Subscribe by Email

Your email:

Follow Us!

Carpenter Costin's Blog

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Tree and Shrub Fertilizer: Surface vs. Subsurface Applications


Discover the differences between granular surface fertilizer and subsurface liquid fertilizer, and find out which method is best for your trees and shrubs.

Fertilizing trees and shrubs in the fall is vital for optimal tree health and growth. Fall is the best time to fertilize trees and shrubs, as they are putting extra effort into root development – rather than flower or leaf development. Adding extra nutrients will only help the trees and shrubs develop stronger root systems, which helps promote long term health and appeal.  There are two main types of tree and shrub fertilizer applications that can be used in the fall: subsurface and surface fertilizers.subsurface tree fertilizer

Subsurface liquid fertilizers are applied through injections, and are injected directly into the root zone to ensure fast action from the fertilizer. Liquid fertilizer injections require fairly complex equipment and should only be completed by trained professionals. One drawback of subsurface fertilizer injection is that you can actually inject the fertilizer too deeply – effectively missing the root zone and rendering the fertilizer useless.

Although subsurface injections can be great when done properly, granular surface fertilizer is a wiser choice for homeowners. Granular fertilizer spread liberally through shrub beds and around the base of trees can be every bit as effective as (or more effective than) subsurface injections. Granular applications are less expensive than subsurface liquid injections, and often times they produce better results.

Fertilization of trees and shrubs in the fall is always a good idea for established, mature trees and shrubs; however, it is imperative to fertilize newly planted or transplanted specimens. Fall is an important time for root development, and young (or recently relocated) trees and shrubs can really use the added nutrients to help establish a strong root system.

To learn more about fertilization, request a free consultation with one of our plant health care specialists.


Best Time for Lawn Seeding


Late summer is the best time for planting seed and improving your lawn’s thickness.

In New England, late summer is a welcomed time - and not just because the kids are heading back to school. During the latter part of August and into September, the climate begins to change in the North East. Although day time temperatures can still be unbearably hot at this time, late summer usually brings cooler night time temperatures along with shorter days (andbare lawn spots photoperiods). The combination of cooler temperatures and shorter days creates optimal grass growing weather.

Many homeowners feel that spring time is the right time for lawn care, and we can’t blame them as it is a common misconception; however, if you focus planting and seeding efforts in the fall, you’ll be rewarded with improved results.

Grass seed excels in the late summer and early fall because it has less competition than it does in the spring. In warmer periods like spring and early summer, crab grass thrives and actually out-competes turf for space in your lawn. Long days and hot temperatures present problems for turf growth; however, crab grass will have no problem in these conditions. As temperatures cool and the photoperiod shrinks, crab grass cannot survive and eventually dies off. This creates a competition free growing period for turf. As temperatures become too cold at night, you will see crab grass beginning to turn purple and die – this signals the start of prime turf growing conditions.

Every year there is a three to four week window that presents optimal turf growing conditions and it usually falls between the last week of August and the last week of September. This period of time is ideal for lawn renovation, and gives turf seed the best chance of thriving.

Lawn Renovation Pros and Cons: Seeding vs. Sodding

If you have any bare spots in your lawn, we recommend raking them out and spreading some seed in the late summer and early fall. When the conditions are right, the seed will “pop” in just a few days. It will also be beneficial to over-seed your entire lawn at this time, which will help create a thicker turf.

Late summer can be a great time for DIY lawn care, but for complete lawn renovation, we recommend consulting with a professional.


late summer lawn care

If your lawn looks like this, late summer lawn care can help revitalize it and create thicker turf.

Discover When and How Often to Prune Trees & Shrubs


View the tree & shrub pruning guide to discover the best timing and frequency of shrub and tree pruning.pruning guide

Pruning the various trees and shrubs throughout your property is critical to ensure their health, appeal, and safety. Understanding that pruning is crucial to the livelihood and attractiveness of your landscape is only half the battle. Knowing when and how frequently to prune the different varieties of trees and shrubs on your property will help make certain that your landscape stays in tip-top shape, and you enjoy all the beautiful flowering and fruiting of your various trees and shrubs.

This guide gives you a concise explanation of when and how often to prune:

  • Ornamental Trees
  • Shrubs
  • Shade Trees

Click below to view the guide. For questions about pruning, request a free pruning consultation with one of our Certified Arborists.

pruning guide cta

Combining Natural & Engineered Stone in Your Hardscape


Adding a landscape feature with both natural stone and engineered pavers can give you the best of both worlds when it comes to hardscape.

Deciding which type of stone to use for your next hardscape project can be a difficult. With a variety of natural stones and engineered pavers readily available, the paradox of choice threatens to make adding a new landscape feature a daunting task. If you’re having a tough time deciding which stone to use, we may just have the best answer for you – use both!

A skilled Landscape Architect will be able to design a new hardscape feature that incorporates both natural stone and engineered pavers to ensure you get the benefits of both materials. If you’re looking to add a new driveway, and want the durability and easy maintenance of pavers, but the classic look of natural stone, you can line the new pavers with a cobble or granite edge. Another common combination consists of a durable paver patio, with the natural look of a fieldstone wall surrounding the patio or lining the property.

Combining the two different types of hardscape materials requires a trained hand, as it is very easy to get carried away and end up with a hodge-podge of a landscape. The proper balance of natural stone and engineered pavers, when coupled with a great planting design, can really make a synergized property.

When adding any new landscape feature, it is wise to develop a landscape master plan so you can visualize the entire property, and plan to phase landscape projects that you would like to construct in the future. Take advantage of a free consultation to discuss how you can make natural stone and engineered pavers work for your property.


paver patio w granite

Paver walkway and patio, paired with granite steps and retaining wall.

paver driveway cobble edge

Paver driveway lined with a cobble edge, and natural fieldstone wall.

Benefits of Phasing Landscape Design & Construction Projects


Separating new landscape projects into multiple phases will allow you to achieve the dream landscape you’ve always wanted.

Adding a new landscape feature to your property can cost as little as a few hundred bucks, depending on what you want to have designed and installed. Building your dream landscape; however, usually requires a substantial financial investment which can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. In order to make the project more achievable, a Landscape Architect can design and plan it to be installed in multiple phases.

Installing landscape projects in multiple phases can be extremely beneficial for a homeowner. One valuable benefit of phasing landscape projects is the ability to segment the project for budgeting purposes. As previously mentioned, your dream landscape can be costly; however, when phasing into multiple parts, you can achieve your dream landscape on a budget friendly schedule over a number of months or years.

Phasing landscape construction projects also lets a homeowner take advantage of season specific benefits, such as prime planting conditions in the fall. Often times, we’ll install a patio, wall, or walkway in the heat of the summer, but wait until the fall to install the plants and softscape – both because the conditions are more appropriate, and because it is a little easier on the homeowner’s wallet.

Once you realize that phasing landscape projects can help you achieve your dream landscape, you’ll need to consult with a Landscape Architect to develop a landscape master plan. A master plan will map out the various phases of the project and display how they will cumulatively compose your dream landscape. After developing a master plan, you can work with the Architect to schedule the phases to suit your budget, as well as the installation conditions. Click the button below for your free consultation.


landscape construction project phases

Separating landscape projects into multiple phases will help you turn your dream landscape into a reality.

Servicing Trees in Tight Spaces


Caring for 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 they 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 removal challenges.

One option for tree service in tight spaces is a crane. Cranes are effective for 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 shop, and there is always risk involved when lifting large trees over building structures.

Another (more appropriate and affordable) option is to enlist the services of a tree climber. Tree climbing is 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.

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.


tree pruning in tight spaces

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.

Start Thinking About Fall Plantings


Although it is still the height of summer; preparing for fall plant installation now will ensure you’re ready when the temperatures cool down.

If you’re looking to add some plants, shrubs, or trees to your landscape, consider doing it in the fall. The fall months are great for plant installation, as weather conditions are ideal for optimal root development. Starting in September, the sun weakens, temperatures cool, and conditions for installing plants improve. From September through November, and sometimes even into December, landscape installation crews will be busy installing a variety of plants, shrubs, and trees.

Even though we’re still greeted with 90 degree temperatures on a regular basis in August, you really need to begin the planning stage early in the month. First, take advantage of a free consultation with a Landscape Architect. Most firms will offer free consultations, and I haven’t met a Landscape Architect that doesn’t like to share their wealth of knowledge. It is also wise to have a Landscape Architect inspect the property while full foliage remains on the trees, as they will be able to accurately scope the light and shade around your property.

The reason you want to start discussing fall plantings in early August is because it can be a two to four week cycle of discussion and planning before a project can commence. This time frame is actually beneficial for both the homeowner and the Architect, as it allows the homeowner to get their budget squared away, while also permitting the Architect to source the absolute best plants for the job.

Adding plants, trees, or shrubs to your property in the fall will ensure that you experience optimal blooming come next spring and helps promote long term plant health – but start planning now, or it may be too late to cash in on great planting conditions this fall.


fall planting prep

Planting in the fall will have your landscape ready, and beautiful, come spring time!

All Posts