Oak Wilt: What You Should Know


First off, why should you care about Oak Wilt?  It’s a rapidly occurring, life threatening disease that has been identified in areas as local as Brooklyn and Long Island.

Which Oaks does Oak Wilt effect? Examples of trees effected in the red oak group include those with pointed leaves: scarlet oaks, pin oaks, black oaks etc.  Oak wilt also does attack trees within the white oak group with rounded leaves such as the white oak, swamp white oak and scrub oak, although the disease is much slower moving on these trees.

This disease was first discovered in Wisconsin as far back as 1944.  Over the years it spread throughout the midwest and Texas killing tens of thousands of oak trees. It was first discovered in Long Island, New York in 2008 and has been discovered as recently as Fall 2016 at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY.

Once Oak Wilt is discovered, the surrounding area immediately becomes an Oak Wilt protective zone.  This is essentially a quarantined area where the movement of logs, branches or large wood pieces is prohibited.

The disease is spread by beetles that attack bark (especially attracted to fresh wounds from pruning) and also travel from root structure to root structure underground.  As mentioned, this disease spreads and kills at a very rapid pace! Taking a mature tree out in a matter of weeks, and close to a full mile in just a year.

How can you keep your eye out for Oak Wilt? Symptoms of oak wilt infection are definitely much more visible in the red species than in white oaks.  Signs to look for include:

  • Brown coloration develops on leaves starting at the outer edge and progressing inward toward the mid-vein of the leaf.
  • Branch dieback starts at the top of the tree’s canopy and progresses downward.
  • Leaves suddenly wilt in the spring and summer and may fall while there is still some green on them.
  • Fungal spore mats may develop under the bark of infected trees.

What to do it you discover Oak Wilt? Call an arborist immediately!  Because this is such a fast acting disease, you should not hesitate to get a trained professional to evaluate the situation.  While there is no cure for Oak Wilt, trunk injections have proven helpful in prevention.  Once a tree becomes infected, the top priority is to stop the fungus from spreading.  This can be done through a process called trenching, where arborist will dig deep into the ground to sever the infected tree’s root system to stop it from moving on to neighboring trees.  The infected tree then must be removed, the stump should be ground as thoroughly as possible, and then the remaining elements treated with a herbicide to prevent spreading.

For more information or to schedule a free tree evaluation please call 914-725-0441.





Protect Your Trees During New Construction


Planning new construction is always exciting! Whether it’s an addition or a whole new house from ground up, the opportunities are endless and creativity is in full drive.  Anyone who has been a part of a major construction project knows that inevitably the project will grow, the timeline will lengthen and the budget will need to be adjusted.  One vital step that people often overlook is preserving the existing trees and shrubs so that they can be there to accent your new shiny structure when all is said and done.

Just because you are building new.. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t embrace and preserve the old.  When it comes to trees, there are many benefits to keeping those mature oaks standing, including:

  • The shade they provide will help cool your new home and keep air conditioning costs down
  • If you cleared you land (which often happens during new construction) when you move in you will have no privacy at all
  • Mature trees carry a value up to $10,000 each! With all your spending, it’s nice to know you are saving somewhere
  • Mature trees absorb close to 50 lbs. of carbon a year, and let off about 250 lbs of Oxygen.  A yard with abundant fresh, clean air is priceless.
Ensuring the health of trees before, during and after construction requires a custom built plan that is tailored to the variety, location and size of the trees on a property.  For over 20 years, we have been called on to evaluate and protect trees during new building.  We are experienced in working with developers and builders and have a thorough understanding of the area’s climate, diseases and other threats that exist.  Our ultimate goal is to protect mature trees from harm so that they can continue to bring value to your property for many years after the project is complete.
If you have a new project you are planning, and are worried about the interference with your existing tress, call us for a FREE evaluation today: 914-725-0441.
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Fall Fertilization: Your trees will thank you in the Spring.

IMG_7052Why Fertilize in Fall?

Late September through early October is a great time to fertilize your trees and shrubs because a good dose of nutrients will help them stay nourished, protect against diseases and support root development throughout the dormant months of winter.  Fertilizing a plant or tree right before winter months will also support healthy new growth in the early spring as the nutrients stay present in the soil for the roots to absorb for several months.  This year, we have experience extremely warm temps in fall which has put the trees under stress.  When the temps change drastically from cold to warm (90 degrees in Septemeber!) they need a little energy boost.

Our Fertilizer

Here at Emerald Tree & Shrub Care, we have tried a plethora of different fertilizers and have to say, we found one product that can do the work of many.  Biochemists at Growth Products have created the perfect mix of essential amino acids, sea kelp, humic acid, yucca extract, rooting hormones, fermented extracts, vitamins enzymes and more! They work together to boost each others beneficial properties and have proven to:

  • Aid seed germination
  • Improve rooting
  • Feed beneficial soil microbes
  • Improve plant physiology
  • Reduce excess salinity in soils
  • Improve a soil’s nutrient holding capacity
  • Reduce environmental stress

All of that AND it’s 100% Organic.

How to Fertilize

The proper way to fertilize is to inject the formula directly into the ground where the feeder roots are located.  Feeder roots can be found along the drip line of a tree, which is the circle that trims the width of the crown on the ground. Imagine the tree like an umbrella, the drip line is where all the water droplets will run off and meet the ground, this is where the maximum amount of nutrients will be absorbed.  A needle like the one pictured below is hooked up to our fertilizer solution and inserted into the ground to feed the tree the necessary amount based on it’s size.  There are times when underground wiring or irrigation prevent us from doing a ground injection, and in those cases we will just give the drip like a nice hefty soak.  The problem with a ground soak is that you can never be sure the nutrients reach the roots below.  Sometimes the ground is compacted, or the roots are deep down and that is why we prefer to use a needle and inject our fertilization.


Interested in scheduling a fall fertilization appointment?  Call us at 914-725-0441.  Trust us, the temporary smell is well worth all the benefits your plants and trees will experience.


Mushrooms Growing On My Trees, What Does It Mean?


Often times, after heavy periods of rain, some trees may sprout mushrooms at the base of the trunk.  They grow fast, and are a very important sign that something could be wrong with your tree.  Mushrooms are known as fruiting bodies; meaning they are a specimen that produces spore of a fungus.  There are many different types of fungus, but the one to be most wary of, with regards to your trees, is the Armillaria Species.  Armillaria is a parasitic fungi that causes root rot and could prove deadly to hardwoods like Oak, Elms, and Honey Locust Trees.

A couple of ways to identify these fruiting bodies, which are often called honey mushrooms, is to examine their appearance.  If the mushrooms on your tree are yellowish in color, with a white rim around their stems and a flat shaped cap, you likely have Armillaria.  A second way to confirm if your mushrooms are honey mushrooms is their smell. Honey Mushrooms got their name because of the sweet smell they let off.  Unfortunately, there is typically very few signs of this root rotting fungus until the mushrooms sprout, and by then it is too late.  Your tree might appear completely healthy, but that does not mean you can ignore this alarming symptom.  Armillaria invades the roots and wood of the tree, extracting all the nutrients for it’s own survival.  Once infected, the structural integrity of the tree is completely compromised and there is rarely an option for treatment, removal being the only solution.

It’s very important that you call a certified arborist for an inspection as soon as you spot mushrooms on the base of your tree.  One infected tree can pose great danger for the rest of the trees on your property.  Special precautionary steps, such as removing as much of the roots as possible, should be taken to avoid the spread of this invasive pathogen.

Got Mushrooms?  Don’t wait, call us immediately at 914-725-0441.

The Scoop On Mulch


What is mulch?

Mulch is a layer of material, usually organic, that is spread on top of the soil’s surface to provide various benefits to the soil, plant and overall garden.  Mulch can be made of many different materials, some of the most common forms are:

Woodchips and Shredded Bark

Plain old wood chips that are leftover from stump grinding or other tree work can make for a very natural looking mulch.  They typically take between 1-3 years to decompose, and sometimes can compact in the process blocking water and oxygen from the roots of the plant.  Another thing to note, is that when hardwood mulches break down they make soil more alkaline (raising pH), which should be taken into account when mulching around acid-loving plants.  You may need to use an acid fertilizer or add sulfur to compensate.

Dyed Bark Mulch

This is the most common mulch for homeowners because of it’s neat appearance and rich color way options.  It is not entirely the same as straight shredded bark though, because it generally has non organic material mixed in and will not decompose and nourish your plants like plain old shredded bark will.


If you want a mulch that adds loads of nutrition and organic matter to your plants than you should consider composting. It takes about one year to decompose, and is a very economical and environmentally conscious mulch option.  Even if you don’t do your own composting at home, many municipalities have started to compost and give it back to local residents for free or a minimal charge.  Compost can also make for a great additive to soil or alternate mulch material.

Cocoa Hull Mulch

This is not only one of the better looking mulch options with it’s rich deep color, sniff sniff, it also carries with it a smooth and sweet chocolatey scent.  Although it is one of the pricier options, it has a very slow decomposition rate and it’s fine texture make it very hard to blow away.  One thing to note, cocoa mulch is proven to be poisonous to dogs and cats.  The caffeine level is such that if a dog consumes as little as 6 ounces it could be lethal.

Stones and Pebbles

Landscape stones come in a variety of different shapes, colors and sizes and provide a more formal polished look to a garden.  The main pros are that they are long lasting (forever!) and do a fantastic job at blocking weeds. One thing to consider, is that because there is no decomposition happening, your plants won’t have the opportunity to absorb the additional beneficial nutrients as they do with organic mulch.  Also, they come with a high price tag and are heavier and result in a higher installation cost.

What are the benefits of Mulching?

Mulching provides many benefits to your plants, shrubs, trees and perennials.  Some of the top reasons we give people for mulching included:

  • It discourages the growth of weeds
  • Organic mulches decompose and feed your plants/trees beneficial nutrients
  • They retain moisture and allow it to be absorbed slowly over time
  • They act as a blanket, protecting roots from harsh cold and strong heat
  • It improves your soil’s fertility
  • How about it just makes your landscape look better?

Tchukki Anderson, BCMA, CTSP* and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association says:

“Trees with mulched root zones are usually larger, healthier, develop faster and have higher rate of survival than plants surrounded by turf grass or bare dirt. Mulches retain soil moisture and nutrients and reduce erosion and soil compaction.”

While many people choose to lay mulch in the spring as they prep their gardens for the summer, Fall in fact is one of the most beneficial times of year to lay mulch. It will help nourish and hydrate your trees throughout the winter and will provide warmth to the soil and roots.

Good mulching

How Wide is Wide? A good mulch bed should extend out at least three feet from a tree’s trunk in all directions, though extending out to the dripline is preferred. This is where the fine, absorbing tree roots extend out into the soil, and mulch provides many health-related benefits for those roots. Keep all mulches several inches away from the base of the tree to avoid rot and diseases.

How Deep is Deep? The mulch bed depth should be maintained at 2 to 4 inches.

Go Ahead, Cover the Grass! If there is grass in the area that needs to be mulched, put a five-page layer of newspaper over the grass, get it wet, then add mulch on top (this will help keep the grass from growing up through the mulch).

Use the Right Mulch. For poor soils, use well-composted mulch to build up the nutrients. Soils that are healthy will do fine with a highly stable softwood bark (such as cypress bark), which doesn’t break down as easily.

Measure the pH content. Checking the pH content of the mulch ensures it is compatible with the tree and soil.

Bad mulching

• No Volcanoes, Please! The biggest no-no when mulching is to create a “mulch volcano” that is piled high around the base of the tree. This practice traps moisture around the tree trunk and root flare leading to decay and, eventually, structural failure.


• Avoid Fine Mulch. Thick blankets of fine mulch can become matted and prevent the penetration of water and air.

• Don’t Let Mulch Sour. Low oxygen levels (from packed mulch) creates a toxic “sour” mulch – which may give off pungent odors. Even worse, the compounds produced during the souring process (methanol and acetic acid) can kill young plants.

• Don’t Keep Adding New Mulch on Top of the Old. While mulch does decompose, you do not want to accumulate excessive mulch year after year by adding fresh mulch every spring. If you want the look of fresh mulch, break up the old with a rake, and only add a layer of new on top if there is less than 4 inches in depth.

Emerald Tree and Shrub Care

For more information on tree care or to schedule a consultation with one of our master arborists please call us at 914-725-0441 or email us at info@emeraldtreecare.com



Prepare Your Trees Before The Freeze


The changing of seasons has a powerful way of triggering certain emotions and actions within people.  Summer nears and we all tend to let loose a little bit; introducing more fun to our schedules with beach days and BBQs.  Just the opposite tends to happen as the leaves start to change color and the majority of families gear up for back to school.  Whether you have children in school or not, there is something about the crisper air temps and fall smells that manifests the motivation to prepare, keep a schedule and get back into the swing of things.  In our business, we recognize the need for trees and shrubs to do just the same.  Fall is the time to prepare your trees for a season where winter storms can bring unpredictable outcomes.  You may be thinking, “we are months away from any potential snow storm”, which is true, but hurricane season is upon us, and it’s predicted that 2017 will be a long and intense one.  Jim Skiera, Executive Directory of the International Society of Abroriculture (ISA) urges homeowners to give their trees proper attention in the fall when he explains:

“Minimize stress by helping your trees through the cold months, a little at a time. If you take care of your trees in the winter, you’ll be rewarded in the spring.”

So, what exactly do your trees need to help protect themselves against harsh winds and extended periods of freezing?  Here is a helpful checklist of actions you can take to ensure your greens will weather the storm:


The summer heat can really take a toll on your trees and shrub’s nourishment levels.  So they are already low on nutrients and are about to enter several months of dormancy? Well of course that makes fall the perfect time to amp up nutrient levels with a proper feeding.  Fall Fertilization is especially important for younger, less established trees, that are more susceptible to storm damage. A slow releasing fertilizer injected or soil drenched along the drip line of the tree will help distribute nutrients to the root system for several months.


Even though trees enter a period of dormancy in the winter, when all consumption, digestion and growth slow down, they still need to maintain adequate levels of moisture. The amount of water your tree needs will depend on the species of tree, it’s age and your climate.  When watering a tree, focus around the drip line, which is the circle that trims the width of the crown on the ground. Imagine the tree like an umbrella, the drip line is where all the water droplets will run off and meet the ground.  This is where the smaller, feeder roots are located, and the primary spot where water and nutrients are absorbed. It’s important to water until the soil is moist but not soggy.  The key to a good fall watering, is to catch the tree after it has shed it’s leaves but before the ground has frozen.  Frozen soil acts as a barrier preventing the roots from absorbing any of the water.

Prune Away Dead Wood.

Before the fall is in full swing, prior to all the leaves falling off, is the easiest time to identify dead wood because they will be the branches that did not sprout any leaves over summer. Healthy branches have life inside them and are flexible when blown by the wind.  Conversely, dead branches are brittle and weak and will snap very easily with even small levels of stress.  Now is the time to prune away all dead wood so branches and limbs do not fall and cause damage during upcoming storms.

Cabling Weak Trees.

Cabling is the installation of flexible steel strand cables in trees to add needed support to weak branches.  A certified arborist is trained to analyze a tree’s structure and identify limbs that are not strong enough to bear the weight they are carrying.  The goal of cabling, is to transfer the weight load from the weaker branch to stronger ones to ensure that your tree will withstand heavy winds and stressful weather conditions. Cabling is very effective and is often a long term fix to a tree that might have otherwise failed.

Have your trees inspected before the winter hits and take the necessary steps to protect your home and family from any hazards that may exist.  Emerald Tree & Shrub Care is offering Free Property Inspections this fall, to have a certified arborist come evaluate your trees call us at 914-725-0441.


Mature Trees And The Value Of Your Home

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“A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.” – Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers

Here at Emerald Tree & Shrub Care, we always urge customers to think twice before removing a tree.  Our main concern is preserving the environmental and ecological benefits that trees provide, but there really is no arguing with the fact that mature trees increase the value of your home.

While a well kept lawn and flower beds certainly catch your eye and look pretty, potential homebuyers want a backyard that feels private.  Mature trees are a wonderful way to make a property feel more secluded and quiet.  Picture a corner lot that borders against two noisy streets, an eye sore of traffic and increased pollution.  Now imagine a row of mature trees acting as a visual screen while blocking a good amount of noise and improving the air quality.  An outdoor space that could have caused irritation and angst is now an outdoor sanctuary, an extension of your living space.

Another huge benefit to mature trees is the shade they provide.  Homebuyers will recognize mature trees as a way to save on their electric bill.  In fact, on the hottest day of summer, some might say a 30 foot Oak Tree on the East Side of your home is utterly priceless.  A strategically placed tree can cut down your electricity bill up to 30%.  Mature trees can also provide shelter from heavy winds in winter months, reducing the amount of energy your heating system uses.

According to Pat Vredevoogd Combs of the National Association of realtors:

Well-landscaped yards with mature trees and bushes that provide privacy not only fetch higher prices — they sell more quickly than houses with little or no landscaping, she said, noting that they provide the ultimate “curb appeal” by impressing buyers before they even walk into a house.

There are however, some instances when mature trees can hurt your property value and cause it to sit on the market.  One example is when they have not been properly placed and are impeding with the actual home or another necessary structure such as a fence, driveway or garage.  We have seen countless trees that are planted too close to a sidewalk or driveway, and as they grow vertically, their roots are not given the proper space to expand.  Two potential risks can occur 1) The tree will continue to grow vertically, but without the proper root strength, it will become top heavy and potentially fall and cause costly damage.  2) the roots will forge their way and cause rippling, cracking and crumbling of the pavement.  This is why it is very important to consult a certified arborist before selecting and planting trees on your property.   A plant site analysis is easy to schedule and can save you lots of headaches down the line, call us today at 914-725-0441.



Why is the bark on my tree shedding?

bark shed

When bark shedding is natural

In recent weeks when I walk around Westchester I have noticed many trees that are rapidly shedding their bark.  Admittedly, this can look very alarming, but the truth is that in most cases it is a completely natural occurrence.  The most common cause of bark shedding, which is in fact very logical, is that the tree is preparing for growth, and needs to let its existing bark fall off in order to give the trunk room to grow.  “But my tree is very old”, you say, “why is this the first time I’ve seen this happen?” Younger trees have thinner, more flexible bark with a certain level of elasticity to it.  Up until a certain age, a tree can slowly grow, expand its trunk, and the bark will just stretch along with it.  However, the bark on older trees is a bit thicker, dryer and weaker.  As the trunk expands, chunks of bark tend to peel off one by one leaving a messy pile of bark peels on your lawn.

If you have one of the following trees with no other recognizable problems, chances are the shedding bark you are seeing is of no concern, as these trees are known to exhibit  bark peeling:

  • Silver maple.
  • Birch.
  • Sycamore.
  • Redbud.
  • Shagbark hickory.
  • Scotch pine.

When it is cause for concern

Another common reason for bark shedding poses more of a concern, and that is a fungal infection.  Cankers, are any kind of open wound that has penetrated through the bark and left the interior of the tree exposed to fungal or bacterial infection.  treecankerCanker infections or diseases are easily recognizable with a defined indent or lesion and a reddish or brownish discoloration on the bark.  As the tree responds to the fungal infection, it works to eliminate the infected portions which can lead to falling branches and limbs.  Also, since the canker disease enters the tree through the bark and spreads beneath it, you will often see bits of infected bark falling off as it separates itself from the healthier tree tissue inside.

If a canker infection is discovered on a branch, the best treatment would be to remove the infected branch.  Treatment becomes a bit more difficult when the canker is discovered on the trunk. There is no chemical that’s been proven effective at eliminating the fungal disease from a tree, plus the fungus can very easily spread to neighboring trees so it’s important that you enlist a certified arborist to advise you on the proper treatment method.

For a free tree inspection by a board certified arborist call us at 914-725-0441.

Developmental Pruning of Ornamental Trees & Shrubs

Ornamental trees or shrubs are very simply, plants that are grown for a decorative purpose.  Each ornamental at some point was hand selected and planted for a reason.  Maybe it provides shade in a much needed spot, perhaps it adds texture to an area that felt blah, defines a space as is the case with hedges,  introduces height to an otherwise low growth area, or in general, just adds aesthetic interest to your landscape.  The first step to ensuring the success of ornamental trees and shrubs is selecting and planting them in an area where they will thrive.  At Emerald Tree and Shrub Care we always recommend consulting with an Arborist before investing in and installing new plantings.  While you may think that Japanese Maple will look lovely in the back corner of your garden, sunlight patterns and soil tests may prove you wrong.  The second, and most important measure to keeping your ornamentals beautiful and thriving is, Developmental Pruning.

An ornamental tree or shrub can easily go from being a beautiful asset to a terrible eye sore if ignored and allowed to become overgrown.  We’ve all seen hedges that have gone wild and completely impede on a sidewalk or front walkway.  Not only do these look bad, but severe overgrowth is a hard problem to fix, and unfortunately sometimes results in removal which can be expensive and disappointing.

Avoiding overgrowth is an important reason for developmental pruning, but certainly not the only.  There are lots of benefits to routinely pruning your ornamentals, including:

  • Removing dead, damaged or diseased growth.  Just like any plant or tree, as soon as dead branches are discovered they should be removed to allow the healthier, thriving branches to get the full amount of nutrients they need.  Plants actually waste quite a bit of energy trying to nurse dead branches back to health, so removing them with proper pruning, gives the tree more strength and energy to nourish existing branches and support new growth.
  • Supporting advanticious growth. Selectively removing certain growth allows sunlight to reach the interior of the plant and lets the air better circulate throughout, both of which help produce new buds.
  • Maintaining it’s original shape.  Keeping a tree or shrub’s shape and size to a scale that make sense to the landscape is a benefit to the overall appearance as well as the health and growth of other plants.  Our trained arborists can walk through a landscape and immediately identify pruning opportunities that will promote the health of the entire assortment of plantings.

At Emerald Tree & Shrub Care we pride ourselves on never defaulting to gas or electric trimmers, but rather performing all pruning by hand.  This is the only way to be truly selective with which branches you want to trim and also prevents damage on the branches you want to keep.  Whether you are looking for a natural aesthetic that fits within a wooded area, or a very pristine crisp edge on your boxwood hedges, please let us be the ones to help.  Our goal is to achieve your desired look while performing the developmental pruning that is most beneficial for your ornamentals.

For more information about our pruning service view a demonstration by our Board Certified Master Arborist, Kevin Wyatt here.

Everything You Need To Know About Horticultural Oils


What are Horticultural Oils?

Horticultural Oils are lightweight oils with either a petroleum or vegetable base that have been manufactured specifically for agricultural and horticultural uses. These oils have been highly refined to remove any and all impurities and toxins and then combined with an emulsifier so they can be mixed with water and easily applied with a sprayer.

What are they used for?

The primary use of horticultural oils is to control insects and mites on plants, especially trees and shrubs.  Common insects that can be effectively treated with horticultural oils are typically soft-bodied and include:

  • Woolly adelgid on hemlocks
  • Spider Mites
  • White Flies
  • Scales
  • Aphids
  • Mites

How do they work?

The most prevalent way that horticultural oils work is by smothering any pests present on a plant along with their eggs.  The oil literally blocks the air holes that pests use to breath, causing them to die almost instantly.  They are completely safe to use on fruits and vegetables because the oils can easily be washed off.


Two other ways that they sometimes work is by acting as a poison to the mite or by interfering with their feeding process.  Horticultural Oils are safe to use, effective, and have limited effects on beneficial insects.  One known downfall is that the oils can sometimes injure a plant, therefore they should be used intermittently and with careful selection to which plants or trees they’re applied to.  Horticultural Oils are constantly improving and becoming more refined making them safer to both plants and beneficial insects.  


Overall, Horticultural Oils are a great option to keep your trees and shrubs

safe from insects and disease while also protecting the environment.  

To learn more, or to see if your property could benefit from an application,

call us at 914-725-0441.