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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Natural Pest Control In The Garden

Organic Pest Control - The Way Hilltown Tree and Garden Manages Pests:

Eastern and forest tent caterpillars crawling on a leaf are pictured here, which can cause immense damage.Organic Pest Control, also known as Plant Health Care or Integrated Pest Management (I.P.M.), is the way Hilltown Tree & Garden manages pests. Practicing Plant Health Care will significantly decrease, if not eliminate, the use of hazardous chemicals in the landscape.
There are two main reasons to practice Plant Health Care. The first is that it will promote a balanced ecosystem that will have few if any deleterious effects on non-target organisms like humans, pets, beneficial insects, water or air quality. The second reason is that it works both in the short- and long-run if properly implemented.
Our Plant Health Care programs focus on keeping your trees, shrubs, and perennials as healthy and vigorous as possible. A proper combination of pruning, mulching, and organic fertilization allows your plants to use their own natural defenses. In some situations these are not enough or need to be used in conjunction with the application of a bio-rational pesticide. Examples of bio-rational pesticides are horticultural oils, soap, neem, or Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). There are many choices and Hilltown Tree & Garden's certified arborists are trained in the various options.
In the rare case that conventional pesticides are needed, a Massachusetts licensed pesticide applicator and certified arborist will apply the pesticide in an environmentally responsible manner. An example of this is our use of the Mauget System. This is a system where small holes are drilled into the trunk or buttress roots. Then pressurized capsules with a small amount of fungicide, fertilizer, or insecticide are inserted into the holes. The tree takes up the product into its vascular system and is distributed throughout the entire tree.
This is a hemlock tree being injected for the woolly adelgid by hilltown tree and garden.

Hemlock Tree injected for the Woolly Adelgid 

Here is a hemlock tree being injected for the detrimental pest woolly adelgid.
A close look at the how a sugar maple tree is treated through injection for woolly adelgid infection.

Sugar Maple Tree injected for the 
Forest Tent Caterpillar 

Pictured here is a sugar maple tree being treated for a forest tent caterpillar infestation by Hilltown Tree & Garden.
Gypsy moth caterpillars, like this one pictured, can strip a tree of its leaves.
The benefits of this system are:
1. No off target drift
2. Longer residual effect
3. Reduced contact with beneficial organisms
4. Less likely to decompose by sunlight and weather
The Mauget System is a proven method for controlling gypsy moth, hemlock woolly adelgid, eastern tent caterpillar, and forest tent caterpillar on large trees too tall to be sprayed with the bio-rationals, such as BT or horticultural oil.
Hilltown Tree & Garden takes its stewardship to the environment seriously. With an educated and holistic approach to pest management, landscapes can be managed in a way that benefits people, pets, trees, insects, air, and water.

Other helpful websites:

For My next workshop read below...

March 31st, 2012

Dean Tech High school.

Jim McSweeney, 
certified MA arborist and horticulturist

Natural Pest Control

Learn how to apply natural or "organic" pest control techniques in this wide ranging workshop. The class provides information on a variety of insect pests, diseases, and weeds. Find out what pest control methods work and do not work in the home orchard, ornamental and vegetable gardens. Feel free to bring sample pests and lots of questions. Leave the workshop with information to defend your landscape from unwanted pests, using the most environmentally sensitive and effective products available today.

Jim McSweeney owns and operates Hilltown Tree and Garden, landscape design, installation and tree care for Northampton and Western Mass. You can also find (and please "Like" us) on Facebook.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Winter Storm Damage on Trees

A tree damaged during a December 08 ice storm in Goshen, MA before and after Jim McSweeney, certified arborist and horticulturalist, restored it.

This fall and winter has been a tough one for trees.  We have had epic October snowstorms, tornados, ice storms, etc…  While it is normally obvious when a tree is uprooted or snapped in half that the tree has got to be removed.  What is far more common is for trees after a storm to suffer from the loss of a few limbs.  You notice these as “hangers” or as branches of various sizes littering the ground at the base of the tree.  The question is now…what to do?  The answer is to evaluate.  A methodical and systematic inspection must follow.
When I walk onto a client’s site the five below criteria are the first of many things I look for:
1)    Has the tree lost more then 50% of its canopy?  If so then that is a big strike against it?
2)    Have the branches just snapped off or ripped all the way down the main trunk?  If so then strike 2.
3)    Is it a young, healthy, vigorously growing tree from a species that compartmentalizes wounds well?  If not then strike 3.
4)    Did the “root plate” lift up?  Does the tree now have a lean that it did not have before?  While many leans can be fixed it is one more strike against it.
5)    Is there a target near by?  A house, driveway, swing set?  If so then strike 5.

While the rules I give above are a guideline, a certified arborist should always make the final decision.  As there are dozens of micro-factors that will affect the final decision to remove a tree.  But if your tree has any one of the above strikes, or multiple ones, then its chance of survival are in jeopardy and should be immediately be evaluated.
But please remember that likely the tree is older then you are.  It has given countless birds, people and community places to sing, swing and live.  So do not plan to remove the tree until you have analyzed the 5 rules above then had a certified arborist evaluate the tree on site.

Jim McSweeney owns and operates Hilltown Tree and Garden, landscape design,installation and tree care for Northampton and Western Mass. You can also find (and please "Like" us) on Facebook.