Fairway Green, Inc
9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14 Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Phone: (908) 281-7888

Category Archives: Trees & Shrubs

Bagworms and Treatment Methods

Have you ever noticed pine cone shaped or cocoon-like sacs on ornamental trees and shrubs in the spring and summer time? These are not normal pine cones that we see on evergreen plants in the winter time, instead they are a type of caterpillar that creates this ‘bag’ around it as it feeds on the host plants. Bagworms can cause substantial damage to ornamental trees and shrubs, which makes various treatment options important for homeowners with effected plants.

What do Bagworms look like?

Most notably known for the ‘bag’ the larvae make out of silk has an exterior of leaves or pieces of twigs from the host plant it is currently inhabits.

A close-up look at a bagworm sac.

The larvae are dark brown with a yellow head and yellow and black spots on their bodies. While. the adult males look like moths that are a sooty black color, hairy and have almost clear wings that can span to one inch in diameter. The adult females, seldom seen, and are wingless, lack any functioning eyes, antennae, or legs. The adult females remain in the bag as they are not able to fly or move easily like the males.

Host Plants

Common to the New Jersey and East Coast, the bagworm can affect a large variety of trees and shrubs that are popular to this area. For example, some evergreen varieties of plants commonly affected by Bagworms include; arborvitae, juniper, cedar, fir, pine and spruce. These plants are largely popular among residential landscapes, making heavy infestation of Bagworms detrimental to landscapes in our area. Bagworms are found on other trees an shrubs such as rose bushes, maple, elm, black locust and sycamore.

Bagworm Damage

The primary damage caused by Bagworms is tree defoliation and brown spots. The bagworm larvae feed on the upper layer of leaves or needles on the ornamental trees and shrubs it is attached to. Heavy infestation of bag worms can leave plants looking completely defoliated and can eventually lead to severely damaged trees and even the death of the plant.

Bagworm Life Cycle

The spring time is when we first start to see bagworms hatch and immediately start to feed on the foliage of the host plant. In our area, bagworms really begin feeding on plants between May to early June. During this time, they also construct the bag like outer shell, and continues to feed on the plant only emerging from the bag a small amount when feeding.

In the summer time, the larvae stops feeding on the plant, and this occurs between late July to mid-August. This is when the larvae goes completely inside the bag, closing it up with a band of silk to enter the next stage of its life. This pupal state lasts around four weeks long, bringing the insect to the next season.

Starting in the fall, the bagworm males emerge from their bags as moth like insects. The male insect then flies around to find a female mate. The adult females remain in their bag and produce a pheromone to attack males. Once the insects mate, the female deposits between 500-1000 eggs in the bag and then both adult insects die after reproduction.

Through the winter, the eggs in the abandoned bag remain protected through the harsh weather months. In the spring, the eggs hatch and start the next generation of bagworms.

Bagworm Control and Treatment

There are a couple methods of control when dealing with bagworms; there is manual removal, natural predators, and chemical control. First, we can talk about manual removal. This method is only effective when you have detected the bagworms early; meaning late fall, through the winter, or before the larvae hatch in the spring. You can manually cut the bag from the ornamental tree with pruning shears. We recommend disposing of the bags in a separate bag and removing them off your property Manual removal is also only reasonable when a bagworm population is low.

Natural predators for bagworm control include certain bird species, insects and fungi. We do not recommend relying on natural controls when dealing with bagworm infestation on your ornamental trees and shrubs as damage is still likely to occur.

Finally, there is chemical control. For the treatment of bagworms, we recommend contacting your local ornamental tree service who can safely apply an insecticide in the spring once the larvae have emerged from their bag.

Conclusion

Bagworms can cause substantial damage to ornamental trees and shrubs on a property and we do not recommend ignoring their presence as they can lead to tree death. If you are in our service area and would like to receive an estimate for bagworm treatment, request an estimate today. Our licensed technicians have the knowledge to work with customers on creating a plan to treat the insect.

Boxwood Blight

Relatively new to New Jersey, the destructive disease boxwood blight can cause substantial damage to Boxwood plants. Because boxwoods are commonly used in landscapes in our area, this disease has the potential to be widespread across many landscapes. First identified in the United States in October 2011, the disease made its way to New Jersey two years later. Although the name would allude to this disease only impacting boxwoods, this disease also affects pachysandra and sarcococca varieties. In this blog we discuss the cause and favorable conditions of the disease, how it spreads, what the disease looks like on boxwoods, and finally prevention and boxwood blight treatment.

Technically, the disease is caused by the fungus Calonectria pseudonaviculata and symptoms of the disease becomes evident in the middle to late summer. This pathogen requires warm humid conditions, ideally over 68 degrees, to grow and spread. With the weather patterns that we experience in New Jersey, late May through late September typically provides the warm humid weather suitable for boxwood blight. Additionally, this disease progresses very quickly as a boxwood plant can go from the beginning stages of infection, to having leaves defoliate within one week, if conditions are conducive to disease growth.

How it spreads

How does this devastating boxwood disease spread? The spores produced by the pathogen are sticky in texture and cling to most surfaces that encounter the fungus; pruning tools, vehicles, shipping containers, shoes, clothes and even animals. The disease can also be transported by wind, rain and irrigation water.

Identifying the Disease

Boxwood blight symptoms includes light to dark circles on the leaves of the newest foliage and typically start at the base of the plant and move upward. Over time the spots grow and coalesce with other areas, quickly turning the whole leaf brown. The lesions, or brown spots, can lead to death and leaf drop of the infected areas. Other characteristics of the boxwood disease include dark streaks on the twigs and white structures on the underside of the leaves. In the images below, you can see the early stages of the disease with the picture on the left, and the devastating impact it has on a boxwood as the disease spreads with the picture on the right.

   

Prevention and Control

What can you do once boxwood blight has been identified in your landscape? Eliminating the fungus on plants that are infected is not possible and controlling the pathogen in the soil is very difficult. Unfortunately, the best thing to do is remove the diseased plant(s) from your landscape to stop the further spreading to surrounding boxwoods. It is important to note that the removal of diseased boxwoods and leaf debris does not eradicate the pathogen alone. The pathogen has been detected in soil for five to six years after removal of the plant, and potentially even longer.

Often times when dealing with a disease in a plant, a fungicide can be applied to suppress the disease, which would allow the plant to continue to grow without the spread of the disease for a number of days. Fungicides can also be used as a preventative measure to attempt to keep healthy tissue from being infected. Unfortunately for boxwood blight, the research has shown limited control even when fungicides are perfectly applied to protect boxwoods that have not yet been infected in an area where the disease is present. The fungicides also have no control in curing a boxwood if the disease is already present.

Ultimately, the best recommendation is the removal of infected boxwoods, fallen debris and surrounding soil and mulch, and to replace with a completely different plant that is not susceptible to boxwood blight. The University of Georgia put together a recommendation of various plants that could be a substitute for boxwood(s) in your landscape; some plants include, pieris, junipers, rhododendron, and euonymus.

Other Boxwood issues

If you are experiencing issues with your boxwood plants, and boxwood blight is not the obvious suspect, another common issues in our area is leafminer on boxwoods. For more information on the damage caused by leafminer insects, check out our blog.

Conclusion

Boxwood blight has proven to be destructive in our area when weather conditions are favorable. With a disease that does not have a cure and rapidly spreads, control and prevention of the disease has been difficult. If you are in our service area and suspect that boxwood blight is found on your landscape please call our office or request a free estimate to talk to a knowledgeable professional about your options.

Scale Insects on Landscape Plants

Scale insects hiding on plants in New Jersey can cause substantial damage to a homeowner’s landscape. Of the most common insects, scale is a small insect that feeds on sap from many plants. Below we discuss the two main categories of scale insects, the damage they cause, their life cycle and the ways to control the insect.

There are many varieties of scale insects, however all are sap feeding insects and feed on most types of shade trees, fruit trees, and ornamental shrubs. Scale differs from other insects because they feed on trees and shrubs through a mouth piece that pierces the tissue of the plant, similar to a straw. Most notability, these insects get their name from the scale-like covering that conceals their body.

The two types of Scale

The scale species can largely be broken up into two categories: soft scales and armored scales. Soft scales produce a smooth, cotton-like or waxy surface over themselves and is inseparable from the insect’s body. A distinguishing trait for the soft scale insects is that it produces honeydew from excess sap. This honeydew makes leaves and stems appear shiny or wet and attracts ants, flies, bees, wasps, and other similar insects. Armored scales, based on their name, have a hard-flattened shield-like covering that is not actually attached to the body of the insects.

                                   

Damage to plants

A large scale infestation on a plant can cause and lead to several problems for the plant. The leaves of the plant can start to wilt and turn yellow in color, the plants could appear weak, unhealthy, and in some plants, it may also cause death of the plant. Scale damage can also lead to overall weakening of the plant. A weakened plant becomes more susceptible to injury from drought, severe winters we often experience in New Jersey, attacks from other insects and disease. Unfortunately, many types of scale insects are hard to see due to their small size and populations of scale build up over years until plant damage is noticeable. This makes noticing scale insects before it is a larger problem very difficult for the average person.

Scale Life Cycle

The scale life cycle is rather simple, the adult females remain in a fixed location and lay eggs under their shield-like scale. As the eggs hatch, the tiny nymphs equipped with legs, eyes and an antenna allows them to walk away from the maternal cover in search for a new feeding site. This life stage of the scale is often referred to as “crawlers” due to their ability to walk or crawl to a new feeding site. From there, when they have found a suitable location to feed, they insert their feeding mouthpart into the plant and begin feeding on the plant’s sap. The shield like covering the scale insect starts to develop after feeding begins. Separately, adult males resemble tiny flying gnats that fly around to find new females for mating. In a given year, scales can go through one or more generations.

Natural Scale Insect Control

Managing the control of these tiny insects can be difficult because their outer covering creates a barrier to traditional insecticides. Although it may sound hard to manage these pets, an integrated approach can provide substantial control to minimize damage to your plants. First there are the biological controls, which includes introducing natural predators and parasitoids to the infested plants that can attack and significantly reduce scale populations. There is also mechanical control, this is only practical on small infestations and on small trees and shrubs. Trying to mechanically remove large infestations on plants may be very difficult.

Chemical Control

Finally, there is chemical control, which is often the most common and effective way to reduce and control scale insects. There are three chemical control strategies that have been effective when used together treating infested plants. First, a dormant oil spray applied to the plant prior to budding in the spring. If you plan on applying your own dormant oil spray, we recommend carefully reading the product’s label because some plants are sensitive to the oil and cannot be sprayed.

Next, is a traditional contact insecticide spray that should be applied when the “crawler” nymph stage of the scale is active. The insecticide is effective for the nymph stage of the insect because they do not yet have an outer protective barrier.

Lastly, a systemic soil injection is an insecticide that circulates through the plant and controls for both crawlers and adult scales. It is important to note that we recommend the use of all three chemical control options when dealing with a scale infestation because they effect the scales at different phases of their life cycle.

Conclusion

Although the scale insect can be difficult to control, a program that address the pest at all aspects of the life-cycle should provide significant results for most scales on the trees and shrubs in landscapes. If you are in our service area and think your landscape is being affected by scale, Fairway Green Inc,’s Tree and Shrub specialists can perform all three applications at the appropriate time of year. If you are interested in receiving a free estimate, please let us know.

Planting Best Practices

Adding new plants to your landscape is a great way to make your property pop. Below we discuss where and how to properly plant your landscape to keep it healthy and give it the best chance to survive for years to come. While these are best practices and recommendations, please note that each property is different, and the general recommendation may not hold true in every instance.

We understand that not everyone’s favorite activity is tending to their outdoor landscapes, and if that is the case we recommend working with a reputable landscaper that provides accurate recommendations and maintenance. If you prefer to do it yourself, the following can help you plant and maintain your landscape.

House with impeccable lawn care

Planning your landscape

Survey your land and plan where you would like the landscape beds to be. Most beds are around the foundation of the house and areas around a patio, edges of driveways and possibly in the lawn as well. Check to see if water sits in the areas you want to build your landscape beds or add your plants to existing beds. If it does, most plants do not do well in waterlogged soil because they need good drainage to thrive.

Check the soil. Is it clay or shale based? Hard and/or compact? If the answers are yes, then we recommend taking out about 12 to 18 inches of the hard/compact, clay/shale soil and adding fresh organic-rich soil.

If you are making a raised landscape bed with hard stone or Belgian Block, build the landscape bed and then fill it in with 12 to 18 inches of fresh organic-rich soil. Make sure to slope beds away from the house so water doesn’t sit around the plants and suffocate them or run backwards onto the foundation of the house. If water is going to be an issue you may have to install a sub-surface drain pipe. This should be done by a professional.

Selecting Landscape Plants

When purchasing plants you want to install in your landscape, we recommend using a reputable nursery. Most plants are sold either in pots, out of pots with the root ball wrapped in burlap, or bare-rooted. If the plants are not going into the ground right away, make sure they remain in the shade and watered until they are planted. Make your plant selections based on the location that you want to plant them in. Certain plants do well in full sun and certain plants do well in shade and installing plants in the wrong spots affects their long-term health.

Research the plants you want to install before the installation, because once installed into the soil most plants go through “transplant shock”. Transplant shock refers to the stress a plant undergoes when transplanted to a new location. Failure to thrive can come from lack of water or failure for the plant to root well. This can lead to further injury of the plant from external factors like insects, disease, and weather. When multiple stresses happen simultaneously, the plant may no longer be able to function properly. The goal is to transplant the plant with as little stress as possible and digging them back up after they have been planted adds more stress to an already stressed plant.

Installing the new plants

When planting, make sure the holes are big enough to accommodate the roots and/or root ball. The hole should be twice as wide as the root ball and make sure to dig the hole so that the root ball comes close or 1 to 2 inches above the soil surface. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap, remove any wires, cord or string and peel back the top 1/3 of the burlap off the root ball. This helps the roots spread and grow unimpeded by the burlap. Once the plant is in the soil, wet down the roots and then fill soil in around them. Each plant should be carefully researched to ensure proper planting depth, spacing and how tolerant they are to full sun, full shade, both or neither.

You may need to stake trees less than 4 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 1 inch or less. Place a guide wire around the trunk and then secured to a wooden stake on either side. This helps hold the tree upright as the roots develop and secure into the soil. Be sure not to leave the wire on too long as the tree eventually grows, and the wire/wrap grows into the tree choking it off and blocking the nutrient flow inside. If the wire/wrap must stay on for a longer stretch of time, it is best to move the wire in different locations up and down the trunk every six months or so.

You may need to wrap the trunk of the tree for transport from the nursery to its destination. This helps protect the trunk from injury and should be removed prior to being installed or right after installation. Wraps do not need to stay on the trunk once planted.

Once all the plantings are done, adding mulch annually to the landscape beds is a good idea. Mulch not only helps hold in moisture but also to reduce weed growth. As the mulch breaks down over time it converts to healthy nutrients that go back into the soil for the trees and shrubs to use.

Watering is very important for the newly planted trees and shrubs. Water new plants immediately after they are installed. This helps settle the soil and aide in removing air pockets, so the roots do not dry out. The roots should be kept moist but not too moist as that can cause suffocation and rot. The amount of water and frequency should be based on the type of plants, soil and site conditions. For hose watering, lay the hose down by the trunks and let the water trickle out. Some people install a “drip system” and have it tied to their already established irrigation systems or attach it to a spigot that’s on your house.

Popular New Jersey Plants

What plants are popular for our area and thrive under the various factors like soil type, and temperature? If you are adding plants to your landscape and need some ideas, check out some popular landscape plants that might be suitable for your new landscape.

Conclusion

Once the plants are installed and have a chance to develop firm roots, it is a good idea to fertilize. Fairway Green Inc. offers a tree and shrub fertilizing program as well as a soil conditioner. This helps to establish and aide in root growth for the new plantings. If you are looking to install new plants in your landscape and have any questions, please give our office a call and we would be happy to help. If you are in our service area, request a free estimate for our Tree and Shrub services.

Right Plant, Right Place

Landscape plants are a great investment to a property and often easily maintained, but sometimes our plants suddenly stop thriving or die off. Why is that? There are many factors that can cause a decline in plants, whether it’s from disease, insects, a problem in the roots, something internal, structurally or the plant can just be in the wrong location. That’s why it is vital to pick the healthiest plants from a reputable nursery to start with and to know the attributes of the plants you want in your landscape. This is particularly important because landscapes are often planted for aesthetics and not with the overall health of the plant in mind.

Determining Soil Type

First, to match your plant material to the planting site you must determine the soil type. Most of the soil in New Jersey is clay and shale based. This type of soil may be good for some plants and not for others because it is often compacted. Compacted soil can lead to water not reaching the roots of the plants and can cause a drainage issue. It is best to survey the site beforehand and know where the water sits and drains. This is particularly important because some plants like moist soil and some do not. For example, White Pines do not like wet soil, they decline very rapidly in wet waterlogged areas. You wouldn’t want to plant White Pines in a detention basin because of how wet it stays all the time. Organic-rich soil may be added to the planting areas to improve the drainage and soil conditions. You may need a professional to help with site drainage before moving on.

A soil test from a laboratory is also beneficial as it informs you about the nutrients that are either lacking or in abundance in your soil. It also informs you what the pH of the soil is. Certain plants thrive in more acidic soil, while other plants like more alkaline soil. Knowing the pH helps you select the right plants for your soil type. You wouldn’t want to pick two different plants that like different soil pH’s and plant them next to each other, one would do very well and the other might suffer.

Device to measure soil ph levels and ensure trees are planted in proper location

Designating enough space

Another factor when planting landscape plants to address is how much root space and overall space in general there is at the site. If this landscape is next to a house or building, you shouldn’t pick a tree that grows too large or wide for the area you have available. For example, someone plants a blue spruce next to the front corner of their house. It was small and looked great when it was planted but, fast forward 15 to 20 years later and that same tree is now taller than the house and growing into the siding. Not only did it outlive the space, but the roots can also cause damage to sidewalks, driveways, utilities above or below ground and even the foundation of a house. Think about the trees in New York City planted in soil in the middle of a sidewalk; with no space for the roots to grow, eventually the trees die off. Too often we see on the news after a particularly bad thunderstorm, a tree or tree branch that has fallen onto a house or car. It’s best to pick plants that have space to grow but not get too large as they often can overtake the entire space and/or be a danger to life and property.

Sunlight vs. Shade

Next, we recommend determining the amount of sunlight each area of your landscape receives. Based on shade and sunlight availability, picking a suitable plant for that area is highly encouraged. Check the tags of the plants when purchasing them to determine the amount of sunlight each species of plant requires. The tags on the plants contain vital information relating to best watering practices and how much sunlight the plant requires. Some plants require partial shade, or full sun all day. Different problems can arise in a plant being in too much sunlight if it requires more shade or vice versa. A plant such as an azalea can have more lacebug problems in full sun than in partial shade. That’s not to say that the azalea in partial shade never has a lacebug problem, but it being in the proper place helps reduce the issue if the plant is in the right location.

Spring and fall are the traditional times for planting, but modern methods and tools have made it so that you can plant all year long if the soil has not yet frozen. The plants you or your landscaper pick should be installed at a time of year that is ideal for that plant and other environmental stresses are low. The point being, picking the best time of year for the specific plants, with limited stress, is the best option for your new plants.

Mulching

Almost all landscapes contain either mulch or stones/rocks. Mulch is very beneficial to the landscape, as the mulch decomposes it adds vital nutrients back into the soil. The plants use those nutrients for growth. It is best to use only 1- 3 inches of mulch and keep the root flares of the plants exposed. Trees produce oxygen from the roots, if the mulch is piled too high it basically suffocates the tree or shrub. It can also trap moisture against the bark, causing it to rot. This causes damage and decline of the tree or shrub over time. Mulch also helps reduce weed growth throughout the season. For more information on proper mulching techniques, click here for our mulching blog.

bases of two trees, demonstrating an overly mulched tree and a properly mulched one

The picture on the left shows a tree planted with too much mulch. The picture on the right demonstrates a newly planted tree correctly mulched.

Conclusion

There are many factors that go into choosing and planting a landscape for a homeowner. Whether you plan on doing it yourself, or you hire a landscaper, consider the various factors that can greatly impact the health of your new landscape. Soil type, sunlight, watering practices, root space all greatly affect the livelihood of a plant. If you are in our service area and are planning on installing new landscape plants and have questions, please give our office a call at 908-281-7888.

Pruning Rose Bushes

Roses produce a great pop of color in a home landscape. With a little pruning knowledge, you can make sure they don’t get overgrown and provide beautiful blooms for you to enjoy year after year. This blog aims to provide some basic information on pruning rose bushes that you have in your home landscape. There are many different types of roses on the market today that may require different pruning techniques, fertilizing and specialized care.

5 Items you will need to prune your roses?

  1. Protective eye wear: Safety first!
  2. Heavy long sleeve shirt and a pair of heavy jeans: The right clothing will help protect you from the thorns when pruning rose bushes.
  3. Good gloves:We recommend gauntlet-style gloves for extra protection up your forearm. If you do not have them, a good pair of leather work gloves will do.
  4. Pruning shears: We recommend Bypass blades, they overlap and make a clean cut like a pair of scissors.
  5. Pruning saw or loppers: If your roses have not been pruned in years, you may need a pruning saw or loppers to remove the larger branches.

When is the best time to prune roses?

Spring is the best time to prune rose bushes. Most of your pruning should be completed in the spring, when the leaves and buds start to come out. Pruning rose bushes is easy, cut out any old or dead wood and then trim the whole plant back by about half its height. In the summer you can “Dead-Head” the spent flowers. Deadheading refers to pruning the old blooms off before they produce seed hips. This will encourage more blooms and keeps your roses looking neat and tidy. Also, you can prune any branches or stems that have died or look diseased or broken. Late fall is the second best time to prune rose bushes. In New Jersey specifically, November is a good time to prune plants. Prune to keep your rose bush from being too top heavy during the winter’s heavy snow weight. All crossing and rubbing branches should also be pruned on your roses. This is a basic pruning strategy for all plants once late fall rolls in. Remove any dead or diseased branches and foliage. We recommend cleaning your cutting tools frequently during pruning with a 10% bleach solution to prevent transferring potential disease issues between plants.

 

Let’s start pruning your roses!

But first, before we start, don’t be afraid to prune off a branch. Roses grow aggressively, so taking off a wrong branch will not kill your rose bush, in time it grows back. The purpose of pruning rose bushes is to encourage new growth, remove dead and broken wood, and shape the plant.

  • A basic pruning cut: Prune by cutting 1/4” to 1/2” above an outward-facing bud/eye. New stems will grow in the direction of the bud, the goal is to encourage them to grow outward, not inward. Make all cuts at a 45-degree angle sloping away from the bud, allowing water to run off.
pruning tool being used to cut a rose bush

Notice the pruning tool is angled to make a 45-degree cut above a new bud.

  • Start by removing broken branches and dead wood: Remove all broken branches first, then the dead wood. How do you know its dead? The color will be little off, appearing dark brown or even black, it may also look shriveled. Also, you can make a small cut into the plant to see just inside the thin layer of bark, if its brown it’s dead. You should remove all dead wood when pruning rose bushes.
Removing dead branches from rose bush

Remove dead branches when pruning rose bushes.

  • Next open-up the center of the plant: When pruning rose bushes, start at the base of the plant take out all crossing branches, which can rub against each other causing damage and promote disease. The goal is to have upward reaching branches with an open structure. Think about the roses you buy in your local garden store, there is only a few large upward branches, this is the look you want. Remove any thin and weak looking branches, the basic rule of thumb is to remove anything thinner than a pencil.
  • Pruning height: Prune to the height you want your rose bush to be, while keeping a consistent height throughout your landscape. If it is in the back of a border or plantings, leave them a little taller. For the rose bushes in the front of other plantings, prune lower. For hybrid tea roses, the lower you prune, the bigger the flower and longer the stem. These are good for cutting and placing in a vase in your home to show off all your hard work. Leave them a little taller and you will tend to get more smaller blooms on shorter stems.
Crossing branches of a rose bush

This picture shows what a crossing branch looks like.

  • Clean up all the debris: After pruning rose bushes, clean up all the clippings, and any old plant parts including old leaves that are in the surrounding area underneath the plant. Leaves and clippings can harbor insects and diseases, so they should be disposed of away from the rest of your landscape.

Rose bush cleared of all debris

  • Feed your roses: Roses love fertilizer and proper nutrition is very important, so we recommend feeding them with a high-quality slow release balanced fertilizer. Look for a fertilizer intended for roses. Start in the spring when the new growth is about 4 to 6 inches in length, and then every 6 to 8 weeks until the end of August. Roses need time to wind down for the year and go dormant so make sure to stop fertilizing in August.

 

Some other information about roses

  • Knock Out Roses

Many landscapers use Knock Out Roses to add variety and color to your landscape and require less maintenance. Generally, pruning is not needed until their second or third season, after reaching a mature height of 3 to 4 feet. Prune knock out roses at the same time as other roses. Knock Outs bloom on new growth so they should be pruned back by about 1/3 of their height.  Keeping in mind the overall finished shape you are looking for. Knock Outs tend to grow in spurts, they bloom, then rest, then another bloom. If a mid-season trim is needed, it is best done following a bloom, while in the resting phase. Deadheading will also help to stimulate new blooms. Knock Outs tend to produce a lot of rose hips that will inhibit flowering and triggering dormancy, so trimming them will keep your Knock Outs blooming all year long.

  • What are Rose Hips?

Rose hip or rosehip is the fruit of the rose plant. It is typically red to orange but may be darker in color on some species. Rose hips begin to form after flowering, then ripen in late summer through fall. Leave rose hips on through the fall and winter, they tell the rose it is time for winter dormancy.

 

Conclusion

Pruning rose bushes is vital to the health of the plant, it helps prevent disease by removing areas that may harbor infestations and encourages flowering. Your roses may look stark after a good pruning, but roses grow very aggressively and will fill in quickly. It’s almost impossible to kill a rose bush by over-pruning. By following these few simple steps will help ensure your roses are happy, healthy, and will provide you with a season of beautiful blossoms.

If you have any questions regarding pruning rose bushes and are in our service area, please give our office a call at 908-281-7888 or request an estimate.

Common Tree and Shrub Diseases

Most of us look forward to Spring, especially after the long, cold winters we receive in New Jersey.  Gone away are the drab and cold. Here to stay are rejuvenation, flowers, and warmth. Buds turn into leaves, flowers pop out of the ground, replacing the gray of winter with a splash of color. Lawns begin to green up and people are spending more time outdoors. Unfortunately, while all this is happening, disease pathogens are attaching to certain plants. This usually happens during cooler, rainy weather, which is another staple of Spring.

Common plant diseases are usually separated into two categories: cosmetic and non-cosmetic. Cosmetic plant diseases generally do not cause permanent damage to plants. However, if the plant were to get the same cosmetic plant disease year after year causing premature leaf drop, the plant can weaken to the point where it cannot fight off other pests. While, non-cosmetic diseases can kill the plants if left untreated.

Most plant disease symptoms do not show up until early summer, or even early fall; however, during the cool, wet weather in the spring disease spores are formed and attach to host plants. These spores need certain weather conditions to progress into a full-blown disease epidemic. The most common tree and shrub diseases we see in the landscape are apple scab and rust on crabapples, anthracnose on dogwoods, Volutella on pachysandra, and rust on pear trees. Bellow we will go further into each common tree and shrub disease.

Apple Scab and Rust

Let’s start with the crabapple trees and the common tree diseases. These trees produce beautiful, vibrant flowers in the spring, but can become an eyesore and create a mess of leaves in the summer.  When this happens, apple scab and rust are usually the culprit. In the beginning of the plant disease cycle, leaves will have orange spots on the upper part of the leaf, and a spiky appearance below those spots on the bottom of the leaf.  The leaves then begin to turn yellow and the result is premature defoliation. Oftentimes, people think the tree is dying. The good news is that these two plant diseases are foliar and will not kill the tree; however, as stated earlier, if the tree gets these diseases year after year, it can weaken the tree to a point where it cannot fight off other pests. The other good news is that the symptoms of these two common tree diseases can be significantly reduced with a sound disease control program. Treatment will need to commence at bud break and another treatment should be applied two to three weeks after initial treatment. The objective of the treatment is to inoculate the leaves to stave off disease spores that create apple scab and rust. Pear rust is very similar to crabapple rust and treatment is the same.

Leaves showing effects of Apple Scab and Rus

Anthracnose

The second most common tree and shrub disease we run into is anthracnose on Dogwoods, although anthracnose can also be found on a wide array of plants. Symptoms include tan spots on the leaves that can morph into black, crumpled appearances. In severe cases, the shrub disease can reach the twig portion of the tree and cause twig dieback. This results in epicormic growth, or ‘sucker growth’, where the growth shoots form on twigs. With sound cultural practices, the symptoms of this disease can be kept to a minimum. Dogwoods prefer a partly shaded location, so try to avoid planting them in the full sun because sunny locations can stress dogwoods, potentially causing other pests to invade the tree. Be sure to water them during hot and dry periods. Foliar plant disease sprays can be applied in the early spring to help provide another layer of protection. Treatments should begin at bud break and another treatment should be applied two to three weeks after the initial treatment.

Volutella

Finally, this brings us to pachysandra. Pachysandra is a great groundcover that provides beauty in an area where grass usually cannot.  It can take several years from planting to a nicely filled pachysandra bed. While a very hardy plant, they do have a nemesis: Volutella. Unlike apple scab and rust which are cosmetic, this shrub disease can and will take out a whole patch if not addressed properly. The symptom of Volutella is the classic ‘frogeye’ lesion on leaves. The outer part of the lesion is lighter brown in color, while the center of the lesion is a darker brown, almost black in color. Volutella can spread very quickly if not addressed. Pachysandra in more sun than shade is usually more prone to this disease, so if you plan to plant pachysandra, make sure the location is ideal. If you have a pachysandra patch that has been hit with Volutella, it can be rejuvenated with these steps:

  1. Mow down the patch. Yes, you read that correctly, mow it down.
  2. Once mowed, be sure to remove all the clippings and place them in a sealed, plastic garbage bag. The lesions are on the leaves of the plants, and these lesions are what causes the disease to spread.
  3. Fertilize with a granular fertilizer to stimulate growth.
  4. Water the patch to activate the fertilizer.
  5. Once the new patch grows, pursue a sound disease control program. This should consist of three foliar fungicide applications yearly to help keep the Volutella disease at bay.

Leaves showing the effects of Volutella

If you are interested in learning about common lawn diseases that are separate from plant diseases that affect your trees and shrubs, check out our blog posts.

In Conclusion

When dealing with common tree and shrub diseases, it is important to understand if the disease is cosmetic or non-cosmetic and if it requires treatment to save the life of the plant. Fairway Green, Inc., can help you identify and control these diseases. If you are in our service area and have any questions or if you would like an estimate for a foliar fungicide program, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 908-281-7888.

 

 

Leafminer in Boxwoods

Whether you’re a do it yourselfer or have a landscaper do the work, a well-maintained landscape can improve your property’s value and add curb appeal. Unfortunately, there are many external factors that can impact the overall health of your plants and turn your beautiful landscape into an eyesore. In this blog we are going to focus on an insect that likes to feed on a very popular landscape plant.

Boxwood leafminers are insects that feed between the upper and lower leaf layers of the plant. They are commonly found on boxwoods, which are popular plants in our area because they are marketed as being deer resistant (more on this in a later blog). Although deer may not find boxwoods all that appetizing, leafminer larvae sure do, and they can cause serious long-term damage if left untreated.

How do Leafminers damage boxwoods?

Boxwood leafminer adults lay eggs inside the leaf tissue during the spring. The eggs can hatch into larvae in as little as two weeks. Most of the damage to the foliage is caused by the larval stage as they feed in between the upper and lower leaf layers. The larvae leave serpentine trails as they continue to tunnel through the leaves and feed on tissue. These mines can look snake-like and widen as the insect grows.

If you have boxwoods in your landscape and start to notice blisters or irregularly shaped blotches on the leaves, there’s a good chance you have leafminers. The leaves will turn yellow and appear to be smaller in size. With a heavy infestation, the leaves will have a completely unhealthy appearance and may prematurely drop as a result. In the summer, you can rip open the blistered leaves and often times find the larvae or rass left behind.

Boxwood leafminers over winter as a larva inside the mines on a leaf. When the temperatures warm up the following spring, the larvae become active again and eventually molt into a pupa. In April or May, depending on the weather, they emerge as an orange-red colored adult fly. The adult females live for about a 24-hour period, they mate and then pierce the underside of the leaf and insert her eggs. Then the cycle repeats for the next generation of leafminer larvae.

Notice the yellowing of the boxwood plants caused by leafminers

Boxwood Leafminer Treatment

There’s no way to reverse the foliage damage that leafminers cause to boxwoods. The focus should be on protecting new foliage that the plant will produce. To help reduce boxwood leafminers, there are a few cultural controls you can try. When planting boxwoods in your landscape, select resistant varieties for your property, this will be helpful to fight against leafminer populations. We also recommend the application of fertilizer and soil conditioner to help maintain healthy plant vigor. Another way to help is to prune back the boxwood plant before the adults emerge or right after egg laying.

Pesticides are commonly used to control boxwood leafminer populations. Insect control sprays must be timed perfectly for when the adults have emerged and are laying eggs. This is difficult because the emergence of adults is weather dependent and there is also a very small window of time to apply the product. The best treatment is a systemic soil injection that can be done in the spring. This would control any of the leafminer insects that are present inside the leaves and then give season long control of the boxwood plants. The product lasts one year and would need to be applied annually for continual control.

If you previously had boxwood leafminer damage and get a systemic soil injection, it’s important to touch on pruning. With the soil injection, you are protecting the new growth of the plant, the old damaged leaves will remain unsightly until they eventually fall off. When pruning, pay close attention and avoid cutting off the majority of the new growth, otherwise you’ll be left with all of the damaged and unsightly foliage exposed on the outside again. If possible, wait until the following year before pruning again so you have plenty of new, healthy looking foliage left over.

Conclusion

Boxwood plants are common in New Jersey and protecting them from leafminers can be a difficult task, even with all the available options. If you live in our service area and think you have problems with boxwood leafminer in your plants, feel free to give us a call at 908-281-7888 for a free estimate.

 

Spotted Lanternfly

a spotted lanternfly on a tree trunk

Photo provided by Dr. Richard J. Buckley, Director of Plant Diagnostic Laboratory, Rutgers.

Look out Emerald Ash Borer, there’s a new invasive species taking over the headlines. The Spotted Lanternfly was first discovered in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014 and slowly spread into surrounding areas. Unfortunately for New Jersey residents, the spotted lanternfly was confirmed in Warren County during the summer of 2018 and also confirmed in other counties later that same year.

About the Spotted Lanternfly

The spotted lanternfly is native to Asia and it’s believed to have landed in Pennsylvania on a shipment of stone that contained an egg mass. They lay eggs in masses on any type of flat surface; this includes tree trunks, rocks, furniture and equipment left outside. The egg masses look very similar to dried up mud making them very easy to overlook. Fortunately, they only have one generation per year and adults will typically lay eggs between August and December. The nymphs hatch in the spring and are black with white spots in the beginning stages. As the nymphs get to the fourth and final instar stage, they will get red coloration on their body before maturing into adults. You can find the spotted lanternfly adults between July and December.

two spotted lanternflies on a tree trunk

Photo provided by Dr. Richard J. Buckley, Director of Plant Diagnostic Laboratory, Rutgers.

What does the Spotted Lanternfly Affect?

Unlike the Emerald Ash Borer that targets ash trees, the spotted lanternfly has a large range of plants that can be used as suitable hosts. The preferred host in our area is the Tree of Heaven, but the biggest concern is the potential impact on fruit trees and crops. The spotted lanternfly can feed in large numbers, impacting the overall health of the plant resulting in lower yields. The insect has been found on apple and peach trees in Pennsylvania and is a major concern for vineyards. Vineyards have already noticed lower yields on their grapes due to damage from spotted lanternflies. They have also been observed feeding on hops, walnuts and hardwood trees.

The spotted lanternfly doesn’t feed directly on the fruit or leaves, but rather it pierces through the bark or trunk of trees and feeds on the phloem. Because they can feed in such large numbers, this weakens and impacts the long-term health of the plant. As the insects feed on the phloem, they excrete a large quantity of honey dew which drips down the trunk of the tree, onto leaves, and potentially onto fruit. Any areas of the plant that have honeydew built up will start to get dark in color; this is because honeydew is an excellent food source for sooty mold fungus. Sooty mold fungus on leaves hinders photosynthesis and weakens the plant. For winemakers, most vineyards do not use the grapes once they are covered in a certain amount of sooty mold fungus.

 

Spotted Lanternfly Control

So what can be done? For most harmful insects, natural predators play a key role in keeping everything in balance. Unfortunately, with this invasive species, their natural predators are not here to help us control the population, so we need to find other control methods. First step is to make sure we are not actively transporting and spreading the insect. If you have traveled to areas that have known spotted lanternfly populations (Southeast Pennsylvania, Warren, Mercer or Hunterdon Counties in New Jersey), check your vehicle to make sure they are not on your car. The insects are known to be excellent hitchhikers. In the fall, check your vehicles for egg masses, it is very easy to confuse them for mud so take a closer look just to be sure. If you have any of their preferred host plants in your landscape, primarily the Tree of Heaven, see if you can locate any egg masses and scrape them off the tree, killing the eggs. Another option is removing any Tree of Heaven plants you have in your landscape completely.  If you’ve gone through the steps and still have adult spotted lanternflies on your property, chemical control is another option. Using a product that has a good residual activity is preferred in case more adults visit the site after the initial treatment.

 

Conclusion

If you live in our service area and think you have spotted lanternflies on your property, please give us a call or report it to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.  You can email pictures of suspect insects to SLF-plantindustry@ag.nj.gov or call the New Jersey Spotted Lanternfly Hotline at 1-833-223-2840 (BAD-BUG-0) and leave a message detailing your sighting and contact information.

 

 

Preventative Weed Control

As spring approaches, we begin to think about getting out of the house and spending time outdoors. Whether it is in the garden, planting flowers or sitting back on the patio or deck relaxing, the one thing we do not look forward to is pulling weeds.

A good way to free up your valuable time and keep weeds at bay is to apply a preventative weed control in your landscape beds before weeds begin to grow. A pre-emergent broadleaf weed control or a preventative weed control is a material applied to mulch and/or landscape stone to suppress weed growth. Applications are best when done in the spring before weed seeds in the soil germinate and start to grow. Properly timed treatments will save you countless hours of pulling weeds or a great deal of money by not having to pay your landscaper to do it.

Preventative weed control works by creating a barrier on your mulch, stone, soil, etc., and when weeds germinate and grow roots, the roots then come in contact with the barrier. The preventative weed control then stops the growth of the weed. These materials are not perfect and don’t prevent every type of weed, but they will make a significant difference in your landscape when applied correctly.

There are a wide variety of preventative weed controls available at your local garden center or box store. Preen is a popular granular material that is easily spread in your landscape beds. When purchasing a pre-emergent weed control, it is recommended to check the product label and use a material that does not prevent the growth of perennial plants like tulips, daffodils, and day lilies. Also, when reading the product label, ensure that the product is designed for use in landscape beds and does not adversely affect your ornamental trees and/or shrubs.

Where to apply preventative weed control

Pre-emergent weed control for landscape beds can go on mulch, wood chips, shredded rubber mulch, rocks, stone type areas and soil. However, the effectiveness of the application varies greatly depending on what is treated. The level of control is significantly better on mulch or a small landscape stone than on bare soil. The treatment of pre-emergent weed control on bare soil provides short-term control and might require several applications a year. Therefore, it is recommended to mulch bare soil prior to applying your pre-emergent broad leaf weed control treatments.

Pre-emergent weed control in a shrub bed

The above images show the pre-emergent weed control applied in a shrub bed. Compared to a nickle, you can see just how small the product actually is.

 

Shrub bed with pre-emergent weed control applied

The above image is the same shrub bed with the pre-emergent weed control applied, from a distance.

 

Weed growth on driveways, sidewalks and patios is best controlled with liquid post emergent weed controls, as granular preventative weed control products normally produce poor results in these locations. In part, this is due to these locations having high foot traffic. High traffic areas alter the breakdown of the material and the soil structure, if there is soil present in these areas. Another factor is that most granular materials are not fine enough to make its way down to the soils surface through the small space between your landscaper pavers and/or cracks in the sidewalk. In these cases, it is best to control weeds with a post emergent weed control.

Cultural practices

Beyond applying a pre-emergent broadleaf weed control on a yearly basis there are other things you can do to minimize weed growth in your landscape beds. Install breathable landscape fabric when new beds are created prior to applying your mulch or stone. Additionally, maintain a layer of approximately three inches of mulch in your landscape beds. We recommend using a quality mulch product, preferably shredded hardwood mulch. These types of mulch help suppress weed growth as well as regulate moisture and temperature levels in your landscape beds. Further, be cautious not to over mulch as too much mulch can be detrimental to the health of your landscape. Most importantly, do not hand pull weeds, as it is extremely difficult to remove the plant in its entirety. In most cases a portion of the plant or its root system will be left in the soil and simply regrow. It is best to treat weeds that breakthrough your barrier with a non-systemic post emergent liquid herbicide.

Conclusion

Instead of spending the season pulling those annoying weeds from your shrub beds, you may be interested in investing in preventative weed control for your shrub beds this springtime. If you are in our service area and have questions regarding pre-emergent weed control, please give our office a call at 908-281-7888 or request an estimate.

9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14, Hillsborough, NJ 08844 United States | (908) 281-7888
Phone: (908) 281-7888