Top Tips for Spring Tree Care

flowering tree

As we enter into spring and embark on the warm summer months, many homeowners are left grappling with caring for their trees as the seasons change. Questions swirl around the tree-loving homeowner’s mind like: How do I care for my trees as they come out of dormancy? How do I help my trees stay healthy in the spring? These questions and so many others are about to be demystified, so you can feel confident that your trees are going to thrive as they move into spring as well as the rest of the year.

The 1,2,3’s of Caring for Trees This Spring & Year-Round

  • Understand Dormancy and How It Works – Trees have an extremely resilient nature and an inner intelligence that allows them to go dormant during bitter cold periods of winter and, like clockwork, wake up when spring finally brings warmer temps. Scientists determined that trees actually block communication between the cells inside the bud during winter, preventing growth cells from developing.
Sycamore Tree Winter
  • Inspect Your Trees and Shrubs – Once the snow begins to melt, and the temperatures slowly begin to climb, it’s a good time to take a venture outdoors and examine the state of your trees and shrubs. During a harsh winter, the conditions can have an impact on the well being of your trees and shrubbery. Look for injuries from freezing temperatures that may have caused bark to split or browning on evergreens from winter burn. As we enter spring, it’s the essential time to treat any of these issues and prevent them from causing further damage.
  • Prune Away Dead Branches – As we enter spring, it’s time to grab the pruning shears and clear away the dead branches. The general rule of thumb is to prune spring flowering trees and shrubs after they flower in the spring. The flower buds from those plants were set in fall, so shearing or shaping of these plants in the spring will result in fewer flowers. Individual limbs can be removed if they are crossing another limb, are damaged, or if you want to improve the shape of the plant. It’s also highly recommended to prune at this time to improve airflow and light penetration.
prune trees
  • Break Out the Mulch – Your mulching efforts at the start of spring will help retain moisture, even if the temperatures drop to extreme levels as they can do during the unpredictable spring. Mulching has many other benefits, including weed prevention and lessening the likelihood of attacks from borers, ants, and beetles. Three inches of mulch is all you need and be sure to avoid piling mulch up on the trunks of trees to form “mulch volcanoes.”
  • The Time to Water Is Now – Step up your tree watering game as you enter spring and gear up for summer with these best practices – water deeply but infrequently, don’t over water, and water during periods of drought. Also monitor moisture levels, making sure your trees don’t dry out your trees. This is an excellent time to check on the sprinkler system too, ensuring they are working properly, and that the coverage is accurate.
watering tree

Caring for trees and shrubs requires a year-round effort. As we exit the cold months and step into spring, we can set our trees up to thrive by following a few easy instructions. And, if you need some more help with any aspect of your arbor or lawn care, Spring-Green has a team of professionals ready to mobilize and assist you with all your needs.

Contact Your Spring-Green Specialist Today!

Why Do Leaves Change Color In The Fall?

leaves changing color

What time of the year do you like the most? Is it the winter when everything is covered with a blanket of white? Is it the spring when many trees and shrubs show off their beautiful flowers? Is it summer when lawns are green and flowers are blooming everywhere? Or, is it fall when the air turns cooler and the leaves on the trees take on their fall colors in shades of yellow, red, orange and brown?

All seasons have their pluses and minuses, but fall is a very colorful time as the trees and shrubs change from different shades of green to various hues of yellow, red, orange and even brown. It is first important to understand why leaves fall off.  All deciduous plants, or plants that lose leaves in the fall have a layer of cells that comprise the abscission layer.

As these cells begin to breakdown at the end of the growing season, the leaf will eventually break off and fall away. How long the color lasts mainly depends on how long it takes for the abscission cells to breakdown and fall away. The longer the process takes, the longer the colors lasts.

How do leaves change color?

The process starts when sunlight time shortens and air temperatures cool down. Less daylight and cooler nights work together to produce more pigments in the leaves. Chemicals and nutrients start moving out of the leaf and into the stem of the leaf. Trees and shrubs use different processes to break down the sugars produced in the leaves into carbohydrates and other foods that lead to the change of leaf color.

Yellow color occurs during this breakdown period. As the production of chlorophyll in leaves stop, two pigments, carotin and xanthophyll, which produces the yellow color, become visible. The pigments are always there, but are masked by the green color of the chlorophyll.

Red colors depend on bright days and cool nights to become visible. Bright light increases sugar production within the leaf, but the cooler nights prevents the sugars from leaving the leaf.  When sugar content increases within the leaves, a red pigment, anthocyanin, is produced. Orange is the color that comes from mixing red and yellow together.

Weather plays a role in Fall Color

Depending on the amount of red or yellow pigments produced in the leaves determines the shade of orange the leaf becomes. If the nights get too cool or the days are overcast, you end up with an “off year” for tree color. And a killing frost ends the show completely by killing all the pigments in the leaves no matter what stage they’re in.

The intensity of the colors, especially scarlets, oranges and golds, the weather must be almost perfect along with plenty of soil moisture.  The sooner a hard frost occurs, more leaves are killed off before having the opportunity to change color. The color that the leaves turn in the fall depends on the plant’s genetic makeup.  If it is important to you to have plants with a nice fall color, inquire about the plants fall color before purchasing.

Trees are a great source of leaf mulch.  Instead of raking your leaves, grid them up with your mower and recycle the nutrients back on to your lawn.  Leaves do not significantly add to the thatch layer. When leaves start turning color is also a great time to root feed the trees and shrubs in your yard and landscape.  Contact your local Spring-Green to add this important service.  Your landscape will appreciate it.

Deep Root Feeding Your Trees and Shrubs This Fall!

deep root feeding

Just as your lawn requires regular fertilization for overall health, vitality and beauty, so do your landscape trees and shrubs. Why? Because trees and shrubs are plants, living organisms, which require food in order to live and thrive. This is why a comprehensive maintenance program will include tree and shrub care in addition to scheduled lawn care visits. The key nutrients are the same—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—as are the issues with organic versus synthetic fertilizers (efficacy and absorption rates differ between the two). Despite these similarities, however, we don’t feed trees and shrubs quite the same way, nor do we need to feed them as often. Let’s take a closer look.

Deep Root Feeding Trees and Shrubs

When we feed a lawn, we apply fertilizers evenly across the lawn’s surface. The fertilizer materials reach the soil where they are absorbed and made available to the grass plants via their root systems (even more so if the lawn has been aerated at least once a year). By comparison, trees and shrubs tend to have larger, deeper root systems. Because not all nutrients are as mobile in the soil as others, surface fertilization may not be sufficient to reach those tree and shrub root systems. In addition, surface feeding trees and shrubs with the necessary fertilizer quantities may adversely affect the surrounding turf, whether by causing excessive growth or outright damage. A better way to feed trees and shrubs is to put the nutrients deeper into the soil. There are several methods commonly used to for this purpose, some easier than others to carry out. Spring-Green accomplishes this through a process called deep root feeding.

Using specialized professional equipment, we inject liquid fertilizers into the root zone of targeted trees and shrubs. The most effective way to do this is to make intermittent grid patterns of pressurized soil injections beginning about a foot away from the base and ending within the perimeter of the “drip line” or canopy of a given tree or shrub. The individual injection sites are about two feet away from one another and six inches deep. Smaller shrubs receive injections equally spaced around the perimeter, as close to the base as is practical. This pattern of hydraulic injections places the nutrients right in the root zone, where targeted trees and shrubs can access them.

Which Trees and Shrubs Should Be Fertilized?

Deep root fertilization is most beneficial to ornamental trees and shrubs, as opposed to mature shade trees, which are much larger and tend not to require supplemental nutrition. These smaller trees and shrubs will take up the injected nutrients and utilize them for enhanced growth and vigor above ground as well as better root development below. They will become healthier overall and more resistant to disease and insect infestation.

Spring-Green recommends deep root feeding twice a year, once in spring and again in the fall, as prescribed in our 2-Step Tree Program, which incorporates additional benefits as well. Customers may schedule an individual root feeding or opt for this comprehensive two-step program. When homeowners consider the investment they have already made in their landscape plantings, especially in light of the cost of replacing ornamental trees and shrubs, our tree and shrub care services prove to be of real value.

While reading this post, you may have developed a few questions of your own. Which of my trees and shrubs need deep root feeding? We can explain which plants should be targeted and why. Should I schedule a single service or a full program? We can discuss both options. Can I start in the fall? Yes, absolutely, whether you opt for a single service or full program. We would love to hear your questions concerning any aspect of tree and shrub care or lawn care for your home. Please do not hesitate to call on your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. We look forward to hearing from you.

Christmas Lights: Should You Hang Them On Your Trees and Shrubs?


christmas lights on trees The Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving seem to be the traditional times to put up Christmas decorations. I spent parts of both days putting up lights, getting frustrated when half of a string did not work, took down the lights and added a new strand then found another half of a strand not working and had to repeat the same process once again. Sometimes I think it may be less frustrating to just buy new lights every year. It does look nice when it is all done, that is until half of a string goes out.

Someone once asked me if a tree can get damaged when the trunk and limbs are wrapped with strings of lights. The person thought that the heat generated by the lights could trick the tree into thinking that it was warm out and start the flow of sap within the tree. Some of the large bulbs do produce some heat, but it would probably take a lot of those lights to heat up the bark of a tree. Nowadays, most of the lights used are tiny or they are LED-type lights which produce very little heat. Simply put, don’t worry about the heat from the light bulbs damaging your trees or shrubs.

lights strungs on trees

The biggest concern when adding lights to trees or shrubs is possibly damaging tender branches or knocking off next year’s buds that already have formed on the branches. This is not as much of a concern putting up the lights, but the possibility of damage increases when the strings of lights are removed.

Once the Christmas season is over, most people take down their decorations. If you live in the warmer parts of the country, you are usually not as concerned with outdoor temperatures, but if you live in the land of ice and snow, it can be bitterly cold in early January.

It is best to “reverse engineer” the process and start removing the last string that was placed in the tree. Avoid the temptation to yank the strings out of the trees or bushes. If you needed a ladder to put the lights up, you will most likely need a ladder to get them down.

Christmas lights make your house look festive and inviting for the holidays. Make sure that your trees and shrubs will still looks good next spring. Slow down and be careful, even if it is cold.

If you have questions about putting lights on your trees and shrubs this holiday season, contact your local Spring-Green for more information.

Post-Holiday Tips, Clean-Up has Never Been So Easy

After all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sadly they have come to an end and it’s time to begin the clean-up process. Decorations need to be put back into storage, leftovers need to be eaten (or moved far away, depending on how tight your pants feel post-eggnog), the tree has to be packed away or disposed of, and finally the outdoor Christmas lights have to come down. Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t! We have some easy step-by-step tips to making this year’s holiday tear down go smoothly and as painless as possible.

Removing the Tree

Old Christmas Tree

“How do I get this live tree out of the house with the least amount of pine needles left behind?”

Sometimes when we go to remove the tree each year, we forget to take a minute and think about how it’s going to be executed. We want to get the tree out of the house as quickly as possible and we forget to plan out the steps, leaving a big mess in the end to clean up. By following these simple tips, you will be sure to save time and clean-up effort in the end.

1. Avoid letting your tree dry out before you remove it. This just makes for a bigger mess as the pine needles fall off a lot easier when your tree is dry and it also creates a fire hazard.

2. Make sure to remove all ornaments, lights and any other decorations.

3. Have a large container readily available to dump any water that has collected in the tree stand.

4. Use a large plastic tree bag or old blanket to wrap the tree. This helps avoid a mess on your floors.

5. Finally, carefully carry the tree to the curb, making sure to not place it in the way of sidewalks or roads.

  • Note #1: If you don’t already have a service, arrange for pick-up from your local yard waste management company.
  • Note #2: If you would like to recycle your tree there are many different options available; curbside pick-up, taking your tree to a recycling center, yard waste and more. Check out the National Christmas Tree Association for more information.

Taking Down Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights on Shrubs

“How do I remove all of my Christmas lights without damaging my trees and shrubs in the process?”

This always seems to be the dreaded task each January, but at the same time it needs to be done. When it comes to removing the lights on our trees, it can become very challenging as well as frustrating due to the low temperatures and the lights themselves getting stiff and unmanageable. Here are a few simple Do’s and Don’ts to assist you in removing your lights as quickly as possible, but without damaging your trees and shrubs.

1. Always remember LAST UP, FIRST OFF. Removing lights in this order is really key. It may sound a bit over kill, but in the end this tip will make your life a lot easier.

2. Make sure to use a ladder for those lights that are a bit out of reach. Don’t take any chances of hurting yourself or your landscape.

3. Refrain from pulling and tugging on light strands. This act of impatience ends up damaging your lights, but more importantly it will end up damaging your trees and shrubs! When lights are pulled or tugged off plants, the buds may be torn off or even become damaged, making regrowth in the spring more challenging and delayed.

4. Take the time to cleanly coil up your lights, rather than just throwing them in a box. By taking the extra time now, will mean a much smoother decorating experience next year.

Do you have any special techniques when cleaning up after the holidays, share below your do’s and don’ts, as we would love to hear how you have made your process easier and less painless.