Fall Pruning Tips: How and When to Prune Trees


Keeping up with your yard work on a yearly basis is key to a beautiful lawn and landscape. And knowing when to perform those tasks is even more essential to the health of your yard.

One task that homeowners need to perform annually is pruning trees. Pruning trees not only improves plant health and overall aesthetics but also reduces the amount of dead or brittle branches, enriches tree structure and manages fruit or flower production.

Take advantage of the cool fall weather this season to prune your trees. Before you begin pruning, here are questions to ask yourself.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Pruning Trees

Before you start thinking about when to prune trees, making sure you have the right tools for whatever job you’re doing is essential! If you plan to just prune back a few smaller branches or cut back a few perennial plants, a good pair of by-pass pruning shears will do the trick. If you plan to prune branches that are between ½ to 3 inches in diameter, then a pair of loppers is needed. Anything larger than 3 inches should be pruned with a good, sharp pruning saw.

What are you trying to accomplish?

Knowing exactly what you’re trying to accomplish before you begin is a step that should not be overlooked. Are you trying to control the size or shape? Are you pruning to remove limbs that are growing too low or pose a safety concern? Have a game plan ready to go that outlines what trees you need to tackle in your yard and what you want them to look like in the end.

Do you have the right tools?

After all, you can’t prune trees without the proper tools.

If you plan to cut back a few perennial plants or smaller tree branches, use a quality pair of by-pass pruning shears. Branches that are between ½ to 3 inches in diameter will require a pair of loppers. Anything larger than 3 inches needs a sharp pruning saw.

What will you do with the yard waste?

Depending on where you live, there may be a brush pick-up service that will haul away branches and other brush. This may come at an extra charge or be included in your monthly expenses. There may also be a set timeframe on when you can have them removed. Some cities may have rules and regulations homeowners must follow when using waste services, so be sure to research yard waste removal in your city before beginning.

How to Prune Trees

Most of the pruning you do will help the tree grow healthier and maintain a better form. First, look for branches that are crossing each other or are growing into the middle of the tree. Second, find dead branches and twigs. These are the types of branches you will want to remove first.

When making the cut, do not cut in the middle of the branch. Prune just above a growth point, like near a bud, stem or branch. The cut should be made at a 30-to-45-degree angle. Be sure not to cut too much on an angle, too high or directly on top of the bud. The end of the branch will not produce new growth, and eventually, it will die, leaving it open for invasion of wood-decaying organisms.

What if my tree needs major pruning?

If your trees need major pruning, or you are unsure of what needs to be pruned, contact a licensed arborist to assist.

What other ways can I keep my lawn and landscape healthy?

Aside from yearly pruning, it’s important to fertilize your trees and shrubs to provide essential nutrients and protect them from disease-causing insects. At Spring Green, we want to help your lawn look and feel its best so that you can enjoy your yard without worry. Contact us today to learn about the services in your area.

Spring-Green’s National Training Conference Help Those in Need

2017 Spring-Green National Training Conference
Spring-Green Lawn Care Corp. just completed celebrating their 40th Anniversary in business with our National Training Conference, Optimize for Success, on August 2nd through the 4th in Oak Brook, IL.  Spring-Green Franchise Owners from across the US gathered to network with fellow Franchise Owners, listen to inspiring presentations from Marty Grunder, well known landscape owner and Green Industry speaker and Jay Baer, a respected consultant on building customer relations. It was an incredible 2 and a half days of learning, laughing and reflection on business building.

National Training Conference Silent Auction Recipient

It has been a tradition at recent National Training Conferences to conduct a vendor sponsored Silent Auction benefiting a worthy cause.  Since starting this program in 2011, the Silent Auctions have raised a total of $60,000 for the sponsored organizations.  We have supported the AFLAC Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in Atlanta, GA as the child of one of our Franchise Owners was receiving treatment for leukemia at that facility.

The other organization we helped to support was The Fisher House, which provides housing near military hospitals for the families of current and veteran military personnel who are receiving medical care.  Fisher House helps relieve the financial burdens of lodging and travel for these families during stressful times.  Helping military families stay with their loved ones while they receive medical treatment often results in a quicker recovery time so we are proud to help these heroes after protecting our freedom.

Spring-Green and Tunnel to Towers Foundation Check Presentation
This year, we raised funds for Building for America’s Bravest. This organization builds smart homes for our most catastrophically injured service members returning home. Each home is custom designed to address the unique needs of each individual. Energy efficient, automated and easily accessible—these homes use “adaptive technology” to help our most severely injured heroes live better, more independent lives.  It is with great honor to announce that we once again raised $20,000 to help support this great program.

Spring-Green Helping One of Their Own

After a daylong meeting on Thursday, word was passed along that the child of another of our Franchise Owner’s was back in a battle with cancer.  Alex and Anne Abbott’s, Franchise Owners of Richmond Area, Virginia, son, Cooper has been fighting cancer since he was 2 years old.  Here in her own words is Anne’s explanation of Cooper’s fight:

“His first battle with cancer was in 2011 when he was only 2. He was in remission until he was almost 6. He had just started kindergarten when he developed a brain tumor. He breezed through chemo and radiation both times and was in remission until last October, one week after his 8th birthday, when he was diagnosed with treatment induced leukemia. This diagnosis has been so tough. He spent 35 days on a ventilator recovering from heart failure and kidney injury. He fought his way back from all of that and went on to complete 2 rounds of super intense chemo and in April was within a breath of our ultimate goal, bone marrow transplant, when it was discovered he had relapsed.

We have continued our fight with chemo but the setbacks endure. More recently, a spinal tap caused excessive bleeding and resulted in neurological deficit and persistent fevers revealed a fungal infection in his lungs. He’s fighting all this and his leukemia persists. We’re not giving up…ever. We’re still challenging his disease with chemo and hoping to get him to transplant soon. Alex is completely dedicated to Cooper spending (sleepless) nights in the hospital with Cooper and spraying lawns all day in our 100-degree heat. I have no idea how he does it.”

In one evening, Spring-Green Franchise Owners and other attendees of the conference joined together to raise $8,500 to help offset the cost of Cooper’s medical bills.  Cooper has a Go Fund Me page where others can help donate to help this brave little boy by helping to find a “Cure For Cooper” https://www.gofundme.com/cureforcooper.

Spring-Green Lawn Care is more than just a lawn care company or a franchise organization, it is a community of business owners willing to help not only worthwhile organizations but also caring for one of their own. I am proud to work at Spring-Green for the last 20 years.

21st Anniversary of Renewal and Remembrance

Spring-Green Renewal and Remembrance

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) held their annual Renewal and Remembrance service project at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA on Monday, July 17, 2017. This event has been organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals for 21 years.

Over 500 Green Industry Professionals from across the US joined together to beautify the final resting place of over 400,000 of America’s military veterans and their spouses. Everyone joined together to spread lime and phosphorus, core aerated large sections of the grounds, completed tree trimming and cabling, and worked on the irrigation system throughout the cemetery grounds. There is also a Children’s Program for the children of those working at the cemetery.

Spring-Green Renewal and Remembrance

The children helped to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, placed flowers on the graves of nurses that are buried in the Nurses Memorial and who participated in World War 1 and planted additional flowers. It was an inspiring site to see all these people in their yellow safety vests working together on a hot, sunny day in our National’s capitol.

This year, NALP arranged for the same work to be completed at the Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home Cemetery in Washington, D. C. The cemetery is located just north of the Armed Forces Retirement Home and is the oldest National Cemetery in the US. It is the final resting place 14,000 veterans, many who fought in the Civil War.

Tom Warfel, Spring-Green Business Consultant, recruited the help of three of our Franchise Owners along with family members or employees to help with the event. In total, 15 Spring-Green people worked at Arlington. Tom is a former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq. Being a part of this program has a special meaning for Tom.

The Spring-Green Team, along with representatives from several other Green Industry companies, spread lime over 17 acres. It was a lot of work, but it pales in comparison. Personally, I have had the honor to participate in this program for at least 10 of the 21 years it has taken place. I never get tired of being there and it has been my honor to be a part of the program. I am already looking forward to next year’s event.

View more photos of this year’s Renewal and Remembrance on the Spring-Green Facebook Page.

How to Grow Grass in Shady Areas

Does your lawn look like the picture below? Is it thin, bumpy, and looking overall just bad? Finally, are there a number of trees shading the ground underneath? Trying to grow grass in a shady area can be a challenge even for the most hardcore lawn enthusiast, let alone the weekend warrior.

Follow these steps to better your chances of growing grass in the shady areas of your lawn.

growing grass in shady areas

The first thing to understand is that there are situations where the shade is so dense that you just can’t get grass to grow well. It is possible to get some grass to germinate and it may look okay for a while, but by mid-summer the lawn begins to thin out, and by fall it looks like it did in the early spring.

Provide More Sunlight

If you are up to the challenge, the first thing you need to do is to prune your trees to allow more sunlight to reach the turf. Most grasses require 6 to 8 hours of direct sun to grow well. If the area receives less than that, well, it is going to be more challenging. The difficulty with pruning is deciding what to cut, how much to cut, how to cut. If you are not sure how to handle this job properly, it is often better to hire a professional tree care company.

Planting Grass Seed

The next thing you have to do is decide on what type of seed you wish to plant. In the cool-season grass areas, the grass that works the best in shady areas is Fine Fescue. In the Transition zone, Tall Fescue will do okay in the shade. In warm-season grass areas, St. Augustine is the most shade-tolerant, although I have seen homeowners plant Tall Fescue with fairly good results in shady areas. The problem with most warm-season grasses is that the germination of the seed is poor at best. The better choice is to use sod or switch to Tall Fescue seed.

You have to prepare the soil prior to planting. Broadcasting seed across the area will often result in providing a meal for the birds, but not much in the way of germination. The best thing to do is to core aerate the area first and then broadcast seed. The seed will often end up in the aeration holes where is actually has a better chance of germinating as well as surviving as it grows.

Water the Area

The number one reason as to why seed does not grow is because it is not watered on a consistent basis. Most people start off well and keep the area moist for two or three days, but then life gets busy and the area is not watered for three or four days. Once the seed germinates, it sends out a very short root. If that root cannot come into contact with water quickly, within an hour or so, it will dry out. You should plan on keeping the area moist for at least two weeks. The one good thing about shady areas is that they will not dry out as quickly as full sun areas, but if it gets warm, it will still need water.

Mow Correctly

Shady areas should always be mowed higher than the sunny parts of a lawn. If you don’t want to keep adjusting the mowing height for different parts of the lawn, mow the whole lawn at the higher level. Your lawn will do better in the long run if it mowed high.

Fertilize, But Not Too Much

The newly seeded area should be fertilized to help the new seed develop a strong root system, but it needs less than the sunny parts of the lawn. Too much fertilizer on shady lawns is a waste of fertilizer and can actually harm the grass if the level is too high. Apply about half the amount of fertilizer that you would apply to the full sun parts of your lawn. Weeds may still be a problem, so spot spray them, but wait until the new grass has been up and growing for about 6 weeks before doing so.

Alternative Options

If the seeding does not work, it may be time to switch to using more mulch and shade-loving plants in the area. There are a plethora of these plants on the market, such as hostas, pachysandra, vinca, ivies, etc. Check your local nursery or garden center for plants that grow in the shade. Grass is nice, but sometimes you just have to choose your battles and win the ones that have a higher probability of success rather than growing grass in the shade.

Lawn Care Expert Harold Enger Celebrates 37 Years | Spring-Green

Harold Enger Celebrates 37 years with Spring-Green

February 20, 1978 was the day I first started working for a lawn care company. I have been asked many times about why I started working in this industry, and I’ve always said that it was fate that enabled me to start a job that I really knew nothing about when I first started. I had worked for a couple of landscaping companies while in high school, so I was familiar with landscapes and plants, but working for a lawn care company was new to me.

After graduating college and trying to find a job as a teacher, I worked for a small catering company that serviced some airlines at O’Hare Field in Chicago. As I waited for the next plane to land one Sunday evening, I went into the break room for the baggage handlers that was located at ground level under the terminals. It was a cold night and more snow was forecasted to arrive. Thankfully, there was only one plane left to service for the night. As I sat at the table, I picked up one sheet of the Sunday paper that someone had left behind. It just so happened to be a page of help wanted ads, so I just started looking at the ads for something better to do. That is where I first heard of a lawn care company.

My initial reaction was that this didn’t seem like an idea that was going to last, sort of like selling Yugos. I really did not enjoy working the evening shift for the catering company and did not see a future in it for me, so I thought, why not give the lawn care company a call. Since I had worked for a couple of landscaping companies, I at least had some connection to caring for lawns (I certainly had installed enough of them).

I called the company the next day and after a brief telephone interview (“Yes, I am at least 18 years old” and, “Yes, I have a valid driver’s license”), I was invited in for an interview. It is important to remember that the year was 1978, so I showed up for the interview in my three-piece, rust-colored, corduroy suit with a paisley-print tie, tied in the (then stylish) double-Windsor knot. I am still not sure if the smile on the face of the woman who interviewed me was due to my outlandish attire or the fact that she was just a friendly person.

After finishing the initial interview, I was asked to wait a few minutes to be interviewed by one of the supervisors. When he came in, he looked me over and said, “Well, you won’t be needing that suit doing the job we have open.” Of course, he had been working in the warehouse and his clothes were covered in dust, his face was streaked with grease, and his hands were just as dirty.

Needless to say, they hired me. I hung the suit up in my closet, and thus began my career in lawn care. It has been 37 years of ups and downs and failures and successes, but I am happy to say that grass still grows, trees and shrubs still flourish, and while I may be the lawn care “expert,” there is always something new to learn and experience in this industry. I think back to all the people who have influenced me over the years and I thank them for their leadership and guidance. Someone once gave me a little plaque that was meant as a joke, but it does have some truth to it. The plaque read, “It is easy to grow in this job as there is always plenty of fertilizer available.” I definitely agree.

Over the last 37 years, Harold has learned quite a bit about lawn care—take advantage of his expertise by asking your lawn care questions!

Lawn Care Tips for the Pros: Go Inside Spring-Green Lawn Care Training

Every year for about the last 15 years or so, I have geared up to conduct 17 training sessions at regional locations across the US, offering lawn care tips and working with the field staff as they get ready for another year of servicing your lawns. It may be snowing in northern Illinois, but weeds are growing in the south and customers expect us to take care of them. I will be starting my lawn care training sessions in North and South Carolina, before moving on across the south to Tulsa, OK and Lake Charles, LA. I will make a quick detour to the Seattle area as they usually don’t experience the same cold winters as the rest of the northern states. From there, I will slowly work my way across the US to the Northeast and Midwest. It all comes to a close at the end of March in Green Bay, WI.

What Lawn Care Training Looks Like

I truly enjoy working with the dedicated people who make up Spring-Green. They are truly a conscientious group of men and women who service the lawns and landscapes of their customers. I see many of the same faces every year and they are always anxious to learn some new lawn care tips for the technical side of things, like weeds, diseases and insects, and get introduced to new products and equipment. During our lawn care training sessions, we have great group discussions about the best practices to follow when working with customers and learning how best to serve them. I always come away from these sessions knowing we have some wonderful people working at Spring-Green.

This Year, Fewer Pesticides

Spring-Green has made a commitment to reduce our pesticide usage to help protect our environment while still providing the results that our customers desire. To that end, we have adapted a new injection system that allows us to target-spray weed control or other control product applications only where it is needed. Part of the training I will be providing this year is to demonstrate this new system by bringing an actual injection system with me as I travel from city to city. Fortunately, the unit fits in a standard suitcase to allow for easy transportation.

Even the Pros Can Use Lawn Care Tips Once in a While

We always review the proper way to apply the products we use to prevent lawn damage as well as protect the applicator and the environment. Even though the attendees have heard this information year after year, they tell me that they always like to hear these refresher lawn care tips to remind them of the best way to handle the products we use.

Each training session always finishes with some type of team building game. It is a great way to finish the day, and they enjoy the challenge of the game. This year, we will be playing a game that reviews the information that was presented during the class. It is kind of like Jeopardy. Everyone gets very involved and some serious bragging rights are awarded to the winners.

Conducting these training programs, which I call “Professional Development Seminars,” is the highlight of my year and I am always amazed at the talent, thoughtfulness and dedication the attendees display. I am confident when I state that Spring-Green Lawn Care has the best lawn care employees in the US.

Ready to meet your neighborhood franchise owner and talk about your lawn care needs? Search our locations or submit your info today!

Spring-Green Volunteers at the Northern Illinois Food Bank

Spring-Green employees sort oatmeal at Northern Illinois Food Bank

On December 15th and 17th, ten of us from the Spring-Green Support Center traveled to the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva, IL to help sort food for those in need throughout 13 counties in northern Illinois. More than 425,000 people each year rely on the food that the food bank supplies, and they currently provide over 50 million meals per year. The Northern Illinois Food Bank began in 1983 and has now grown to four separate facilities that provide food to over 800 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and youth and senior centers.

This is the third time that Spring-Green has volunteered at the Northern Illinois Food Bank. We are usually partnered with three or four groups from other companies who volunteer their time as well. On Monday, December 15, the first group spent their time removing individual packets of oatmeal from boxes that were mistakenly mislabeled by the manufacturer. The oatmeal was fine; it just couldn’t be sold as marked. They tore open cases of the individual packets and placed the packets into large boxes. In total, the group opened and sorted 770 pounds of oatmeal, which will provide meals for 641 people.

The second group volunteerd on Wednesday, December 17, and included five of us from Spring-Green, along with about 25 additional volunteers from two other companies. Since we were handling open food, we worked in a “clean room”. Hair nets, beard nets, aprons, and rubber gloves were worn by all. We were charged with taking the individual packets of oatmeal, tearing them open, and dumping 12 of the packets into plastic bags. These were then sealed and labeled for distribution to the food pantries. The second-day group processed 695 pounds of oatmeal, which was enough for 579 meals.

It’s impressive that we packaged that much food in a little more than two hours, and it’s rewarding knowing that you are helping people that are less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. The food bank provides enough food for about 50 million meals a year. They have set a goal to reach 75 million meals a year by 2020. That is a big increase, but one that is needed.

Spring-Green is proud of its commitment to helping others in our communities and throughout the U.S. Whether it is providing free lawn care services to the homes of veterans who are deployed, helping to beatify Arlington National Cemetery, or working with local organizations like the Northern Illinois Food Bank, we are committed to providing services that help our fellow friends and neighbors.

Interested in finding out more about your local Spring-Green’s involvement in the community? Contact your neighborhood franchise today!

Spring-Green Gives Back to Residents of Historic Smoketown, in Louisville, KY

Harold Enger on aerator for Planet gives back event

For the third year in a row, I was fortunate to participate in a service project that is part of the annual Green Industry Conference in Louisville, KY. The Professional Landcare Network, or PLANET, organizes this event called PLANET Gives Back. On Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, I joined 74 other lawn and landscape professionals from across the US to help beautify the grounds around three different buildings in an historic area in downtown Louisville known as Smoketown.

We planted trees, beautified entrances, built planters, performed maintenance around the buildings and core aerated and overseeded athletic fields. The beneficiaries of this work were Mezeek Middle School; YouthBuild Louisville, an education, job training, and leadership program for young adults; and St. Vincent de Paul, one of the oldest social service charities in Louisville.


I was assigned to the core aeration and overseed team and thought I would be walking behind an aerator all day. I was pleasantly surprised when I was given a John Deere tractor with a pull-behind aerator. It has been about 40 years since I had last driven a tractor, but it was just like riding a bike. Once I figured out how to raise and lower the aerator unit and front end loader, I was off to the races.

Spring-Green Lawn Care has always prided itself on our numerous service projects that we are involved in every year. It is our way of giving back to the communities where we work. We have also participated in the annual PLANET Renewal and Remembrance service project at Arlington National Cemetery since its inception in 1996. We join with over 400 green industry professionals from over 100 companies as we work to maintain the beauty of the final resting place of many of our nation’s heroes.

Our local franchises are also involved in many community and service efforts. Want to learn about how your neighborhood franchise owner has benefited the towns in your area? Contact Spring-Green to find out more.

How to Get Rid of Wild Violets and Ground Ivy

Wild violets and ground ivy can be considered some of the most difficult-to-control weeds in a lawn. They can drive homeowners crazy with their efforts to rid their lawns of these weeds with little or no success. The key to getting rid of ground ivy and wild violets is knowing the best time to apply control products.

wild violet

How Do Wild Violets Grow?

Even though they are a nuisance, wild violets can be very pretty. They have beautiful, short-lived flowers that can range in colors from white to blue to purple. When my sister and I were children, we would pick wild violets that grew in a forested area near our house and give them to our mother. Now, you can purchase these plants as a garden perennial. In a home lawn, they grow best in shady areas where the desired grasses have a more difficult time growing. This allows them to easily spread by both seed and through underground root systems called rhizomes. The leaves on violets are very tough, making it more difficult for weed control products to penetrate the surface. The extensive root structure spreads underground, allowing this weed to creep out of flower beds and into your lawn. Even when dug up, if any pieces of the root is left behind, the plant will regenerate and begin anew. This fact has really made the wild violet a difficult weed to remove from unwanted areas in your landscape.

How Does Ground Ivy Grow?

Ground ivy was an import from England, where it has acquired some colorful names such as creeping charlie. In England, it is also known as Gill-over-the-Ground, Cat’s Foot or Runaway Robin. Creeping charlie is probably the most descriptive name as it reproduces by seeds and also by long, above ground runners called stolons. The stolons wind their way through the grass, pushing down roots and sending more stolons creeping throughout your lawn. Ground Ivy prefers shady sites, but has been found growing in full sun. The plant has square stems and is a member of the mint family. A strange characteristic of ground ivy is that when mowed, it has a strange strong pungent smell. I guess it doesn’t carry the family trait of the pleasant smell of mint.

How Do I Get Rid of Them?

Late fall is the best time to apply weed control and get rid of wild violets and ground ivy. The reason for this is that plants are in the process of moving food into the root systems in the fall. Therefore, the weed control products will move down into the root system, providing better control. A follow-up application may also be needed in the spring when the plants are flowering.

It may take two or three years to get these weeds under control. Since both of these weeds prefer shady locations, overseeding with more shade-tolerant grasses may help. If it is too shady for grass to grow, you may need to switch from grass to ground covers or mulch. You will still need to control these weeds before switching and fall is still the better time to do so.

Winter Weed Control on Warm-Season Grasses

With the colder weather hitting the states lately, we don’t need to be worrying about weeds, right? Wrong! Areas with warm season grasses, like Alabama, can still have a weed problem even when the turf goes dormant.

Except for parts of Florida, most warm season grasses enter into a dormant state during the winter. They will turn brown and not green-up until next spring through early summer. Even though the grass turns brown, there are still weeds that continue growing throughout the winter dormant period.

These broadleaf weeds are basically classified into annuals and perennials. They can also be broken down into winter germinating and summer germinating weeds. Some weeds germinate in the fall/winter, grow throughout that period and then die when the warm weather returns next year. Winter germinating weeds will produce flowers and seeds during that time, which will then germinate again next year. That’s why winter weed control on warm season grasses is so essential—applying a weed control application or two during the dormant-turf period will help to eliminate these weeds from your lawn.

Most broadleaf weed control products will take care of the majority of the winter germinating annual weeds like Henbit, Large Hop Clover and Chickweed. One good thing about warm season grasses turning brown in the winter is that a non-selective weed control product like Round-Up can be used on grassy weeds like annual bluegrass and Dallisgrass. Be sure the desired grasses are completely dormant, but that the grass you wish to control is still green and growing before using Round-Up.

Winter is also a good time to apply a pre-emergent weed control product to prevent many annual grasses from germinating. As the name implies, these products will control problem weeds, like crabgrass, from germinating.

Even though your yard may be brown during the winter, there are still a few tasks that you can do to have a more weed-free lawn next year. Talk to your local Spring-Green professional to find the right program for your lawn and budget!