Protecting Trees from Overwintering Pests with Dormant Oil

We are quickly approaching the best time of year to provide proactive care of trees by spraying dormant oil as we enter late winter and early spring. Dormant oil is a natural way to protect trees from overwintering pests, larvae, and eggs. Here at Lyndon Tree Care & Landscaping, we want to give you some guidelines we follow on how to use dormant oil and explain the process to you.

While dormant oil can be used on many different plants, we focus on hemlocks and fruit trees in our area of western Massachusetts. Hemlocks can be very susceptible to hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) and elongate hemlock scale. These two insects can cause significant damage and even kill hemlocks in a matter of years. Spraying dormant oil is a great way to reduce the population before it becomes an infestation, which is much more difficult to combat. Helping to maintain the overall health and well-being of your trees is recommended in tandem with this spray.

How It Works:

When the oil is sprayed on the trees before the buds begin to swell, it suffocates the insects and their eggs that nest in the branches. Fewer hatching eggs means fewer insects feeding on and damaging the tree. Spraying dormant oil won’t completely eliminate the pests, but it will significantly minimize future damage. Pruning storm damage breaks and deadwood, making sure the tree has enough water in droughts or dry months, and fertilizing (with the exception of nitrogen) will all aid the work of the dormant oil treatment to increase the tree’s chance for survival.

When To Spray:

Timing for dormant oil spray is weather dependent. The spray should be applied before the buds on the trees haven’t begun to swell, but not if the temperature is below 40 degrees F for at least 24 hours. Wind and rain also impede application, so a calm and temperate day is required.

Do I need to worry about this?

To the untrained eye, it can be very difficult to spot signs of infestation and poor health in plants and trees. But because pest populations thrive on weak and stressed plants, it’s vital to understand the overall health of your trees. In addition, you need to be aware of any infestations in neighboring trees, which could spread to other properties. We recommend that you call a professional arborist to inspect your trees for these threats and evaluate their overall health. Even if trees aren’t yet infected, being vigilant and proactive can help you cultivate a healthy, vibrant landscape that lasts.

 

Lyndon Tree Care and Landscaping is happy to provide consultation services if you’re at all curious about the health of your trees and shrubs. We’ll give you a full run down and make recommendations if any interventions would be helpful. Contact us today!

How to Enhance Your Lawn Through Proper Tree Care

 

Originally posted at Mass Realty

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Lyndon Tree Care has been operating in the Valley since 2010; we serve residents and towns along the I-91 corridor from Greenfield to South Hadley. Our ISA Certified Arborists specialize in the care of trees, from diagnosis to treatment and long-term planning for the property. Our company services include tree planting, pruning and removal, stump grinding, cabling, spraying and feeding trees, and landscaping.

How do common practices such as trimming or pruning help keep trees healthy?

Removing deadwood is very important for safety and health, as it gives the tree the opportunity to more quickly close over its wound. You also don't want to leave anything that's going to rot back into the branch or trunk. Trees should also be thinned out about every two to three years, so when storms come the tree is less likely to sustain heavy damage. Lastly, removing sucker growth allows the tree to avoid investing energy into branches it doesn't need, so the earlier those are pruned away, the better.

What are some important maintenance practices that enhance the appearance of trees?

Thinning out branches and "cleaning," or removing deadwood, gives trees a more defined structure. When you prune, you're basically telling the tree what to do, i.e., where to grow. That's why we prune: We have to train each branch to set the boundaries for future growth. Mulch rings are another great investment in tree health and aesthetics, because not only do they help keep in moisture and provide a temperature buffer, they help keep out mowers and weed-whackers that damage the roots and trunk.

What are some common reasons for tree removal?

There are many times quality maintenance can save trees on your property. Other times, they simply have to come down. Removals can be due to a compromised root system; extensive rot or disease; or growing too close to the property's structures or features, such your pool or home. Clients with wooded lots may also opt to strategically remove a few trees to get more light into the landscape and promote other sun-loving plants.

What are some signs a tree is dying?

Often the evidence can be seen from the top down; for example, die-back from the top of the canopy or significant leaf drop are signs of decline. If the tree has significant rot, or is cracked, the tree is not structurally sound and should come down even if other parts look very healthy. Fungus or insect damage is very common, signs of which could be mushrooms growing out from the trunk or underneath the tree (indicating decay in the root system). Early leaf drop before fall, or yellow or brown discoloration can also be signs of insect damage or nutrient deficiencies.

How can trees be protected from harmful diseases?

Thinning trees out is helpful to get optimal sunlight and wind through, since diseases establish themselves in trees that stay wet longer after it rains. In addition, our company does sprays and injections of fungicides and insecticides to combat specific threats. A few examples common to this area are needle cast, which is a fungus found on spruces, and hemlock woolly adelgid, an insect that kills hemlocks. If you don't catch these in time, or if neighboring trees are infected, it's often more cost effective to just remove the tree. Just as with people, preventative treatment is the most effective.

How do Trees Survive Winter?

Trees, like all plants, are alive and require nutrients to survive. But what happens to trees during the winter, and how do they survive the frigid cold? If trees consist of water, what keeps the water from freezing, expanding, and even damaging the tree like bursting pipes during the coldest months of the year? As a tree and landscaping company, trees are more than just our business—they are our passion, and we have lot of respect for their amazing abilities to thrive and stay alive when the odds are stacked against them.

Because they can’t uproot themselves and migrate south to warmer clients like certain animals, trees enter a dormant state similar to the hibernation of snakes, bees, skunks, bears and bats (to name a few). This dormancy is what allows trees to survive the cold winter.

During dormancy, a tree’s metabolism, energy consumption, and growth all slow down significantly in order to endure the harsh season of winter when water and sunlight are more scarce. Dormancy occurs in stages; it begins in the fall with the loss of leaves. A chemical called Abscisic Acid is released, which signals the leaves to detach so trees do not expend energy in keeping them alive during the winter. This occurs exclusively in deciduous trees (like maples and oaks), not coniferous trees (evergreens).

During the winter months, the rate of growth is brought nearly to a halt. The stored energy is utilized to maintain the tree’s health, instead of being used for growth. Without cell division and growth, or the task of keeping its leaves alive, trees are able to survive through winter by maintaining only the “essential systems” until the spring.

But, you might ask, what happens to the water inside of the trees? Won’t it freeze and damage the trees like bursting water pipes in a house? It’s true that trees, like other living things, contain a lot of water within their cells. But trees have some seemingly miraculous methods of coping with the extreme cold only observable under a microscope.

Northern Woodlands explains the science of it like this:

Paul Schaberg, a research plant physiologist with the USDA Forest Service’s Aiken Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Burlington, Vermont, has led many investigations of cold tolerance in trees, particularly in the foliage of montane spruce and fir in New England.

Schaberg’s work suggests three basic ways in which living tree cells prevent freezing. One is to change their membranes during cold acclimation so that the membranes become more pliable; this allows water to migrate out of the cells and into the spaces between the cells. The relocated water exerts pressure against the cell walls, but this pressure is offset as cells shrink and occupy less space.

The second way a tree staves off freezing is to sweeten the fluids within the living cells. Come autumn, a tree converts starch to sugars, which act as something of an antifreeze. The cellular fluid within the living cells becomes concentrated with these natural sugars, which lowers the freezing point inside the cells, while the sugar-free water between the cells is allowed to freeze. Because the cell membranes are more pliable in winter, they’re squeezed but not punctured by the expanding ice crystals.

The third coping mechanism is altogether different. It involves what Schaberg describes as a “glass phase,” where the liquid cell contents become so viscous that they appear to be solid, a kind of “molecular suspended animation” that mimics the way silica remains liquid as it is supercooled into glass. This third mechanism is triggered by the progressive cellular dehydration that results from the first two mechanisms and allows the supercooled contents of the tree’s cells to avoid crystallizing.

All three cellular mechanisms are intended to keep living cells from freezing. That’s the key for the tree; don’t allow living cells to freeze.

http://northernwoodlands.org/outside_story/article/trees-survive-winter-cold

The bottom line is that trees can survive by allowing dead cells to freeze and by keeping living cells unfrozen. A large portion of the trunk of trees consist of dead cells—not useless cells, since they still assist with certain functions like the flowing of sap to keep the tree alive during the warmer months. But during winter, with energy and nutrient requirements being much lower, the dead cells can freeze with no ill effects to the tree itself.

Even though trees do a lot to take care of themselves, that doesn’t mean we can’t help them. Lyndon Tree Care & Landscaping consists of certified arborists who can work with you to keep your trees healthy and vibrant. Call us today!



 

Winter Pruning

Not many people think about pruning during the winter, but it can be one of the best times to do it. You don’t have leaves getting in the way and most of the plants are dormant. Keeping plants pruned can help them produce more flowers and fruit, and even ward off pests and diseases. Pruning also helps maintain the plant’s shape or improve its overall appearance. But the best reason to prune in the late winter while the plants are dormant is to provide a small window exposing the plant’s wounds which will encourage abundant growth when the growing cycle begins.

WHEN EXACTLY SHOULD I PRUNE?

Depending on where you live and what climate you live in, this answer will vary. There is a window that you need to work within that typically lasts a month to six weeks. Winter pruning should occur before the new spring growth occurs, but after the peak cold of winter. 

WHAT EXACTLY SHOULD I PRUNE?

It’s important to note that not everything should be pruned during the winter season. Taken from Pallen Smith’s Gardening and Home blog, here is a list for you:

Summer Flowering Trees – Ornamental trees that bloom in summer such as Crape Myrtles, Vitex, Smoke Tree, Rose of Sharon.

Hydrangea paniculata and H. arborescens – Unlike their cousin H. macrophylla, these two hydrangeas bloom on new wood so cut them back hard to promote growth and flowers.  H. paniculata can be cut back to two buds above the base of the flower stem. Prune H. arborescens back to varying heights of 1 to 3 feet from the ground.

Fruit Trees – Fruit trees flower on growth from the previous season, but pruning should be done when the tree is dormant, so there will be some flower and fruit loss.  The good news is that pruning promotes vigorous growth and larger, better tasting fruits.  Each type of fruit tree has some special requirements so do some research before you begin cutting.

Roses – Hybrid tea, old-fashioned, and climbing roses should be pruned right before the leaf buds break or, if you live in a northern region, pruning should be done when you remove winter protection.

 

What NOT to Prune in Late Winter

Spring Flowering Shrubs – Forsythia, quince, azaleas, Bridal wreath spirea, and other shrubs that bloom in spring should be pruned immediately after they flower.

Spring Flowering Trees – Lilacs and ornamental fruit trees.

Hydrangea macrophylla – Old-fashioned, pompon hydrangeas set bloom buds on the previous year’s growth.  It’s safe to remove faded flowers and dead branches.

Once Blooming Roses – Old-fashioned roses that only flower once each growing season, such as Damasks and Mosses bloom on old wood and should be pruned in the summer after they have flowered.

Gardenias – These should be pruned immediately after they bloom.

Bleeding Trees – Maples, birches, dogwoods, walnuts, and elms produce copious amounts of sap when they are pruned in late winter.  Pruning won’t hurt the trees, but it will be less messy if you wait until summer.

Being proactive about pruning can yield some fantastic results in the spring time. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you just don’t have the time, it’s a good idea to contact your local landscaping or tree care professionals. If you would like to know more about how Lyndon Tree Care & Landscaping can meet your landscaping (specifically pruning!) needs during the winter, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

Consider These Tips When Hiring a Snow Plow Service

lyndon tree care plowing

Thinking about hiring a snow plow service this winter? The numbers show that shoveling sends an average of 11,000 people to the hospital each year. A study from the American Journal of Emergency Medicine reports people suffering from bad backs, broken bones, head injuries (from slipping and falling on ice), and even fatal heart attacks. Luckily, finding someone to plow for you is relatively easy; many tree and landscaping companies offer this during the off season.

Whether you’re looking to save some time or your health, here are some things you should consider when shopping around for a plowing service.

Contracts are your friend

Know what you’re getting and have it in writing. It’s important to have an agreement with your plow service so that there are no unwritten expectations for service. Contracts will lay out when companies will come (based on certain predefined amounts of snowfall), what exactly will be done, and any special considerations. Contracts will also address what happens in the event that there is damage done, and what type of insurance coverage a company has.

There’s more to it than plowing

It’s important to note that regular plow services often don’t leave you with a perfectly clear driveway and walkway. If you have a gravel driveway or uneven paving, you should expect small amounts of snow left behind (especially with wet, slushy snow). In this case, it’s best to have a plan for additional aids like salt or sand to take care of areas that can re-freeze and become slip hazards.

In addition to clearing snow by plowing, some companies also offer snow blowing or shoveling services. You should decide whether you or your snow removal service will be responsible for clearing out entryways, decks, stairs to second floor entrances, sidewalks (see more on that below) and walkways. You can request snow cleared from other areas that require a little more care in order to protect your home and landscape, such as access to utility meters, exterior pipes or propane tanks, trash cans, etc.

Tell us where to put the snow!

It seems like a simple point, but make sure you let the plow company know where you’d like the snow to be pushed so that important things aren’t barricaded or covered, and to avoid wear and tear to any landscape features you’d like to preserve, like a garden bed or a stone wall along the border of your driveway. To get the best control over what gets plowed (and where), place markers on the edges of your driveway and walkways to assist your plow service. Pro tip: Remember to place the markers out before the ground freezes. We recommend you take this action before Thanksgiving, which is usually when we get the first snow of the season.

It’s often required

Even if you don’t hire a plow service, just know that every homeowner is required to clear all sidewalks along their property within a specified window (usually 24 hours), or they may be fined. Each town and city has their own rules and regulations, so be sure to look up yours. Landlords in Massachusetts are also legally obligated to keep all egresses free from obstructions—which includes snow and ice, which pose significant slip-and-fall hazards. Lastly, don't forget your mail carrier! You’ll have to make a path to your mailbox that’s reasonably clear of snow and ice, or delivery may be delayed.

We’re Here For You!

Lyndon Tree Care & Landscaping offers full plow service with snow blowing and shoveling. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to clear you out of your driveway so you can be on your way. We also offer vacation-only service to take care of snow removal while you're away. Not only will it look like someone is home, but you will return to a clear driveway and path to your door. If you have questions or would like to sign up this winter, please click here.

Lyndon Tree Care on Christmas Tree Care

Tree Care and Landscaping

Each year, roughly 25-30 million real trees are sold during the Christmas season to be placed in our homes and decorated with lights and ornaments. Taking care of a tree throughout the season is important both for its beauty and your safety. Lyndon Tree Care & Landscaping is here to give you some pointers this season that will bring our tree service expertise indoors.

Travel

Whether you cut your own tree down or buy a pre-cut tree, it’s important to cover the tree if possible with a tarp or rug. During travel the wind can further dry out the tree, leading to the loss of color and needles sooner. This is often a step that’s not taken but one that helps protect your investment.

Cutting (or re-cutting) Your Tree

If you purchase a pre-cut tree in a line of other trees, chances are high that the tree has been standing there for quite some time. As tree care experts who spend a lot of time doing tree removal and tree trimming, we can tell you that the vascular system (which draws up water through the tree trunk) will naturally clog up. A fresh 1/4” cut will remove the clogged area and open up the vascular system of the tree, allowing it to fully absorb water.

Tree Care

You might hear others saying that a particular cut at specific angles, or the addition of holes using a drill, will help with water absorption. As professional arborists, you can trust us when we say a straight cut is perfectly sufficient.

Watering Your Christmas Tree

Cutting a tree down is similar in some ways to picking a flower: you want to put it in water as soon as possible to make sure it gets what it needs in order to stay healthy for as long as possible. Most trees will be fine if you fill the stand with water within the first 24 hours, but your tree will stay fresh longer if you fill it as soon as you can.

Depending on the size of the tree and the water reservoir, you may need to check on it twice a day (morning and evening). A tree with no water will dry out quickly and lose its needles. In addition to the mess, it will become a significant fire hazard in your home.

Choose The Right Location For Your Tree

Of course there’s the ideal aesthetic location for your tree, but there are other things that we, as a tree service dedicated to tree care, would encourage you to consider. Avoid placing your tree near cold drafts, heating vents, and other sources of heat. The fluctuating temperatures, and specifically the dry air from heat sources, can speed up the drying out of a tree.

Pro Tips

Want a couple tips from the pros? Get a humidifier for the room your Christmas tree is in. It will help keep the needles fresh for longer, as well as reducing the risk of fire. Plain water is fine for trees, but try adding some Epsom Salt to provide extra nutrients for your tree.

Remember, having a Christmas tree is like a piece of your landscaping inside of your home. It requires care if you want it to last. Follow these tips and you’ll make it through the whole season with a beautiful tree.

Merry Christmas from Lyndon Tree Care & Landscaping!