Common Questions

Answers to All Your Gardening and Tree Service Inquiries

Ornamental Trees

When is the best time to prune a tree?


Anytime is really a good time to prune trees. Most trees are best to prune just before bud break, however, it is generally OK to prune trees anytime of the year. We don’t usually recommend pruning evergreen trees unless they are smaller such as Holly or hedge shrubs to be shaped with hand shears. Larger evergreens generally should not be cut. Deciduous trees can be pruned anytime.




Which tree services do you offer?


We offer tree trimming, pruning and shaping, hedge trimming and shaping, tree removal, tree examination and more.




Is tree examination important?


Yes. Tree removal is necessary when trees are diseased, infested, dying or dead. Many tree-related hazards and casualties can be avoided if trees are examined and problems corrected before a damaging event can occur.




When is tree removal necessary?


Removal would likely be required if the tree is a hazard - persons or property would be in danger if it falls or limbs disengage - and it has been determined it is damaged or diseased beyond repair.




Why should I consider fertilizing my trees?


Using a proper fertilizer supplements the nutrients trees lose with leaf removal in urban settings but otherwise absorb in a natural, forest setting. It also improves the appearance and condition of trees, including their abilities to better withstand pests.




When and how should I mulch my trees?


Mulching with a good, organic hardwood mulch can be done anytime as it helps keep organic matter in the soil around the tree, conserves soil moisture and provides weed control. Mulch should be applied at a depth of 2 to 4 inches. Use a thinner layer on soils that drain poorly, are high in clay content or have a history of root disease. Use a thicker layer - up to 4 inches - for sandy soils. Applying too much mulch can retain excessive moisture and lead to root rot, reduced oxygen and fungal growth. Mounding mulch on plant stems - creating a volcano effect - fosters decay fungi and could cause severe damage to the tree. The best way to apply mulch is to "feather" it up to the base of the plant. Mulch should not directly touch the main stem, and mulch should be no more than ½ inch deep just outside the stem.





Ornamental Shrubs

Which bush/shrub services do you offer?


We offer a wide range of shrub/bush services including trimming, pruning, maintenance and care as well as disease and pest mitigation. For a FREE onsite estimate please contact us online or call us at (860) 622-1265 and a team member will be happy to assist you.




How often should shrubs be pruned?


We recommend pruning shrubs every year in order to keep them healthy and aesthetically appealing.




Why do shrubs need to be pruned?


The short-term effects of not trimming your shrubs are that they will be bushy, larger, and look messy. However; the cause for concern comes with the long term effects of not pruning shrubs. In the long term, the interior branches of your plant will become so dense that they stop getting sunlight or nutrients. Essentially, the bush becomes too big to support itself. In response, the shrub begins to decay and the wood becomes unproductive which means less flower production thus lowering the overall appeal of your landscape. On the other hand pruning shrubs: creates fresh growth promotes flowers production creates an overall stronger more resilient shrub




When should you prune?


The best time for pruning shrubs varies by species. When deciding when to prune your shrubs take into account if they are flowering plants, and when they flower. As a rule of thumb, if you are doing major pruning, it’s best to cut back the shrub during the dormant season (winter). Bushes That Don’t Flower Plants that do not flower can be pruned at any time except late autumn. Bushes trimmed in late fall may not have enough time to harden off the pruning cuts before the first frost. This could cause damage to the bush. Popular bushes without blooms include burning bush, boxwoods, and barberry. Summer Flowering Plants – Prune In Late Winter to Early Spring Plants that flower in the summer grow their flowers on the new growth developed in spring. To promote flower growth it is best to prune these plants in late winter or early spring. Pruning at this time will also allow you to easily see the plant’s structure because of the bare branches and the upcoming spring growth will quickly heal wounds. Here is a list of common summer flowering shrubs in Connecticut.

  • Beautyberry
  • Bumald spiraea
  • Butterfly bush
  • Gardenia
  • Japanese barberry
  • Japanese spiraea
  • Nandina
  • Privet
  • Repeat-flowering roses
  • Rose-of-Sharon
  • Summersweet
  • Sweetshrub
  • Hydrangeas
Spring Flowering Plants – Prune In Late Spring to Early Summer Plants that flower in spring grow their flowers on the growth from the previous year. Pruning in late spring to early summer, immediately after their blossoms fade, will increase flower production for the following year. If you wait to prune these types of bushes during summer or winter you will see lower amounts of spring bloom. Below is a list of common Connecticut spring flowering shrubs. Azalea Beautybush Bigleaf hydrangea Bridal wreath spiraea Common lilac Deutzia Flowering quince Forsythia Japanese kerria Japanese pieris Mock orange Rhododendron Weigela




Can't I prune my own shrubs?


We do not recommend trying to prune your shrubs yourself. Pruning shrubs is a skill that takes training. First, you need to determine what type of pruning needs to be done; then you must have the knowledge of proper pruning cuts to successfully prune your shrubs in a non-harmful manner. Like trees, improper pruning cuts on bushes can lead to disease and decay. Even worse, if you choose to shear your bushes you are risking shearing injuries that can cause your shrubs to die prematurely. Because the cost of removing and replacing shrubs that die from improper pruning can be costly, it’s much easier and more cost effective to trust Ornamentals LLC to do the pruning for you.





Landscape Design and Installation

What size projects do you work on?


Our designs range in scale from small renovations to complete outdoor living spaces. Whether you are starting from a blank slate or wishing to renovate or re-design an existing landscape to be more functional and sustainable, Ornamentals design services will work with you from start to finish to design and create an outdoor space that you and your family will enjoy for years to come.




How long does a design and installation take?


The design process (which includes an initial consultation and landscape evaluation, a concept plan meeting, and the final design presentation) can be completed in 2-3 weeks depending on the season and the complexity of the design. Installation can very greatly based on project scope but typically lasts from 3-4 weeks. In the spring and summer you may find times increase as we get busier.




Can you work with what I already have?


Whether you want to keep your favorite hydrangea in your new design or reuse all those Rhododendrons, we can work with you to create a design that best suits your needs. When possible, we can reuse existing plant material in the new design. Just tell us what you love (and don’t love) about your landscape, and we’ll work with you to decide the best way to reach your goals.




Can you design something that I can install myself? Or parts of myself?


We go to great measures to design a landscaping plan that fits your needs. You can choose to install all or part of your landscaping plan yourself. Landscaping can be backbreaking work best left to the professionals, but it can also be incredibly gratifying to complete small projects by yourself. We are here to help guide you to find the best solution for you. We can advise what types of projects are best to hire us or a contractor for and what types of projects you may be able to tackle yourself. Either way, we can help you create a master plan to guide you or a contractor in the installation.




How much does landscape design cost?


There is a wide range of costs for landscaping depending on the size of the project and the type of materials that are used. Our landscape designers work with clients to help in forecasting the budget before the design is prepared. It is counterproductive to prepare a grand design that is unaffordable, so we prefer to collaborate to meet design and budgetary expectations.




Can I do my landscaping in phases?


We have many clients throughout Connecticut who add to their landscape every year. Our designer can discuss how to set priorities for work to be done immediately as well as for future phases.




What about adding hardscaping, lighting or other features to my designs?


Not a problem! At Ornamentals we will work directly with many local Connecticut contractors to esure any landscaping additions are done to the highest standards. We have a list of licensed and insured lighting or other hardscape contractors that we can either higher directly or provide contact information if you would like to contact them directly.





Container Gardening

How often do I need to water?


This is the most frequent question ever. The answer: when your garden needs it. Stick a finger in the soil and see if it's dry. People want a schedule, but nature doesn't work on a schedule. It either rained or it was hot. Plan your garden so that a lot of it can survive on rainfall once it is established. You will still need to water new plants and container plants more often.




How often do you recommend fertilizing?


We recommend feeding container plants every four or five days. Early in the season, switch back and forth between a nitrogen fertilizer and one that's lower in nitrogen but higher in phosphorus and potassium to boost blooms—except for plants you're growing for their foliage. Once the plants are in flower-production mode, by mid-July, use just the flower booster, assuming the plants are the size you want. Never fertilize when the soil is dry; it can burn some plants.




Why does my (fill in the blank) keep dying?


If a plant dies, it's telling you something. You might want to replace it once, just to make sure the first plant wasn't damaged in some way. But if the replacement also dies, that plant clearly isn't suited to that location. Move on, and plant something else.





Vegetable Gardening

Do you do corporate, school or restaurant gardens?


Yes, if you’re interested in an assessment for your business, school, or restaurant please contact us at




How do you deal with pests in the garden?


For larger pests such as deer, squirrels, moles and birds, we offer various pest fencing systems designed to keep out these critters, while allowing you and your family easy access for routine gardening activities. Our Personal Garden Specialists are expert in dealing with insect pests and disease.




When should we be thinking about starting?


Although it is a good idea to get your garden in as soon as possible so that you can start building the soil for the spring season there is no need to wait. The wonderful thing about our succession and companion planting process is the ability to provide fruits and vegetables right up to snow season. We are fortunate our climate in Connecticut is temperate and allows 3 full seasons of harvest.




Do I have to weed and water the garden?


The short answer is, it's up to you. Many of our vegetable garden installation clients still like getting there hands a little dirty but quickly find that by mid-summer they are looking for assistance keeping up with the garden weed and water schedule. At Ornamentals we are happy to assist with your gardening needs on a regular schedule, periodically or those times you are out of town on vacation. When your garden expert comes over to provide a consultation they will discuss what works best for you and your family.




What if I can't eat everything that grows?


Sharing is caring, and your friends, family and neighbors will love you! While in the garden planning process we take into account the number of people who will be eating from the garden, occasionally we get more yield then any one family can eat, if you do not have anyone to share your bounty with, we are happy to provide the excess food to local families in need.




What do I do at the end of the growing season?


At the end of the growing season we offer a garden turn-down service. In our garden turn-down service we remove old dead plants, check the soil, fertilize and can plant cover crops to ensure your soil is ready for the spring. Your garden planner will provide details and options for garden turn-down.





General Questions

Does it cost money for an consultation/estimate?


All Estimates are FREE of charge from all of our horticulturalists.




Does Ornamentals offer a free consultation?


Yes. We offer our complimentary consultation to fully describe the features and benefits of our services.




Is Ornamentals organic?


Absolutely! We only use organic methods and materials and are committed to organic gardening and sustainable agricultural practices. We intend to educate our clients, schools and communities at large on the merits of organic and sustainable living.




Are you licensed & insured?


Yes, we are fully insured and licensed to perform work in Connecticut & Massachusetts. We can provide a copy of our insurance upon request. Also, for commercial work, we can add your company as additional insured. Feel free to request a Certificate of Insurance from our office anytime.




Do you haul all wood & debris?


Yes, most of the time all wood and debris will be hauled and chipped. The estimator will write otherwise if the wood stays, or sometimes customers like keeping the limb wood and us hauling the larger trunk wood. Most of the time, all wood and debris is hauled away.




What happens at the consultation?


During the consultation, our Horticulturalist will meet you on your property, discuss your concerns/goals for your trees & shrubs, evaluate the health of your trees and shrubs, and craft a proposal based on the needs of your property and the client.




Do I have to be at home?


Your time is valuable and we understand that your schedule may conflict. The majority of our clients are not home during business hours. The client does not need to be present during the performance of the work. The crews are provided with a work order reflecting the services and job specifications contracted by the client along with property layout maps.




Clean-Up?


Depending on the scope of work contracted, the practices of our general tree work crews are to chip up the resulting debris and remove from your property. If contracted, large wood will be hauled and disposed of (this may be performed by a different crew). The areas where work was performed will be blown off with the leaf blower and raked.




Guarantee


We guarantee all work will be done in a professional and workmanlike manner to the specifications in the contract. Our work will meet or exceed standards set by the American National Institute (ANSI) and the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).





Fruit Trees

Should I grow fruit trees?


Fruit trees can be a challenge to grow for the average homeowner due to the care they need. Peach and apples tend to have the most pest and disease problems and they need to be on a strict spray schedule. Maintaining the structure of the tree so that it producess and does not become overly large can also be a challenge, but the rewards of fruit trees on your property in our opinion far outweigh all of the negatives. Ornamentals can help manage your trees and ensure you're getting the desired results from them.




What types of fruit trees are easiest to grow in Connecticut?


Asian pears, Japanese persimmons, and figs may be a better choice. Figs grow best in the warmer areas of Connecticut but will still need some winter protection from freezing temperatures. Better yet, are small fruits like raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries which are less problematic provided the bed is properly prepared before planting. If you do plant fruit trees, research and select the most disease resistant varieties. Fruit trees should not be an impulse purchase.




What is the goo coming out of my fruit?


Fruits can exude gum for a number of reasons. This can be part of the natural ripening process, a response to environmental stress or can mean an insect infestation such as Oriental fruit moth, tarnished plant bug or stinkbugs. Diseases such as brown rot or peach scab also cause gummosis. Cut open one of the affected peaches and look for larvae inside. This would indicate Oriental fruit moth. As you can see, peaches are subject to a large number of disease and insect problems in Connecticut. It would be advisable to begin a spray schedule in early spring to ensure an edible crop of fruit.




What is the best time to prune fruit trees?


Fruit trees are pruned when the trees are dormant, usually in late winter just before bud break (March). The exception is peach and other stone fruit (plum, nectarine). Stone fruits are very susceptible to a disease called Cytospora canker. If pruned in late winter the tree cannot protect the pruning wounds from infection by this disease. Prune your peach trees from bud swell through petal fall in the spring or contact Ornamentals to schedule a FREE tree evaluation.




Why do my fruit trees fail to bear fruit?


Fruit trees may fail to bear for a variety of reasons. Some of these include inadequate pollination, tree age, poor climatic conditions and improper cultural practices. Inadequate pollination can be the result of many factors. A common reason is lack of a proper pollinator. Apple, pear and plum trees most often require cross pollination. That means you need two or more varieties which bloom at the same time. Other fruit trees such as sour cherry, peach, nectarine and apricot are self-fruitful. These do not require cross pollination, therefore, a single tree will set fruit well. Some plums are self-fruitful, however cross pollination improves fruit set. This is true of most of the European plums. When planting any fruit tree check on the pollination requirements of the tree. Pollination problems can also result when insecticides are applied while fruit trees are flowering. This can kill pollinating insects. The age of a tree can also affect fruiting. Most trees bear fruit 2-6 years after planting. So you may have to wait a few years. Standard or full size trees also take longer to fruit than do dwarf trees. Dwarf trees are grafted onto a root stock which will reduce the size of the tree. Grafted Dwarf trees produce full-sized fruit typical of the variety and usually begin bearing at a younger age than standard trees. Select dwarf trees when possible for earlier fruit production. Weather extremes of cold, wet, or dry may also adversely affect fruiting. Trees which flower early in the spring such as apricots and peaches are very susceptible to early spring frosts. This damage often ruins or seriously reduces the crop. Cold winter weather may also damage flower buds especially on fruit varieties that are marginally winter hardy. Wet, cold, windy weather during blossom time can also reduce fruiting because it keeps bees and other insects from pollinating trees or hinders the release and growth of pollen. Cultural practices also have definite effects on tree growth and fruit production. Proper planting in a deep fertile soil in an open area with full sun is necessary for best results. Other cultural practices include proper pruning and spreading of the limbs when the trees are young. Developing wide branch angles early in the tree's life also helps promote earlier fruiting. It is also advised to remove any fruit which forms the first 3 years. This helps promote vegetative growth of the tree which can then support heavier crops in the future. Be careful not to over fertilize as this can also delay fruiting. Sometimes apple trees bear heavily one year and sparsely the next. This is called biennial bearing. It occurs when the tree has so many fruit on it that it is unable to store food reserves for producing a crop next year. It is common and can be corrected by thinning the fruit during the heavy bearing year. At Ornamentals LLC our tree experts can help evaluate the reason your trees are not bearing fruit and provide sollutions to ensure you get the most out of your fruit trees. Contact us today to have a tree expert come and evaluate your trees/orchards.




How do I prune an overgrown apple tree?


Apple trees are difficult to maintain when they become tall and overgrown. They also become so dense with leaves and branches that fruit quality decreases and insect and disease problems can increase. The goal of pruning then should be to reduce the overall size of the tree and open up the tree to allow more light and air to penetrate. Begin by removing all suckers at the base of the tree. Next remove all but six to ten of the better branches for scaffold branches. Select branches that are well spaced and have wide crotch angles. Branches with narrow crotch angles are more subject to breakage. Now each main scaffold branch should be thinned. Remove crowded branches and allow more space between smaller branches. It would not be unusual to remove half of the smaller branches. Reduce the length of the longest branches by cutting them back to a side branch. When the job is completed you should be able to easily throw a ball through the tree. Since apples produce fruit on short fruiting spurs which bear year after year be careful not to remove these on the branches which remain. They can be recognized as short thick stubby spurs that become branched with age. On older trees these spurs may need to be thinned also. Severe pruning, as described, will stimulate the tree to produce many young vigorous shoots from the trunks called water sprouts. These should be removed regularly. Some gardeners prefer to spread the rejuvenation process over a two to three years period. This is less shocking to the tree and will reduce the number of water sprouts which develop and have to be removed. Pruning in mid-summer, after the spring flush of growth is completed, as opposed to late winter or early spring, will also help reduce the proliferation of water sprouts encouraged by severe pruning. When making cuts, prune branches flush with the branch bark collar. This is the natural swelling that occurs where one branch joins another. Removing the collar makes larger wounds and inhibits the tree's ability to heal. Look at the area where the two branches join. Find the collar and prune flush up to this collar. Do not cut into the collar. Do not paint pruning wounds with tree wound dressing paint. Pruning wounds heal better when left open. When you finish pruning, remove the branches from beneath the tree. Piles of branches attract rabbits and mice.





Other Services

What is deadheading? Do you provide this service?


When flowers have gone past and plants begin to form seeds, in some cases, deadheading--cutting off the spent flowers--can encourage more blooms. If you allow plants to form seeds, their energies will focus on that process. Cut back flowers that have faded and you can get more flowers or more robust plants. Most annuals will produce more blooms if you regularly deadhead them. Cut the flowering stem back to a healthy leaf. Some perennials also will repeat bloom or continue blooming if you deadhead them, particularly those that bloom on stems that also bear leaves. In the case of perennials, deadheading often will cause plants to become bushier and more compact. This category includes pink evening primrose, gaillardias, salvias, scabiosa, coneflowers, tall phlox, asters, veronicas and coreopsis. In some cases, including coreopsis 'Moonbeam' and pink evening primrose, shearing back the entire plant by one-third to one-half will encourage both rebloom and compact growth. Although most plants with leafless flower stalks that rise above crowns of basal leaves will not rebloom, you still should deadhead. In these cases, deadheading will direct their energy toward forming healthy root systems, healthy foliage and a tidier appearance. Cut each flower stalk off at its base. The daylily 'Stella d'Oro' is an exception in that it often will send up repeat blooms if regularly deadheaded. Although deadheading is not necessary for plant health, some flowering shrubs also benefit from deadheading. Lilac, azalea, rhododendron, magnolia, buddleia and mountain laurel are among the shrubs that will gain by this practice. There always are exceptions: Don't deadhead faded flowers of baptisia, lunaria, blackberry lily or any other plant that bears decorative berries, seedheads or pods later in the season. As part of a lawn and garden maintenance program Ornamentals will ensure your flowers are deadheaded so that they look there best throughout the season.





Tree and Garden Services for Residents & Businesses in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts

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