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

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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.

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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.

Prevention

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.

Treatment

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.

Caring For Your Trees In Winter.

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There is something very calming about looking out into your wintery yard and knowing all your plants and trees are resting for the winter. Luckily, they have a natural ability to prepare themselves for dormancy and are extremely resilient. That’s not to say though, that the stress of an intense cold season does not wear on your precious greens. Trees, particularly young ones, will likely experience some sort of damage without the proper protection by you, the homeowner. Read through these helpful winter care tips to ensure your greens come back strong and revived next Spring!

Mulch.

Lay about 2 inches of organic mulch right along the drip line of your trees in order to keep roots and soil protected from extreme cold.  It also helps trap moisture and water from escaping the soil. A helpful hint is to wait until after the ground freezes to lay mulch, this prevents mice from making your nice soft mulch their nesting spot for the winter.

Hydrate & Feed.

Late Fall is the ideal time to water and fertilize your greens 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.

Anti-Desiccant.

To prevent your evergreens from experiencing desiccation, a state of extreme dryness, we recommend applying a healthy dose of anti-desiccant spray before the freeze. Our anti-desiccant solution, leaves a thin waxy film on the surface of the plant, sealing off it’s tiny pores and preventing any moisture from evaporating.

Protect From Ice Melt.

It may take some time for you to notice the effects salt has on your plants, as it will first be absorbed into the soil, and will slowly move to the roots, stems and buds causing permanent decline and even death to your greens. Since it’s such common practice during snow storms, what can you do? Create a barrier between pathways and the street and your plantings.  Improve drainage by adding charcoal or gypsum to your soil. Avoid using rock salt all together or dilute it with sand.

Prune.

Winter is actually a fantastic time to inspect trees and identify problem branches and dead wood.  Pruning during the dormant months is also smart because it will prevent diseases from spreading because disease organisms are dormant.

Why Your Evergreens Need Anti-Desiccant Spray

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Temperatures here in Westchester and Fairfield County have remained mild, but with high 30s predicted next week, we can be confident the dry cold weather is creeping near. For us, winter is a time for hibernation; avoiding the outdoors, sleeping more, eating comfort foods and keeping warm by a fire. Since trees and shrubs are rooted outside, there is no escaping the prolonged dry and cold weather which can be particularly damaging, especially to evergreens. When evergreens are continuously exposed to freezing temps, they experience desiccation; a state of extreme dryness. What does evergreen desiccation looks like? We’ve all seen it, a beautiful looking evergreen speckled with light brown blotches from winter scorch (see picture above). To prevent this from happening, we recommend applying an anti-desiccant spray to all your azaleas, rhododendrons, hollies or any needled evergreens. Our anti-desiccant solution, leaves a thin waxy film on the surface of the plant, sealing off it’s tiny pores and preventing any moisture from evaporating.

Here at Emerald Tree and Shrub Care, our crews monitor the climate’s effects on your evergreens very closely.  We start off by recommending an anti-desiccant spray right before temps drop to freezing, usually in Mid to Late-November.  We spray both the upper and lower leaf surface, making sure to seal the entire plant. As winter progresses, if it’s particularly cold and dry, we may recommend a follow up spray in January or February.

If you want to protect your plants and shrubs from the cold and harsh winter that the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting, call today to schedule an application of Anti-Desiccant spray to all your evergreens, hollies, azaleas and rhododendrons.  914-725-0441.

Help… My Evergreens Are Turning Brown And Shedding Needles!

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We have received many calls from concerned clients lately that their spruces, pines and arborvitaes are shedding needles and turning yellow or brown.  We are so happy to report that this is a completely normal occurrence and is no cause for alarm! These species of trees and shrubs are what we refer to as “narrowleaf evergreens”.  While evergreens get their name because they stay green all year, this does not necessarily mean they retain the same needles for their entire life. Each species of evergreen works on a different needle life cycle.  They retain their needles anywhere from one to five years and then they quickly drop and refresh the older ones keeping their fir green and healthy. The process always occurs in the fall, but as mentioned, typically does not happen every year. Spruces retain the same needles for a full 5 years before dropping, while Pine’s have a yearly cycle of dropping and refreshing. Arborvitaes typically follow a two year cycle, and firs such as Douglas firs and Hemlocks can retain their needles anywhere from 3-5 years.

One of the most surprising aspects of this process, is that we never see a bald evergreen! As needles are yellowing and dropping to the ground in huge batches, the tree is rapidly reproducing fresh needles keeping the full evergreen appearance.  What’s more, is that they are not shedding their entire set of needles each cycle, just the oldest ones that are located on the inside of the tree, closest to the trunk.  This brings up an important point, if you notice your evergreen losing needles from the ends of their branches, this may be cause for concern. Young needles and buds found on the end would only be dying and dropping if something more serious was occurring within your tree.