All About Roots

Healthy roots make for healthy trees. They absorb water and minerals, food and water storage, and anchorage. Fostering root growth will build strong, hearty trees. Roots are predominantly located in the top 6 to 24 inches of the soil and occasionally can grow deeper 3 to 7 feet if soil conditions allow. They tend to grow about 2 to 4 times the diameter of the crown.

There are many ways to injure tree roots and stress trees. Some injuries are unintentional and cannot be avoided. However, most root damage can be avoided with some care.

One of the biggest killers of urban trees is use of heavy clay subsoils instead of topsoil and soil compaction. Heavy clays and soil compaction restricts water and oxygen uptake by roots.

Balance is the key to keeping roots their best, too much or too little of anything can be detrimental to your trees.

Changes in soil depth around trees can also cause injury to root systems. The addition of only 4 to 6 inches of soil over an existing root system drastically reduces the amount of oxygen and water available to the roots.  Conversely, removing the soil around an existing tree can expose and injure roots, change the soil conditions where roots grow, and reduce water availability.

Roots (1)

Overwatering causes the soil air spaces to fill with water and restrict oxygen. Underwatering does not provide sufficient water for proper root development. Overfertilization can injure or kill the roots, but underfertilization results in a lack of the minerals essential to maintain a healthy tree. Competition for water and minerals between tree roots, bushes, grass and flowers can also stress trees. Trees can be stressed from root damage by routine soil preparation in the tree’s root zone for flower planting.

When there are problems with your root systems it will show throughout the entire tree. Symptoms of root disease include small, yellow, chlorotic foliage reduced growth; scorch; tufted leaves at the end of branches; and branch dieback. Mushrooms or conks at the base of the tree, as well as white fungal growth under the bark, may also be a sign of root disease. Symptoms of root problems from construction damage or other detrimental activities may appear one to several years after the damage occurred.

If you suspect your tree may be suffering from root problems contact the certified arborists at Organically Green, (631) 467-7999.

Tree Shapes

tree shapes

Landscape designs can be as unique as the individual themselves. There are many types of trees to fit any style or aesthetic.  Just as important as finding the right type of tree for your climate, choosing the right shape of tree can make all the difference.

Here is a basic guide to tree shapes.


  • Columnar Shaped Trees

If you are looking for height and drama, columnar shaped trees are for you. Columnar trees are tall and very thin, with upright branches. They provide great screening without taking up much room in the landscape.

Examples: Italian cypress, Lombardy poplar, pyramid oak, Emerald Green Arborvitae.


  • Pyramidal or Conical Shaped Trees

If you are a fan of Christmas trees this is the type of tree for you. Pyramidal trees are wider at the bottom, with a main center trunk and horizontal branches. Conical trees are similar but are usually more slender and bullet-shaped. These trees are very dramatic and need space to reach their full width.

Examples: blue spruce, Fraser fir, pin oak, western red cedar.


  • Round or Oval Shaped Trees

If you are more of a traditionalist, round or oval-shaped trees will be right for you. These shade-giving trees are upright, with a central strong trunk that branches into a dense round or oval-shaped crown.

Examples: sugar maple, Bradford pear, white ash, sourwood.


  • Spreading or Open Shaped Trees

Spreading or open shaped trees are perfect for the romantic. These trees have an open, irregular shape that may be wider than it is tall. In design, they are used to soften buildings.

Examples: cherry, dogwood, ginkgo, mimosa.


  • Weeping Shaped Trees

For those with a whimsical taste, weeping trees offer a sense of drama and make great accent trees. They have flexible, long branches that hang down and may even touch the ground. Weeping trees should not be planted near walkways or streets where the hanging branches would get in the way.

Examples: weeping willow, weeping cherry, weeping mulberry.



All is Merry & Bright: A Brief History of Christmas Lights


Light has always been an important part of the holiday season. For centuries people would decorate their Christmas trees with lit candles. As you can imagine, fire on a dry pine tree is just a massive fire waiting to happen and they did often.

In 1900, eight years after General Electric purchased the patent rights to Edison’s bulbs, the first known advertisement for Christmas tree lights appeared in Scientific American Magazine. They were so expensive that the ad suggests renting lights for a holiday display.

Within fifteen years the demand for Christmas lights skyrocketed and thus a billion dollar industry was born.

The basic foundation of the Christmas light, the incandescent bulb, hardly changed for nearly a century, and is only now undergoing is first major revolution, as we start replacing our old incandescent lights with energy-efficient LEDs. Yet, in that same time, we’ve gone from sticking burning candles in a tree to creating massive, computer-controlled—and completely excessive—light displays that are becoming increasingly popular.

If you want to decorate your home like Clark Griswold without having to spend an entire weekend on a ladder in the freezing cold, you can always call Organically Green (631) 467-7999.



Just When You Thought You Were Safe From Ticks


deer tick

As the weather gets cooler, summer pests like mosquitos and wasps begin to disappear and most people think that ticks also disappear along with the risk for disease transmission once there is a frost and the weather turns cooler, but they couldn’t be more wrong. While some species, like American dog tick and Lone Star tick, are not active in fall and winter months. Others, like the deer ticks can remain active in their adult stage from fall to spring as long as the temperature is above freezing.

While mosquitoes and other pests either die or hibernate during the colder months. The adult stage deer tick actually begins its feeding activity about the time of first frost (or early October throughout its range), and it will latch onto any larger host (cat to human) any day that the temperature is near or above freezing. With temperatures often hovering above freezing for most of the winter this means the tick danger rarely goes away. If it’s warm enough to go outside, it’s warm enough for ticks!

Typically, the Lyme disease spirochete infection rate in adult female deer ticks is 40-60% in the eastern and mid-western portion of this tick’s range. So, even in the fall, it is important to check yourself and your pets daily for any attached ticks, and continue to take precautions like using clothing repellents on you and topical products on your pets.

Spraying for ticks early in the spring and late in the summer can help reduce their numbers and keep your family protected year round.

What to Plant in the Fall

What to Plant in the Fall

Pumpkin Spice is out and it’s getting cooler. Fall is officially on its way.  If you’re wondering what to plant in the fall, the answer is almost anything. Here are six plant types to put in the ground during the fall.

The cool Autumn air temperatures are easier on both plants and gardeners. The soil is still warm, allowing roots to grow until the ground freezes unlike in spring when plants have to wait for the ground to thaw.

The weather in fall also makes it a prime time for gardening, more sunshine days than in the rainy spring.

Pests and disease problems start to decline as it gets colder. You don’t need fertilizer, either. Fertilizer promotes new, tender growth that can be nipped by winter weather; stop fertilizing by late summer.

The window for fall planting ends about six weeks before your area gets hit with a hard frost, usually September or October. Here are some great plants that do well in the fall.

Spring Bulbs

All spring-blooming bulbs need a period of cold dormancy to bloom. Plant bulbs in fall to ensure a beautiful spring display.


Pansies do very well in the autumn months. By planting in fall, you’ll get two seasons of enjoyment out of these cool-season favorites. Fall is the best time to plant pansies because the still-warm soil temperatures give their roots time to establish.

Cool-Season Vegetables

Many vegetables thrive in cool weather, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabaga, and spinach.

Give your fall vegetables time to grow, often fall-harvested crops should be planted in early August to give them enough time to mature, but by checking the expected time it takes for fall vegetables to reach maturity you can count back from the first expected frost to see if you have enough time to plant said veggies now.

Lettuce, spinach, and other greens with a short maturity time can be planted later in the season.  You can extend the growing season by planting them under floating row covers or cold frames that will shield plants from frost.

Tip: Many root crops taste sweeter when they’re harvested after frost.


Fall is the best time for lawn care. Grasses such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass should be fertilized in early September and again in late October or early November to give a boost for earlier spring green-up.

Trees and Shrubs

Fall is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs because the soil is still warm enough for root development.  Keep newly planted trees or shrubs well watered until the ground freezes so they get a good start before going into full dormancy during winter.


It’s fine to plant perennials in the fall, especially specimens with large root balls such as peonies, irises, and chrysanthemums.

Any fall-planted perennials should be carefully watered until the ground freezes to keep their roots healthy and strong.





It is hurricane season yet again, and while meteorologists predict a relatively quiet season this year it is important you prepare your yard for the worst. Here are steps you can take to prep your yard for a serious storm to prevent damage to property and most importantly people.

Do Right Now (Before the Storm):

  • Cut back all trees and weak branches that make contact with your home.
  • Thin your foliage so wind can flow freely through branches, decreasing the chance that trees/plants will be uprooted.
  • Place tree trimmings at curb side on your regular scheduled collection day and follow the 6/40 rule (i.e., each pieces cannot not exceed 6 feet in length or 40 lbs. in weight) and must be clear of any obstructions.
  • Containerize your tree trimmings such as pine needles, leaves, twigs, etc. in plastic bags.
  • Clean your yard of any items that could become missiles in a storm such as broken lawn furniture, etc.


Once A Storm Warning Has Been Issued:


  • Do not cut down trees or do any major yard work.
  • Do not begin construction projects that produce debris.
  • Do not trim vegetation of any kind.  Municipalities will need all the collection vehicles at the ready to remove storm damage.
  • Do not place materials at the curb or take materials to the landfill or transfer facility during a Watch or Warning period. Services may be suspended and facilities closed early to prepare for the storm. Loose debris can cause more damage.



After The Storm


  • Be Patient. Following a storm a town’s top priority is the collection of household garbage. Uncollected garbage attracts pests and contributes to the spread of disease. Garbage should never be mixed with vegetation or storm debris, which can wait for pick up.
  • Please keep all household garbage, recycling, vegetation and storm debris separate!
  • Securely containerize all household garbage in plastic bags.
  • Never place any debris near or on a fence, mailbox, power line equipment, water hydrants, poles, transformers, downed wires, water meters, or storm drains. Hidden electrical hazards can injure or kill collection personnel.
  • Be careful of unlicensed contractors willing to do non emergency tree work in your yard. Many scam artists take deposits and never return to do the work. Only work with licensed professionals.
  • If you have an emergency such as a fallen tree on a home or powerlines call the electric company or town.
  • If you see fallen branches on electrical wires report it to the electric company. Do not try to remove yourself!

Tree Boring Insects: What You Need to Know



Landscape trees burst to life in the spring, sprouting flowers in almost every color and young, tender leaves that soon expand to create puddles of shade on the lawn. But what does it mean when it’s mid summer and your trees look like it’s still early spring? You might have a problem with tree boring insects.


What are Tree Boring Insects?

Tree borers are a group of insects that lay their eggs on or inside of trees, where the young larvae eat their way through the wood of the trees. There are many types of tree boring insects, but the results are always the same. Tree borer insects cause affected parts of trees to slowly weaken as their chewing severs vital transport tissues. Over time, they may girdle trees or weaken branches making them a hazard of breaking off and damaging property.

The most obvious signs of tree borer insects are the tiny holes they cut into trunks, branches and stems. These holes may be perfectly round or slightly oblong, sometimes a sawdust-like material, called frass, falls on branches below these holes or forms a long cylinder as tree borer insects excavate tunnels.


What Happens When You Have An Infestation

Treatment for tree borers can be difficult if an infestation has already occurred. Prevention is key if your trees are unaffected, but tree borer insects are active nearby. Removing and replacing an infected tree is often the best way to prevent the problem from spreading to more trees in your yard.

For trees that are not infested, or have only a few noticeable holes, protection from borers make come by improving care. It may seem too easy, but borers are attracted to trees that are stressed and injured; pruning wounds, which are a common entry point for the first generation of invading borers, may keep new borers from entering.

In addition to pruning and removal of infected trees, adding mulch around your existing trees and providing them with supplemental water and fertilizer will help to fight off borers and heal from previous damage.

When to call an Arborist


A mature tree can account for as much as 10% of your assessed property value, depending on your market, but sometimes a valuable tree uproots. It may seem like these things happen without warning, but your trees often tell you when there is a problem.

If you think your trees are changing, or you see any of the major warning signs above, they could be “hazard trees” — trees likely to fall and destroy what’s near them — like your house.

This is a good time to call a certified arborist.

An arborist can help save your tree, or let you know if it’s beyond help. For example, bacteria or bugs could be harming your tree, and an arborist’s inspection can diagnose which disease, trauma, or fungus is the culprit. An arborist also can determine if your tree is decaying internally, something that may not yet be obvious.

Aborists can either fix the problem, or calculate the risk of the tree falling and the likely objects it could damage. That calculation will help you decide if it’s worth spending money to keep the tree alive and upright, remove the tree, or just let nature take its course and topple the tree at will.

Inspect Your Trees

  • Inspect all sides of the tree, both up close and from a distance.
  • Check for cuts in or peeling bark.
  • Inspect the tree’s crown for dead wood and brown leaves.

Here are some examples for when you should call a certified arborist:

Leaning Trees

Trees usually don’t grow straight, and a little lean is normal. But when your tree starts looking like the Tower of Pisa because of poor weight distribution or anchor root damage, it’s likely unstable. This is a good time to call an arborist.

When to call an arborist

  • Cracked or heaving soil, especially on the side opposite the lean.
  • Exposed roots around the base of the tree.

Multiple Trunks

A tree with multiple trunks, or with splits in one trunk, can be unstable.

When to call an arborist:

  • V-shaped or U-shaped multiple trunks are weak points for mature trees. The connective wood where the trunks come together may lose strength — and be more likely to split — with age and when storms occur.
  • Cracks that extend deeply into or through the trunk.

Construction Damage

Construction is tough on trees. Installing a driveway, putting on an addition, and digging up utility lines puts nearby trees under stress. Construction can damage shallow feeder roots, starving and destabilizing the tree. Construction equipment can scrape tree bark, providing a gateway set for disease and infestation.

When to call an arborist:

  • Damaged bark
  • Reduced, smaller, or no foliage
  • Premature autumn color
  • Mushrooms, conks, and carpenter ants at the base of the tree are a sign of decay and rot.