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Summertime Watering of Your Shrubs and Plants


Remember to properly water your shrubs and plants this summer to avoid damage from dry soil and hot temperatures.

Watering shrubs and plants cannot be forgotten during the summertime, period! This holds especially true if they have been planted this year or last year. The plentiful rains of spring usually end by mid-June and from then on, the homeowner is responsible for the irrigation of the property’s trees and shrubs. This can be done by adding a professional irrigation system with drip-irrigation; or a well placed garden hose. It doesn’t matter which route you decide to follow – just be sure you’re watering!

During the summer, a deep watering of shrubs and plants once a week is necessary. This can be accomplished simply by putting a garden hose on low and letting it rest around the base of the shrub or plant for a few minutes, allowing the water to slowly penetrate the soil and sink deep into the root system. Doing this should keep the soil around the shrub moist enough for the week and help ensure that the shrub remains healthy throughout the summer. Be sure not to have the water pressure too high as it will just run off, especially if the soil is very dry. Remember, this is extremely important for newly planted or transplanted shrubs!

When watering, always abide by your town’s water restrictions. Drought conditions can be tough on plants, but you still need to follow the regulations. If you give your shrubs and plants a deep watering once a week, they'll come through summer healthy and looking great.

summer watering shrubs

Though complex drip irrigation may be the best and most convenient watering solution; a simple garden hose can be your shrub's ally in the summer.

Featured Project: Natural Stone Retaining Wall – West Newbury MA


We have a unique project to kick off the newest aspect of Carpenter Costin’s online community, our “Featured Project.” We’re hoping to highlight a project every few weeks, especially if it has a cool story or shows a great transformation.

Our first “Featured Project” utilizes a recycled material found in a rather unusual location – the homeowner’s basement. While in the process of excavating his basement from a crawl space to a full sized room, the homeowner encountered a large amount of natural stone schist. Now that there was a heaping pile of schist on the lawn, the homeowner needed to decide what to do with it all.

Enter Carpenter Costin. A quick look at the property and our Landscape Architect determined that the newly excavated schist would make a great natural stone retaining wall to replace the existing railroad tie wall.

Using the recycled schist from the basement to build the wall ended up saving the homeowner thousands of dollars in material costs, and makes a for a very cool story. Not to mention – this wall looks great and will serve as a functional retaining wall for many years to come. We’ll also be adding some plants in the future to round off the project.

View the pictures to see how the wall turned out.

before retaining wall

Before: A pile of stone, plants, weeds, and dirt. Not exactly "curb appeal."

after retaining wall

After: The new retaining wall, seen here meshing well with the driveway's slope.

railroad tie wall to be removed

Before: Timber railroad ties won't last forever. This one was only beginning to fail.

schist retaining wall

After: This stone will last forever, and when properly built, will serve as a sturdy retaining wall for many decades.

old wall

Before: A grade change made this part of the property hard to use and maintain.

stairs and level grade

After: Leveling the grade and adding stairs made this part of the property functional. Once the plants are added, it will be functional and beautiful!

Summer Lawn Care Practices to Follow


Help your lawn through the summer and follow these lawn care practices.

Lawn care is often a forgotten practice in the summer, as home owners submit to the hot, humid, and dry weather. These summer conditions make it difficult to keep your turf lush and green, but that doesn’t mean you should stop caring for your lawn. The following practices will help you keep your lawn looking great through the summer.

Raise the Blades

Increasing the mow height of your lawn in the summer will help your turf out-compete weeds, such as crab grass, and also helps to promote photosynthesis - as longer blades of grass have more surface area. If you mow your lawn too short, crab grass will quickly sprout up higher than the turf, resulting in an unattractive look. Since you’re mowing less in the summer, raising the blades usually doesn’t require increasing the frequencies of mows.

Don’t Forget the Water

Ensure your turf is getting enough water throughout the summer. The general rule of thumb is 1” of water per week. If you don’t have a preprogrammed irrigation system, be sure you are manually watering your turf in either the morning or evening to be certain your lawn gets the 1” per week that it needs.

Inspect for Grubs

Grubs are a nuisance in the summer, as are the creatures that eat them. Some animals, such as skunks, find grubs to be quite the delicacy and will destroy your lawn digging for their next meal. If the skunks haven’t got to your grubs yet, that doesn’t mean damage isn’t being done. Grubs will eat at the root system of your lawn, effectively damaging it from below.

Top-Dress and Over-Seed

Top dressing and over seeding is usually a spring and fall trick, but it can help in the summer as well. Lightly spreading some organic soil and grass seed will help fill in thin spots and create a denser lawn in the future. This new soil will help provide essential food for your turf and help hold in some moisture. Don’t expect the new seed to sprout up this summer, but it will germinate come fall.

Following these lawn care practices will help you maintain a great lawn throughout the summer. Remember, lawn care is not just a fall and spring activity – it requires active participation throughout the summer as well. To learn more about lawn care, or for a free lawn care consultation, click the button below.


summer lawn care

Lush, green turf is achievable in the summer months!

Build a Natural Stone Wall to Line Your Property


Natural stone walls are timeless additions to your property and serve as an attractive and functional boundary marker.

For thousands of years, land owners have been using stone to construct the walls that lined their property; keeping their cattle in check, and helping to identify rigid property boundaries with their neighbors that could have lived many miles away. Though times have changed, natural stone is still a great choice for a wall surrounding your property.

Years ago, farmers would save the stones they encountered when tilling their fields and use them to construct the long stone walls that marked their land. Luckily, stone is now readily available at a local hardscape distributor, which saves some excavation time and effort - but if you have existing stone on your property it can certainly be reused to help save costs! We’ve even constructed walls out of stone excavated from someone’s basement.

There are many different varieties of natural stone, but for simplicity sake, let’s just focus on two styles: round stone and flat stone. Round stone presents a very organic and timeless look that meshes well with classic New England architecture. Flat stone is still very natural, but portrays a more elegant appeal that works well with both modern and classic architecture. Both styles of natural stone are beautiful and are sure to add a timeless appeal to your landscape.

A natural stone wall is not only a great aesthetical feature, but it can also provide safety and security. We’ve seen a number of stone walls that have been damaged by cars that have strayed off the road. There is no telling where the car would have ended up had the walls not been there.

Take advantage of our free consultations and discuss adding a natural stone wall to your property with a Landscape Architect.


natural round field stone wall

A small natural round fieldstone wall at the edge of a property, separating it from the street.

flat field stone wall

This flat stone wall sits between a natural stone patio and a beautiful garden.

Prune Before Shrubs Grow Out of Control


Don’t wait until it’s too late; regular pruning is not only easier than restoration pruning, but it will ensure your shrubs look great every year!

Waiting too long to prune your shrubs can leave you with the daunting task that is restoration pruning. Pruning your shrubs every year (or multiple times a year when needed) will help keep your shrubs under control and looking great. If you neglect to prune a shrub for a few seasons, you may find that the shrub has grown uncontrollably to a point of no return.

It is best to prune shrubs in the summer, after the shrub has flowered, but before the buds develop for next year. This is especially important after a spring with optimal growing conditions, with plenty of rain and warm temperatures, as shrubs can grow significantly - even in a short period of time. Pruning in the summer after strong growing conditions is critical to ensure your shrubs do not get out of hand.

Regular pruning of shrubs will help keep your landscape attractive and healthy year after year. Should you miss a few years of pruning, you may need to partake in restoration pruning, which is very labor-intensive, has a long turnaround time, and is difficult to achieve without a skilled hand pruner.

If you’re not up for pruning your shrubs yourself, request a free consultation and we can have our professional pruners out to do it for you.


overgrown shrub

This forsythia flowered beautifully early in the spring, but optimal growing conditions in the late spring led the shrub to grow uncontrollably. It must be pruned this summer or else it will be beyond restoration next year.

regular hand pruning

Hand pruning may be tedious, but if you prune your shrubs each summer you'll keep them in check and looking great!

Best Time to Prune Trees and Shrubs


Understanding the importance of pruning is only half the battle. Next you must determine when and how often to prune your trees and shrubs.

Pruning is critical to ensure the health and appeal of your trees and shrubs. Once you recognize the importance of pruning, you then need to figure out when and how frequently to prune the various trees and shrubs across your property. The following information should serve as a guideline to the proper timing for tree and shrub pruning.

Shrub Pruning

Summer is the ideal time for shrub pruning, as you’ll enjoy the spring and summer flowering of the shrubs, and then prune them before they begin to develop buds for the next year. Wait too long to prune certain shrubs and you’ll actually be pruning off the buds of next year’s flowers. Shrubs, like rhododendron and hydrangea, should be pruned every summer to ensure the desired shape. Pruning shrubs every year will ensure they stay healthy, and maintain the shape and look you desire.

Ornamental Treesornamental tree pruning

Like shrubs, it is a good idea to prune ornamental trees every summer. Flowering trees, like the Kousa Dogwood, will benefit immensely from yearly summer pruning. Pruning after the spring and early summer flowering will allow you to enjoy the beautiful flowering, but make certain that the tree is in optimal shape for next year’s flowering cycle. It may be appropriate to prune ornamental trees every two years, but when you start waiting three or more years between prunings, you will run the risk of losing control of the tree’s shape and health.

Shade Trees

Mature shade trees should be pruned every two to five years to ensure proper light and airflow to keep the tree safe and healthy. The best time to prune, for both the Arborist and the homeowner, is during the winter months, from December to March. Pruning shade trees in the winter when there is no foliage ensures an Arborist easy access to the tree and clear sight lines. As an added benefit, most tree service companies provide a winter discount as the work is generally easier at this time.

Now that you’re equipped with a valuable pruning timeline, take advantage of our free consultations and meet with a Certified Arborist to discuss your tree and shrub pruning plan.


shrub pruning timeline

Pruning foundation shrubs every summer will keep them healthy and attractive.

Importance of Plant Health Care for Commercial Properties


Ensuring plant health and appeal should be a top priority for all commercial property managers.

Commercial properties range in type and size, but for the most part, appearance is very important to both the tenants and the management. Whether you manage a massive business park, or a small condominium complex, landscape appeal and plant health should be a top priority.

What most property managers fail to realize is that plant health care is not achieved by selecting a landscape contractor to handle the weekly maintenance. Plant health care should be handled separately, by a trained and licensed professional. Realizing the need for a plant health care professional is only half the battle, however, as establishing a budget and formulating a plan will determine the true success of a plant health care program for a commercial property.

Focus on areas of need first. Has the property been infested with any specific insects, like Hemlock Woolly Adelgid or Wintermoth? Allocating resources to controlling and preventing these pests will help improve a property’s appeal immensely. After running through the insect and pest checklist, take a look at the turf areas on the property. How do they look? Could they use weed control, fertilization, or any other treatments?

Once you’ve covered the areas of highest need, you can then work with the plant health care professional to determine a comprehensive plant health care plan. A multi-step plan, with a variety of turf and tree/shrub treatments will help ensure your commercial property is looking as good as it can. Immaculate grounds can go a long way when attracting potential tenants.

Consider a free consultation with a plant health care professional to determine the value of plant health and appeal at your commercial location.


commercial property plant health care

A trained professional applies insecticides at a commercial property.

commercial landscape care

A plant health care program can keep your property looking great, just like this condo complex.

Lookout for Lace Bugs on Your Broadleaf Evergreens


Lace Bugs can be found feeding on your broadleaf evergreens trees throughout the summer.

Lace Bugs are common in our area and can be found on a variety of hosts, both evergreen and deciduous. During the summer, Lace Bugs are notorious for damaging broadleaf evergreens, such as rhododendron and azalea.

The Lace Bug

The rhododendron and azalea Lace Bugs are small, winged insects that only grow to be a few millimeters long. Their wings have a net-like pattern, and they are usually scattered with black or brown spots. Lace Bugs cause damage when feeding on a leaf due to their piercing mouths, which they use to suck nutrients out.

Identifying Lace Bug Damage

Lace Bugs will usually feed from the underside of a leaf, piercing and sucking the leaf and ultimately killing the cells, which in turn creates yellow spots on the top side of infested plants. When a plant becomes severely damaged, the leaves will take on a gray blotched appearance or turn entirely brown. If severe damage occurs, the plant may be beyond rescue.

Treating for Lace Bugs

Controlling Lace Bugs can be accomplished with a systemic insecticide; however, preventative measures are recommended if you have commonly infested plants, such as the rhododendron and azalea.

Investigate your broadleaf evergreens and look for yellow spots on the leaves. If you see yellow spots you likely have Lace Bugs feeding on the underside. Request a free consultation with a pest management professional to learn more about Lace Bug treatments and control.


lace bug damage

A close up of a Lace Bug, and the damage that these pests can cause.

Lawn Renovation: Sodding vs. Seeding


Both seeding and sodding have their benefits, but which is best for you?

Before renovating your lawn, you’ll have a few decisions to make – First, how much do you want to spend, and second, when do you want/need the lawn renovated by? These two questions are actually interrelated, but if you can answer them, then you’ll know which lawn renovation method is more appropriate for you: sod installation or seeding.

The goal of lawn renovation is to achieve a lush, green, and durable lawn, with minimal weeds. This can be accomplished with both sod and seed; however, the cost and time frame of each method is very different.

Sod installation is a preferred method of lawn renovation, as it provides the quickest and surest results. When professionally installed, a sod lawn will be ready for all outdoor activities in just a few days. If you’re looking to achieve a great lawn in a short period of time, sod is your best bet. The one drawback of sod is the price. Due to the material and labor needed to install, sodding is more expensive than seeding.

If you’re looking to save a few bucks, and you’re not in dire need of a perfect lawn as soon as possible, then seeding is the best bet for you. A seeded lawn will take a few years to grow in fully; however, under prime growing conditions in the spring and fall, seed can germinate very quickly. It is absolutely imperative to understand that a seeded lawn will take at least two growing seasons to achieve the desired look. Seed also requires a significantly longer “no activity” period. Grass seed is inexpensive compared to sod, and the installation is less labor-intensive, resulting in a less expensive price tag.

When it is time to renovate your lawn, ask yourself the two questions regarding price and time frame, and you’ll figure out which method works best for you. Take advantage of our free consultations and meet with a turf pro to discuss your upcoming lawn renovation project.


sod lawn renovation

Sod provides the quickest and surest lawn renovation results.

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