Category Archives: Tips

How to Attract Butterflies to your Yard

With the return of warm weather we are starting to see a familiar and welcoming sight. Little splashes of color that flutter by and add vibrancy to our landscapes. Indeed, the butterflies have returned. Every time we see one of these beautiful specimens we can’t help but smile and feel content for the few moments we share with their presence. So how do we attract more and more butterflies to our yards? Let’s take a look at some key elements.

Naturally, if you were to sit and wait for them you would eventually see one or two. However, if you know what they are looking for and provide the proper trees, flowers, and shrubs for them, you will have your own butterfly sanctuary to enjoy!  For starters, it’s best to start with a variety of flowering/fruit trees and shrubs to attract butterflies to your garden. It is recommended that you choose a mixture of both rapid bloomers and varieties that have a longer bloom time. With the addition of these types of plants you will start to see American ladies, silvery blues, zebra swallowtails, Compton tortoiseshells, and northern pearly eyes . . .just to name a few.

The eastern red-bud tends to bloom in early spring and is one of the earliest bloomers. This leads to the attraction of such specimens as the silvery blue, zebra swallowtails and dreamy duskywings. This would be a great addition to any landscape to help kick off the welcoming of the butterflies. Plus you are helping the environment because its nectar and pollen attract butterflies necessary for healthy orchards and vegetable gardens.

It is very important to know what these beautiful creatures are looking for in order to create an inspiring butterfly sanctuary in your yard. The majestic flutter-bys instill a joy and peacefulness to our everyday. It is a very simple process and takes minimal work to give these beauties what they are looking for . . .and well worth the effort!


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.

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

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



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

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!

Branch Breakage

 Start the new year on a safe note!  Winter weather is here and that means it’s the season for branch breakage.  Branch breakage happens during winter storms and can cause potential property damage.  Stay safe with Westchester Tree Life!


Branch Breakage:  Understanding the Problem

Westchester’s winter storms can be abrasive.  Minimize property damage and ensure your property is safe by taking the time to check your tree branches on a clear day.  If you need help identifying branches which are susceptible to breaking, our professional arborists are more than happy to help.


If you have deciduous trees planted on your property, take note that their wood hardens during the winter, making branches more apt to snap.  Once ice and snow accumulate, the branches are further weighed down, causing potential branch breakage risks.  Evergreen trees are also prone to branch breakage due to snow and ice accumulation.

Minimizing Branch Breakage

Routine tree maintenance is the best way to minimize tree branch breakage.  Our tree care professionals offer concise plant health care plans tailored to the specific needs of your trees, plants and shrubs.  Year-round tree maintenance is essential in protecting and preserving your trees, plants and shrubs.


Prepare for next year by scheduling your tree maintenance, especially for fall 2017.  Good fall tree maintenance is key; this is when we prune weak and vulnerable branches.  Do you have a question or concern?  Request a consultation with one of Westchester Tree Life’s arborists with our easy-to-use online form here

Hardiness Zone FAQ

Easily determine what plants, shrubs and trees grow best in your area by knowing your hardiness zone!  Hardiness zones are defined by conditions such as minimum temperatures, and determine which specific category of plant life is capable of growing and thriving there.

What are Hardiness Zones?


The United States and Canada are divided into 11 plant hardiness zones based on a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in the average annual minimum temperature.

How Do I Determine My Hardiness Zone?

The United States Department of Agriculture has a map which can assist you in determining your hardiness zone.  View the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map here.

What Does “Suitable Hardiness” Mean?


Suitable hardiness means a plant which can be expected to grow in the zone’s temperature extremes; this is determined by the lowest average annual temperature. (via

Are There Other Factors That Affect Plant Survival Aside From Hardiness Zone Limitations?


Yes!  Soil moisture, humidity, the number of days of frost and risk evaluation such as the probability of a severe low temperature should all be taken into account.


For more information, read our blog, “Hardiness Zones” here.  For assistance in determining the best plant health care for your garden or landscape, request a consultation from Westchester Tree Life here.

Winter Storm Prep

Are you prepared for winter to hit Westchester county?  Stress less this winter with our winter storm prep tips.  To prepare for winter weather before any storm hits, request a consultation from Westchester county arborists, Westchester Tree Life online here.


Schedule Your Consultation


Westchester Tree Life are also proud members of the International Society of Arboriculture!

Prevent winter storm damage with an assessment from a professional arborist!  Our team is ISA-certified and knows what to look for to ensure your trees are healthy and secure for the upcoming season.  If you are unsure whether your trees can withstand this winter, call Westchester Tree Life today at (914) 238-0069.

Fallen Tree Branches


Storm damage via CBS Sacramento

Heavy snow can stress weak tree branches to the point of snapping and falling on  powerlines, a car, house or garage.  Damage from a fallen tree branch can be lethal; keep your Westchester residence safe and secure by checking before the winter weather hits.  Make sure your weak tree branches are properly cared for with help from Westchester Tree Life!

Power Line Safety


Jay Ericson clears snow of branches weighing down on power lines at his home
via Daily Mail

Strong winds, heavy snow and other harsh winter storm conditions can leave your powerlines susceptible to tree damage.  Removing leaning trees and brittle branches close to powerlines is a responsible way to make sure your Westchester home is safe for winter 2016.

Emergency Tree Care in Westchester County


High winds, heavy snow or ice, and lightning can cause serious damage to your property. When Mother Nature leaves her mark in the way of fallen branches, downed trees, or any hazardous limbs hanging precariously over walkways, cars or your home, call Westchester Tree Life for prompt service. We also have emergency 24 hour service available.

Ticks and Fall

Now that summer has wound down and temperatures have dropped, you can spend time in the Westchester County’s beautiful outdoors without worrying about ticks, right?  Wrong!  Today we’re going to discuss ticks and fall!


Fall is actually a very active time of year for ticks.  The cooler weather doesn’t really affect their activity level while the cooler weather and attractive fall scenery has more people than ever spending time outside.  With a few simple precautions, however, you can get out to enjoy everything fall has to offer without the risk of tick bites and Lyme Disease.

Avoiding ticks in the fall starts with knowing where they are most likely to lurk.  Ticks hang out on low-lying plants, waiting for a potential host to brush past them so they can hitch a ride and grab a free meal.  Any time you are hiking, raking leaves, playing in a leaf pile, or getting a little fall yard clean up done, you’re at risk for a tick bite.  Keeping your yard neat and free of overgrown grass and weeds will cut back on potential places for ticks to lie in wait for a host.


When you go out for a hike, stick to well maintained trails and avoid trampling through the off-trail underbrush.  Ticks are less likely to be found on clear trails but are sure to be waiting in the detritus, young trees, and other vegetation that covers the forest floor.

Whether you are in the yard or out in the woods, dressing properly and wearing insect repellent will help you avoid ticks.  Wear light colored pants and socks as well as long sleeves.  Tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants to help keep ticks away from your skin.  While this isn’t the coolest look in town, it really helps to deter even the tiniest ticks.  An insect repellent containing DEET is the most effective way to ward off ticks and other insect pests.  Make sure to read the label and follow instructions for how often to reapply the repellent.  If using DEET on children, be sure to consult a medical professional and help the child wash the repellent off at the end of the day.

Don’t forget to keep up with your pet’s flea and tick preventive throughout the fall and winter.  Ticks can be active all year, as long there isn’t snow on the ground.  Your dog or cat can easily carry ticks into the house.  Using a flea and tick preventive year round protects your pet’s health and the health of you and your family.


Last, but not least, check yourself and your children carefully for ticks after spending time outdoors.  Some species of ticks are extremely small and difficult to see, so be sure to check thoroughly and often for ticks.  They often prefer hidden areas such as between the toes, behind the knees, and in the armpits.  Don’t forget to check your pets and any clothing or packs that may have also been exposed to ticks!

The health risks from ticks are a year round concern.  Westchester Tree Life can help by treating your yard for ticks.  Call us today for a consultation and to learn about our safe, effective tick control program.


Beautiful Winter Shrubs and Plants

Get a head start on next season’s landscaping ideas for your Westchester home with inspiration from our list of beautiful winter shrubs and plants.  Astounding in their unique ability to flourish and maintain beauty throughout the cold months, these winter shrubs and plants are a gorgeous addition to your home.



Add a touch of cheer to your winter landscape with the Winterberry, also known as the deciduous holly.  Bright pops of red berries and glossy green foliage are eye catching and classic.



Create a statement with a wall of Firethorn!  These bright orange-red berries last through winter for a bold, beautiful addition to any garden; during the fall and winter months, the leaves may turn a green brown.  Get creative and think outside the box; Firethorn can be shaped into a lovely hedge or espaliered against a wall or on a trellis.



Add a touch of springtime fragrance to your winter landscape with the Edgeworthia, also known as paperbush.  This multi-branched shrub drops its leaves in the middle of December, revealing a bare silhouette of bark and yellow and white flower clusters.  This might be one of our favorite winter shrubs yet.

Witch Hazel


If you’re looking to add another beautiful deciduous shrub to your Westchester landscape, consider planting Witch Hazel.  From late fall to early spring Witch Hazel produces beautiful, threadlike petals; during winter this plant also emits a pleasant fragrance.

Do you have questions about your plants, trees or shrubs?  To speak with one of our professional arborists, call Westchester Tree Life at (914) 238-0069 or click here to request a consultation.