fence. You can also choose to add additional patio space, or even tiered patios, for an improved entertaining area.

If you have a pool, or are considering adding a pool to your property, be sure to consult with a Landscape Architect about the landscaping around it. Even if you have a pool contractor, it is wise to consult with a Landscape Architect to be sure the landscape you want to add around it is feasible with the pool contractor’s design. Click the button below to learn more about pool landscaping from one of our Landscape Architects.

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landscape around pool

Natural stone patios and walls give this pool area a classic New England look and feel.

Preventing and Treating Pine Sawfly Infestations

  
  
  

Pine Sawflies have hatched, or will be hatching soon, throughout our region. Be sure you have the proper management techniques in place.

The Pine Sawfly is a destructive pest that targets the two and three needle pines in New England, meaning they only infest pines where the needles are in bundles, or fascicles, of two and three needles each. Mugo Pines are usually the primary host for Pine Sawflies in the region.

Each year, Pine Sawflies will hatch into the larval stage and feast on two and three needle pines, like the Mugo pine, voraciously. What's unique about Pine Sawfly is that they only feed on the older needles of a pine, usually leaving the young needles unscathed. The Sawfly will form very tight groups and feed quickly, moving throughout a pine until it is completely defoliated.

Treating Pine Sawfly larvae can be done in two methods depending on how the groups are formed. Very small groups of the larvae can be pruned off the tree and disposed of. Larger groups; however, will require an insecticide treatment. Over the counter insecticides, such as Sevin, will work on Pine Sawflies, but be sure you’re familiar with the toxicity level of the product you buy.

Our pest management programs include Pine Sawfly treatments, but you can also choose a target treatment on Mugo Pines, or other pines if you’ve had an issue with this pest in the past. Request a free consultation to learn more about pest management programs.

The video below shows Pine Sawflies in action, as well as the defoliated pine left after just a short amount of time feeding. Look closely to see the Sawfly squirming around.

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.

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spring lawn care tips

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

Will May Showers bring May Flowers?

  
  
  

The saying usually goes, “April Showers Bring May Flowers,” but with very little precipitation in April, what will happen to our landscape in the 5th month?

The abnormally dry and warm early spring gave us an early glimpse at many flowers, but it also created some potential problems in the landscape. Flowers that bloomed early were then welcomed with chilly temperatures at night, sometimes dropping into frost-potential temperatures. Many flowers, shrubs, and flowering trees in our region have evidence of frost damage.

Due to the lack of rain in April, soil is very dry in our area, and even with the recent rain, moisture is not penetrating the soil nearly as much as it needs to be. Picking up a few inches of rain in early May certainly helps, but it will not be surprising to see damage from the dry soil, especially in areas where root competition is high.

Despite the lack of rain in April, we have experienced 235 growing degree days (GDD) in the Boston area. GDD is a measurement of heat accumultion used in the green industry to forecast plant and pest development. As a comparison, the Boston area only received 107.5 GDDs total in 2011, so it is safe to say we are ahead of schedule compared to last year.rhododendron bloom

Consider the number of GDDs we’ve received and couple that with the abundant moisture this past week and we should see some great things in the coming weeks in our landscapes (assuming the meteorologists are correct in forecasting sunshine in the coming days). Just to mention a few, Rhododendrons should stick out in the landscape, and lilacs should begin flowering shortly if they haven’t yet.

Plants aren’t the only thing ahead of schedule – pests in our area have shown much earlier than last year as well. Our Plant Health technicians have been out in full force since March, so if you’ve put off protecting your landscape from pests, you shouldn’t wait any longer! If you’re unsure how to protect your landscape from pests discover which pest management program you’ll benefit from the most.

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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.

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