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Summertime Tree Maintenance: Caring for the Biggest Plants in your Yard

tree maintenanceMost people don’t consider trees for what they are, plants that occasionally need care. But in some seasons, particularly spring and summer, your trees can often use tree maintenance and a helping hand to keep themselves strong and healthy.

In the hot months of summertime, young trees, in particular, may need help maintaining moisture. Whereas mature trees may have an easier time in drought conditions,  a younger tree retains water to a lesser degree, and will likely need a good soaking at least once a week in very dry weather.

When it comes to specific tree maintenance such as tree pruning, while most trees and shrubs should be trimmed during the dormant season, there are a few that can and should be tamed during the summer months. Lilacs, and flowering trees, for example, should only be trimmed right after they bloom, so as not to remove the next year’s blossoms.

Summer is also prime storm season, and thunderstorms and hurricanes can cause more damage if there are dead branches on your trees, which, in some instances, can only be seen after all of the leaves have opened. Proper pruning means removing dead or diseased branches as soon as they are noticed, and will benefit the overall health of the tree. In addition to taking the time to remove dead branches, you’ll want to check to make sure that branches are not intertwined with utility lines. If this is the case, or if in routine pruning you find a very large branch that needs to be trimmed, you should call a professional such as Organically Green Horticultural Services who are licensed and insured and can safely remove oversized branches.

Another reason you may need to provide tree maintenance is in the case of pests. Pests and diseases such as bagworms, Japanese beetles and blight can cause tremendous damage to a tree, even to the point of killing it. Worse yet, they may spread to other, neighboring trees if not addressed properly. When encountering pests and disease, it’s often better to call a professional rather than try to handle the problem yourself. Chopping away at affected portions of the tree without a care for the natural form can leave you with a weakened tree that looks lopsided and unattractive. While most tree care can be handled yourself, it is sometimes worth it to hire a professional for the health and good looks of your little patch of forest.

 

Summer is Here and So Are The Mosquitoes

Mosquito BitesAs soon as the weather warms up in spring, mosquitoes and mosquito bites appear seemingly out of nowhere. Bothering people with their buzzing and biting, mosquitoes are an ever-present nuisance during the summer months. What causes those itchy welts they leave behind?

Mosquitoes start life in pools of standing water as small, wriggling larvae. Their larvae provide food to numerous species of aquatic life such a fish, turtles, and frogs. Of the larvae that survive to adulthood only the female mosquitoes bite, causing the itchy and scratchy immune system response you’re used to all summer long.

When a mosquito hones in on a blood vessel or vein (if they’re lucky) it will settle on you to begin feeding on your blood. As it feeds it injects its saliva into the vessel which acts as an anticoagulant, allowing blood to flow more freely. It is your body’s reaction to the saliva that makes mosquito bites itch. The allergic reactions to mosquito bites don’t always happen on the first bite of the season; our allergic reactions can get worse with more exposure, so the second or third bite may be what it takes to kick off your immune system response.

Don’t Give In To Mosquito Bites!

Scratching may make the itching of a mosquito bite worse due to an increase in the immune response to the affected area. Lucky for you, there are a few things you can do to help with the itch.

Some home remedies that work include applying heat, aloe, or honey to the affected area. The heat has been shown to reduce itching and inflammation, and both aloe and honey have anti-inflammatory properties. These treatments can be used on other insect bites and stings as well for pain and relief of itching.

In addition to being just plain annoying, mosquitoes can carry a number of dangerous and sometimes life-threatening diseases. In the United States, these include Yellow Fever, Encephalitis, and the West Nile Virus; so wearing insect repellant when outdoors is key. To ensure you’ll have a bug-free time, you can call a professional such as Organically Green Horticultural Services to treat your property. They offer treatments that are safe for your pets and your family and help ensure that you have a bite-free summer (at least in your own backyard).

The Danger of Tick Bites

tick bitesThe danger of tick bites – As the weather warms and you begin to spend more time outside,  insects of all kinds begin to show up, including biting insects such as ticks. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “tickborne diseases increasingly threaten the health of people in the United States. The growing threat includes newly discovered disease-causing germs, an increasing number of reported tickborne illnesses, expanding geographic ranges for ticks, and a novel tick species found in the US”.

Here in New York, the most common types of ticks are the dog tick, the deer tick, and now the lone star tick. All three of these tick bites can transmit diseases including Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis, Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis (including Rocky Mountain spotted fever), Babesiosis, Tularemia, and Powassan Virus Disease, and it’s important to avoid being bitten. Recommendations to avoid tick bites include wearing long sleeves and long pants and avoiding grassy areas. However, in summer that can be difficult so using bug sprays or having your yard treated regularly can be a big help. There are organic treatments that are highly effective, such as those provided by Organically Green Horticultural Services. 

What To Do If You Are Bit:

If you are bitten by a tick it’s important to remove the tick as quickly as possible. The chance of the tick being able to transmit diseases is lower if you remove it within 24 hours. If you find a tick do not burn or smother it in Vaseline. Doing these things can actually make the tick embed itself deeper. Instead, clean the area around the bite carefully and then, using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Finally, slowly and firmly remove the tick. You may want to keep the tick in a bag in the freezer in case your doctor wants to look at it should symptoms arise from the tick bite.

Infectious disease from tick bites may or may not come with a variety of signs and symptoms. If you have any of the following symptoms you should seek medical advice, particularly if you have frequented areas where ticks are common.

Symptoms of Disease Tick Bites include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Joint pain
  • The classic Bulls Eye rash
  • Red bump rash
  • Skin ulcers

For some, vector-borne diseases can be treated at home with antibiotics. There are cases where infections become severe and require hospitalization. While early recognition is the key to successful treatment, these illnesses can be hard to diagnose. If you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the above symptoms be sure to see your doctor as soon as possible.

Spraying for Ticks: What You Need to Know

spraying for ticks

Here in New York 2019 is predicted to be the Year of the Tick. Between our warmer than average winter and the high populations of white-footed mice due to a banner acorn production season in late 2018, deer ticks are something you should be concerned about for your own health as well as those of your children and pets. Spraying for ticks can help keep you and your family safe during tick season.

Unfortunately, ticks don’t just stay outside. Once they hitch a ride on your clothing or your pet’s fur they can take up residence anywhere your clothes or your pets end up. Deer ticks can spread a number of both bacterial and viral diseases and parasites including Lyme, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis. In fact, deer and dog ticks can both spread rocky mountain spotted fever. So what kind of tick control measures can you take to help avoid these parasites? Here are a few tips to help keep you safe this summer.

Creating a Safe Space: 

There are certain steps you can take to reduce tick habitats in your yard, prior to spraying for ticks and make outdoor areas safer for your family. Creating a safe space from ticks means a little bit of effort, but you’ll reap the rewards all season long.

First, a cleanup! Make sure that you rake your yard, removing leaf litter and old mulch material from last season. These are places that ticks love to hide, as do mice and other creatures that carry ticks. Making your yard inhospitable to tick hosts means making it safer for you and your family.

Next, keep your grass trimmed. Ticks hitch a ride on people and pets by hanging out on tall grass and hedges and waiting for you to walk by and brush against them. If you keep bushes trimmed back and grass cut short you’re less likely to encounter them.

Do you have wooded areas on your property? Create a protective zone made of gravel or small wood chips to keep ticks from migrating into the lawn, and teach your kids to stay inside the lines! Make sure your playground equipment and any yard furniture is well within that zone. Fleas and ticks love to hide in cracks and crevices and, if you let them, they’ll take up residence in your chair cushions.

Use fencing to discourage wildlife from entering your property. They may seem cute, but they bring along ticks and often carry disease in their feces.

Treat Your Pets:

Dogs and cats should be treated with medications all summer long to repel fleas and ticks and prevent them from coming into your home. Tick-infested pets aren’t just gross; they’re also likely to contract a disease and can spread them to your family. Your pets will be happier without the constant scratching that comes from parasitic infections.

Your Best Bet:

Spraying for ticks with an insecticide with an active ingredient that is proven to kill ticks is your best bet to deal with fleas and ticks in your yard. There are many products on the market that contain a variety of different chemicals used to treat just that. The process is relatively simple; choose a spray, calculate the square footage you’ll need to cover and have at it.

The issue here is that the choices for tick pesticide on the market for private use all come with pros and cons, so be sure to do your research. Some may cause allergic reactions or health issues to sensitive people and pets, some may lose efficiency over time, and some may not get rid of all the pests you’re looking to control. You should definitely do your research before tackling the job on your own. Remember spraying for ticks only works where it covers, so you need to cover ALL of the surfaces of the plants surrounding your property—including high up where animals climb to be sure your yard is safe.

Another option is to have a professional perform a treatment on a regular schedule to keep your family and pets safe. Organically Green Horticultural Services will use natural flea and tick pesticide treatment for your entire yard that is people and pet-friendly and, most importantly, effective. So if you’d rather leave the treatments to the pros, give them a call today and save your energy for what summer is really for: enjoying your yard!

Prepare Your Property for Spring

prepare your property for spring

Believe it or not, spring is coming, and it’ll be here sooner than you think. For some, you’ll want to prepare your property for those real estate hunters by boosting curb appeal; for others, you just want to make sure that your garden looks its best once the blooms appear. Whatever your reason, a bit of effort in advance can give you big results later. So let’s talk about some things you can do now to get that showy summer look.

Start to Prepare Your Property for Spring, Even in the Winter

If you step outside and look at your yard you’ll likely see a post-winter mess, but you may not realize that one of the biggest contributors to that messy look is the edging on your garden beds. Neat beds not only make mulching easier but they give your yard an instant facelift. To help your yard look its best you should make fresh, sharp cuts and clear out the accumulated dirt, leaves, and old mulch that has collected there. This is the perfect task to start on nice, late winter days because you don’t have to wait for plants to bloom and it can take quite a while to complete. If you’d prefer to avoid dealing with edging altogether then creating raised beds will eliminate that task.

Weeding is something you can do almost year-round, but once the cold weather comes to an end weeds are often the first plants to wake up.

After a spring rain is the best time to weed because the ground will be softer and more capable of releasing the roots. You shouldn’t wait with weeds, pull them up as soon as you see them and keep checking for them all season long!

When the risk of frost is over it’s time to smell the roses, or at least get ready for that. Regardless of the type of roses, you should prune them back before the new shoots reach half an inch long. You’ll want to take off dead and rubbing stems or stems that ruin the shape you’re going for once the season starts. On Long Island, late March is a safe time to prune your roses.

Roses won’t be the only plants in your yard that need pruning. Before your plants put out new shoots you should remove old, dead stems from your perennials. If new shoots have already appeared just be extra careful not to damage them. Don’t pull stems, cut them with gardening shears or hand pruners. Yanking stems can cause damage to tender new shoots. Ornamental grasses that have not been cut in the fall should be topped.

Before new growth appears you’ll also want to remove old, dead stems from perennial plants. Don’t yank stems as that can damage new growth, use gardening shears or hand pruners to cut the death growth away.

For ornamental grasses, you can use a hedge trimmer. Be sure to cut off old, dead tops before the new leaves emerge.

Last but not least, you should feed your garden! Your plants will be hungry after a long, cold winter so mixing fertilizer into the soil is a great idea. Don’t forget to soak it into the soil so that it’ll get down to their roots where it does the most good.

Putting in some effort early in the season can make a big impact when spring finally comes. It can take some doing, but the results are worth it. If you’re thinking that you’d rather have a professional handle all of this, give Organically Green a call! Or complete our contact form! They’ll schedule an appointment to take care of all of your landscaping needs, and they can handle what needs to be done before, during, and after the growing season! You

Snow and Ice Removal Tips from Organically Green

The cold weather is indeed here already, but fortunately for Long Island, the snow hasn’t arrived just yet. Waking up to a blizzard or 2 feet of snow on the ground used to be magical as a child but as we mature snow days and snowmen are replaced by fears of slipping on ice and unbearable commutes. The exchange doesn’t quite seem fair, but few things are. Snow might not feel as fun as it used to, but as responsible adults, it is essential to prepare for the snow and ice that inevitably arrives every year. Organically Green Horticultural Services wants to provide you with a couple of tips we’ve learned along the way to make snow and ice removal a little easier. For answers to your specific questions and help to ensure you are prepared this winter, contact us at (631) 467-7999 or use our contact form.

Snow and Ice Removal Tips:

Tip #1

 

 

 

 

 

 

When shrubs become loaded down with snow, your first instinct might be to shake the plant to remove the snow pushing down upon the branches. However, shaking a shrub to remove the snow can cause damage to the tree limbs. Evergreen branches are especially vulnerable to breakage because their foliage remains on the branches throughout winter. Gently brushing the snow off is your best option.

Tip #2

 

 

 

 

 

If a large tree limb breaks due to the weight of the ice or snow, Organically Green Horticultural Services recommends removing the broken limb as soon as possible. Hanging branches are a danger to you, your family, and pedestrians—depending on the tree’s location. Having a professional horticultural service tend to the broken branches can aid the tree’s recovery as clean edges provide an easier path to healing than ragged tears.

Tip #3

 

 

 

 

 

Snow blowers have certainly made life easier on our backs and our psyches as waking up to see 2 feet of snow isn’t as daunting as it once was. While it may be tempting to bring out the snow blower for a few inches, we recommend using it when there are at least 10 inches on the ground. The blades may become damaged if the snow is not deep enough.

For some of us, winter becomes a little harder with each passing year. Organically Green Horticultural Services wants to help you make the best of the winter weather. Stay warm, protect your plants, and if the snow gets terrible maybe stay home and build a snowman! For more information or to contact a representative, please call (631)467-7999 or use our contact form.

Protect Your Plants from Winter with Anti-Desiccant Spray

Anti-desiccant Spray can protect your plants from winter

Evergreens are a focal point for your winter landscape. Their beautiful green branches coated with snow are the picture of seasonal perfection. While they may look invulnerable maintaining their looks against the elements, they do face one issue during winter and, surprisingly, it’s not the cold. Winter weather, particularly on Long Island, can be very dry, which is the reason you develop dry, flaky skin. And in much the same way as you need lotion to help keep moisture in, evergreens need something called anti-desiccant spray to help keep them from experiencing “winter burn” which is caused when trees and hedges lose too much of their vital fluids in harsh winter weather. While dry skin can make you itchy and miserable, drying out can actually kill your evergreens.

In winter when the ground is frozen your evergreens cannot draw water up through their roots because the groundwater is frozen. This isn’t a problem for deciduous trees like oaks and maples, because they shed their leaves and therefore do not have surface area through which to lose water. Because evergreens retain their leaves through the winter, they can suffer desiccation injury when the water loss through their needles is greater than the water they can take up through their roots from the frozen ground. Keeping water in the leaves of these trees and shrubs is vital to prevent winter desiccation, and that’s where anti-desiccants come in.

What kinds of plants need anti-desiccant spray?

While most evergreens can benefit from an anti-desiccant treatment, there are a few that are more prone to winter injury than others. Arborvitae, cedar, cypress, juniper, and pine are some of the evergreens that need help handling the winter weather. Broadleaf evergreens such as azalea, boxwood, holly, and rhododendron are also great candidates for anti-desiccant treatment. Even shrubs with tender stems, such as roses and hydrangea, can benefit from treatment. One word of warning before we get to treatment, make sure that you do NOT spray waxy-blue conifers such as blue spruce because they have a natural coating of wax and you want to avoid damaging them as they have evolved to protect themselves.

How to apply anti-desiccant spray

The first thing to consider when applying anti-desiccants is the weather. You’ll want to wait for a dry day in the 40s through the 50s, and you’ll want to make sure that there won’t be any rain for a few days after application. It’s important that your trees and shrubs are completely dry when applying the spray and after application; the spray needs time to dry, so you will want to ensure a day or two before rain is due.

Spraying should not happen too early. It’s important to wait until at least December before applying anti-desiccant spray. Trees need to be completely dormant before spraying. This means that their water has been moving down to the roots from the leaves. Usually, it takes at least a few periods of freezing weather for this to happen, so December is a good time to apply your treatment. Applying too early can result in water becoming trapped in the leaves, which can burst plant cells as the leaves freeze in colder weather.

Because plants lose water from both the top and the bottom of their leaves, you will need to make sure you completely coat all surfaces of your trees and hedges.

Anti-desiccants are available in most home improvement stores with names like Wilt-Pruf and Wilt Stop. It is extremely important to follow the label instructions exactly, or you can damage your plants.

If you decide that you’d rather have a professional do the work for you, schedule an appointment with an experienced company such as Organically Green. They have a number of treatments for trees and shrubs for any time of year that can keep them looking green and healthy all spring and summer long. Their anti-desiccant sprays are safe for your family and pets and will protect your trees throughout the cold weather months. So if you’d prefer to let professionals protect your trees instead of doing it on your own, give them a call, or visit them on the web.

Winter Spray. When Do I Start?

Winter can be harsh on your yard, a winter spray can help your yard bounce back quicker!

Winter can be harsh on your yard, a winter spray can help your yard bounce back quicker!

Were your plants looking ragged this year? Whether it be from pests, disease, or insects, shrubs and trees can benefit from dormant spray treatments scheduled throughout the year. Organically Green will utilize a dormant winter spray to help prevent damage from these problems before it becomes an issue for your plants.

Horticultural oils often made from seeds, such as Neem oil, are able to smother hibernating insects like aphids, scale, thrips, and mites. It also prevents their eggs from hatching.

Plants such as roses and fruiting trees may benefit from controlling and preventing these pests. They produce more flowers and fruit if not under the stress that fighting off disease and pests causes.

Dormant sprays are available for application at any time throughout the year. Whereas dormant oil sprays used as a preventative measure for spring should be applied once the growing season is over. Be sure to apply before the temperatures drop below 40 degrees. To fully control pests year-round, a regular series of spray treatments should be scheduled.

Finally, to aid the spray in doing its work, it is important to do a thorough fall cleanup. Rid yourself of fallen leaves and twigs that may harbor insects and their eggs, or fungal spores. Ignoring this step can result in these pests gaining a fast stronghold as soon as temperatures rise again. Pests and fungus could spread to other plants throughout the winter as storms move debris around your property.

Call Organically Green at (631) 467-7999 for assistance or more information about winter sprays. Organically Green uses only safe, organic materials to protect the health of you and your family!

When is the best time for tree trimming outdoors?

Most people know that tree trimming is an important part of yard maintenance; but they’re not sure exactly when, or how, to do it.

You should trim trees (and shrubs!) regularly to help maintain their look as well as their health. Additionally, regular tree trimming can help prevent problems during storms, as weak or dead limbs can fall off and cause damage to your home, property, or even people.

It is best to call a tree trimming company for any high or large branches; these tasks can be dangerous if done improperly, and may even lead to the death of the tree. Companies like Organically Green keep arborists on staff. They can consult with you regarding the safety of pruning larger sections. As well as discuss how it may affect the health of the tree.

While pros are best for bigger jobs, there are tree care tasks that can be done without help, so long as they’re done according to the proper schedule.

Pine Trees

For conifers (pine trees) and non-blooming trees and shrubs pruning in late winter while fully dormant is best. While you can prune them during other seasons, it is safest for the tree to prune in winter.

For trees and shrubs that bloom in summer, you will want to prune them in late winter—whereas trees and shrubs that bloom in spring should be only during the time immediately following their bloom. Otherwise, you risk losing buds they are setting for the next year.

Trimming small branches, or any shaping tasks can be year-round activities. For those of us on Long Island, early spring –before hurricane season– and late fall before winter storm season are important times to remove weakened branches; otherwise, the tree can be in serious trouble.

For more information please contact Organically Green Horticultural Services at 631.467.7999 or visit our website organicallygreen.org!