Spring Gardening Checklist

Spring is officially here!  Our Spring Gardening Checklist makes preparing your Westchester home for warm weather easy.

Spring Gardening Checklist

Westchester Spring Gardening Checklist

Each homeowner’s spring gardening checklist will vary.  Before you create your spring gardening checklist, write down any goals you have for your Westchester property.  Consider long term and short term goals for your yard.

Walkways & Walls

Spring Gardening Checklist Westchester Tree Life

Westchester county’s past snowstorms may have taken a toll on your yard’s walkways and walls.  Check your stone walkways and walls for damaged or missing pieces.  This is the perfect time to re-position your yard’s layout.

Tree Removal

Tree Stump Grinding Westchester Tree Life

Westchester Tree Life can professionally remove that unsightly tree stump from your yard.

Spring cleaning is the perfect time to remove that dead tree or stubborn tree stump from your yard!  Westchester Tree Life’s certified arborists can offer tree removal and tree stump grinding services.  Request a consultation online here.

Tree & Shrub Planting


Let Westchester Tree Life take care of tree and shrub planting this year!

Trees can provide the perfect amount of privacy, while adding aesthetic appeal.  If tree and shrub planting seems overwhelming to you, our team of professional arborists can help!  We can assist you in selecting the best trees and shrubs for your yard, and provide a customized plant health care plan for you.  View all of Westchester Tree Life’s services here.

Garden Shed Organization

Spring Gardening Checklist

Storage Secrets for Your Garden Shed, bhg.com

Don’t forget to add garden shed organization to your spring garden checklist!  Starting the season with a tidy workspace will entice you to spend more time outdoors.  Throw away any tools which are broken, clean and stack gardening pots, and keep additional potting soil and mulch on hand.  Check out Better Homes & Gardens’ “Storage Secrets for Your Gardening Shed” article here.

Leafing Out…Spring has sprung!

The first hint of green signals that spring is coming.  Once trees have begun leafing out, we know that spring Westchester county has sprung.  How do trees know when to bud leaves?  What happens if trees bud too early?

Leafing Out Westchester Tree Life

Dormant Trees

Dormant Winter Trees

Trees are dormant throughout winter.  During dormancy, a tree’s metabolism comes to a standstill due to low temperatures and lack of sunlight.  Dormant trees are not dead, they are simply in a state of rest, as they await spring’s warmth.

Budding Trees:  How Do Trees Know When to Bloom


A look at different tree buds via Naturally Curious with Mary Holland

Did you know that your tree’s buds were most likely formed last summer?  It’s true!  These pre-formed buds are protected during winter dormancy by “bud scales”.


Tree buds are formed during summer and protected by “budding scales” through winter dormancy; via Wikipedia

The date your trees will begin budding depends on a variety of factors.  Factors which effect a tree’s budding cycle include temperature, location and tree type.  You can tell a tree is about to bud when weather becomes consistently warmer, and the days longer.  As nights shorten, the changing levels of the photoreceptor phytochrome triggers the trees to bloom.

Leafing Out:  Early Bloomers

Leafing Out Trees Westchester Tree Life

Call Westchester Tree Life’s professional arborists for a plant health care plan, if your trees are blooming too early!

Early blooming occurs when warm temperatures plunge.  This temperature shock can stress your trees out, potentially damaging new growth.  If fruit and flower buds bloom too early, there is a chance they might not bloom again later in the year, while leaf buds are likely to bounce back.  If you are concerned about your tree budding too early, call Westchester Tree Life!

Why We Love the Dogwood Tree

Spring is here and it’s almost time for your dogwood trees to start blooming!  The dogwood tree is a lovely ornamental tree that is easily identifiable by its bark.  Here are some reasons why we love the dogwood tree.

Blooms from a dogwood tree via Pinterest

The tree’s beautiful blooms up close via Pinterest

Landscape Design:  Bright Blooms

A beautiful dogwood tree via dogwoodtree.org

Instant curb appeal via dogwoodtree.org

Add a pop of color to your Westchester home by planting one or two dogwood trees.  These trees grow anywhere from 20 to 30 feet and feature white, pink or red blooms!  A blooming dogwood is a signal that winter has passed and spring has truly begun.  During fall, the these trees yields red and purple leaves and red berries.

Distinctive Bark

The bark of a dogwood tree via CarolinaNature.com

The bark of a dogwood tree via CarolinaNature.com

The distinctive bark of a dogwood tree sets it apart.  The bark of a dogwood tree is often compared to the texture of an alligator.  This is because the gray bark begins to crack into tiny squares once the tree has matured.


The Drought Tolerant Dogwood 

The Japanese dogwood tree via arborday.org

The Japanese dogwood tree via arborday.org

Though the most popular species of dogwood tree is the Cornus florida, the Japanese dogwood, Cornus kousa, happens to be more drought tolerant.  The Japanese dogwood can handle more sun, which is ideal for some homeowners.

Anatomy of a Tree

How knowledgeable are you when it comes to the anatomy of a tree?  Being able to identify parts of a tree is helpful in identifying tree illnesses and safety hazards.  Tweet your tree anatomy questions at us: “@westchestertree”.


Starting from the Bottom:  The Root System

A healthy root system makes for a healthy tree!  The purpose of the tree’s root system is to anchor the tree, as well as absorb water and minerals from the soil.  There are two kinds of roots, large perennial roots and small, short-lived “feeder” roots.

Did You Know:  Tree roots are typically found in the top three feet of soil.

The Five Parts of a Tree Trunk


Did you know a tree trunk has five parts?  A tree trunk is comprised of the outer bark, the inner bark, the cambium cell layer, sapwood and heartwood!  

The heartwood is the innermost layer of the tree trunk, and acts as the supporting pillar of the tree.  Though the heartwood is technically dead, it does not decay or lose strength while the outer layers of the tree are intact.  Heartwood is a composite of hollow, needlelike cellulose fibers which are bound together by a chemical-like glue, lignin, making it almost as strong as steel.

The layer which covers the heartwood is the sapwood, which later hardens and turns into heartwood.  Sapwood acts as the trees pipeline for water, helping it move up to the tree’s leaves.

After the sapwood is the cambium cell layer.  The cambium cell layer annually produces new barn and wood in response to auxins, the hormones which are passed down through the tree.  Auxins stimulate growth in cells and are produced by leaf buds at the ends of a tree’s branches.

Next is the Phloem, or the inner bark, which acts as the pipeline for food.  The Phloem only lives for a short time before turning to cork; this cork is part of the tree’s protective outer bark.

Lastly is the outer bark, which protects the tree from the outside world.  This outermost later helps keep out moisture and prevents the tree from losing moisture; the outer bark also insulates against extreme temperatures.

Branches, Twigs and Leaves


A tree’s branches and twigs spring out of the trunk and are the supportive structure for leaves, flowers and fruit.  Through the process of photosynthesis, leaves make food for the tree and release oxygen into the air.

How Trees Are Damaged During Construction

Winter is the perfect time to begin planning your upcoming spring projects and renovations.  If you are considering tackling a construction project near your home or residence, try to keep the surrounding trees in mind to avoid potential damage.  Here are a few ways trees are damaged during construction.


Do you have tree care questions? Call Westchester Tree Life!

Trunk and Crown Injury


Westchester Tree Life serves all of Westchester county.

Did you know construction equipment can injure the portion of your trees which sit above ground?  Branch breakage, wounds to the trunk and tearing of the tree bark are all ways your tree can become injured during a construction project.  To avoid permanent or fatal injuries to your tree, ask your team to be mindful of their equipment, or mark a barrier.

Root Damage


This diagram helps to explain how nutrients move through a tree’s system, beginning with the root system.

Construction which is tearing up ground or affecting the ground can potentially damage your tree’s roots!  Your tree’s root system is vital, as it absorbs water and minerals from the soil and sends them up the trunk to nourish the tree.  When planning construction, try to cut as far away from the tree as possible; a good rule of thumb is to steer clear of working underneath the tree’s crown.  

Did You Know:  Damage to a tree’s roots can affect its ability to stand upright during storms, causing potential danger and property damage.

Soil Compaction


Soil that has not been compacted vs. compacted soil via Mother Earth News

Be aware that heavy construction equipment can cause soil compaction.  This reduces pore space which is necessary for water and air movement.  Soil compaction can halt root growth, limit water absorption and penetration and decrease oxygen.

For more information on how trees are damaged during construction, check this guide from Trees Are Good.

Tree Facts: Forest, Air and Climate

Protecting and preserving Earth’s natural forests is a pivotal step in ensuring a healthy environment.  Check out some of these cool tree facts explaining how trees affect the forest, air and climate.  Tweet your tree facts at “@westchestertree” and join the conversation!


How Trees Affect Air Quality


We produce carbon dioxide simply by breathing; one mature tree absorbs carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year!  It takes two mature trees to provide enough oxygen for one person to breathe for a full year.  What’s even more amazing, is that in one year, an acre of forest can absorb twice the C02 emissions which are produced by the average car’s annual mileage.

How Trees Affect Climate


Earth has experienced a major shift in temperature since 1880, and most warming has occurred in the past 35 years.  Global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets and declining Arctic sea ice are just a few repercussions of global warming.  Deforestation is a major variable in global warming; 15 percent of global emissions of heat-trapping gasses are attributed to deforestation.


How do trees help the climate?  In just one day, a single tree can absorb up to 100 gallons of water, which cools the surrounding area when released into the air.

Forest Facts


Forests house a variety of insects, plants and animals which are vital in maintaining a well-rounded food chain.  When a forest is uprooted or destroyed by manmade or natural causes, these insects, plants and animals are left without homes and food.  Deforestation and the decline of forest inhabitants results in a domino-effect of failing eco-systems.


 Did you know you are directly affected by the benefits of forests?  Forests are the largest forms of carbon storage (also known as sinks) in the United States.  They help to trap dust, ash, pollen and smoke, keeping pollutants out of our lungs!

For more facts on climate change, visit NASA’s Climate Change page here.  To learn more about the benefits of trees, visit American Forests’ forest fact page here.

Common Tree Diseases

The key to maintaining beautiful trees is being able to understand the basics of tree health.  Spot these common tree diseases before they irreversibly ruin your tree’s health with help from our quick guide.

Fire Blight


Fire Blight via Perdue University

You may have noticed fire blight during the summertime, as the bacteria is most active in warm, moist weather.  Trees affected by fire blight appear to have “scorched” branches, leaves and twigs, leaving them brown or black.  This disease can be spread by infected pruning tools, bees and rain.

The solution to fire blight is simple:  prune!  Call your professional arborist as soon as you notice fire blight to prevent it from spreading.  Proper pruning is essential, so be sure to have a professional aborist take care of it.

The Emerald Ash Borer Beetle


Tree infected by the EAB beetle via The Emerald Ash Borer Resource Guide

Trees infected by the Emerald Ash Borer or EAB beetle are characterized by a thinning or dying crown, and erratic growth along the trunk.  Infected trees often attract woodpeckers, as the birds are harvesting the beetles in the bark.  The sure sign of an EAB infestation/infection are unique “D”-shaped holes where the beetles have exited the trees.


The EAB via The National Park Service

An EAB infestation is serious and can be spread to other trees in the surrounding area.  Contact Westchester Tree Life at the first sign of an EAB infestation.

Tip:  When you are unable to diagnose what is wrong with your plants, trees or shrubs, call a professional arborist.  Westchester Tree Life can assist by providing a detailed evaluation as well as a plant health care plan to keep you on the right track!

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew Fungi on Pumpkin Leaves

Powdery mildew on pumpkin leaves via Pure Nutrients

Have you noticed powdery mildew accumulating on your leaves?  This white coating forms during dry, cloudy weather with high humidity, and can be caused by a variety of fungi.  You may notice that powdery mildew tends to grow on plants in shaded areas.

To prevent powdery mildew, seek out resistant varieties of trees and shrubs.  Ask your local arborist which available fungicides will work best to protect your plants, trees and shrubs.

3 Signs a Tree Is Dying

Knowing how to properly care for the trees on your property is key when maintaining a safe environment.  A dying tree is a danger to the surrounding buildings, power lines, pedestrians and more; knowing how to spot a dying tree easily can save you from damages.  Here are 3 signs a tree is dying.

Trunk Damage


When assessing the health of your tree, start at the trunk!  If the damage to a tree’s trunk is sufficient enough, it compromises the future of the tree.  Look for any cracks in the trunk and check the bark; a lack of bark may be a tell-tale sign that your tree is not so healthy.  Though it is normal for a tree’s bark to fall off as it ages, it’s not a good sign if the bark won’t grow back.

Damaged Roots


Tree roots can cause thousands of dollars in damage to sewer lines. Prevent plumbing problems by following these tree-planting tips.
via Popular Mechanics

A healthy root system is essential for tree healthy.  The roots are where water and nutrients are absorbed and distributed throughout the tree.  If your tree’s roots aren’t visible, call Westchester Tree Life to assist in your tree care evaluation; we can help spot damage properly.


A leaning tree; via CBS New York

Is your tree leaning?  A noticeable lean can be a sign of serious root damage.  Leaning trees are a damage to their surroundings, especially during the stress of winter storms.  As ice bears down and wind pushes, the tree can give way and land on a nearby home, business, car or person.

Bare Branches


If you are concerned a tree on your property is dying, check it’s branches come springtime.  A tree which is not producing leaves is a warning sign.  If you notice that only one side of your tree has dead or dying branches, you may want to have a professional arborist come to check for serious trunk and root damage.

 If you are concerned a tree on your property is dead or dying, call a professional arborist from Westchester Tree Life today at (914) 238-0069.  You can also request a consultation using our online form here.

Managing Tree Hazards and Risks

Trees are tremendously beneficial to both residential and commercial environments, though they can become a hazard over time.  As trees age, they are more likely to drop branches, cause root conflicts and more.  Today we’re sharing our best tips on managing tree hazards and risks.

Tree Hazards

NDSU Agriculture - North Dakota State University

NDSU Agriculture – North Dakota State University

Tree hazards increase during wintertime in Westchester county.  The combination of strong winds and harsh winter storms can weaken branches, causing them to fall.  The key to preventing tree hazards is ensuring that your trees have been properly assessed by professional arborists, such as Westchester Tree Life.

Preventing Tree Hazards and Risks


A PSE&G worker examines the powerline damage caused by a fallen tree; via northjersey.com

There are many ways to prevent tree hazards and risks.  Trees which are too close to your home or a power line may pose a threat to your property.  If your tree is infringing too closely on a power line or house, ask an arborist whether removing the tree would be the best solution.


via Pacific Gas and Electric Company

It’s important to remember the importance of pruning!  Pruning your trees removes dangerous and defective branches, which can cause potential damage.  Leave the pruning to a professional arborist to ensure the process is executed properly.

Other solutions for managing tree hazards and risks include cabling and providing routine care.  Cabling and bracing a tree is an effective means of providing support for weak branches and stems.  A routine plant health care plan is important to maintaining a healthy tree, which in turn, ensures a hazard-free tree!

Sapsucker Injury on Trees in Westchester

It seems that in recent years we’ve noticed a definite increase in sapsucker damage in suburban landscape settings.  Almost every property I visit seems to have varying levels of sapsucker activity.  Today I’m going to share what to look for when identifying sapsucker injury on trees in Westchester.


Greg Schneider Photography

Sapsucker Migration

The sapsucker (Sphyrapicus Varius), is a migratory bird and is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) of 1918. Since they are migratory, most of the damage they do to trees occur between the months of April and early October, in the Westchester area.

The Sapsucker’s Diet


via Larkwire

As their name implies, the sapsucker’s diet is primarily comprised of tree sap, though they do eat insects as well.  There are more than 250 known woody plants that sapsuckers feed on; some common species are Sugar maples, Norway spruce, White pine birch and Holly.  Sapsucker damage can be found both on branches and trunks of trees, which can cause a die back on affected limbs, as well as overall poor tree health.  Tree damage from sapsuckers can range from light to severe. 

You can hear the sound of the sapsucker drumming (or pecking) up to 600 feet away on a calm day.  This noise is a pattern of quick repetitive beats followed by a series of slower tapping.

Identifying Tree Damage

via wingandsong.wordpress.com

via wingandsong.wordpress.com

Sapsuckers make neat evenly-spaced holes in horizontal lines that start off about 1/4 inch in diameter and are expanded as the sap sucker revisited the holes to feed.  They can make as few as one or two lines or several depending on their preference for the sap they feed on; this can often resemble a grid like pattern.  Holes from the sapsucker’s feeding may be round or rectangular.  Damaged areas can have excessive sap flow, resulting in black staining which occurs due to the colonization of sooty mold.

Management and Control

Physical barriers are an effective way to manage and control sapsucker injury on your trees.  Various materials may be used such as burlap or a special tree tape which can be placed over the areas of recent sapsucker damage to deter further feeding.  

Visual deterrents such as strips of reflective tape or metal spiral strips which twirl in the breeze create a negative stimuli for the bird.  Predator decoys such as fake owls scare sapsuckers off as well; small metal wind chimes are effective as well.

BirdXPeller Pro

BirdXPeller Pro via birdstopers.com

Sound deterrents or noise makers are effective in staving off sapsuckers too.  BirdXPeller Pro by Bird X is an electric distress call system, which features motion sensors to scare the bird.

Westchester Tree Life is here to assist in monitoring, evaluating and helping to manage the threat of sapsuckers to your valuable trees and woody plants.  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call us at (914) 238-0069!