Category Archives: Business development

Arborway Tree Care: A Trusted Partner in Business

Contributed by Libby Coley

Being a trusted adviser for our clients means taking the time to vet other colleague companies who provide complementary landscape services. Lucky for us, Arborway Tree Care is one of our trusted partners in business. We recently met up with Bob Kelley, Plant Health Care Manager and ISA Certified Arborist at Arborway, to get the inside scoop on the company: their services, company philosophy, and some tips of the trade!

Arborway Tree Care is a full-service tree company that has served metro Boston for 40 years. Arborway offers many services that complement CD & Co. These include plant health care, health maintenance and structural shade tree pruning, structural cabling and bracing, crane services, lot clearing, storm damage and stump grinding. Many of our clients use Arborway Tree Care for their disease and pest management services.

Bob joined the Arborway team four years ago. As Plant Health Care Manager and ISA Certified Arborist, Bob wears many hats. In any given week, you can find him doing tree work and plant health care in the field, in the office doing paperwork, or meeting clients. Bob shared that one of the best parts of his job is talking with clients about what’s going on with their trees and why. Educating their customers and thoughtful planning are important to Arborway.

We asked Bob what he thinks a property owner should know in terms of tree care:

  • Bob said that adequate water uptake is the most pressing issue these days for trees and plants, especially in light of the last three years of drought. In previous years, Bob stressed the importance of watering perennials and shrubs from July 1st to the end of the growing season (typically around the middle of October) in the absence of normal rainfall, but now he stresses the importance of watering all plants. He also advises homeowners to water large shade trees if they are of high value to the property.
  • Bob stresses safety above everything when it comes to trees. It’s crucial that trees are structurally sound, especially in stressful conditions such as drought and storms which can tip the tree into irrevocable failure.
  • Plant Health Care. Bob points out that monitoring and treating plants for pests and diseases is the best way to keep a landscape healthy.

What are the biggest challenges facing trees in 2017? Bob anticipates a quantifiably larger rate of tree decline and pest/disease problems after three continuous years of drought. Three is a key number here – healthy trees can survive on stored energy for three years, but any additional stress makes them more susceptible to health issues after that point. Bob also highlighted that the gypsy moth and winter moth hatch in early spring and noted that mid-March to July 1st is Arborway’s busiest time of year. During this short period of time, their Plant Health Care crews apply several different applications before buds break and after leaf emergence including pesticides and fungicides.

If you want to learn more about Arborway Tree Care, check out their website:

The Challenge of Finding Skilled Labor: Discovering a New Approach

Contributed by Jim Lynn

Finding a few qualified candidates to hire out of 7.9 million people can be trickier than you might think. 7.9 MILLION is how many people are currently unemployed in the U.S. according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Surely there must be plenty of great horticultural candidates in that huge number. It should be easy to find somebody who wants to work in our industry, right? Think again.

When looking for a strong candidate to work with our crew at Christie Dustman & Co., we are looking for a well-rounded individual that has experience, education, passion, and stamina. We don’t think that’s too much to ask for, is it? Well, it can be difficult to find such an individual who doesn’t mind working in all kinds of weather conditions!

We took a different approach to hiring this year and tried something new: if we can’t find candidates to match our needs, maybe we can take the candidates we have coming in and train them into the fine gardeners we are looking for!

hiring - JhylikThis year, we had two candidates for crew member positions who were eager to get into the landscaping industry but didn’t have the experience or rounded knowledge base that we were looking for. However, both were willing to learn, have a passion for plants and importantly, are likable. Thus, they were high potential candidates, and we let them join the team for a trial period with the crew in the field. On a typical tryout, we have each individual work with each of hiring - Sarahour crew members to get feedback and see how adaptable and teachable they are.

Our new hiring approach has been a great success. If every tryout ended in success we wouldn’t have to have them, but this year we were lucky – we added two new crew members through this process! Welcome to Jhylik and Sarah!

Cueing Up a New Season and a New Location

2016 postcard as email blast


2016 is cuing up to be a great year! Christie Dustman & Co. has moved to a new location with more room to grow! All of our processes will be housed under the same roof for streamlined operations. The incoming phone number will stay the same and so will the website address. You may see some new phone numbers when we call you due to our updated phone system. Fell free to add those numbers to your phone book or contacts list. See our new address below.

2016 3-8 side wall photo

It has been an exciting “off season” this winter but we are poised to move back into our perennial tasks of design, garden maintenance and planting, and containers. Contact us now to schedule an appointment. We love meeting gardeners and people interested in sensible and aesthetic landscape design, so please help us spread the word. All referrals are gratefully welcome.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook for more frequent updates. 2016 3-8 small pergola


8 A Street, Boston (Hyde Park), MA 02136

photo credit & copyright Lynne Damianos – Damianos Photography


Tales from a New Gardener

2015-10-1 Curtis gardener question pixContributed by Curtis Hawley

Have you ever had the opportunity to learn something new and you begin to realize more and more that you’re just at the beginning of a long, rewarding path? Isn’t it exciting? As the newest member of Christie Dustman & Co., I’ve had quite a year. Even with prior experience in landscaping and client relations, I’ve never been a part of a relationship where clients come out to meet our crews when we arrive, greet us with a warm smile and then bubble over with gardening ideas to discuss with us that they’ve been contemplating since our last visit. It’s very reminiscent of a child excited to receive their big gift around the holidays – that sort of unabashed enthusiasm is contagious.

If you haven’t already taken advantage of this aspect of our services I highly recommend it. Our crew is extremely knowledgeable and all are great teachers. They’ve shared careers’ worth of wisdom and tips through helpful direction that has helped me go from a novice to professional level gardener in a short amount of time. They’ll help you too! It never fails that if you come out to ask our crew a question or two when we’re on your property, you’re going to get a nice walk through of your garden, highlighting important growing tips and seasonal expectations of your garden’s aesthetic. Take it from me: awareness of your garden is the first step to truly appreciating your garden.

As the season has now changed to Autumn and the leaves will soon drop, I can’t help but be contemplative of the past year. I thank you for indulging me and I hope you look back at this past season with as much fondness as I have. I think I can speak for everyone here at Christie Dustman & Co. that we’ve enjoyed each and every opportunity to work with you and look forward to those exciting moments that are still to come.

2015-10-1 curtis + tim with leaf barrels


One of the 'bibles' of landscaping.

One of the ‘bibles’ of landscaping.

Over the past 10 years outdoor trends have shifted from preening sprawling lawns to now providing habitats for wildlife, reducing turf, and using native plants in the gardens.  Christie Dustman & Company has been growing gardens for 16 years and has witnessed many trends, fads, and changes in common practices based on research. If we didn’t stay current, the cutting edge would leave us buried in the dirt!

Part of staying up to date and expanding our knowledge base is participation in continued education, gaining professional certifications, attending industry trade shows, and networking with other professionals. By taking a quick look at our ABOUT page, you can see what each of us brings to our team.  We are a diverse group of educated professionals.  But it is our relationships with our green industry colleagues that keeps us fresh and forward thinking.

Five of our team recently went to the 2014 Massachusetts Nursery & Landscape Association Summer Conference held on the turf fields of Savage Farms in Deerfield, MA.   Typically these events have vendor booths set up so that you can connect with plant suppliers/growers/product manufacturers and then hear a series of lectures from various professionals in the industry. This July though was a special event because the keynote speaker, Michael A. Dirr, a Professor of Horticulture at the University of Georgia, is a LEGEND in the horticultural world.  Imagine hearing the guru of your profession.  Dr. Dirr has tremendous energy for teaching, writing, and growing plants. Normally just basking in a guru’s shadow can be satisfying – but one of our team, Jim Lynn, actually knows Dr. Dirr.  They had a wonderful handshake and hello, connecting again about plants and what’s on the cutting edge.

There is pride amongst our team knowing that as we connect and learn from these green industry power players, you, our clients benefit.  We look forward to continued education and networking so that you no longer have to imagine loving your garden, because you do love your garden!



blog post 5-12-14 the Team!

I wrote a blog about a Career Day panel that I was on recently.   Funny thing – being on a Career Panel.  The audience was comprised of landscape design students, each eager to gain insight into what it means to be a garden designer.  It is kind of like facing your Maker and answering penetrating questions, one of the most difficult being: “What are you proud of?”

First I mentally ticked through the many things I have done as a garden designer: the designs I’ve created, the clients I cherish, the plants I cultivate, the obvious successes, and the occasional mistakes.  But then I started to settle in on something bigger that I am proud of:  being an employer.  In a million years, I never thought I would be a business owner who employed 6 people.  Initially I just needed to get a lot of gardening done and hiring one person made an exponential difference.  I know, not rocket science, but two people can do a lot more than one person.  Then I needed two, three, etc.

As a business owner, I could easily focus on my own capitalist drive and exaltation (ok so the company is named after me -an early misstep) but instead I get to build an engine that generates jobs for 6 people who are trying to live meaningful lives, just like me. We create a team, one that is more about the way we work together than it is about simply planting a garden or pruning plants.   It is more than getting the work done – it is the deeply satisfying way in which I am not all about me.   I am responsible and am held accountable to others, I make a difference for others, I support those around me and make every effort to make a small number of people’s lives better.   And so when I’m asked that hard question, I say that this is something I am immensely proud of.  What are you proud of?