Leave Pruning To The Experts - Shrub Care Service Springfield MO

Leave Pruning To The Experts – Shrub Care Service Springfield MO

Proper pruning enhances the beauty of almost any landscape tree and shrub, while improper pruning can ruin or greatly reduce its landscape potential. In most cases, it is better not to prune than to do it incorrectly. In nature, plants go years with little or no pruning, but man can ruin what nature has created. By using improper pruning methods healthy plants are often weakened or deformed. In nature, every plant eventually is pruned in some manner.

It may be a simple matter of low branches being shaded by higher ones resulting in the formation of a collar around the base of the branch restricting the flow of moisture and nutrients. Eventually the leaves wither and die and the branch then drops off in a high wind or storm. Often, tender new branches of small plants are broken off by wild animals in their quest for food. In the long run, a plant growing naturally assumes the shape that allows it to make the best use of light in a given location and climate. All one needs to do to appreciate a plant’s ability to adapt itself to a location is to walk into a wilderness and see the beauty of natural growing plants.

Pruning, like any other skill, requires knowing what you are doing to achieve success. The old idea that anyone with a chain saw or a pruning saw can be a landscape pruner is far from the truth. More trees are killed or ruined each year from improper pruning than by pests. Remember that pruning is the removal or reduction of certain plant parts that are not required, that are no longer effective, or that are of no use to the plant. It is done to supply additional energy for the development of flowers, fruits, and limbs that remain on the plant.

Pruning involves removing plant parts to improve the health, landscape effect, or value of the plant. It’s best to leave the pruning to the shrub care service experts at Gabris Landscaping.

By making the pruning cuts in a certain order, the total number of cuts is reduced greatly. Our skilled pruners first remove all dead, broken, diseased or problem limbs by cutting them at the point of origin or back to a strong lateral branch or shoot. Often, removing this material opens the canopy sufficiently so that no further pruning is necessary.

The next step in pruning is to make any training cuts needed. By cutting back lateral branches, the tree or shrub is trained to develop a desired shape, to fill in an open area caused by storm or wind damage or to keep it in bounds to fit a given area. To properly train a plant, one should understand its natural growth habit. We always strive to avoid destroying the natural shape or growth habit when pruning.

Pruning can actually be done at any time of the year. However, recommended times vary with different plants. Contrary to popular belief, pruning at the wrong time of the year does not kill plants, but continual improper pruning results in damaged or weakened plants. In general, the best time to prune most plants is during late winter or early spring before growth begins.

The least desirable time is immediately after new growth develops in the spring. A great amount of food stored in roots and stems is used in developing new growth. This food should be replaced by new foliage before it is removed; if not, considerable dwarfing of the plant may occur. This is a common problem encountered in pruning.

It also is advisable to limit the amount of pruning done late in summer as new growth may be encouraged on some plants. This growth may not have sufficient time to harden off before cold weather arrives resulting in cold damage or winter kill. It’s best to have us prune plants that have been damaged by storms or vandalism or ones with dead limbs as soon as possible to avoid additional insect and disease problems that may develop.

All too often trees are topped (“dehorned”) to reduce size or to rejuvenate growth. In either case topping is not a recommended practice. Topping is the process whereby a tree is cut back to a few large branches. After 2 to 3 months, regrowth on a topped tree is vigorous, bushy and upright. Topping seriously affects the tree’s structure and appearance. The weakly attached regrowth can break off during severe wind or rain storms. Topping may also shorten the life of a tree by making it susceptible to attack by insect and disease.

Thinning is a better means of reducing the size of a tree or rejuvenating growth. In contrast to topping, thinning removes unwanted branches by cutting them back to their point of origin. Thinning conforms to the tree’s natural branching habit and results in a more open tree, emphasizing the branches’ internal structure. Thinning also strengthens the tree by forcing diameter growth of the remaining branches.

If you have any questions about having your trees, plants or bushes trimmed by the experts at Gabris Landscaping, give us a call to schedule an appointment to have us come by and offer our recommendations and provide you with a written estimate for our services.

Treating Brown Spots in Your Yard - Lawn Applications Springfield MO

Treating Brown Spots in Your Yard – Lawn Applications Springfield MO

Treating Brown Spots in Your Yard

You have brown patches of dead grass in your lawn. Is it the common lawn disease known as “brown patch” or is it something else? The answer is important: if it is brown patch you probably need to spray with a fungicide. If it is not, you’ll waste your money on lawn applications that won’t really solve the problem.

DISEASE vs ENVIRONMENT – While brown patch does cause patches of dead grass, other things can cause the same symptoms. If the area is poorly drained and water stands on a spot for more than 24 hours, the grass roots will rot, causing a dead patch. If you have a sodded lawn less than one year old, it is possible the soil underneath the sod was never plowed to relieve compaction. Where the sod has rooted poorly, brown patches will develop as dry weather sets in. If one part of the lawn was once used as a baseball home plate or a soccer goalie area, the earth beneath is almost as hard as concrete. It’s easy to see why green grass would turn brown there.

BROWN PATCH SYMPTOMS – If you eliminate environmental causes of the brown patch, what are the true symptoms of the disease? True brown patch spots are small to begin with but in warm weather they can enlarge rapidly. Seen from above, the patch will look like a doughnut – a ring of tan grass having a patch of green grass in the center. Individual grass blades will be brown down to the crown – where the blade emerges from the ground – but the crown will be green. Early in the morning during hot, damp weather you might see a white fungal web at the edge of the dead grass patch.

KEEP GRASS HEALTHY – Remember that the fungus that causes brown patch is constantly present. It can not be eliminated. Your grass gets sick because it is weak and becomes susceptible to the disease. You can help keep the grass strong by fertilizing only when the grass needs it: during the cool months for fescue and during the warm months for Bermuda Grass.

WATERING – Never water in the evening. The best time to water is in early morning. Fescue is much more susceptible when it has lush, green growth plus warm nighttime temperatures. Warmth at night can not be avoided but lush growth can be moderated. The second step is to water at the right time. Since brown patch needs 14-16 hours of wet leaf surface to reproduce itself, water only after the dew has dried in the morning. An alternative is to water after nightfall. Since the grass is wet with dew anyway, watering in the dark does not unnecessarily extend the wet period.

FERTILIZER – Fertilizer applied in late spring and summer causes rapid growth (which must be mowed!) and drought stress. It is best to fertilize fescue only in fall, winter and spring. Nitrogen fertilizer in June, July and August increases the severity of brown patch fungus on all cultivars except Kentucky 31 fescue. The disease is worse at mowing heights less than two inches and more than three inches. Fungicides to control brown patch are available but they must be applied regularly. To avoid the expense, change the cultural conditions before reaching for the fungicide.

FUNGICIDES – If you are absolutely sure you have brown patch, the disease can be controlled with fungicides with our lawn applications. Several are labeled for brown patch control.

If you have brown spots in your lawn and aren’t sure what’s causing them, contact Gabris Landscaping to get a professional diagnosis and proper treatment to take care of the problem.

Spider Mite Treatment - Yard Pest Control Springfield MO

Spider Mite Treatment – Yard Pest Control Springfield MO

Identifying Spider Mites on Houseplants and Outdoor Plants

As a leader in local landscape and lawn care, part of our yard pest control task involves removing spider mites from plants. Initially, spider mite damage will appear as small yellow or brown spots on the leaves of the plant. If the plant is badly infested, the plant’s health will suffer and it may develop completely yellow leaves and may stop growing.

Spider mite damage may also include a telltale spider web type webbing on the plant. Spider mites are arachnids and are related to spiders. They produce webs in order to protect themselves and their eggs. It is very difficult to see spider mites on houseplants and outdoor plants with the naked eye because they are so small, but if you suspect that your plant has spider mites, you can hold a piece of paper under the leaves of the plant and shake them gently. If it is spider mites, specks will fall on the paper that looks similar to pepper.

Effective Yard Pest Control to Kill Spider Mites

One natural spider mite remedy is to simply spray down the plant with a nozzled hose. The force of the stream of water is enough to knock most of the spider mites off of the plant.

Another natural spider mite remedy is to release natural predators of spider mites around the plants. These can include Ladybugs, Lacewing, Minute pirate bugs, and Predatory mites. If the infestation is too extensive or you do not have the time or products to treat your yard pest control, call us right away.

Also, an effective spider mite treatment that we provide is to use an insecticidal oil, like neem oil, a horticultural oil or a dormant oil. You can also try using a miticide, a substance made specifically to kill mites. Yard pest control can be a tedious task, but it is important that the proper precautions are being made. You should not try to use a normal pesticide for spider mite treatment as they are resistant to pesticides. Using a pesticide will only kill off the beneficial bugs that eat spider mites, which will only make the spider mite infestation worse. Spider mites on houseplants and garden plants is annoying and unsightly, but you do not have to let spider mite damage kill your plants. Knowing what spider mite treatment works means that you can kill spider mites quickly and easily.

Lawn Mowing Techniques - Lawn Aeration Springfield MO

Lawn Mowing Techniques – Lawn Aeration Springfield MO

While there can be a numerous amount of things that can affect your lawn, the three most common influences are the weather, the soil and lawn care and mowing techniques. Since the weather and soil can be quite difficult to control, proper lawn care and mowing techniques are a manageable variable that can show a big difference.

Proper lawn aeration, care and mowing techniques are vital to having a healthy lawn and landscape and usually cost a minimal amount. Coming up with lawn care and mowing techniques can never happen too early or soon. Some tips for healthy lawn care and mowing techniques are:

High Mowing

The higher the grass, the healthier your lawn will be. With the height of the grass and the depth of the roots, there is a one to one relationship, which means if you mow at two inches, your roots will have a depth of two inches. The one-third rule states that you should never remove more than one third of the high of the grass in one clipping, because it leaves the grass more prone to diseases. High mowing will add root mass and will make your lawn more disease and drought-resistant.

Variation of Mowing Pattern

Mowing pattern variation makes sure that the wheels of the mower are not running over the same areas every time. This can cause bald spots in the grass and can eventually weaken it.

Sharp Mower Blade

A good thing to remember is to keep the blade on your mower sharp. Cutting with a dull blade will leave the grass jagged, which will brown the grass quickly and will leave the grass prone to disease.

 Mulch Clippings

When people bag clippings, they are losing a lot of nitrogen they are applying when fertilizing. Leaving the clippings on your yard will help maintain soil activity. One environmental positive of not bagging mowing clippings is the landfills are not being filled with good healthy nitrogen.

Water Dry Grass

Especially during the summer months, grass needs at least one inch of water per week. Watering deeply in the morning to reduce the possibility of disease once a week is a good technique.

The frequency of watering isn’t the most important issue anymore, the amount of moisture and the timing is what matters the most.


Aeration reduces compaction, which makes root development easier. This also pulls microorganisms to the surface, which helps break down thatch and other organisms.

How to Pick a Healthy Plant

How to Pick a Healthy Plant – Yard Pest Control Springfield MO

Before going out and finding the perfect plant for you, it is good to know that, since plants can be expensive and temperamental, some plants might not work for your landscape or they might not be in season yet. Even the fully developed plants can develop problems quickly, such a yard pest control problems, diseases and damages done, but knowing how to tell if a plant is healthy may solve future problems.

Selecting A Healthy Plant

The first step before selecting a plant for your landscape, is understanding the signs of a healthy and unhealthy plant. Looking at all of the plants parts will tell you if there are any problems, and you should start with looking at the leaves. Next you should look at the growth of foliage, then disease and pests issues and finally with the roots. Here at Gabris Landscaping we can help you with any of your landscaping needs, anywhere from starting from scratch with a new house, to a yard pest control problem, to planting a new tree or shrub.

Growth of Foliage

Healthy plant growth will indicate a healthy plant. Most plants, with some exceptions including plants with multi-colored leaves, should have green leaves with even color. It is recommend not buying a plant with pale leaves. Also, it is a recommendation to avoid dry leave edges and yellowing or brown leaves on plants. Full, bright colored growth is a sign of a healthy plant. Instead of long plants, it is recommended to choose sturdy plants. If a plant looks to be pruned, this could indicate a damaged stem has been removed because it was diseased or damaged in process of growth or movement.

Disease and Pests

After looking at the leaves and growth of a plant, it is recommended to look at symptoms of diseases and possibly pests. When looking for diseases and pests, you should check underneath the leaves and where the stem attaches to leaves. At Gabris Landscaping we can help you with any problems you may encounter with your landscape with our yard pest control service. This is the location some pests stay, such as: Spider mites, Aphids, and Scale Mealybugs.


Other signs of a healthy plant are good sturdy roots. However, because roots are difficult to see when a plant is in a pot, most of the time you can tell if the plant is rootbound. you notice roots growing through the hole of the pot, the plant has been in that pot too long. When the roots are growing on top of the potting soil mix, it is a sign of a rootbound problem.

Rootbound plants are not necessarily an unhealthy plant, because it shows that the plant is growing, but it is recommended to repot a rootbound plant as soon as you can.

Cicadas are Back in 2015 - Yard Pest Control Springfield MO

Cicadas are Back in 2015 – Yard Pest Control Springfield MO

Well folks, I’ll keep it short and sweet… the cicadas (sometimes also known as “locusts”) are back in 2015.  We actually have 2 populations emerging this year near Springfield, Missouri.  Typically they emerge in early May.  There is a 17-year cycle that will emerge on the west side of the state near Kansas City, as well as a 13 year population that will emerge on the east side of the state closer to Arkansas.  It is rare that we have two cycles emerging at the same time so expect to see quite a few flying around this year.

What does this mean for your plants and trees?  Well, basically the main thing you will notice is insect shells all over the place, but you may also find ovi-positing slits in branches from egg-laying and possible some branch flagging.  In most cases, this should not be a major concern for the trees or plants but we specialize in yard pest control even though there’s not a lot to do with cicadas.  In extreme cases, there is potential for some damage and extra stress to affected plants, but the damage from cicadas is usually not a big deal.  The phenomenon itself is just interesting to be aware of.

Some things we can expect after cicada emergence is an increase in mammal populations the following 1-2 years.  You can also expect an increase in ticks and other mammal feeding insects 2-3 years following emergence.

For more on the periodical cicadas visit: www.magicicada.org and www.indiana.edu/~preserve/cicada/CicadasPres/slide14.html

I would like to give thanks to Rob Lawrence, Forest Entomologist at the Missouri Department of Conservation, for the information above.  All of this information was presented by Rob during the 2015 Tree Insect and Disease Update in Springfield, Missouri.


Jeffrey R. Gabris, MBA

ISA Certified Arborist – MW5363A

Emerald Ash Borer 2015 Update - Lawn Care Services Springfield MO

Emerald Ash Borer 2015 Update – Lawn Care Services Springfield MO

Emerald Ash Borer is a type of inset that is known to be suspicious and can infest a county. While they affect a county, there are multiple homeowners that are affected in their infestation process. Because of this we offer many lawn care services to homeowners within counties that have been affected by Emerald Ash Borer. The following insect information comes from a 2015 Insect & Disease Workshop (in January) and is compliments of Rob Lawrence, Forest Entomologist at the Missouri Department of Conservation:

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Information:





To Report EAB Suspicions for your county in Missouri, take the following steps:

1.) Check the map of known EAB infested counties @  www.eab.missouri.edu

If your county is already known to be infested, you can stop there.  If not, continue on to step 2.

2.) Compare EAB signs and symptoms from brochures available at the Missouri Conservation Department or www.eab.missouri.edu

If your signs and symptoms match those of EAB, continue on to step 3.

3.) Report your findings to your local Missouri Department of Conservation forester (See local contact box at http://mdc.mo.gov), by phone toll-free at 866-716-9974, or @ www.eab.missouri.edu


EAB: Branch Sampling Information –>  http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/pubwarehouse/pdfs/32127.pdf

EAB: Management for Homeowners –> http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/eab/index.php?page=management/homeowners

EAB: Insecticide Options (revised 2014) –> www.emeraldashborer.info/files/multistate_EAB_Insecticide_Fact_Sheet.pdf

EAB: Insecticide Potential Side Effects –> www.emeraldashborer.info/files/Potential_Side_Effects_of_EAB_Insecticides_FAQ.pdf

EAB: Cost Calculator –> http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/treecomputer/

Proper Planting Techniques Handout - Landscape Replacement Springfield MO

Proper Planting Techniques Handout – Landscape Replacement Springfield MO

Click Here To Download Our Proper Planting Techniques Handout

Proper Planting Techniques

  1. Choose a healthy, disease-free and pest-free plant with good structure relative to its species and if help would be beneficial we offer many landscape replacement services.
  2. Look up for wires/lights and around/down for wires, irrigation, gas, water, and telecommunications lines. .(AVOID FIBEROPTIC LINES AT ALL COSTS – EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE REPAIR COSTS)
  3. Find the top-most root and treat root defects for trees and large shrubs; (i.e. cut out stem girdling roots.) For smaller shrubs and plants pull roots out gently on root-ball to encourage horizontal growth. (Thicker root wads may need to be sliced with a sharp pocket knife or utility blade first.)
  4. Dig the depth of hole exactly the height of the root-ball (as measured from the bottom to the top-most root) and twice the width of root-ball width.
  5. Remove synthetic materials (burlap, wire basket, etc)
  6. Place plant in hole and position top root 1-2 inches above landscape soil
  7. Make sure plant or tree is straight by standing a distance away and examining it from multiple angles.  Face the fuller, healthier sides of plants and trees towards the area from which it will be most often seen.
  8. Add back soil and pack firmly around the root ball
  9. Soak planting area until full of water to push air out of any pockets
  10. Add mulch 2-3 inches thick on top of moist soil around root ball and step down gently to push soil down into any large air pockets.  Then spread mulch out around tree using proper mulching techniques.
  11. Stake and prune (only if needed)
Watering Your New Plants Handout - Water Sprinkler Troubleshooting Springfield MO

Watering Your New Plants Handout – Water Sprinkler Troubleshooting Springfield MO

Click Here To Download Our Newly Planted Shrub, Turf, & Tree Watering Practices 1 Page Handout

New Plant/Turf/Tree Watering Practices
The #1 cause of death for new plantings in urban areas is over watering, which is why we offer water sprinkler troubleshooting services and these guidelines. These guidelines are intended to maximize the successful establishment of new plants in the urban landscape. There are many exceptions to the following guidelines and plant specific research is encouraged for customers interested in the proper maintenance of their turf, plants, shrubs, and trees.
A smaller volume of water provided more frequently is preferred to larger volumes of water in smaller frequencies for the majority of your smaller plants and shrubs. Trees and larger shrubs prefer a slightly larger volume of water a little less frequently. The key is to keep the soil around the root system moist.
The use of tree bags are recommended for newly planted trees. They should be filled up every day for the first two weeks and about once a week for the following 6-10 weeks depending on weather conditions. After that trees should be watered once or twice a month for the first 1-2 years, even during their dormancy period, if weather permits.
All that said, the following schedule seems to be pretty effective during the Spring and Fall. I would increase the volumes and add in a few extra frequencies to compensate for additional water loss from the heat. Excessive rainfall should be compensated for as well.  If you are ever in doubt about proper watering practices, contact local experts which can be found at nurseries, the Conservation Department, and landscape service businesses.  If you are in the Midwest region and just need advice, just give us a call at (417) 837-1578


Jeffrey R. Gabris, M.B.A.

ISA Certified Arborist – MW-5363A


Protecting Plants From Winter Desiccation - Shrub Care Service Springfield MO

Protecting Plants From Winter Desiccation – Shrub Care Service Springfield MO

After last year’s winter, many of our customers are concerned with losing plants in the landscape from the cold weather. I thought it may be beneficial to share some simple tips to help keep your plants alive during our sporadic Winters here in Springfield, Missouri. Below you will find 3 easy ways you could be protecting your plants from Winter desiccation.

Although it may be too late for many people, the first step in helping your plants live through the seasons is selecting the correct plants upon installation. Many plants have specific varieties that can handle cold temperatures or drought conditions better than other varieties or cultivars. Making sure your plants are in the correct Hardiness Zone for our location is one way to determine if a plant is suited to survive in our area. In Springfield, Missouri our Hardiness Zone would be considered 6a.  This information should be available on the plant’s tag at the nursery. If not, usually it can be found with a simple internet search from your smart phone. Search for “plant specifications for (plant name here)” or “plant facts for (plant name here).” Some good websites for plant facts will be your local botanical center (Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder) or a university extension website (Virginia Tech University Dendrology Factsheet).

Another simple way to keep your plants healthy during the more extreme weather conditions is by keeping a fresh layer of mulch over their roots.  Usually 2-3 inches is the appropriate thickness for your mulch.  Be sure to keep the mulch away from the woody trunk or stem of your plants because it will hold moisture against the plant.  This moisture can lead to conditions such as root rot or insect infestations.  Mulch only needs to cover the roots, not the plant itself.  There are many types of mulch you can use for your plants such as wood chips, tree bark, pine needles, crushed up pine cones, processed mulches, or leaves.  The experts recommend using a mulch that is relatively proportionate to the size of your plant.  For smaller plants, go with a finer mulch (mulched leaves, processed mulch, pine needles).  For a larger plant or tree, use larger mulches (tree bark, pine cones, wood chips).  Although, for aesthetic purposes, I recommend finding a happy medium and keeping the mulch color and style uniform across the entire landscape.  Of course, exceptions are always made for areas of focus.  A different kind of mulch or gravel could be used in a pathway or around a specific variety of plants for a sleek contrast that can really make a landscape “pop”.  Aesthetics aside, mulching your plants properly can make a big impact on their ability to handle Winter weather.

Something most people don’t think about during the Winter that can make a huge difference in the survival of their plants is the occasional watering.  If you can remember to water your plants about once a month during the Winter while irrigation systems are shut off, it could literally be the difference between the life and death of some of your plants.  Of course, you will want to make sure the weather is warm enough for watering before you spend the time filling up your watering cans.  During the winter we often have a cold, dry weather in Springfield with the occasional snow accumulation.  It may seem to us that we have had all kinds of precipitation, but usually it’s not nearly what we need.  To add to the trouble, snow is usually high in nitrogen.  Nitrogen, while an important element of plant health, can sometimes dry plants out when over applied.  A little water can dilute nitrogen levels, keeping plants healthy and better able to deal with the cold weather conditions.  Be sure to water your plants when we get those few warmer days during the winter.

The plants I’ve noticed that were affected most last Winter were our leafy-evergreen plants. Some examples would be Holly, Nandina, Azalea, Photinia, and Laurel. These may be some good plants to focus your efforts on for this coming Winter. Another good place to focus your efforts would be on high value plants, new plants, and mature plants. If you are unsure about how to maintain plants in your yard, be sure to contact one of our local professionals since we specialize in shrub care service. The local Conservation Department and the International Society of Arboriculture (www.isa-arbor.com) are great resources for finding educated professionals in your area.

Hopefully these tips will ease some landscape concerns this Winter and save you lots of money.  Happy Gardening!


Jeffrey R. Gabris, B.S., MBA,

ISA Certified Arborist: MW-5363A


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