Understanding that the needs of each individual tree or shrub present on your property are vastly different from one another is the first key to maintaining a beautiful, sustainable landscape. A successful plant health care program starts with comprehensive knowledge of your plants and the problems they may encounter. Abiotic factors such as plant selection, site drainage, soil conditions, proper planting and pruning practices, and even the physical condition of your plants root systems must first be inspected prior to the start of any program, as poor plant health typically stems from problems such as these. Once stressed out by environmental factors trees and shrubs become significantly more prone to biotic factors such as insect and mite infestation, and bacterial and fungal infection. While there are a wide variety of effective treatments and services that we can utilize to help relieve stresses present on mature trees, it is important that monitoring begins when the plants are young. This allows us to address problems with your plants before they sustain too much damage and are unable to recover with or without our help. We design each program based solely on the needs of your plants and only treat for insect and disease issues if they are present at the time of each visit.
Our Plant Health Care division offers the following services:
Prior to starting any fertilization program it is highly recommended that soil samples from throughout the landscape are taken and sent out to be analyzed. By accurately determining the soil pH and nutrient levels present, we can design a program based on the needs of your plants.
Tree and Shrub Fertilization
Our tree and shrub fertilization program consists of 2 deep root fertilizer applications, one in the spring, and one in fall. Spacing out the fertilizer injections allows for consistent nutrient availability at the times when your plants expend the most energy and need it most. We utilize a high quality complete fertilizer that contains all of the macronutrients utilized by your plant material. By injecting the fertilizer directly into the trees root zone we ensure that the trees can take in the nutrients efficiently. Maintaining strong and vigorous plants through fertilization and proper cultural practices is the key to reducing infection and infestation from opportunistic fungi and insects.
Insect and Mite Control
As landscape plants age they will inevitably become stressed which will allow opportunistic pests to take hold and begin feeding and reproducing on your valuable trees and shrubs. As there are a wide spectrum insects and mites active at many different times of the season, one treatment is typically not enough to effectively suppress these pests throughout the year. As no one landscape is the same, we will determine exactly what is needed to manage the problems specific to your plants, and we will only apply treatments if they are necessary.
Unlike your lawn, where a single fungicide treatment can be applied to halt the progress of a fungus and allow you to grow a disease out quickly, disease control is far more complex when it comes to your trees. Knowledge of the plant pathogens as well as the host plants is key to diagnosing and managing disease activity on your landscape plants. Once we identify the issue we can proceed with determining the number of treatments necessary and how to properly time them to effectively suppress the symptoms of the disease. However, there are many diseases that have no effective chemical control such as root diseases and wood decaying fungi.
Winter burn can be devastating to your costly broadleaf evergreens such as boxwoods, hollies, cherry laurels and even rhododendrons. This treatment is applied in the late fall/early winter and forms a thin film over the foliage of the plants. This helps to prevent moisture loss from the foliage, which in turn will help to prevent winter damage and wind burn.
Certain insect pests that can attack your ornamentals are difficult to control with traditional spray treatments and are better handled by using soil injected systemic insecticides. This is true for pests such as boxwood leaf miner, certain soft scales, lace bug, and even hemlock wooly adelgid are more effectively controlled in this manner. A metered amount of the insecticide is injected into the soil around the base of the plant, and then the plant will uptake the material. When the insects continue to feed they will ingest the chemical and control will be obtained.
This application will treat for ornamental pest problems as Scale, Aphids and fall Web Worms and control of diseases such as Blight, Rust and Powdery Mildew.
Plant Pathogen Testing
Certain types of diseases can be very difficult to diagnose through visual inspection alone. When plant diseases such as these are suspected we recommend sending out samples the lab to have them accurately diagnosed. This ensures proper measures can be taken to treat the fungus or prevent the spread to other susceptible plants in the landscape.
Air Spade Services
Root Collar Excavation
Many trees present in the landscape suffer issues caused by being planted too deeply. If the root flare of the tree is not visible it can lead to many long term issues that can result in the death of the tree. In order to correct this an air spade can be utilized to safely remove the soil around the base of the trunk without damaging any established roots. This will help to correct issues associated with deep planting, and also aerate the soil around the root flare.
Many trees in the landscape suffer from girdling root issues that can eventually lead to the death of the tree. Girdling roots are roots that begin to circle the trunk of the tree and cut off the vascular system of the plant limiting the flow of substances such as water and nutrients that are vital to the trees survival. These issues can be caused by improper planting and there are also many species of trees that are naturally prone to girdling roots. The root collar must first be excavated using an air spade, which will allow access to the problem roots. Utilizing a variety of hand tools the problem roots are then removed, and the soil is replaced around the base of the tree. Even mature trees have been shown to respond very well to the removal of these problematic roots.
Soil compaction issues can lead to severely limited root growth in both young and mature trees. Compaction can be caused from a wide variety of sources; anything from foot and mower traffic to heavy construction equipment can lead to severe compaction that can lead to tree decline. Radial trenching is a process where trenches are run from the base of the tree out to the drip line using an air spade to keep the roots intact. Once the trenches are run they can be backfilled with a mix of topsoil and compost to not only improve soil structure and aeration but replenish necessary organic matter in the soil. This has been shown to improve rooting by up to 300% which significantly improves the health of the tree.
*In addition to these services we can utilize the air spade help reduce root damage in construction situations where utilities must be run in close proximity to valued street trees. Rather than cutting through the roots as the utility companies will most likely do, we can excavate a trench using the air spade for them to run the utilities without causing damage to the trees root system. Large scale cutting of roots during construction will typically result in tree mortality and a costly bill to have the trees removed down the line. Please call us if you are informed of any utility digging to be done on your property so we may help preserve your trees.