Posted by & filed under Plant Health Care .

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For plants, making it through the winter can be a chilling process. Read below to learn how plants deal with the long- winter months.

by Tina Graver

If you are a plant, the first step to dealing with the cold is to go dormant! Environmental signals that trigger dormancy include the shortening of the day length, as well as cold temperatures. By early fall, most plants have slowed their growth and began to set winter buds. Once the temperature starts falling, many plants will drop their leaves. Why? Leaves are responsible for the movement of water through the plant. They act like a straw, suctioning water from the roots out through the top of the tree. Dehydration is more risky and damaging to a plant than the cold itself so the ability to conserve water  through leaf drop provides a survival advantage under harsh conditions.

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Going dormant and dropping leaves aren’t the only tricks plants have to make it through the winter. There are many unseen processes happening inside the plant. A little-known fact – plants have unsaturated fats that help protect them from freezing.1 The more unsaturated fats a plant can produce, the more resistance it has to freezing. Some plants also have the ability to undergo deep super-cooling and survive temperatures as low as – 40 degrees F. 2 Super-cooling occurs when ice crystals form inside the cells of the plants, and are stored in extracellular spaces where they cannot damage critical parts of the plant’s cells. Even more surprising, cold temperatures can trigger the plant to make its own brand of anti-freeze! 3

What about plants that keep their leaves? The leaves of evergreen trees and shrubs are much thicker and have a ‘waxy’ coating. These characteristics help the plant reduce water-loss in the winter time. Staying evergreen is a useful adaption over dropping leaves because it gives the plant a head-start on making food once the weather breaks.

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A synthetic ‘waxy’ substance can be applied to plants to aid in the reduction of water loss. These sprays are known as anti-desiccants and are especially useful for helping transplanted trees and shrubs survive through the cold and dryness of the winter months. Our plant health care specialists at Mead Tree & Turf Care are available to assess the needs of your plants for surviving the winter.

 

 

1,2,3 Raven et al. (2005) Biology: Seventh Edition. McGraw-Hill Companies. Pg 814; 827

 

Posted by & filed under Landscape .

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 by Tina Graver

Putting your landscapes to sleep for the winter doesn’t mean they can’t still look good.

See below for some ideas and suggestions on plants that have a ton of winter appeal!

 

Evergreen
This is the most popular choice for maintaining green all year round. From trees to shrubs, and from yellow, orange, red, light green and dark green, there are many different plants to choose from.   Evergreen trees and shrubs are especially popular along property borders to create a natural barrier for privacy year round. Holly, thuja, arborvitae, juniper (pictured), nandina, spruce and fir are just a handful of evergreen plants that do well in the mid-Atlantic area.

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Structure
You can create a lot of interest with evergreen or deciduous trees by choosing species with a naturally interesting structure, such as weeping cherries and larix species Harry Walking Stick. You can also create an interesting effect using advanced pruning techniques such as topiary pruning and espalier pruning (pictured), or training evergreen vines using wire.

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Berries
Not only do fruiting trees and bushes added color in the off-season, they can also attract wildlife to keep you entertained during the winter months. Crab apple, winterberry and holly are best known for their long lasting red berries. The yew, which is an evergreen shrub, also produces edible red berries in late fall. The beauty berry bush gets its name from it’s stunning bright purple berries (pictured).

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Bark and Twigs
Some trees and bushes have more interesting bark and twigs than their leaves. The River birch or Aspen and Paper bark maple are a few examples of trees with exfoliating bark. A very popular bush for the winter months is the red twig dogwood. This bush is named appropriately for its bright red twigs. While many evergreen trees and bushes struggle in wet areas, the red-twig dogwood (pictured) is a great winter option if you have wet soils.

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Ornamental Grasses
Selecting cool-season, ornamental grasses can keep a ‘soft’ look throughout the winter months. It is easy to lose the soft-look associated with leaves and foliage once the weather turns. You will still need to cut down the dead stalks before the grass begins actively growing in the spring.

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Winter Flowers
The Okame Cherry (pictured) generally blooms in late winter to early spring. Warm winter days may trick the tree into producing flowers early. Some of the Okame trees are flowering now, in early December, due to warmer than usual temperatures. If you are looking for flowers, there are several types of early blooming bulbs to choose from like daffodils, narcissus, and tulips, which bloom towards the end of winter. Pansies are another choice of annual flower that survives the winter but will need to be replaced in the summer.

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Call us today to schedule your landscape maintenance consultation!

Posted by & filed under Tree Care Certifications and Licenses .

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Each year, thousands of workers are injured or killed because of accidents resulting from electrical hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA ) mandates that tree care workers receive electrical hazard training, but does not police companies to ensure that training is provided. However, an accident investigation that reveals untrained workers will lead to severe fines. TCIA has developed an Electrical Hazard Awareness Program (EHAP) for the tree care industry and offers materials and teacher training for qualified arborists. Mead Tree & Turf Care arborists Bob Mead and Steve Castrogiovanni have received EHAP instructor training. As ISA Certified Arborists and Certified Tree Safety Professionals (CTSP), they qualified to receive EHAP teacher training and currently conduct EHAP training for all tree workers at Mead Tree & Turf Care, as well as for other groups in the industry. Once training has been performed and documented, a yearly review is required for employees to maintain EHAP certification.

EHAP is designed to familiarize arborists and tree workers with the equipment utility companies use to provide electricity, and the hazards associated with tree care and utility lines. All utility lines above ground and below ground are considered energized with potential fatal voltages; this includes telephone and cable lines. The EHAP program consists of an orientation video as well as 6 instructional units and tests. Participants are also required to perform practice aerial rescue and to hold current CPR and first aid certification. Once all requirements have been met an enrollee will receive a certificate of completion that is valid for one year. Annual refresher training is required to maintain certification. The certification for EHAP is to train non-line clearance arborists and tree workers how to recognize utility hardware and understand the current that flows through a given system. It does not allow workers to operate within the minimum approach distance of 10 feet for utility lines, or more for higher voltage lines. All companies that perform tree care should meet safety compliance requirements that pertain to EHAP training.

Although safety training is primarily focused on the well-being of employees, customers can benefit from peace of mind knowing their tree care company considers safety on the job a first priority.