Tree Service & Lawn Care Expert Serving Cambridge, MA
Jeff Bourque, ISA Certified Arborist
Territory and Services:
Jeff operates out of SavATree’s Lincoln, MA branch providing comprehensive tree, shrub, lawn, tick and deer services to Cambridge and Brookline, MA. Some services that Jeff and the team offer to clients in the Cambridge area include tree removal, tree pruning, tree and lawn fertilization, tree disease and lawn disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment, shrub services including Boxwood Blight treatments, organic lawn care and other organic care options, pest control including mosquito and tick treatments, lawn aeration, lawn seeding and deer repellents. If you would like to keep your property healthy and thriving throughout the entire year, then get in contact with Jeff to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (781) 795-2504
Jeff has been providing tree care and plant health care services for over 20 years in the Greater Boston area, and is specialized in urban forestry and tree preservation.
Jeff studied Natural Resources, with a concentration in Government and Public Policy at the University of Maine, as well as further studies at the Essex Agricultural and Technical School.
Industry Involvement, Awards and Certifications:
- Massachusetts Certified Arborist #1975
- ISA Certified Arborist #NE-6743A
- MA Commercial Pesticide License for (36) Shade Tree and Ornamentals and also (40) Right-Of-Way
- Elected Tree warden for Town of Hubbardston, MA
- Member of the MA Arborists Assoc., ISA, and MA Tree Warden’s and Forester’s Assoc.
Jeff lives in Hubbardston, MA with his wife and two children. He enjoys camping, hiking, sports, and being outdoors.
Why He Became an Arborist:
“Trees are fascinating living things, and there is so much to know and learn to properly care for them. Being an arborist means that there is no limit to what I can learn to do my job effectively, and I enjoy the opportunity to better myself so that I can be of value to my clients.”
Customer Service Philosophy:
“Under-promise and over-deliver: I always want to be realistic with my clients’ expectations, and try to provide the best service that I can.”
What are Jeff’s Clients Saying?
Green Industry Partners
July 18, 2019 – We get asked to do many things, but we cant do it all. Part of maintaining a high level of service is to do what you do well and recognize when to call in other professionals. Pictured here is Jenny Talbot, who owns Talbots Creative Gardens, and she is my go to person for garden planning and maintenance. Jenny’s team is highly proficient in perennials, annuals, and bulbs, as well as routine bed maintenance. We are able to work closely on many properties, which makes our team very beneficial to our common clients!
Observations in the Field:
Gummosis of Stone Fruits
October 27, 2019 – Peaches, cherries, and plums are prone to many insects and diseases in the northeast and the result can often lead to a tree wounding response called gummosis. This condition will often be present when an insect, disease, or mechanical injury damages the cambium or bark. While the gummosis, a jelly-like or hardened amber ooze, is inconsequential to the health of the tree, it does tell the tree owner or manager that there is something wrong with the tree. If you notice a sap like this protruding from your tree, contact your local SavATree arborist right away!
Ground Covers in Cambridge, MA
October 11, 2019 – When you have a small yard, which is typical of an urban property, but you have large trees, it can be difficult to grow a good lawn. A great alternative is to plant groundcovers, hostas, lily of the valley, and moss. Combined with some flagstone, brick, or crushed stone walkway, this creates a simple and attractive floor to a densely planted landscape. For advice on how to make your yard the landscape of your dreams, contact SavATree!
Bradford Pears in East Cambridge
October 6, 2019 – Some trees inherently come with structural problems, yet we still plant them for a variety of reasons. The older cultivars of Bradford pear is probably the most notorious. The branches of these trees grow at very tight angles to the parent stems, which leads to issues with included bark. Trees with included bark usually have weak limb attachment. So how do we address this? For starters, these older cultivars are usually not planted anymore, but those that we have are 20-40 years old and need regular maintenance. This is a photo of a pear tree we have aggressively pruned over the years, reducing weight in the crown and removing the weakest limbs. Other weak limbs are cabled together. While we can not entirely eliminate these trees, we can prune them to make them better suited to our urban environment.
Peach Tree Borer in Somerville, MA
October 2, 2019 – Recently I was called to a property to look at a declining fruit tree and discovered a half dead peach tree. Peaches have it rough in the northeast and tend to have much shorter lives than apples and pears. The peaches in these pictures have peach tree borer, a small boring insect usually found at the base of the tree. Healthy trees can fight off borers, while sick/weak/stressed trees are more vulnerable to borers. Talk to your arborist to find out how to keep your trees healthy, so they can fight for themselves.
Leaf Diseases in the Boston Area
September 24, 2019 – This summer we have received many calls about trees losing leaves early; primarily apple, crabapple, pear, cherry, and birch. Certain trees are predisposed to foliar diseases and when enough of a pathogen, such as apple scab, leaf spot or anthracnose, attack the leaves, the leaves will be dropped from the tree. We had roughly 50 days of rain this spring, followed by a humid summer, which are favorable conditions for these fungal pathogens. If your tree has not had this happen before, it will likely be fine going forward. However, if early leaf drop occurs on your tree every year, then you should talk to your local SavATree arborist for diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Cabling & Bracing an American Elm in Cambridge, MA
September 21, 2019 – Last year we were called to save an American elm that was beginning to split. Since this tree has several weak limb attachment points and a split running down the main stem, we opted to install a through-bolt in the main stem and several cables in the upper canopy. This hardware will prevent the tree from further splitting, and the client will not need to remove the tree. Note in the picture how the tree has already begun to grow around the hardware- this shows how a proper installation, and time, make this a permanent fix. However, cables and braces should be inspected annually. Contact your local SavATree branch for the most knowledgeable advice in the Boston area.
Aphids and Ladybugs
September 18, 2019 – I was recently called to a property in Cambridge, MA to look at a river birch with bugs on it. There was a moderate population of aphids on the undersides of the leaves. What was more interesting, though, was the large number of ladybug larvae snacking on the aphids. Ladybugs are a natural predator of aphids, so, in this circumstance, I suggested no treatment for the aphids. I decided to just let Mother Nature handle this one! If you need professional, knowledgeable tree care that you can trust, reach out to us today.
Espalier Summer Pruning in Waltham, MA
September 7, 2019 – Back in the early spring I pruned this multi-variety apple into it’s designed espalier form. Fruit trees sometimes require a summer pruning as well, to thin the fruit and to provide more light to the plant. Here is a before and after summer prune of the same tree. This will help to maintain it’s form and structure, and improve fruit quality. For professional care for all types of trees, contact SavATree!
September 6, 2019 – Another tree I found growing wild in the backyard of a property west of Boston that I had never noticed before, the Angelica tree. Native to Asia, and a member of the ginseng family, this tree was striking with it’s doubly compound leaves, thorny stem, and large showy flower cluster at the top. For professional tree care, trust the experts. Contact SavATree today to schedule a free consultation with one of our certified arborists!
Car Hits Tree Near Cleveland Circle
September 3, 2019 – Tree damage can be caused by many things, including cars. Recently a client contacted me because a car went through a stop sign, through an iron fence, and hit her tree. At this time, the damage looks to be minimal, just some outer bark came off. However, this bears watching, as that impact may have caused some interior bark separation, which could lead to the death of that section of the vascular system. This may not manifest for several years. If you experience damage to your trees, consult an arborist, as the damage may not be present today but could be significant in a few years.
August 14, 2019 – It’s that time of year again when magnolia scale becomes very evident. This large sessile insect will feed on the sap of magnolia and its excrement will generally turn into a black and sticky mess on anything under the tree (see the leaves in the picture above). This sticky sweet substance will attract lots of ants, bees and wasps. Left untreated, this pest will weaken and potentially kill the host tree, so contact your arborist today if you see this pest on your magnolias.
August 10, 2019 – It’s all too often that we get called to look at a tree that is failing, and need to determine why it is dying. Trees will struggle when they have their vascular system compromised by girdling, which can be done by cutting or strangling. Roots can often strangle a stem if they grow around the base of the tree. Sometimes we will see a rope, chain, or wire put on a tree but then never removed. When this happens, as the tree grows, the rope will end up girdling the stem, as seen in these pictures of a failed tree. Water can no longer move in the vascular system, and the tree or tree part gets choked out and dies. Before attempting DIY tree care, contact your local SavATree arborist!
August 5, 2019 – Stem cankers are a bit of an unknown to most homeowners, often times going unnoticed until a tree starts showing advanced effects of infection. Cankers are typically caused by fungi that infect a part of the vascular system and, as they grow, they restrict water movement in the tree. When multiple cankers are present, they can coalesce to great large dead patches in the vascular system, girdling the tree. When this happens, we will see bark splitting, branch dieback, and dead treetops. Consulting your arborist regularly may be your best bet to identify potential cankers, and if possible, treat them before the damage is done. Contact SavATree to schedule a free evaluation of your trees, shrubs and lawn!
August 1, 2019 – Carpenter ants are destructive pests. While they will not kill a tree, as they do not eat living plant tissues, they will tunnel and nest in the heartwood of a tree, which can make it weaker over time. Because they spend most of their time inside the tree, they can he hard to deal with. We do have a treatment for these pests that uses a bait gel- the ants collect this thinking it is food, they bring it back to the nest then the product does its job. Let us know if you see carpenter ants in your trees!
Included Bark, Stem Failure
July 25, 2019 – A tree defect we often come across is known as “included bark”, where 2 stems of a tree grow against each other but are not physically attached. Over time, this defect can become a significant point of failure, as seen in these pictures of this red oak on one of our client’s properties in Boston, MA. Trees with included bark can be corrected when very young and when they are older, practices such as cabling and bracing can help to secure these weaknesses. If you notice an issue like this in one or more of your trees, contact SavATree!
Don’t Do This
July 21, 2019 – There are many past arboricultural techniques that we just don’t practice anymore, as research has proven such practices to be ineffective or detrimental to the tree. This tree was filled in with bricks and mortar with the intent to strengthen a hollowed tree. However, this filling of a tree cavity will further damage this tree; trees are dynamic and they need to move in the wind. A rigid filling will further abrade the interior of this tree, causing more of a cavity. When it is time to remove this tree, the crew assigned to this task will be very displeased, as chain saws do not cut though brick. Make sure you are working with a certified arborist who is educated on the latest best practices in tree service. SavATree’s team members are professional, certified arborists and will always provide you with the best advice and the highest quality tree, shrub and lawn care available. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with your local arborist.
July 18, 2019 – While visiting a property in Cambridge recently, I came across this unusual tree. I had only seen one other like it and was unable to identify it then. I really liked the texture of the foliage, and the striking pink plumes at the top. Google can be a very useful tree identification tool, so I was able to identify this as a Tamarisk, or salt cedar. While it can be invasive in southern climates, the tree stands out in the northeast.
Dead Tree Safety
July 9, 2019 – Dead trees can pose a threat to human health and safety, especially in an urban setting. In the pictures above are a dying ash and a dead elm; the ash is dying of emerald ash borer infestation, and the elm succumbed to Dutch elm disease. These are two species that deteriorate quickly when they are dying or dead, as they will quickly start dropping small branches, followed by larger limbs within a couple of years. If you have an ash or an elm that has started dying, do not put them off for too long, as they deteriorate quickly, can become a threat to your property and become more difficult to remove as time goes on. Contact us to schedule a free assessment of the health of your elm or ash trees.
Viburnum Leaf Beetle in Chestnut Hill
June 24, 2019 – The viburnum leaf beetle is a voracious feeder of certain types of viburnum. The larvae of this insect will skeletonize the leaves of the viburnum in May and then pupate. When the adult emerges in the early summer, they will return to the host plant and continue the feeding damage. In the pictures, you can see one plant with some minor feeding damage, while the second one was completely defoliated. The plant will put out new leaves, but cannot do this every year, so controls are necessary to maintain the health of the viburnum. Contact your local SavATree arborist to find out how you can control this insect.
Woundwood Formation and Tree Healing
June 21, 2019 – I came across this old white oak, and noticed how well this tree had healed over some large pruning wounds, created when someone removed these large low limbs. At the time of removal, these limbs would have been roughly 12″ diameter. These cuts are completely healed over now, which likely took over 20 years to occur. Woundwood (not callus wood) is the reactionary wood of a tree in response to an injury, and grows at a rate of 1/4″ to 1/2″ per year. If these limbs were 12″ diameter, it probably took over 20 years to heal these pruning cuts. Some trees are faster healers than others and usually cuts of this size can lead to internal wood decay. Contact your local SavATree office to schedule a free consultation with a certified arborist and get your trees pruned by an experienced professional!
Azalea Sawfly in Cambridge, MA
June 18, 2019 – Azalea sawfly, a leaf-chewing insect, is very difficult to find as it camouflages well with the leaf of the deciduous azalea. It’s more conspicuous when the leaves of the azalea are chewed down to the veins. This pest can be controlled by hand picking if you can find them, or by treating systemically or with foliar applications. Contact your local SavATree arborist today for recommendations.
Identifying Poison Ivy
June 2, 2019 – Poison ivy can be found almost anywhere, and in many forms. Many people may remember the saying “3 leaves bright, stay out of sight”, but there are a couple of other ways to help identify it. Often the petiole (the stem of the leaf) will have red in it. When young, the leaves are very glossy and always come in sets of 3. Poison ivy can also grow as a vine; some vines will be several inches thick and can grow 30-40 feet up a tree. The vine will have many tiny hairs growing off it, and will have branches with leaves. This is often the most dangerous form, as one can easily walk into it without knowing, and get the urishiol oil in their eyes, which will require a trip to the doctor. If you suspect poison ivy is growing on your property and want to discuss mitigation strategies, contact your SavATree arborist.
Tree Decay in Chestnut Hill, MA
May 18, 2019 – A property in Chestnut Hill was recently remodeled, which included the landscape. Unfortunately, this sugar maple suffered too much damage to the roots and began to decline rather quickly. At first, it had some loose bark on the main stem and soon began to develop horizontal cracks. This happened very quickly. We removed the tree yesterday, and as you can see in the picture of the frost section, only 1/3 of the wood was alive. We were amazed this tree was still standing. Make sure to contact a certified arborist before performing any significant landscape projects. Contact SavATree today!
Black Knot of Prunus
May 16, 2019 – Black knot is a fairly common fungal infection of prunus trees such as plum, cherry and apricot. While not usually fatal, it can significantly affect individual branches by restricting vascular flow. However, if it forms on main branches and stems, tree death may occur. This is a disease that is difficult to control, as there are no effective treatments to prevent or stop it from spreading. This disease is managed by pruning out infected plant parts and, if a tree is heavily infected, removing it to reduce the spread to other valuable trees. Consult your arborist if you have prunus trees you wish to preserve.
Espalier Pruning in Waltham, MA
May 13, 2019 – Some trees are specifically grown to fill a 2 dimensional plane, known as espalier. This is most commonly done with apples, but can be done with most any ornamental tree. Yew, Japanese maple, and smoke bush are a few others I have worked with. Here you can see before and after pictures. When done annually (some times twice annually), this tree form can be very productive, while taking up less space. It also offers architectural interest when placed against a plain surface, such as a featureless wall of a house. These trees are usually purchased as espaliers from the nursery, but can be carefully trained in the landscape with practice and patience.
Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Hatch in Barre, MA
May 9, 2019 -Gypsy moth caterpillars are hatching across the state! These pictures are from Barre, MA. You can see the newly emerged caterpillars on and around their egg casings, and they will soon climb up the tree and out to the limbs where the leaves are. They will feed through June and, where populations are high, they will completely exfoliate the host tree. Scout for egg masses on tree trunks and on the undersides of main limbs. If populations are high, they can be treated. Contact your local arborist for treatment suggestions.
Planting in a New Landscape in Chestnut Hill, MA
April 30, 2019 – Often times, older homes are sold, significantly remodeled and flipped. This usually includes new landscaping, especially a new lawn and shrubs. Much of this work is done by general contractors and, unfortunately, many of these plants and lawns fail. Why? In the above images, you will see 2 arborvitae – the first one is buried in mulch, which makes it difficult for the plant to get sufficient water. The second is planted too high, which will cause the roots to desiccate and die back. Both of these errors are incredibly common. Take the time to plant your trees and shrubs properly and they will reward you for years, otherwise you will find yourself replacing plants on a regular basis. Need advice? Ask your local SavATree Arborist. Contact us today!
Stump Excavation in Brookline, MA
April 24, 2019 – We recently took on a project with a custom home developer to excavate some stumps at the site of two new homes in Brookline, MA. The developer needed the stumps out, but also needed to preserve the surrounding native trees. Simply pulling the stumps would have damaged the surrounding trees, and using the stump grinder was not an option. To accomplish this, we employed an air excavation tool to remove soil from the base of the stump, which allowed us to cut all the major roots of the stump. Once cut, an excavator was easily able remove the stump without disrupting the root systems of the surrounding trees. A very unusual project, but successfully completed.
Seven Son Flower
September 27, 2018 – If you are looking for a distinctive and unique ornamental tree, consider seven-son flower. A cousin of the honeysuckle, this tree, native to China, is an attractive ornamental tree in the northeast. The tree exhibits dogwood-like foliage, and exfoliating bark similar to honeysuckle. Seven-son flower will grow well in most soils, but does very well in wet soils. It can be grown as a large shrub, or pruned into a tree form, such as in the pictures shown above, and will mature at roughly 20 feet tall by 20 feet wide. In late summer, the small and very fragrant flowers are very attractive to honeybees and butterflies, and during the dormant season it shows its exfoliating bark giving it year round interest. It is a great addition to any landscape.
September 21, 2018 – Grapes – yes, we do that too. Two years ago, a client of mine had a tenant at a multifamily property “prune” their grape arbor, which is to say they lopped the whole vine down, leaving a 3 foot stub from the ground. My client was very upset by this, and since we had worked at their primary residence, they reached out to us for help. After reviewing the empty grape arbor, we put together a plan. We needed to rebuild the framework of the arbor, and then train and redevelop the vine to grow back up on the arbor. I explained that this would be a 3 year process, so we agreed that I would make 3 visits over 3 years to prune the vine as needed, and guide the vine onto the structure. Being a well established plant, it re-sprouted quickly. I was able to get the new vine to grow up into place, and started securing it with AgLock to keep it in place. Upon each visit, I would trim off sprouts growing from the base of the plant, train the newer vines to fully cover the arbor, and to keep it contained to the arbor structure. The above photo shows the vine this summer, fully grown back, with a hefty crop of grapes this year. You can see where the vine was cut, and how it grew out. This project was a little out of the ordinary for us, but we were able to take it on, and could not be happier with the results.
Oak Acorn Plum Balls
August 21, 2018 – While visiting a client today, she asked about these odd looking “fruits” all over her lawn. She had quite a crop of them scattered about her lawn, and was concerned about the dog eating them. She has a large red oak in the backyard, which is producing these almost golf ball sized balls. These are oak acorn plum galls, and are produced when a wasp lays an egg in the cap of a developing acorn. The larvae grows inside the gall to maturity, and then the gall will drop from the tree. A similar gall is the oak apple gall- this one is much lighter, and is made by a wasp laying an egg in leaf tissue, resulting in a nearly hollowed shell for the larvae to grow in. These galls do not harm the oak tree, and may not appear every year.
August 21, 2018 – Camperdown Elm, Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’, is a variety of Wych Elm that you might find in the planted landscape. Dating back to the 1800’s in Scotland, this tree is noted for its sprawling, weeping habit. They can produce a large diameter trunk and attain heights of up to 15 feet, and can spread 20-30 feet. Elms in general grow in many soil conditions and do not require a lot of care with one exception, Dutch Elm disease. These trees are prone to this disease, and should receive preventative treatments to ensure health. Not many Camperdown Elms are planted these days, but once in a while you may see this distinctive tree growing in an urban landscape. Stop and take notice of this remarkable tree.
Emerald Ash Borer Infestation
August 21, 2018 – Emerald Ash Borer continues to spread into the Boston area as I am seeing new infestations in Newton, Brookline, and Chestnut Hill. Uninfested trees can be treated preventatively this fall, and should be treated and monitored annually. The picture above shows the exit holes of the borer, which are a distinct `D` shape, signifying a flat-headed borer. All varieties of ash trees are susceptible to this insect pest, and prevention is critical to the future of your tree. Emerald ash borer is responsible for the death of millions of ash trees, originating locally in Detroit, and having spread throughout the northeast and midwest, and continuing to spread east, south and west throughout the U.S.