Mountain High is honored to be a sponsor of the 2016 Notable Trees of Colorado Calendar. This commemorative edition celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the Colorado Tree Coalition. Becky Wegner again chaired the committee for the Colorado Tree Coalition that produced the calendar. This 15 month (October 2015 to December 2016) colorful and informative calendar features 15 champion and notable trees throughout Colorado. February features the champion one-seed Juniper in Garden of the Gods Park. If you love trees or want to learn more about them, this is the calendar for you. Go to www.coloradotrees.org to order your calendar today.
In September, we start receiving calls from our concerned customers about their Pine and Spruce trees “turning brown”. This needle browning occurs every fall and is normal as long as the tissue that is changing color is the older needle tissue and not the current year’s growth. “Fall Needle cast” in Spruce and Pine trees is analogous to the annual leaf drop of deciduous trees, but just on a much longer schedule. As needles age and become less productive/efficient, it is necessary for the tree to shed this material before it requires more energy to maintain than it produces. Spruce trees are often less noticeable with their needle cast because they tend to have denser canopies than Pine trees. You would have to get closer to see the needle cast in the Spruce, but the changing of color in the Pines can be seen from a significant distance. Many of the Pines have already begun their change in the foothills in Boulder, Golden, Evergreen and Conifer. White Pines are always the easiest to notice as they drop their needles in the fall, and we always receive several concerned calls about the various White Pine species.
The timing of the “Fall Needle cast” is also important. Because weather and daylight are the dominant triggers, we expect the vast majority of the trees to show their needle browning at about the same time. Damaged or stressed trees can begin to show needle browning early. Early needle browning and subsequent needle drop is something that deserves a little investigation into what else might be happening. Stress can come from sources like recent transplanting, insect damage, drought, or soil compaction. If you have questions or concerns about what is happening to your trees give us a call and we can help with the investigation.
Watering Your Lawn
Even though temperatures might be cooler than in summer, your lawn still needs water. Since lawn grasses continue to grow throughout the fall, watering is still important to sustain growth. Go ahead and water as needed, usually about an inch to an inch and a half per week, until the ground is cold and beginning to freeze. If you have an automatic irrigation system, avoid damage by having it blown out with compressed air before water freezes in the pipes and sprinkler heads.
A quick note on winter watering: Even dormant grass needs some moisture. In addition, winter watering of exposed areas of the lawn, particularly south and west facing areas, can cut down on winter mite damage. For yards with a history of mite damage, Mountain High does offer winter mite sprays, but even with chemical control, winter watering may be needed in dry areas.
Broadleaf Weed Control
Fall is a good time to control perennial broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, plantain, clover, and mallow. If your weeds are few and scattered—or confined to a few small areas—spot-treating them with herbicide is usually sufficient. Weed-control products sold in ready-to-use spray containers make spot treatment easy. Make sure to complete treatments when temperatures are still warm enough to be effective. Herbicides are only effective when the weeds are still actively growing, so the application needs to be done before winter cold sets in.
Fertilizing Your Lawn
Applying a final dose of fertilizer in September or October will set your lawn up for a quicker recovery. (Not necessary if you are on our Extended Release lawn program.) This winterizing fertilizer provides your grass with nutrients that will be absorbed and stored until needed for spring growth. Lawns that have received late-season fertilizing are often the first to begin growing in the spring.
Seeding and Sodding Your Lawn
Fall is normally the best time of year to put down seed or sod to repair lawns damaged by summer heat. Seeding should be completed before the end of September. Cool temperatures usually make fall seeding or sodding successful. However, this year, the extreme drought conditions will make seeding less effective since soil moisture content is low, and watering restrictions make getting enough water every day to keep soil moist both tough to do and expensive. Spring seeding may be a better option for many people.
An application of Revive from Mountain High can help spur some growth and recovery, and is a good option for yards with some summer drought damage.
Lawn raking in the fall removes excess organic debris, and can help maintain water quality. In winter, freezing and thawing can cause leaves, dead grass plants, and other organic debris to mat and cause snow mold under snow packed areas
There are several environmentally friendly options when it comes to disposing of fallen leaves. The preferred way is to compost them, because composting keeps leaves out of streets and storm sewers. You can also use fallen leaves, whole or chipped by a power mower, as winter mulch around rose bushes and landscape plants. Whatever method you use, remember that the cleaner a lawn is going into the winter the quicker the recovery will be when spring hits.
Mowing Your Lawn
It’s important to keep your grass 2 to 2-1/2 inches tall throughout the fall. If your grass gets much longer (more than 3 inches) it will mat, leading to winter lawn disease problems such as snow mold. If you cut it shorter than 2 inches, you’ll severely limit its ability to make and store food for growth in the spring.
Meet Jesse Raap!
Jesse is originally from Illinois, just west of Chicago. He attended Dupage college in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
Feeling the need to spread his wings, Jesse moved out to Colorado in the fall of 2014. His love of hiking and backpacking probably didn’t have anything to do with that decision!
Jesse, as a certified arborist, pulls some double duties here at Mountain High. Normally he works with our plant health care division but has been helping out our trim deparment.
Jesse has a pretty large family that are spread throughout the United States. We are lucky to have Jesse here with us at Mountain High, he is a genuinely nice person and works hard at whatever he does. Just beware of his fantasy football skills!
During the fall months, trees are doing a lot of hard work preparing for the harsh winter ahead. There are a few simple steps you can take to make this transition easier on the trees you love.
Prune dead, diseased and overlapping branches in late fall. This will strengthen the tree, encourage new strong growth in the spring, minimize potential future storm damage and protect against overwintering disease and insects.
Remove all deadwood that is clearly visible. Prune back branches that can touch the ground when loaded with rain and snow. Foliage and branches that are in contact with soil invite undesirable pests and other problems. Remove damaged and wilted twigs, branches and bark. Remove any new sprouts that have grown at the tree base, or along stems and branches.
Mulch and Aerate:
Mulch adds a layer of protection against temperature fluctuations and moisture. Spread a layer of mulch to cover the soil several inches deep. Cover an area at least as large as the branch spread. In addition to protecting feeder roots, mulch also recycles nutrients directly to these roots.
Aerate soils and compacted mulch if they are water logged or poorly drained. Saturated and dense soil can suffocate roots. It is critical not to damage the tree roots in the soil as you do this, so work only on those few inches at the surface crust.
Fertilize and Water:
Fertilize your trees by top dressing over the mulch with a balanced fertilizer. Avoid using fertilizer heavy in nitrogen. Nitrogen boosts growth, especially in new and mature trees. You do not want a “flush” of growth during late fall periods of warming, when the tree is supposed to be dormant. Want help? Contact our Arborists, we can come out and analyze your trees to determine if fertilization and pruning is needed.
Dry spells in winter or hot daytime temperatures can dry a tree out very quickly. Watering is needed on warm winter days when soils are cool but not frozen, and there has been little precipitation. Winter droughts need treatment with water the same as summer droughts, except it is much easier to over-water in winter.
A dormant spray may be a good idea for deciduous trees, ornamentals, fruit trees and shrubs. Remember to prune before you spray. No need in wasting time and money by spraying before you cut!
Which chemicals you use are important. Dormant sprays include lime, copper and sulfur combinations to kill overwintering microorganisms. Dormant oil controls insects and their eggs. Ask your local arborist for suggestions based on your bug problems.
Your trees are now ready to face the winter cold!
I have seen several drought stressed lawns this month and cannot say it enough…watering is key to keeping your lawn healthy and fall is a key time to prepare your lawn for winter. It is also the time when watering is most often neglected. Ignoring fall watering will open your lawn up to insects and diseases. Proper watering should take into consideration the species, soil type, fully shaded area, full sun areas and weather conditions. A sure sign that your lawn is dry is when you leave footprints on your lawn that do not disappear within 1 hour.
Clean up any debris on your lawns such as leaves. Many trees are experiencing early leaf drop this season so there are sure to be many leaves just lying around.
We are also recommending a fall lawn fertilization to prepare your lawn for winter.
Voles have continued to be a problem this year, which is unusual during the summer months. Voles are small mammals, slightly larger than a mouse, that normally live in field and shrub habitats. In the wild, voles forage on native vegetation and provide a valuable food source for predators such as weasels, owls, hawks, and snakes. In homeowner plantings, however (including lawns, flowers, shrubs, and home orchards), voles can cause serious damage by eating flower bulbs, girdling the stems of woody plants, and gnawing roots. Plants not killed outright may be invaded by diseases or die from water stress during periods of drought. It is important to be alert for signs of vole damage. In lawns, trails or paths can be seen leading back to the den or mulch/rock area. Often times this damage occurs under snow and is not visible until the snow melts. In bushes, the girdling of the bases will cause browning, killing limbs of evergreen shrubs leading to brown areas in the canopy of the shrubbery. Typically voles girdle trees and saplings at the ground line. Close inspection of the damage will reveal paired grooves left by their chisel-like teeth. The grooves will be about 1/16 inch wide. Girdling completely around the tree trunk will kill the tree, so any indication of above- ground damage is cause for instituting a control program.
Pine Wilt Disease found in Scotch, Austrian and Mugo Pines in Colorado Springs
As summer wanes, dead Scotch Pines have been appearing with more frequency in communities along the Front Range of Colorado. The culprit has been found to be the Pinewood nematode, a native to North America. It does not generally cause death in native Pines, but in exotic Pines it causes a fatal wilt disease. It can be deadly to the Scotch, Austrian and Mugo Pines planted in our landscapes.
The Pine wilt nematode is transmitted by Pine sawyers or long horned beetles, a group of native wood borers. Infection of Pines by the nematode starts in June or July, but symptoms don’t usually appear until late summer. The tree wilts and browns quickly due to the inability of the vascular system to take up water due to the multiplication and feeding of the nematodes. Dead needles will often stay attached to the tree through the winter. On Scotch Pines, the entire tree usually browns quickly whereas on Austrian Pines it may be restricted to a portion of the tree. Diseased wood becomes very dry and brittle and blue stain fungi will be present.
Removal of infected trees before May of the following year is important, before the re-emergence of the Pine sawyers. If other trees nearby are at risk there are a couple of injectable compounds that are recommended for protection from the nematode.
Tree Service in Denver: 303.232.0666 or click here »
Throughout the spring and summer we have watched the increase in fungal and bacterial diseases all across the Denver Metro Area. High incidences of Bacterial Leaf Scorch in Ash trees have caused significant leaf drop and branch dieback. Fire Blight has infected Apple and Crabapple trees in every community without regard to age or variety. Just this past week I visited a property with 4 lilac bushes all severely infected with Lilac Bacterial Blight. Our Arborists have visited numerous properties to find foliar leaf spot disease in Maples, Cottonwoods, Plums, Apples, Crabapples, Aspen, and Roses.
Many people have already noticed the early leaf drop as a result of fungal leaf diseases like leaf spot. This will continue through September and become even more pronounced as the nighttime temperatures drop. These foliar infections have already gone through their life cycle and now will overwinter on the tissue they destroyed. It is important to perform a thorough yard cleanup to help prevent new infections next spring. The weather conditions of this spring and early summer were the major factor in the high occurrence of many leaf diseases. Preventative fungicide applications during the infection period are helpful in protecting newly developing leaf tissue in the spring. These applications need to be done during the entire infection period, or until new tissue has developed the waxy cuticle that provides a measure of natural protection.
The bacterial diseases are a bit more difficult to treat and prevent. Most bacterial diseases like Fire Blight are prevalent in the environment and are simply waiting to find a suitable pathway to enter a host. This occurs frequently during springs that have multiple hail storms, causing branch and twig injuries. These wounds are a perfect route of entry. Once an infection occurs then a variety of treatments can be considered as part of a recovery program. Properly timed pruning can reduce the amount of infection that overwinters in the vascular system of the trees. Foliar treatments in spring with a fungicide/bactericide can limit new infections from starting. Trunk injections of antibiotics can therapeutically reduce the internal spread of the disease. It is important to meet with your Arborist when deciding what steps should be taken to help in the recovery of your trees.
Obviously we can’t predict what the weather conditions will be like next spring, but we can be prepared. This preparation begins this fall with proper pruning and fall yard cleanup. Further steps can be taken by making sure your Plant Health Care program includes the necessary measures to give your plants the best chance to thrive all season long.
As the summer season is winding down, most of us have either forgotten or lost track of our irrigation systems. Water management this time of year could still save you a considerable amount on your water bill. Simply monitoring the weather and reducing the times on your irrigation controller or even eliminating a day a week will make a significant difference. There are other little things that you can do to your system to make it more efficient that may involve a bit more work. The installation of a rain / freeze sensor will suspend the watering of the irrigation system if the weather dictates. These are now wireless making the installation a breeze. There are also soil sensors that can be installed in the ground which can suspend watering if the soil moisture reaches a predetermined amount. Internet based and on site weather monitoring devices can be added to most modern irrigation systems with little effort and can produce a dramatic change in your usage. If you have an older clock that does not have multiple programs, switching to a new digital controller with multiple programs and start times will allow you to differentiate the watering for the various areas in your yard. You can water the drip irrigation twice a week, turn on the south side of the house three times a week and that pesky hill in front can be watered multiple times a day to avoid runoff. With the advent of water efficient nozzles, you can also change out your outdated spray nozzles for a newer version that has a more consistent precipitation rate and will put the water down much slower. This will help minimize runoff and will also help water your lawn more consistently. Most of us still have a couple of months to water our lawns and making some of these changes now will not only help reduce your water bill but will help Colorado conserve for our future.
Patricia Schroder – Customer Service
I hail from the Las Cruces, New Mexico area. I have been known to say that I am related to half the town! Our family is a blended family of 5 ‘kids’ that range in ages from 35 to the youngest being 27. We have a 10 year old granddaughter and a 3 year old grandson. I share my home with my wonderful husband Terry and my 2 cats, Smokey and Lucky. My most favorite place to be is in my backyard on a summer evening.
Thank you everyone at Mountain High for making me feel welcome!
We are lucky to have Patricia, she is quick to learn and just an all around great person to work with. Welcome to our team Patricia!