6 Beneficial Landscape Services to Save Money on and Improve Your Property this Winter

Here are six beneficial landscape services that will save you money, improve your property this winter and have your landscape more prepared for next spring. The hustle and bustle of summer vacations, picnics, spending time away from home on day trips, extended weekends, etc. can leave many garden maintenance items left unattended.  Winter is the perfect time to catch up on these forgotten yet necessary garden tasks. You may not consider winter as a time for gardening, however while the landscape may be sleeping, the McCoy Horticultural team are continually caring for our clients’ properties. Continued presence and routine inspections have proven to be valuable even in the winter months. Though our trained eyes are very proficient at spotting issues during the growing season, some problematic issues are masked by the foliage of plants in full leaf, leaving plenty of tasks to be completed in winter months such as the following:

This Winter, Receive Discounted Rates on Maintenance Services from McCoy Horticultural.

All work must be scheduled for completion between December 1 – February 28

Contact us: 1-866-MCCOY95 or www.mccoyfinegardens.com 

This offer does not include discounted design or consultation fees.  

1) Expert Pruning & Spotted Lantern Fly Assessments

Properly pruned shrubs and ornamental trees will have a lasting advantage over the pruning practices of unskilled workers. Expert pruning will save you money over time and improve the health, vigor, and longevity of your landscape, benefitting both structural function and visual aesthetics.

Essential knowledge for implementing expert pruning practices include the ability to differentiate between perennial, deciduous, and evergreen plants, and to be aware of the needs of the individual plants that fall into these categories. 

Let’s take Hydrangeas for example. There are many different forms of shrub type hydrangea that we commonly deal with in the residential landscape. The most common being Hydrangea paniculata (panicle hydrangea), quercifolia (oakleaf Hydrangea), arborescens (smooth hydrangea), and macrophylla (bigleaf hydrangea), all of which have unique pruning requirements, and if not pruned correctly, will not flower, or the flowering will be very sparse. The question has been posed to us repeatedly: why don’t my hydrangeas flower? The answer is one of three reasons. Most commonly, the improper timing of pruning and subsequent removal of incorrect plant parts is the cause. Other common reasons are deer foraging and winter dieback.

Once one is conscious of a landscape’s unique qualities and has a proper, layered plan, winter pruning can begin. Clean, proper cuts at the branch collar speed healing, and reduce the opportunity for insect and disease issues. I won’t go into great detail here. Briefly, this happens by a trees’ natural process called compartmentalization, or the function of the tissue around the wound, which adapts from moving nutrients to a whole limb or branch to focusing on healing the wound site. Wounds inflicted by poor pruning cuts have the same biological impact and subsequent plant response as storm damage (if the wound is similar), however healing time will take vastly longer from improper pruning.

This is why proper pruning techniques are crucial to a plant’s long term health. A proper pruning cut made at the branch collar will heal more rapidly and completely, whereas an improper pruning cut will have the same effect as a wound created from storm damage, either peeling the bark down the trunk leaving an unsightly scar or leaving a protruding stub. Both results are unhealthy and detrimental to the plant’s long term health.

Additionally, the removal of unneeded sucker growth and conflicting branches will also encourage increased airflow to the plant’s interior and lessen the likelihood of needing to use fungicides and pesticides.

One must also keep in mind the importance of sunlight year-round: many landscapers that only prune shrubs ‘on the surface’ are leaving out a very important pruning step. Tightly-sheared shrubs resembling meatballs or some other free-formed or malformed shapes may be suffering internally. If your landscape calls for formally pruned and sheared hedges or shrubs, we suggest that an integral pruning step not be overlooked and that just shearing is not enough. “Plunge cutting,” “plunge pruning,” or “drop-crotch pruning” are synonymous with a certain technique that should be part of the maintenance process for any hedge or individual shrub.

Plunge cutting is a pruning technique that thins the interior of the plant, allowing better light penetration and airflow, all the while leaving the surface to appear tightly sheared. If you have shrubs that have been sheared season after season to form an impenetrable crown, then you can see for yourself. Go outside and look at your tightly sheared plants, and you’ll most likely notice no new growth on the interior, a jumble of dead leaves and twigs, or a combination of both issues. This type of pruning of the interior can also be part of a more conservative rejuvenation pruning strategy. In this case, you keep the plant mostly intact while performing seasonal pruning to rejuvenate the plant(s) over multiple seasons as opposed to the following style of rejuvenation pruning. 

Rejuvenation pruning of overgrown shrubs may be called by some as the “hate me now love me later” pruning technique, where one makes aggressive yet proper (and aesthetically appropriate as possible) pruning cuts to reinvigorate old yet desirable shrubs. Both methods are acceptable practices; it just depends on individual circumstances which is more appropriate.

If you choose McCoy Horticultural for your winter pruning, we can also provide an inspection of your property for the most recent invasive pest: the Spotted Lanternfly. Egg masses can be seen easier on dormant trees and shrubs and subsequently removed and destroyed to slow the spread of this very aggressive pest.

2) Root Collar Excavation

The dormant season is the perfect time to make corrections and remediations to your trees and shrubs if they are planted improperly or over-mulched. Next to insect pests and diseases, improper planting and/or over mulching is the greatest cause of tree and shrub failure. Removal and replacement are costly and completely unnecessary expenses.

Root Collar Excavation is a proactive exploratory/corrective practice that helps eliminate problems that have been (usually) unknowingly left for you. All too commonly, before plants even arrive in your landscape, they are neglected at the nursery/contractor level, which can lead to root rot, girdling roots, and adventitious roots growing in mulch instead of soil, reducing nutrient uptake and weakening the support system roots should provide.

Before: Large girdling root in place.
After: Large girdling root removed, restoring nutrient flow.

When a tree or shrub is planted improperly and/or over-mulched, the plant can also suffer from (just to name a few) oxygen starvation, overheating, and disease, often resulting in a slow death. (Yes, this means that healthy-looking plants can still be suffering). Root systems should provide a support system for trees and shrubs – they are essential for nutrient uptake from the soil. Without proper exposure, roots are unable to do their job, namely, keep your tree or shrub alive and thriving.

McCoy Horticultural offers Root Collar Excavation and Revitalization services with Air Spade Technology at a discounted rate from December 1-February 28. Visit the Root Care & Revitalization page on our website to learn more about our outstanding approach to saving your trees and shrubs.

3) Bamboo Removal

If not contained properly, certain species of bamboo can be particularly invasive and, if left untamed, can overtake your landscape or spread into neighboring yards. If you desire to remove some or all bamboo on your property, it can be a laborious and time-consuming project to undertake yourself.

We offer a cost-effective process with minimal to absolutely no regrowth guaranteed. By comparison to conventional bamboo removal, our minimally invasive process lowers fuel usage and carbon output of other antiquated options. In fact, we have found a way to completely eliminate the use of heavy equipment used to remove, truck off-site, and dispose of contaminated soil, and the use of toxic synthetic chemical herbicides, which is a mostly ineffective and most certainly not environmentally friendly method anyway.

4) Removal of Invasive Ground Covers and Inspection for Voles

Voles are a very problematic rodents that burrow underground, not be mistaken with moles, who are also problematic but for different reasons: moles will cause mounding of the earth in lawn areas and gardens too, however, from our experiences, moles are mainly a problem in maintained lawn areas and not in perennial garden beds.

Moles are carnivores consuming mostly a diet of worms and grubs. Voles, on the other hand, spend their time in and around the root systems of trees and shrubs and are vegetarians.

Voles tunneling under plants leave behind air pockets, and air pockets lead to diminished moisture retention, which in turn leads to plant desiccation and ultimately death. Additionally, to add insult to injury, while these pests are tunneling and leaving a maze of air pockets, they’re also chewing away at the 24-hour root buffet hastening the mortality sequence.  

Lastly, if ground covers are climbing up and around the crowns and lower trunk areas of plants, voles, as well as mice, may gnaw away the bark and cause girdling issues. Girdling (see images above) is a circumstance where the vascular system of a plant is broken or disrupted to the extent that the water and nutrient flow is stopped. Just like in the human vascular system, if the blood flow is slowed, broken, or stopped, we all know that the result of this disruption is not favorable.

One way to combat these issues before they become significant is to remove invasive ground covers like pachysandra and English ivy away from the root collars, crowns, and to some extent, the root systems of plants.  These areas of dense ground cover provide, aptly, above-ground cover and places for the voles to move around undetected and unimpeded. The damage that has been done goes unnoticed until it is too late, and the resulting below-ground damage manifests as dead plants. Like we’ll hear so often when doing consulting work, “My plants were alive and fine, and it seems like overnight they just died.” Does this scenario sound familiar? 

5) Winter Project Design/Installation

This is the best way to ensure that your project will be among the first installations when the spring weather season begins. If winter weather dictates, we may begin installing projects. Periods of warmer winter weather may be a perfect opportunity to expedite and begin spring projects.   

6) Storm Damage Cleanup

Not every winter is mild. As mother nature takes her course, you may experience damage to your landscape that requires prudent cleanup. Instead of waiting until Spring, give us a call at 1.866.MCCOY95, or contact us at our website or Facebook page for winter storm cleanups. The quicker you call, the quicker we’ll cleanup!