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Tree Care From Start to Finish: An Interview with Andrew Stratton of Green Vistas Landscaping

By Andrew Stratton

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

My name is Andrew Stratton and I own Green Vistas Landscaping LLC based out of Hopkinton MA. We have been in business since 2010. I have an associate of science degree in landscape contracting from UMass Amherst and have always had a love for the outdoors.

The services that we offer are spring and fall cleanups, weekly lawn maintenance, lawn renovation, lawn care, garden bed maintenance, pruning, plant installation/design, mulch installation, vegetable garden installation/maintenance, small scale tree removal, and snow plowing. We offer a variety of services so that customers don't have to call multiple companies for all their property maintenance needs.

What are some of the most common questions you're asked about planting trees?

Some of the most common questions I am asked about planting trees usually pertain to how often to water them and how to feed them. When a tree is newly planted I always tell people to water them every day unless it rains. In regards to feeding trees I tell customers that that it's not really necessary to fertilize them when they are installed but rather wait until late October or November of each year. Another question that I get a lot is should a newly installed tree be staked. My answer to that is almost always no unless the tree seems a little top-heavy. The reason why is because wind helps build the root strength so that a tree will stay firmly in place, when you stake a tree it doesn't allow the wind to strengthen the roots as fast.

What's one of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make when it comes to tree maintenance?

One of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make when it comes to tree maintenance is when we are in a drought and they don't water their newly planted/young trees. One prolonged drought can do serious damage or possibly kill a young tree so it's really important to leave the hose on a trickle near the base of the tree for a couple hours to ensure that the tree doesn't suffer damage due to a lack of watering.

Can you briefly describe what pruning is and why it's important?

Pruning is selectively removing branches that could become hazardous in the future. There are many different ways to prune a tree. You can prune to open up the trees canopy, prune off dead wood, prune branches that are crossing other branches, or you can prune off the tips of branches to remove leggy branches. It is very important to prune trees because it helps reduce disease and insect problems and it makes them more aesthetically pleasing to look at.

What are the basic guidelines you recommend following for tree trimming?

The guidelines that I recommend following for trimming trees are to always take a look at your trees to make sure there aren't any dead branches attached to the tree or hanging down because these branches could invite diseases and insect to potentially compromise the trees health. Also it could be a safety hazard if a dead branch falls down onto someone which could potentially cause injury. I also recommend trimming trees in the spring, fall, or winter when the chance of rainfall is greater so that the stress caused to the plant is kept to a minimum. I try at all costs to avoid pruning trees during the summer unless I find dead branches that need to be pruned off.

What are some of the most popular trees for yards?

Some of the most popular trees for yards in the northeast area are river birch due to their attractive salmon colored peeling bark and their yellow leaves. These trees are also very hardy which also helps with their popularity.

Another very popular tree used in the northeast is the Colorado blue spruce. This evergreen tree grows about 60-70 feet tall in a pyramidal shape and has very distinct blue foliage. Widely used as a specimen tree in the landscape due to its attractive features.

Japanese Maples are another tree that is widely used in northeast landscapes. There are many different varieties of Japanese maple. They come in all different kinds of shapes and sizes to fit a variety of landscape applications. They are a deciduous tree that boast many different colors of foliage such as dark red, light red, orange, and yellow depending on the variety.

Do you have any specific tips for homeowners about caring for any of those trees?

All three of the species of trees that I mentioned like to get a lot of sun so planting them in sunny locations is imperative to their success. These trees are very easy to take care of as long as they are watered regularly when first planted and when there are drought conditions they should thrive. River birches are fast growers so they need to be trimmed yearly so that is something to take into consideration. Japanese maples have a moderate growth rate so some trimming may be needed yearly. Colorado blue spruce rarely ever needs to be pruned except for when they have dead branches. Mature blue spruces sometimes have dead branches near the bottom of the trunk so in order to keep them looking good all the dead branches should be pruned off all the way back to the trunk.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

The best way for people to contact my company is by calling 508-505-7573 or by emailing astratton@greenvistaslandscaping.com and you can check out our website at www.greenvistaslandscaping.com.

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