Three Shade Trees for the Upcoming Summer Heat!

We are about to enter into the summer months in Westchester County! As we start to pull out our summer clothes, we also begin thinking about putting the air conditioners back in the windows. People use various methods to escape the high heat of summer, but there are certainly ways to stay cool without locking ourselves away in our air conditioned houses. Let’s face it, fresh air is an essential part of enjoying summer! Shade trees are definitely the answer for those of us who love the outdoors but need a retreat as the temperatures start to rise. The temperature difference can be quite extreme between standing in direct sunlight and taking a seat beneath nature’s canopies!

When thinking about your landscape design, it is a good idea to incorporate some trees. There are numerous varieties of shade trees that can certainly be very appealing. Typically these are deciduous trees that produce a thick leaf coverage in the warmer months then shed their leaves upon the arrival of the cooler seasons. You can also incorporate some evergreens and tropical trees in your landscape design, depending on your desired look.

Let’s take a look at some of the shade trees that can help to offer a “cool spot in the shade” and also spruce up the overall appearance of your landscape design. This is definitely something to think about as you are designing the layout on your property. Maybe some of these trees are already on your property and now you can see them in a new light!

White Birch

The White Birch Tree, also known as the European birch, can grow up to be 30 to 60 feet tall and features “drooping” branches. These trees have smaller leaves that offer a nice diffused shade.  Birch trees in general are tolerant of most soil and climate conditions. They do, however, like moisture during the dryer summer months. Birch trees grow very fast, which is a plus if you are planning a new layout design while the peeling white bark can stand out in a landscape.

 

Silver Maple

The Silver Maple is the fastest growing of the Maple trees.  Its branches spread out, producing a gorgeous canopy in the hot summer months! They can grow in upwards to 80ft and have a “wingspan” of up to 40ft! It is a very adaptable tree but it does require the most sunlight out of all the maples. The leaves are simple and palmately veined with deep angular notches between the five lobes. These trees are often planted for ornamental purposes because of their rapid growth and ease of propagation and transplanting. They are highly tolerant of urban situations and are frequently planted next to streets.

 

Weeping Willow Tree

Besides their obvious charm and elegance, Weeping Willows also serve as a fortress from the blazing sun during the summer months!  The weeping willow is a medium to large-sized deciduous tree that has the potential to grow up to 60 feet tall. They tend to grow rapidly, but unfortunately have a short lifespan. The beautiful shoots are a yellowish-brown, with very small buds. The leaves are patterned and spirally arranged. They are light green, with finely serrate margins and long tips. A cool summer breeze tends to animate these gorgeous trees and they are a very sought after addition to any landscape design!

So get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather that mother nature is serving up! Plan a picnic or grab your favorite book and find your spot in the shade under your shade tree of choice! Plus, by turning off the air conditioners we are saving money and energy which helps reduce your carbon footprint. Enjoy your summer!

Which Magnolia Tree is Right For You?

With the much anticipated warm weather’s arrival we have been seeing the familiar blooms of Magnolia trees in and around Westchester County. Magnolias (Magnolia spp.) are a diverse group of flowering trees known for their robust and fragrant blossoms.  Although their are many species of Magnolias only a few are commonly used in landscape design. They are, however, among the most popular species for creating a focal point in a landscape.

Magnolia Trees

When it comes to landscape selection there are 3 main types of Magnolias. One species is a Native North American and the other two are Asian in origin. All of these species feature a dark green leaf that grow in excess 10″ in length. The trees have an overall tropical look to them which is part of the reason that they have grown to be so popular over time. Their cone-like seed structure is also a visually appealing feature of the Magnolia which ripens to a bright reddish color come fall.

North American Magnolias

 The Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is definitely the most commonly planted of the three but there are several species of magnolia that are native to the eastern United States as well.  The Southern magnolia is a stately evergreen tree with large white blooms and they are surely equal in beauty to the Asian variety. However the flowers appear several months later than the Asian. One of the many reasons that you see these gorgeous trees everywhere is their unusual ability to grow in both sun and shade environments and are adapted to most soil types (with the exception of overly wet soil conditions).  It is certainly a great idea to enrich the soil with compost while transplanting these trees but they are extremely resilient and will grow just about anywhere! 

Asian Magnolias

This variety of Magnolia became very popular due to their smaller sizes and early spring blooms of gorgeous flowers. Some of the blossoms even appear before the beautiful leaves reach full potential! They quickly became known for their ornamental vale and they were the perfect “patio” tree that can even be grown in large decorative planters. A huge difference between the North American Magnolia and the Asian variety is the Asians need full sun and very rich soil to reach their peek bloom. A huge plus for the Asian variety is that they are practically immune to most pests and typical disease problems! However,  powdery mildew may occasionally infect these beauties. A great way to combat this is to rake the leaves each fall to help keep the disease stay under control.

magnolia-trees

Westchester Garden Guide

What plants, trees and shrubs are you planting this season?  Consider adding some of these  plants, trees and shrubs from our Westchester Garden Guide.

Sweet Woodruff, (Galium odoratum)

Sweet Woodruff Westchester Tree Life

Sweet woodruff is an excellent groundcover; via Pinterest

This fragrant spring woodlander forms a beautiful green carpet.  Sweet Woodruff is a lovely groundcover, ideal for ground beneath trees.  Planting sweet woodruff will give your Westchester garden a finished look.

Jack Frost, (Brunnera macropylla)

westchester-tree-life

Jack Frost via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t let deer ruin your beautifully cultivated Westchester garden!  Jack Frost is a deer resistant groundcover that adds a lovely touch to your property.  Silver veined leaves are topped with blue blossoms, reminiscent of forget-me-nots.  Plant this groundcover in a shady area that needs a pop of color!

Lilac, (Syringa ‘Palibin’)

Lilac Westchester Tree Life

Syringa ‘Palibin’ via Pinterest

The sweet fragrance of a lilac is a staple of spring gardening.  Try planting the Syringa ‘Palibin’, which is more resistant to mildew than other types of lilac.  They have a tendency to have a longer blooming period than large lilacs.

Mount Airy, (Fothergilla)

Mount Airy Westchester

Mount Airy via Wikimedia Commons

The Mount Airy  is the perfect shrub to plant in a compact garden.  Yielding brush-like flowers during spring and gorgeous foliage during fall, Mount Airy brings year-round beauty.

Gorgeous Hydrangeas

Curating the perfect garden is an art.  Selecting which flowers, shrubs and trees to integrate can be difficult.  Gorgeous hydrangeas always make for a wonderful addition; here’s why.

Hydrangea Westchester Tree Life

Beautiful Bushels of Flowers

Westchester Tree Life Hydrangea

Did you know Westchester Tree Life can help customize a plant health care plan just for you?

Hydrangeas bloom from spring to late fall.  Their tiny flowers grow in clusters and can be pink, purple, blue and cream.  The cool thing about hydrangeas is how easy it is to manipulate their color; all you have to do is control the pH of the soil.  If you would like your hydrangeas to yield pink blooms, you can raise the pH of the soil with limestone.  Lowering the pH with elemental sulfur will result in blue flowers.

Healthy Hydrangeas

Westchester Tree Life can assist with your soil! Call today: (914) 238-0069

Westchester Tree Life can assist with your soil! Call today: (914) 238-0069

Whether you prefer your hydrangeas potted or planted, well drained soil is key.  If you are planting hydrangeas, dig a hole slightly larger than the plant.  This will result in loose, pliable soil.  If you are potting hydrangeas, do not plant any deeper than one inch above the original pot height.  Select a place where your hydrangea can get a little bit of morning sun as well as afternoon shade.

All About Lilacs

The sweet, soothing fragrance a lilac bush emits is wonderful.  In addition to their signature scent, lilacs are also a lovely ornamental addition to your Westchester property.  Unsure whether this is the right plant for your property?  Read all about lilacs here.

All About Lilacs Westchester Tree Life

All About Lilacs

One of the reasons we love lilacs, is because they are a versatile addition!  Lilacs can grow as medium to large shrubs, or small trees; the tallest a lilac will get is approximately 20 feet.  You can tell the maturity of a lilac by inspecting its bark.  A mature lilac will have gray-brown bark, while a young lilac will have green-brown bark.  Being a deciduous plant, lilacs lose their leaves annually.  Lilac Westchester County Tree Care

Did You Know?

Did you know there are over 1,000 varieties of lilac bushes and trees?  The key to keeping your lilacs looking their best is knowing which variety is best for you.

Planting a Lilac

Westchester Tree Life Planting Lilacs

Lilacs thrive in fertile, well-drained soil.  When inspecting your designated planting site, keep in mind that lilacs prefer humus-rich, neutral to alkaline soil, as well.  Ideally this spot will have a minimum of 6 hours of broad sunlight for your plant to thrive in.

Blooming

Lilacs Westchester Tree Life

The lilac can produce clusters of lavender, purple, pink or white blooms.  Despite having a three-week window for flowering (which occurs during springtime), varieties such as the Josee or the Boomerang can bloom multiple times a year.  View House Beautiful’s list of Lilac facts here.

Ensure your lilac is planted properly and has a plant health care plan to maintain its beauty with help from Westchester Tree Life.  Call Westchester Tree Life today (914) 238-0069

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

westchester-tree-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

leafing-out

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”.

leafing-out

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”.

tree-trunk-westchester-tree-life

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

westchester-tree-life-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

tree-leaf-westchester-tree-life

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.

tree-construction

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

Trunk and Crown Injury

tree-trunk-westchester-tree-life

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

tree-root-system

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-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.