7 Benefits of Pruning Ornamental Trees & Shrubs

At Emerald, we prune trees and shrubs during the fall for a variety of reasons. This season is one of the best times of year to see branching structures, along with less chance of transmitting diseases or attracting insects to fresh pruning wounds.

There are also many long-term benefits property owners receive when pruning during the fall. Safety, health, and control are just a few of the reasons our team focuses on this late-season treatment. Other benefits include:

  • Training young plants. Pruning can help train young plants to enhance their natural form. By cutting back lateral branches, a tree or shrub can be trained to grow into the desired shape, fill an open area caused by storm damage, or keep the plant within a certain area on your property
  • Maintaining plant health and appearance. Diseased, injured, or dead plants should be removed. As trees mature, their root systems may reduce. This results in the crown to thin, helping the tree re-establish the balance between a treetop and roots. Pruning will ensure the existing root structure is supported by the leaves on your trees and/or shrubs
  • Influence flowering. Pruning can help stimulate flowering. As plants mature they produce more fruit, but often via smaller buds. Pruning can reduce the amount of energy a plant expends and in turn, divert its resources into growing larger, fewer flowers and fruit
  • Controling size. Pruning not only benefits the health of your plantings, but it can impact the safety of your environment. Overgrown trees and shrubs can interfere with utility lines, decrease the visibility of road signs or traffic, limit pest control and more. Pruning causes certain shoots (the part of the plant which has a stem, leaves and flowers) to become invigorated when neighboring shoots are removed. The reason? Nutrients and water from the root system are redirected into the remaining growth

  • Developing unnatural forms. A visually appealing tree or shrub can make a wonderful first impression on your home’s landscape. There are so many options to design almost any evergreen or deciduous tree to the shape that you wish, creating some of the best-shaped trees on your block. Prior to pruning, an expert should understand the natural growth habit of your planting and its response to pruning
  • Preventing injury to people and property. Unfortunately, we see too many stories of people or properties that are harmed due to hazardous, fallen tree limbs. Limbs and structures that are hanging over homes or parking areas are very dangerous and should be removed. The removal of trees, limbs, and other structures that take place off the ground should always be done by a professional arborist
  • Rejuvenate old shrubs. Have you noticed your old shrubs looking a little dull or lackluster? Pruning removes sparse or twiggy mature branches, which can increase flower production. Hard pruning for shrubs can also result in vibrant colors, especially for those known for colorful bark like yellow twig or red osier dogwood.
Yellow Twig and Red Osier Dogwood

If incorporated into a maintenance plan, the pruning of ornamental shrubs and trees can improve the overall health of your plantings. At Emerald, we improve the vigor and longevity of our clients’ plantings by micromanaging the growth process. Our highly trained technicians combine various practices, including tree pruning, yearly hand pruning, maintenance pruning and developmental pruning to ensure that all of our clients’ plantings maintain and restore their health.

Emerald Tree Care & COVID-19 Information

The health and well-being of our clients, employees, and community is our top priority. With the continued and ever-changing news about COVID-19, we want to share information about how our team is working to ensure your landscape is handled appropriately and safely.

Transparency is of the utmost importance, so below are a few of the FAQ’s below we’ve received from our clients and community members:

What does your industry say about safety during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) and the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) have partnered to issue guidance to assist the green industry.  To read their complete statement, please click here.

Is Emerald considered an “essential business”?

Yes. Emerald Tree Care provides essential services such as storm clean-up, ensuring roads and powerlines are clear so that health care providers, food suppliers and others can continue to provide essential services. We also ensure public safety through tree risk evaluations, invasive species detection and pest mitigation.

As we face a potential second-wave, what is Emerald’s response plan?

Emerald is prepared to continue operations and respond to your needs, questions, and concerns. Should circumstances change, we will contact you directly.

As we approach 2021, which services are most important?

The fall is a critical time to care for your landscape due to hurricane season, late-season pests, and impending winter storm damage. This year, families are spending more time at home, sheltering in place, which means we are spending more time ensuring the safety of our clients landscapes through:

Pruning services. For safety reasons, we keep your trees and homes safe by removing dead or decaying branches on your property.

Hazardous tree removal. Dead or decaying trees can threaten the safety of your family and your home. High winds, storms or other natural elements can cause lose branches to severely damage your property.

Pest management. Late-season pests can cause havoc to your precious greens. Insects that feed, burrow, lay eggs, and more damage trees, shrubs, and outdoor spaces. If not treated properly, substantial damage can occur.

Leaf disease treatment. The best time to treat certain diseases like Oak Wilt is in the fall and winter months. Treatment by an expert Arborist can help save your valuable plantings, preventing costly and unnecessary removal.

Preparing for Winter: A Fall Landscape Checklist

October is the perfect month to check off last-minute landscaping items from your to-do list. Just because the weather is cooling down doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on your garden or landscape! There are plenty of essential tasks required to ensure trees and shrubs are prepared to weather the winter months ahead.

Combined with the help of a Plant Health Care (PHC) Manager, you can help your property shine next spring. Below are 19 items to take care of before it gets too cold:


  • #1: Work with an arborist to evaluate areas in your garden or landscape that need replacement, treatment, or enhancements. (p.s.- this is a complimentary service we provide for our PHC clients 😊)
  • #2: Document by taking notes and pictures to have for future planting


*An Emerald arborist can help you take the grunt work out of maintenance. Their expert knowledge of seasonal, fall treatments can save you valuable time, resources, and money in preparing your landscapes for a healthier, stronger spring*

  • #3: Ask your arborist if they’re aerating your lawn to promote root growth
  • #4: Mow your lawn regularly to keep grass between 2 ½ -3 inches high
  • #5: Have an arborist practice water-wise horticultural techniques
  • #6: If you have a compost pile, aerate and moisten it to speed up decomposition
  • #7: Consult an expert to inspect, treat, and remove last season pests. This includes removing fallen leaves, debris, and still water that can harbor insects and diseases
  • #8: Take in aquatic plants and tropical fish from ponds


  • #9: Plant shrubs, deciduous trees, and roses. Broad-leaved and needle-leaved trees can also be planted and transplanted during this time, as the cool weather encourages plants to root quickly
  • #10: Propagate herbs from new growth and transplant into pots for winter use
  • #11: Plant in a sheltered spot. Try to identify warm spots at the base of a south-facing wall
  • #12: Divide plants like Daylilies and Hosta after flowering. If the weather is already cool, begin planning spring-flowering bulbs (for example, wait until late October to plant tulip bulbs).
  • #13: Research before diving plants. Some species only require dividing every 4-6 years, while faster-growing plants like bearded iris can be divided every two to three years

Prune & Fertilize

  • #14: Prune plants and shrubs, like Rambling Roses, Japanese Boxwoods, Cherry Laurels, Yew, and more. Proper pruning will provide optimal growth come springtime.
  • #15: Prune trees. Pruning trees during the fall and dormant months helps reduce the risk of pests or diseases like oak wilt from spreading through open tree wounds. Arborists can help identify and treat problem areas.
  • #16: Compost. October is the perfect time to improve garden soil by adding organic manner such as compost, measure, and/or leaf mold to improve garden soil
  • #17: Enrich your soil. After your garden is dormant, spread a fresh layer of compost, manure, shredded leaves, or topsoil over the surface. The more the better!
  • #18: Fertilize roses one last time, along with lawns using organic fertilizer. A custom-made treatment will strengthen your landscape and stimulate root development throughout the winter
  • #19: Prevent frost damage. Pruning helps stimulate new growth, so removing frost-damaged parts will get rid of dead branches and stimulate new growth.

5 Advantages of Plant Health Care Services this Fall

As we pack up our grills and winterize our home for the upcoming months, it’s also so important to prioritize the health of your landscape. While our Plant Health Care (PHC) program is a year-round effort, fall serves as a pivotal time to ensure trees and shrubs are cared for properly, preparing them to be at their healthiest next spring.  

Our PHC clients reap many benefits. If you’re on the fence as to whether or not a PHC program is best for your landscapes’ needs, below are five reasons why the fall is the perfect time to join the party.

At Emerald, our Plant Health Care Program specifically helps:

Trees and Shrubs Recover from Summer Stress

Long days and hot temperatures can stress trees and make them susceptible to pest infestations, dehydration, and a lack of nutrients. Stressed trees and shrubs may show small leaves, pale green coloration of leaves, peeling bark, early leaf drop, and more.

PHC programs provide trees and shrubs with ingredients and nutrients to help them recover from active, hot summers. Many landscape problems are caused by poor soil quality, acidity imbalance, compaction, or other factors. Fertilization treatments applied during the fall helps trees and shrubs fight late-season pests while helping them recover from environmental diseases.

Treat Late-Season Insects  

Late season insects can wreak havoc on weakened, stressed trees. Harmful pests that are common during the fall season include Weevils, Aphids, Mites, and Scales.

At Emerald, we use products that are safe for adults, children, and pets, such as horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps, beneficial nematodes, etc. We value sustainable, quality methods in applying and treating these problems so that families and landscapes remain safe, always.

Protect from Hurricane Damage

We typically receive less emergency calls from PHC clients after heavy winds and intense rain caused by hurricanes. This summer, our crews visited numerous homes to remove fallen, uprooted trees.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an ‘extremely active’ hurricane season. A few things to consider:

  • According to the Insurance Information Institute, wind damage is the most frequent homeowner insurance claim, accounting for 25% of all claims
  • Severe storm damage from of any type could result in recovery expenses ranging $10,000-$75,000. This might include the costs of rebuilding and replacing damaged roofs, kitchens, or entire structures of the home
  • While homeowner’s insurance usually covers trees that fall on your home and other structures, it rarely covers loss or damage caused by negligence, unhealthy or poorly maintained trees

PHC not only protects the health and longevity of trees and shrubs, but it can also prevent unnecessary costly damage to homes and landscapes

Prepare for Winter Storms

Heightened preparation for extreme, cold weather in our area takes place during the fall. PHC programs involve custom treatments and techniques. For example, expert pruning during the fall helps trees vibrantly bloom when spring arrives.

Arborists diagnose problems before they become dangerous with the help of PHC services. Inspecting trees while leaves are off, soil injections, applications, and other stimulants applied throughout the fall ensure plants are winter-ready.

Receive Year-Round Insurance

While fall may be a less active than the summer, every season has a impact on your trees and shrubs. Preventative maintenance now will ensure that landscapes return strong an healthy when spring arrives.

At Emerald, our PHC program provides you with peace of mind (all year!) knowing that your precious greens are protected. We have the resources, equipment, treatment, and experts to ensure your landscapes remain healthy and reslient.

Diversify Your Garden to Fight Pests, Naturally

Did you know that you can create (or enhance) your garden to naturally fight pests? Diversifying your landscape with more plant species can enhance the environment and attract pollinators that serve as natural ‘enemies’ to common garden pests.

Below are four ways to diversify your garden and enable natural enemies that will protect your gardens year-round.

Understand What Natural Enemies Want

Natural enemies provide biological control and under optimal conditions, they prevent plant-feeding herbivores from reaching ‘pest’ levels. By diversifying your garden, you are essentially giving natural enemies a habitat that allows them to survive and increase.

This means finding plants that create optimal conditions for these insects to obtain food, shelter, favorable temperatures, and habitats that are free of toxic chemicals. Many athletically pleasing, commonly grown flowers include the sunflower, cosmos blanket flower, and the coreopsis plant. Find groups of flowers that bloom at different times to provide natural enemies with sources of nectar throughout the growing season.

Plan Before You Purchase

Before you head to your local garden center, ensure that your landscape will serve more than one purpose. For example, your garden might: prevent soil erosion, replenish nutrients in the soil, support beneficial insects, grow your own food, etc. Also, consider color, the season of bloom, shape, and what flowering plants will help attract natural enemies.

Studies show that not only do flowering plants reduce the population of lace bugs, but their attractiveness also lends to their ability to support both natural enemies and pollinators.

Consider These Flowering Plants

Below are a few examples of flowering plants that provide season-long blooms and nectar for pollinators.  These bright, beautiful greens also attract a diverse group of natural enemies that can help fight common garden pests:

Shasta daisies. These flat open flowers are attractive to larger enemies such as flower flies and spiders.

Alyssum. This plant has clusters of very small flowers. Alyssum may be ideal for small wasps that attack scale insects and aphids.

Monarda. These have tubular flowers that are attractive to larger predatory wasps that hunt and kill caterpillars and white grubs in the soil.

Coneflowers. These are excellent resources for native and non-native bees like honeybees. Coneflowers also attract predatory beetles whose larvae are predators of soil-dwelling pests and other soft-bodied pests on plants.

Avoid Spraying Pesticides

At Emerald, our Plant Health Care Program is a year-round, all-inclusive method that protects your landscapes from damaging insects and diseases. Spraying pesticides is not only harmful to the environment but is a counterproductive measure if you’ve invested in a diverse garden.

Our trained technicians at Emerald will visit your property several times each year, scout your gardens for pest problems, and apply safe and environmentally responsible methods to your plants.

Seven Insects that Destroy Beautiful Landscapes  

While summer is a popular vacation time for humans, insects are hard at work. Summer garden pests are most active during this time, and this is when pest management goes into full swing.

Whether you are growing a culinary herb garden, or an Eco-friendly landscape filled with flowers and shrubs, below are a few of the common pests that can prevent your outdoor spaces from flourishing:

Two-Spotted Spider Mite

The eight‑legged female mites are yellow to dark green with two to four dark dorsal spots. At 1/60 of an inch, they are almost microscopic. Males are smaller with more pointed abdomens. 

How can they affect my plants? This mite is a problem for outdoor roses, miniature, and cut flowers. They become particularly troublesome during midsummer dry spells and on plants growing under adverse conditions. Damage appears as pale flecks on leaves, which in severe cases turns leaves yellow, brown and in turn fall off.

Oystershell Scale

These crawlers are shaped like an elongated oyster shell and hatch in early July. Their hosts include apple, lilac, ash, willow, popular maple, and dogwood.

How can they affect my plants? Once they are settled on permanent locations along twigs and stems, this scale feeds on the fluids of cells underlying the bark, often killing the cells. During heavy outbreaks, they can weaken plants, making them more susceptible to pathogens and possible plant death.

Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is so named for its emerald green color. This pest is an invasive, wood-boring beetle that feeds on and eventually kills all species of Ash.

How can they affect my plants? EAB creates a thinning or dying of ash tree crowns, splitting bark, tunneling under the bark, D-shaped exit holes and woodpecker activity. Small trees can die as soon as one to two years after infestation. Larger infested trees can survive for three to four years.

Boxwood Psyllid

Adults are light green insects that are about 3 mm long. Both nymphs and adults have piercing-sucking mouthparts. These adult pests are now visible in the NYC area according to Don Gabel of the New York Botanical Garden and. Amy Albam from Westchester CCE said the nymphs were forming wings in her area.

How can they affect my plants? Feeding damage is very noticeable due to leaf cupping that young nymphs produce on plants. Occasionally, young twig growth is affected by this species. These leaves are weakened and will usually fall off after about one year. Terminal growth will be affected for about two years.

Rhododendron Borer

This pest is a clearwing moth that somewhat resembles a wasp. The borer is pale yellow with a dark head and about ½ inch long.

How can they affect my plants? They mainly attack rhododendrons along with azaleas. Borer’s chew holes in the inner bark of plants and forms long tunnels in the branches. By late fall, it enters the sapwood where it survives the winter. They infest main stems and branches as well. Leaves on infested branches are often off-color and wilted. Damage and activity in the northeast was apparent in June.

Black Vine Weevil

The adult black vine weevil is black with subtle white flecking, oblong, 3/8 of an inch long, and has a short snout. All are female and unable to fly.

How can they affect my plants? These pests attack over 100 different kinds of ornamental plants including rhododendrons, azaleas, yews and hemlocks. When weevils enter your house, greenhouse or indoor gardens, they can be damaging to begonias, ferns and other popular potted plants.

Taxus Mealybug

The Taxus Mealybug is a white, fuzzy-looking insect that sucks the sap from needles and stems. The excreted honeydew makes a sticky coating on the stems and needles. Black sooty mold will grow on the honeydew.

How can they affect my plants? Infested plants may have sparse foliage, depending on the severity of the infestation. Heavy deposits of honeydew will cause much sooty mold that blocks sunlight and interferes with photosynthesis. The insects are usually found where branches join.

How Can I Protect My Landscape!?

Horticultural oil treatments for preventative treatment, along with continuous monitoring can help keep protect your landscape. Most of the time, identifying an infestation requires a trained eye. Our certified arborists specialize in preventative care and continuous monitoring, utilizing the most environmentally sensitive and effective products. They will prescribe a treatment plan that will keep infestations at bay all summer long.

To prevent summer pest damage or for a summer landscape check-up, call us at  914-725-0441 or email info@emeraldtreecare.com

Be on the lookout for Emerald Ash Borer

emerald ash borer

These pretty little green bark beetles are smaller than a dime, but are capable of taking down an ash tree that is thousands of times its size.  First spotted in the United States in 2002, the population of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has grown quickly and has made its way to the Northeast with infestations in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Their life cycle

Emerald Ash Borer Adults usually come out in the middle of May, or earlier if the weather is particularly warm. The females will then less eggs, which are hard to spot since they are a reddish brown color and only 1/24 inch.  In just 7-10 days, those eggs will hatch and the larvae, which is white in color, burrows itself into the inner bark and cambial layer of the Ash Tree.  Here it will remain feeding and traveling throughout the tree leaving “s-shaped” marks on the bark for 1-2 years. Once it’s done feeding, it will carve out a nesting area in the bark, and it will rest throughout the winter until it emerges as an actual beetle.

emerald ash borer

What is the threat?

Ash trees are one of the most valuable and abundant North American Woodland Trees. Emerald Ash Borer moves quickly and has already destroyed 40 million ash trees in Michigan alone, where it was first discovered in Detroit.  With over 7 billion ash trees existing in the United States, we face a potentially devastating loss.

What you can do

Get familiar with how to identify an Ash Tree and look carefully for thinning or dying Ash Tree crowns.  The tunneling mark left on the bark by the larvae is also an easy to spot sign of infestation. If you see one, DO NOT REMOVE IT, scrape it off, put it in a Ziploc and send to the USDA for testing.  You can also call the Emerald Ash Borer Hotline at 1-866-322-4512.


Here at Emerald Tree and Shrub Care, we developed a comprehensive treatment plan to protect your Ash Trees from this highly invasive bark beetle. The first step is to inject your Ash Trees in Late Spring with a preventative treatment called Tree-Age.  This treatment will protect your Ash Tree for up to two full years.  As an added precaution, we recommend a merit soil drench once during peak growing season.  The merit treatment lasts for one year, and is therefore prescribed annually.  Want to sign up for Emerald Ash Borer Protection? Call us today at 914-725-0441.

Get Smart About Your Tree & Shrub Care

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As Tree Care professionals, nearly every day we encounter issues that could have been avoided with proper planning. Having record of all your trees, their species, age, size and health history is the first major step to properly caring for a large property. Here at Emerald Tree and Shrub Care, we consider a tree inventory the absolute most valuable service we provide.

When you hire Emerald to conduct a tree inventory, we will send 1-2 (depending on property size) board certified arborists to walk your property with our state of the art inventory application. Using an aerial image of your land, they will pinpoint and ID every single tree they see.  Notes will be taken to document the species, age, size, health condition and recommended maintenance for each tree.

The inventory itself lives in the cloud, so it can be real-time updated by our arborists at any time. You will receive a link which you can access from your desktop, phone, or tablet.  From this thorough inspection and documentation, our arborists will be able to provide you a detailed scope of work for current and future tree care needs. Times when you will consider this inventory a true life saver include:

  • Planning new construction: If you want to build an addition or renovate an existing structure, this inventory will be crucial in planning for the installation of hardscapes, utility services and water and sewer lines. The inventory will also be used to develop a Tree Protection Plan to prescribe a regimen of treatments that will mitigate the stress experienced by trees during construction.
  • Landscape Design: What tree species should we add? Where will new plantings thrive? Will existing plantings be affected if we change the grade of our land? These are all important questions to consider when altering your landscape, and can all be properly addressed by referencing a tree inventory.
  • Changeover in Property Management: For large properties that require property managers, groundskeepers or superintendents, it is very important to have maintenance and health conditions well documented. A tree inventory would prove to be absolutely priceless when you have a change in property management personnel. An up to date record of all trees allows for a seamless  and well-informed handoff.

To learn more about our Tree Inventories and how they can benefit your property, please call us today at 914-725-0441 to schedule a meeting with an arborist today.

Black Knot: What You Should Know

What is Black Knot

Black Knot is a common fungal disease that typically attacks ornamental Cherry Trees and Plum Trees.  The disease is spread by infectious spores that can easily disperse through the air, on gardening tools and in spring rain.  Once a tree is infected, it can take a full year until the symptoms are fully recognizable with black tumor like growths appearing on the branches or trunk of the tree.  In late spring and early summer, these growths will become covered with olive green spores.  This is the time of year when the disease is likely to spread, but it is not always detected at this time, because trees are in full bloom and the bark is less visible.

How it impacts trees

The fungus itself is called Apiosporina Morbosa.  As it grows, it releases chemicals into the bark that causes the tree to grow extra plant cells that are extremely large. The growth itself will not kill your tree, however, the growths cause cracks in the bark, allowing other wood rotting fungi to enter and cause harm and sometimes death.

Early Detection and Prevention

Fall and Winter are the best months to inspect those ornamentals that are most susceptible to Black Knot and determine if an infection exists.  If detected early, an arborist may be able to prune away the affected branches and follow up with several Spring Fungicide treatments to prevent further infection from occurring.  A tree that was once infected, should be watched very closely, as it’s possible a growth could come back at anytime.


Because the disease is so easily spread, pruning should always occur in the Fall and Winter months when the spores are least active.  Also, infected branches should be very carefully removed from the property and all tools and equipment that came in contact must be sanitized thoroughly with rubbing alcohol. Fungicide treatment should be applied in the springtime right before buds begin to open. It’s a serious disease that is easily spread, so we highly recommend calling a Certified Arborist to diagnose and treat Black Knot. If you have Plum or Cherry Trees that you would like inspected, please call Emerald Tree & Shrub Care today at 914-725-0441.


Beware of Boxwood Blight

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Boxwood Blight is a very concerning disease that was first discovered in the United States in 2011.  How it came to arrive here, and where the pathogen originally came from is unknown. It has recently been discovered in Downstate NY, Long Island and Connecticut.

Every species of Buxux is at risk of this disease, while some have proven to be more susceptible than others.  Signs of Boxwood Blight include lesions or dark streaking on the stems, brown spotting on the leaves, and defoliation (leaves falling off the branches). Interestingly, the disease infects all aboveground portions of the boxwood, leaving the roots intact.

The Boxwood Blight has a very rapid disease cycle that grows fastest in humid environments at a temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The worst thing about this disease is how easily the pathogen can travel from one host to the next. Gardeners can transmit the disease between properties by not properly sanitizing their shears, it can even travel on your clothes from one property to the next.

If you recognize the warning signs of Boxwood Blight, act fast, it’s only a matter of time before your whole hedge will be infected. Without early detection and management, the result is often death of the plant.

The bad news is, there is no current cure for Boxwood Blight, if discovered, you should have a plant health care specialist inspect to see if the disease can be managed with fungicide treatments or if removal is the only option.  If removal is the recommended course, it is very important to have a professional handle this, as to prevent it from contaminating other plants during removal and transport.

If you have boxwoods on your property, we encourage you to follow these preventative measures:

  • If you have boxwoods, treat them according to the guidelines below. If you don’t have them, DO NOT ADD THEM TO YOUR GARDEN. The risk associate with boxwood blight is just too high, it’s best to stay clear of boxwoods.
  • Allow an adequate amount of space between each plant to provide enough air circulation.
  • Avoid overwatering, because a humid atmosphere and water droplets are key to the disease’s growth.
  • Be extremely diligent about sanitizing shears, rakes, gloves etc., that may have been exposed to the pathogen.
  • Inspect your plants often, early detection is crucial in managing the spread and keeping your lovely hedges alive.
  • Hire Emerald to do fungicide applications on your boxwoods each year.