Drought Stressed Trees and Plants

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I can’t help but starting with concerns about recent weather patterns and most important…… Water, or lack of adequate rainfall. The heavy rains we had in the beginning of June were certainly welcome but few realize that even though we had 4 to 5 inches of rainfall in a short period, that was still too little too late. We had more rain in the first week of June than we had in April and May combined and that is a real problem for all trees and shrubs. Just 1/4 inch of rain fell in the entire month of May.


When our planting crews were digging within days after the big rains the ground was completely dry just 4 to 5 inches below the surface. When it doesn’t rain for a long periods of time soil can become hydrophobic, this means that even when water is applied it will roll over the surface and not soak into the ground where tree roots can absorb and conduct.


I am truly amazed at how oblivious most people are to the moisture requirements of trees and shrubs. Irrigation companies were late to activate automatic irrigation systems this year and I almost never see people hand watering with a hose.


Beware, we are in the beginning stages of a serious drought. Please, please, please get some water going on your valued trees and shrubs. Slow, deep watering is always better than fast and hard watering that runs off into the drains quickly. If you have new plants that were installed in the past 1  to 2 years they will require additional watering because their root systems are not fully developed. Very important to water plants this spring and summer that were installed last year.


With drought stressed plants comes opportunistic insects, particularly mites. If this dry pattern continues we will see an explosion of mites and other sucking insects that will mine much needed chlorophyll from leaves. Winter Moth, Canker Worm and Gypsy Moth Caterpillars have caused serious defoliation in many areas this spring. Every indication is that these and many other insects will be with us for years to come.


Trees and shrubs will require a little extra attention. Always consult a professional arborist and develop a maintenance strategy to protect your valued landscape.


Matt Foti

Matt Foti

Matthew R. Foti is the owner of Foti Landscape and Tree Service. Matt is a 1977 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds degrees in social science and general business. Matt became a Massachusetts Certified Arborist in 1979 and served as president of the Massachusetts Arborists Association from 1993 to 1995. Matt currently employs six Massachusetts Certified Arborists.
Foti Landscape and Tree Service 30 Fairbanks Rd., Lexington, Ma 02421, 781.861.0505,
E-mail: mrftree@aol.com

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Tree Talk with Matt Foti

Matt Foti
Matt Foti

Fall Maintenance Reminder


We experienced severe winter kill on evergreens last winter primarily because plants went into the winter followed by drought conditions late last summer and into the fall. Evergreens need lots of water at the end of the summer and through the fall to make it through the winter because they never go completely dormant. When sunlight is cast on the foliage the roots cannot draw moisture from the ground when it is frozen solid, winter kill is caused by desiccation.

The best advice I can give now is water, water, water and water some more right up until the ground freezes, as we are experiencing a very dry fall much the same as last year.  Evergreens can store moisture to make it through the winter but if they start the winter dry followed by hard frost we will see just as much winter kill this winter as we did last.

Anti-desiccant sprays are liquefied wax that close up the pores of evergreens and help prevent transpiration of stored moisture. The wax on the foliage of evergreens actually puts them into an artificial dormancy, it is best to spray one time early in the winter and another when the temperature goes above freezing mid to late winter.

Most winter kill occurs in the late winter or very early spring when there is a large variation in temperature in a short period of time when the sap starts to flow again. We can all remember daytime temperatures in late February or early March that go as high as 80° and evenings well below the freezing mark. 60 to 70° variation in temperature within a 24-hour period is even harsher on plants that it is on us because plants can’t turn the thermostat up!

Extra mulch on the roots of evergreens in the fall will also help retain moisture and insulate the ground so that frost cannot penetrate as deeply. If you do put on extra mulch in the fall always remember to remove it in the spring because too much mulch on the roots can suffocate a plant.

Spider mites are another side effect of dry conditions.  When plants become stressed due to lack of moisture they become susceptible to being attacked by spider mites.  Mites are opportunistic little creatures that suck the chlorophyll out of leaves and needles further reducing plant vigor.

Winter moth and canker worm continued to be serious defoliators this year and every indication suggests that they will be here for several years to come.


Another harmful insect that has come on the scene is viburnum leaf beetle. I have been warned about its arrival for several years and now it is quite prevalent. Viburnums can be treated systemically with a soil drench insecticide in the fall to prevent next year’s outbreak or sprayed with insecticidal soap in early to mid-June.

Always consult a trained and licensed professional when you have questions regarding recognition, diagnosis and control of both insects and plant diseases.  Call our office today for a free consultation and estimate.

Autumn is also a good time for tree evaluations to help prevent downed power lines and potentially hazardous trees during winter months.




Foti Round LogoMatthew R. Foti is the owner of Foti Landscape and Tree Service. Matt is a 1977 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds degrees in social science and general business. Matt became a Massachusetts Certified Arborist in 1979 and served as president of the Massachusetts Arborists Association from 1993 to 1995. Matt currently employs six Massachusetts Certified Arborists.

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The Danger of Ticks In Your Landscape

By Matt Foti

Tick Ad ImageAfter recently completing a three-week regiment of Doxycycline antibiotic for Lyme Disease (for the second time) I feel obligated to inform my customers of this current epidemic and let you know how we can help. Two of my employees have been treated for Lyme Disease in the past six weeks and several others have received treatment over the past three or four years and we are coming into contact with deer ticks on your very own properties.
Lyme disease has emerged as the second most commonly reported infectious disease in New England, currently described as a public health crisis. I feel that the biggest problem with deer ticks is that they are very difficult to detect given their small size. Unlike mosquitoes deer ticks don’t warn you with a buzzing noise and you never feel them bite you.
If you are an avid outdoors person it is very important to take preventative measures and be diligent about inspecting yourself and your children after being outdoors. Grade school aged children are most commonly affected by Lyme disease and contact can occur during all 12 months of the year, most cases are reported during May, June and July. Your pets can also get Lyme.

For detailed information please consult the following report “Lyme Disease in Massachusetts, a Public Health Crisis”
https://malegislature.gov/Document/Committee/188/House/H46/CommitteeAttachment/LymeDiseaseReport.pdf .
You will find a 36 page report put together by citizens from Acton, Bedford, Carlisle, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Waltham, Wayland and Weston that have adopted the title Middlesex Tick Task Force.

After a great deal of research I am offering both chemical and organic sprays to help reduce the risks of contracting Lyme disease on your property. Please call our office for a free consultation and estimate.
On a much happier note, spring flowers have just gone by and this year’s new growth is tapering off, which means it’s time to prune landscape shrubs.

Flowering plants need to be pruned now to maximize next year’s flowers and non-flowering plants need to be pruned now to maintain shape and form. Many landscape plants are destroyed not only by poor pruning techniques but also by pruning at the wrong time of the year. Some plants have experienced winter injury from extreme low temperatures this past winter. Right now is a good time to determine if damaged plants need to be replaced or if they are salvageable with good pruning.
Timing is the key to proper maintenance, contact the professionals today.


Matthew R. Foti is the owner of Foti Landscape and Tree Service. Matt is a 1977 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds degrees in social science and general business. Matt became a Massachusetts Certified Arborist in 1979 and served as president of the Massachusetts Arborists Association from 1993 to 1995. Matt currently employs six Massachusetts Certified Arborists.
Foti Landscape and Tree Service 30 Fairbanks Rd.
Lexington, Ma 02421, Ph: 781.861.0505,
E-mail: mrftree@aol.com

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Make a plan to deal with Winter Moths Before Spring Arrives!

The infestation of Winter Moths this fall could become a serious problem in the Spring. Winter moths were introduced to New England from northern Europe and continue to cause serious defoliation of many of our deciduous trees. Adult moths fly high into the branches of trees at this time of the year to lay eggs that will hatch tiny caterpillars next spring. Winter moth continues to be a serious problem because there is no natural predator to keep it in check. If you noticed moths flying around your home during the fall months you should consider contacting an arborist to develop some type of control strategy for the spring. There are several environmentally safe spray options that are most effective when applied early in the lifecycle of the caterpillars.

My best advice in dealing with what nature has in store for us is to be prepared for the worst and if anything less happens you will not be disappointed. After what we have experienced during the past year I think most will agree that global warming is probably not a conspiracy theory. Hurricane Sandy is fresh on everyone’s mind but just think about what we’ve been through in the past 12 months. Snow in October 2011, record warm winter 2011 – 2012, record heat during the summer with severe drought conditions for most of the country. I believe that hurricane Sandy was the largest storm in recorded history. It’s not what might happen, it’s what is happening here and now!

Hazard tree evaluation is probably the hottest topic to date in the field of arboriculture. The truth is that trees can fail under extreme conditions and when they do they can cause power outages, property damage and personal injury. The good news is that many disastrous situations involving trees can be avoided with proper evaluations and care by trained arborists. If we cut down every tree within 100 feet of our homes because we were afraid of them we would have a sad existence. Of course such drastic measures should not be necessary when more people understand the value of inspecting trees in close proximity to our homes and power lines.

Backup generators are also an excellent idea if you don’t have one already. It is your responsibility to keep the wires from the telephone pole to your house clear of tree branches but trees can take down the main wires that run parallel to the street and when this happens there is nothing you can do but wait until utility crews repair them. Having a generator at your home can make your wait time much more pleasant.

Call a licensed electrician for advice about a generator that will work best for you and always consider a Massachusetts or International certified arborist trained to provide hazard tree evaluations.

Foti Landscape and Tree Service

30 Fairbanks Road,

Lexington, Ma 02421, Ph: 781.861.0505,

E-mail:  mrftree@aol.com




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Unusual Weather Patterns

Unusual weather patterns have caused a buzz amongst plant people. Most will agree that bloom times are at least four weeks early due to exceptionally warm weather early on but it seems that April showers are four weeks late, arriving through most of May. We may need to change a popular phrase to ” May showers bring June flowers”. Let’s face it, cool damp weather is what were used to during springtime in New England.

After exceptionally warm and dry weather from February through April I was convinced that we wouldn’t have any fungus problems but the cool damp weather throughout May has caused an explosion of fungal spores. The dampness occurred simultaneously with tender new foliage allowing many fungi to permeate leaf surfaces.

I am fielding many calls about London plane trees that look horrible due to a fungus disease called Anthracnose that has caused the leaves to wilt. This form of anthracnose is primarily an aesthetic concern and not so much of a health problem. As the weather gets warmer the plane trees will send out new leaves. Anthracnose can affect everything from tomato plants to large shade trees during cool damp weather. Effects from this fungus disease can vary from very mild to very serious.

Anthracnose on Florida dogwoods can be very serious and cause plant mortality over several years. Dogwood anthracnose appears as spots that look like frogs eyes on the lower leaves and then progresses into the stem damaging the vascular tissue. This form of anthracnose on dogwoods destroys the conductive tissue and essentially clogs up the plumbing causing stem die back.

There are preventative sprays for many fungus problems that should only be applied by licensed professionals. Fungicides are always applied preventively starting at but break. If symptoms appear it is often too late to doing anything about it. If you have a valued tree that is susceptible to a fungus problem, plan for preventative spraying because chances are we will have cool damp weather every spring.

The best advice that I can give is plant disease resistant specimens. Cornus Mas and Cornus alternifolia are both disease-resistant native dogwoods that are often overlooked in the landscape.

Hold onto your hat as hurricane season may be one month early and hopefully summer sticks around one month later

People who plant trees have faith in the future

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