Comprehensive Plant Health Care, Tree Care and Landscaping Solutions for Large-Scale Projects [Case Study]

When a property owner became concerned about the negative impact of needle cast and hemlock wooly adelgid to their blue spruces, Douglas firs and hemlock trees, he turned to comprehensive solutions from Cumberland Valley Tree Service – Landscaping for ongoing diagnostic and suppressive services.

When the property owner eventually decided to change strategies and start over fresh, they once again called on Cumberland Valley Tree Service – Landscaping to safely and efficiently remove the trees, haul away the logs and grind the stumps.

And this spring, Cumberland Valley Tree Service – Landscaping will once again collaborate with the property owner to restore the lawn, which had thinned out from years of struggling to grow in shad and extensive soil erosion. We will replace the trees with varieties and configurations that meet the property owner’s needs.

Diagnostics -> Symptom Control -> Removal -> Stump Grinding -> Landscape Design -> Landscape Implementation


Preservation. Removal. Renewal.

Here is a closer look at how CVTS-L, as the authority in tree care, is able to provide comprehensive Plant Health Care, Tree Care and Landscape Design solutions for properties of any size at every stage of their development.

Our “one call to do it all” approach benefits our clients across the lifecycles of their trees and plants.

1. Comprehensive Plant Health Care

There were two primary health issues affecting the trees on this property: needle cast and hemlock wooly adelgid. CVTS-L was able to diagnose and provide preventative/suppressive treatments to keep the problems in check.



Needle cast is a fungus that affects primarily blue spruce and Douglas fir. It has been occurring in our region since approximately the 1970s and has been growing in strength and frequency ever since.

Needle cast starts at the bottom and interior of the tree and works its way up and out as the disease spreads throughout the tree.

Needle cast symptoms are visible to the eye, although it might be concealed from a distance by healthy needles in its early stages. There are several types of needle cast in our area, and samples can be collected and sent to a lab, if necessary, to identify the specific fungal disease affecting the tree.


As with most plant health problems, prevention is the best strategy. Our plant health experts and licensed commercial applicators can proactively treat your blue spruces and Douglas firs to help keep needle cast suppressed.

Unfortunately, once the tree is infected with needle cast, it cannot be cured. However, the symptoms can be controlled and slowed down through the use of specific routine suppressive treatments. There can be a temptation to let up a bit when the needle cast appears to be under control, but this should be resisted. The needle cast is still present and active, and it will come roaring back soon after treatments are stopped.



Hemlock wooly adelgid is an insect that – as its name implies – affects hemlock trees.

Characteristics: Hemlock wooly adelgid is easily identified by its white “cotton ball” appearance on the twigs of hemlock trees (not to be confused with hemlock elongate scale, which presents as a white, wooly appearance on the needles of the tree rather than the twig).

The white cottony mass is actually a covering over top of the insect itself.

After the insect has been killed, the white covering will remain on the twig for some time, and will take on a dingy color as it wears off naturally over time.


The treatment for hemlock wooly adelgid will vary depending on the extent of the infestation, but can include foliar sprays, systemic bark applications and/or soil injections. Minor infestations can simply be pruned out.

2. Comprehensive Tree Care

The decision to remove the damaged trees was not an easy one for the homeowner to make. In fact, even the neighbor had wanted to keep them standing for as long as possible. However, given the quantity, size and location of the trees, the ongoing regimen of suppressive treatments was no longer a viable option.

Removing the existing trees and starting over with a blank slate became the most sensible solution.


In total, CVTS-L removed 27 trees from the property. Many of the trees were mature spruces and hemlocks in the range of 40-50 feet tall.

Multiple crews were dispatched to the job site. Using multiple buckets, our log truck, and a strategic felling plan, we were able to complete the removal portion of the job in two days with minimal lawn damage.

The logs were all moved to one central pile, and a log truck hauled them away the following day.


The risk of total tree failure was relatively low – even with the needle cast and wooly adelgid (needle cast is unsightly and, if untreated, will kill the tree, but it’s a slow death).

However, an oak tree was dropping large limbs during storms and because of its proximity to other houses and the road, it did pose some degree of risk (neighborhood kids riding bikes, etc.). The blue spruces, which were never treated, began to lose their needles and eventually became unsightly. The constant needle shedding created continual debris along the road.

As we have discussed previously in this blog, any portion of the tree that crosses the property line becomes the neighbor’s responsibility – whether it is needles, leaves, limbs or even the tree itself.

There was another somewhat unusual problem concerning the neighbor in this case: they wanted the trees to stay despite the risks because the trees formed a natural green wall for privacy. The trees are gone now, but our comprehensive landscape solution will likely incorporate a green wall in one form or another in the new landscape design this spring.


27 trees means 27 stumps for us to grind. The grinding will likely coincide with the lawn grading/restoration that we will be performing closer to spring.

We anticipate a three-person crew consisting of two grinders and one skid loader to remove the woody debris.

Learn more about stump grinders, the stump grinding process and the cleanup options.

comprehensive solutions
(Property after 27 trees were removed but before new landscape design had been implemented.)

3. Comprehensive Landscaping Design and Implementation

Because the client had lived with mature trees so long, we have recommended that they live with the property as a blank slate for a little bit while they consider their options and decide their next move. It’s rare to find yourself with a blank slate to create on, and it will be easier to do the installation closer to spring.

While the specific trees and overall design might change in the next few weeks, we do know this much:

  • Shade from the trees has made the grass very thin in places. Now that the trees are gone, we have an opportunity to fix this with new grass. Sod is also an option.
  • One of the complications of the thin grass and the natural grade of the property is that an erosion canal has formed, which we will fill and restore in a more effective way.
  • The client will most likely want to restore that natural green wall that stood between the two properties.

We will also recommend that the client choose a variety of different species of trees so that they aren’t all susceptible to the same fungi, diseases and blights. If the property had had a more diverse selection of trees to begin with, they might not have all been afflicted with needle cast and wooly adelgid, and we might have only taken a few trees down.


Contracting one company for comprehensive Plant Health Care, Tree Care and Landscaping is beneficial to the client in a variety of ways:

Cross-department communication. Our Tree Care and Landscaping divisions are guided by close consultation with our own Plant Health Care division. Our crew members are encouraged to cross train with other divisions whenever possible so that each employee has a comprehensive knowledge base.

Streamlined production. Plant Health Care, Tree Care and Landscaping require specialized training and specialized equipment. When the bucket trucks, stump grinders and spray trucks are all coordinated from the same office, it ensures that the work continues smoothly while minimizing gaps between project phases. Plus, it’s just easier to keep track of.

Everyone is insured. When everyone at the worksite is an employee of CVTS-L, you can be assured that everyone is insured – and that we can provide written proof of insurance. This includes General Liability Insurance AND Worker’s Compensation Insurance.

Contact us today to discuss how our Plant Health Care, Tree Care and Landscaping divisions (plus Stump Grinding!) can improve your property whether you need a simple pruning or you need 27 trees removed and replaced with a new landscape design.

[Main image caption: Property after 27 trees were removed but before new landscape design had been implemented.]