Welcome to "The Dirt" where we share what you can expect from us in the coming weeks,  what's new at NatureWorks, and some garden buzz.
New Fall Clean-up Method - Tested & Approved 
Fall clean-ups always make us a little sad as we're depleting our properties of their most nutritive resource. So, last fall we ran a pilot program to keep those leaves on-site. On one of our mow routes, we flipped our 3 fall clean-ups into weekly mow visits and kitted our mowers with mulching blades, to shred the leaves and return those nutrient-rich bits to the soil. 

The ecological benefits of mulching leaves back into lawns are described in this article. But to pass the NatureWorks test, it also had to benefit our clients. Here's what happened: weekly visits kept lawns cleaner - 'party ready';  no more leaf piles built up between visits; and no more noisy, disruptive hours with the monster leaf vacuum. 

For 2020 we'll deploy the program more widely so stay tuned. 

The leaves simply disappeared into the lawn, providing fresh nutrients for your turf. 
Filling the Winter Decor Gap
The many cold, windy, desiccating months between New Year's and your spring decor rotation can be unkind to your winter containers. Staring at pots full of browning pine and magnolia tips is depressing. So we've gotten creative at bridging this gap by offering a late-winter makeover where we replace the dead stuff with something fresh. 

Your refresh can be as simple as moss; more sophisticated and artistic with stems and branches; or an arrangement of fresh clipped greens from your own gardens. 
Got Cracks? 
Here in the freeze-thaw cycle of New England, traditionally mortar-set hardscapes can be a challenge and often don't hold up well in the long term. For flat-laid masonry such as patios and walk-ways, polymeric sand is a great alternative.  Made of traditional sand and binding agents, the sand allows for movement during weather extremes - key to preventing cracking. It inhibits weed growth & insect activity, and as an added bonus, costs less than mortar. 

The NatureWorks Family is Growing...
NatureWorks is thrilled to announce three new additions to our growing team! 

Kevin Miller: as our Manager of Lawn Care, Kevin will be in the field treating lawns, identifying and rectifying any potential issues, and making sure your turf is in great health. He comes to us with over 30 years of industry experience maintaining golf course greens, athletic fields, & private residences. Bonus: he loves dogs!

Trevin Williams: as our Director of Landscape Maintenance, Trevin handles the day-to-day behind-the-scenes operations, making it all come together. He comes to us with over 10 years of landscape experience, a degree in Environmental Design & Landscape Contracting from UMass, and is a proud dad of two (soon to be three!).

Jim Lynn: Our newest Account Manager brings a decade of industry knowledge & experience to the table. He holds a degree in Landscape Operations from UNH, & is passionate about all things plants. And he is also a soon-to-be father of three! If you see him on your property, please say hello.

...and Growing! 
On Wednesday January 8 th at 11:25pm, Account Manager Kaitlyn Lowe-Woelfel & husband Jack welcomed little James Atticus to the world. He just couldn't wait to meet everyone, & made his appearance two weeks early - James is already a good little sleeper (except between 1-3am!). We're so happy for them - welcome to the NatureWorks family, James!

Kaitlyn's baby - James Atticus

This is Not a Pine Cone
Meet the Bagworm - looks like a cone, but that's its safety sack, where it hangs for the first part of its life cycle. Not historically a big pest in New England, but due to warmer winters, it's now more prevalent and large populations can completely defoliate a tree. Most typically found on cedar-type trees but they've also been spotted on deciduous trees like London Planes. If you see these in your landscape, please call us so we can manage them. Get more info  here.

Bagworm 'bag' hanging on a Hinoki Cypress in Newton; emerging larvae; defoliated arbs from feeding.
Cherry and Plum Poop
Ever notice poop on your cherry and plum tree branches and wonder what creature left that mess? Well, it's not poop, it's a fungal disease called Black Knot that can kill your trees if left untreated. Spores typically spread to your ornamentals from wild cherries growing in nearby woods, and once they're present, they multiply rapidly into nasty galls. These galls can only be managed by manually pruning them out - winter is the best time for this because the spores are dormant, minimizing their spread.

Black Knot fungal bodies girdling the branches and choking them; these galls also serve as an entry point for invading insects. 
"And the boy loved the tree...very much. And the tree was happy."
- Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree