Professional Service for Trees and Shrubs Is Provided By Woodwinds Associates, Inc.
EXPERIENCE AND EXPERTISE: “We are professional Plant Health Care specialists. This is our focus,” says Pepper deTuro, president of Woodwinds Associates, Inc. Shown with his father, Sam deTuro, who founded Woodwinds, he is proud of the family business’s longstanding reputation for excellent tree and shrub care.
By Jean Stratton
The cicadas have come and gone, but recurrent reminders remain. Clumps of brown leaves continue to fall from tree branches in which female cicadas laid their eggs.
This is not usually cause for concern, says Pepper deTuro, president and owner of Woodwinds Associates, Inc., the longtime tree and shrub specialists.
“The cicadas don’t harm a large, mature healthy tree. But a tree in decline or a very young tree might be at risk.”
Woodwinds has been providing helpful advice and expert service since its founding in 1967 by Sam deTuro, Pepper’s father. Located at 4492 Route 27 in Kingston, the company has been a mainstay in Plant Health Care, a special program, which is a form of integrated pest management.
This includes using fewer pesticides, and when necessary, spraying with safe non-toxic chemicals, such as special oils,” explains Pepper deTuro. “We are as green as possible and bio-rational, which is safe for the environment.”
Pest control is very important, he points out. “Currently, the emerald ash borer is a problem, and killing ash trees.”
In addition, the spotted lanternfly has emerged in large numbers in New Jersey and other states, and people are advised to report sightings of them. Spotted lanternflies can damage a tree by eating its sap, and also leave a dark, unpleasant sticky substance on its surface.
Homeowners should also be aware of hornets’ and wasps’ nests in trees and shrubs. They build large nests and can appear in angry swarms if the nests are disturbed.
Watching out for poison ivy, which is a vine, and can climb up a tree, is another reminder. Even those who have never suffered from this especially disagreeable nemesis should keep an eye out.
In addition, deTuro also reports that the recent milder winters have created reduced insect mortality, which is further cause for concern.
His hands-on experience began early, as he really grew up in the business, working for the company in summers as a boy.
“At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in the business,” he recalls, “but during high school, my father and I became very close, and I decided I wanted to be part of it.”
He studied plant science in college, and joined the firm full-time in 1994. Education is still a factor, he adds. “We have continuing education, including classes and seminars to keep our certification. Safety issues and new advances in caring for plants and trees are all covered.”
Sixty percent of Woodwinds’ business is residential, he points out, but 40 percent is commercial. “We have a strong following in all areas, including many repeat customers — up to 90 percent,” he says.
The company services all sizes of properties, and while the majority of their work is in the Princeton area, they have been called upon to provide their expertise in other states, including Pennsylvania and New York — in particular prior to national celebrations in the 1980s.
“We did a lot of restoration work on trees around Independence Hall in preparation for the Bicentennial of the Constitution,” recalls Sam deTuro. “And also, the year before, we did the same thing with trees around the Statue of Liberty for its celebration. We were able to make most of the trees safe.”
Other Woodwinds clients have included the Forrestal Center, Western Electric, Bristol Myers Squibb, Princeton Borough and Township, McGraw Hill, Prudential Insurance Company, the Institute for Advanced Study, Rutgers University, The Hun School, and the Tenacre Foundation.
Providing the proper feeding, pruning, and when necessary, spraying, of trees and shrubs can ensure them a healthier, longer life, explains deTuro.
“Our Plant Health Care program promotes plant health through proper watering, fertilizing, and pruning. Proper maintenance practices keep plants vigorous and healthy, thereby reducing their susceptibility to insects and disease.
“Proper irrigation is most important,” he continues. “Over-watering is actually worse than under-watering. The best way is to keep the soil damp. A good soaking once a week is good. New plants need a good watering three times a week.
“Proper pruning is also important, especially safety pruning and corrective pruning. For example, if the limbs are too near the house, it can be dangerous.”
Fertilization is key for the health of trees and shrubs, and Woodwinds makes its own brand of fertilizer, which includes worm waste products. Autumn is often an important time to fertilize.
Sun and Shade
Although Woodwinds does not install new plantings, Pepper deTuro is always ready to advise customers on placement and species. Sun, shade, and wind conditions should all be taken into consideration, he explains.
“When planting new trees, the biggest thing is the right tree in the right spot. Some like sun, some prefer shade. Dogwoods, for instance, like shade. They want cool roots. Also, avoid areas that are wet and not well-drained. We also recommend indigenous plants because they do better in their own environment.”
The arrival of COVID-19 caused many homeowners to place more emphasis on their landscapes, he notes.
“We have been very busy because people have really focused on their landscapes since they have been staying home due to the virus. They want to spend more time enjoying their outdoor setting.
“I really like to walk the property with the client,” he adds. “When I’ve known them a long time, it’s like family. We talk about the kids and what’s happening. Some of them knew my father when he was taking care of their trees.”
Woodwinds — it has a ring! — bringing to mind all the good things in the garden. Wind chimes, woody plants, birds on the wing — its name has a message.
“My dad wanted to have a name that would lend itself to all types of projects in the garden and which would pertain to the entire landscape,” explains deTuro.
The fact that Woodwinds is a family business is also meaningful — especially at a time when so many seem to be falling by the wayside. DeTuro’s sister Tina has been an important part of the company, and his wife, Liza, currently handles the financial side of the operation.
Woodwinds’ staff, loyal and highly experienced, is another source of pride for deTuro. As he says, “We have staff members who have been with us for a long time. They often stay until they retire.
“Continuing a family business for 54 years brings a sense of pride to me and my family. You have to make small changes on a regular basis to keep ahead of the competition. I like to consider our employees and clients part of the Woodwinds family. That’s what makes us different from other Plant Health Care companies.”
Quality work and exceptional customer service are important keys to Woodwinds’ success. “We strive to be better than the others. We guarantee satisfaction, and we have very honest relationships. We do our best for our customers. We will always work hard to ensure their satisfaction. This is our priority.”
Woodwinds is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (609) 924-3500. Website: woodwinds.biz.