Don’t forget to water – Voles are still active

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.  foot prints indicating dry turfIgnoring 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 Vole 2unusual 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 Vole trailsdamage 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. Vole damage JuniperClose 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.

Currently, trapping or rodenticides are the only ways to control vole populations in home or institutional landscapes and orchards. Careful and routine inspections will reveal areas of vole activities. Trapping or rodenticides should be applied only in those areas.


Pine Wilt Disease found in Scotch, Austrian and Mugo Pines

pinewilt2As 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.

Pine Sawyer beetles

Pine sawyer beetles

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.

Bacterial and Fungal Diseases

Throughout the spring and summer we have watched the increase in fungal and bacterial diseases all across the Lilac Bacterial BlightDenver 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.

Irrigation systems – What’s NEW!

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 freeze-sensorssystem 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 sprinkler-timerprograms 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.

Get to know Patricia Schroder

Patricia Schroder – Customer Service 

Patricia SchroderI 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!

Improving landscape drainage.

Who could have ever imagined Denver having as much precipitation as we have had this year? Not only the amount but the duration of the wet weather has made a tremendous impact on our industry. One of the most common requests this year has been for improving drainage on our client’s properties. As this is not an easy or direct answer for most people, here are some drainage basics.

First and foremost, one of the easiest and most important things you can do on your property to improve your drainage is to make sure that you have adequate slope away from any building structures. This means that you have a minimum of ¼ inch of drop per foot of run. So to grade away from the house 8 feet, you would need at least 2 inches of drop from the house out. The shorter the distance you are able to grade away from the house, the more the slope should be; as much as ½ inch per foot (or more).


Second, once you have addressed the slope around your house and out buildings, you
will want to make sure that you have little to no irrigation within the first three to four feet next to the structure. You should have beds with little or no plantings at the perimeter of the house or a hard surface like a sidewalk or drive. There should never be lawn against any building.


And finally, one of the biggest issues that need to be addressed at most residences is the downspouts. Downspouts should be run well past the drip line of the roof of the house, and should go to a point where the water will not accumulate in a large rain storm. Clogged downspouts, or downspouts that dump at the foundation, are one of the primary reasons people have foundation issues or flooding issues. Downspouts that run into corrugated pipe below grade may seem like a good way to mitigate your water issues, but in reality, over time sediment will build up in the grooves of the pipe and eventually it will clog and back up. This is much more of a problem if the pipe has not been run to daylight (the end is visible) and just run to a “french drain”. Our recommendation: if you need or want to run your downspouts underground, use a solid P.V.C. pipe with a cleanout installed. Cleaning your gutters and checking your drainage on a regular basis will also make a significant difference when we get a heavy downpour.


Lawn Care for Late Summer:

For the best grass health it is best to water more heavily, but less often. Deep watering and letting the soil dry forces deeper roots and makes the lawn more drought resistant. During the hottest times of summer a lawn needs about 2.5 inches of water per week.

Mow at the right height:
Keep mowing height at 2.5 to 3 inches. Taller grass shades the soil, which reduces water evaporation, leads to deeper roots, and prevents weed seeds from germinating. Mow often enough so you’re never removing more than one-third of the leaf height during any one cutting.

Sharpen your mower blade:
A dull mower blade rips grass instead of cutting it. This makes ragged wounds, brown edges, and opens the tip up for disease organisms. By late summer many mower blades have gone dull. A good rule of thumb is to sharpen blades after every 10 to 12 hours of mowing.

weedy yardGet weeds under control:
Weeds steal nutrients and moisture from the lawn while smothering out desirable grass. Keeping weeds under control is one key to keeping a lawn healthy and happy. A weed free lawn is also far more enjoyable to walk on in bare feet.

Keep an eye open for damaging insects:
Several insects lay eggs in the spring and early summer. These eggs hatch into grubs in mid- to late summer. At this point they feed on lawn crowns and roots causing damage to turf. Insect damage is normally uneven and gives the lawn a ‘splotchy’ appearance, or damages areas close to sidewalks and driveways.

Pick up pooClean up pet waste quickly:
Pet waste can cause major damage. If you see dying grass due to your dog’s urination, flush the area with water to dilute the 
urine in soil. Hand aeration of damaged areas can also help to move the material out of the root zones of grass better. The quicker solid waste is picked up the less time it has to create a burn spot.

Avoid taking vehicles onto the grass:
Driving or parking on the lawn is bad for the grass in several ways. First and foremost, it leads to soil compaction. Compacted soil prevents moisture penetration and limits the amount of air available for the roots of the grass. Driving over grass also damages the crowns of the grass. Finally, oil, gas, cleaning solvents, and road grime are all toxic to grass.

Slip and slide damageKeep lawn free of debris and toys:
One of the main reasons for a lawn is to enjoy it during the summer. This leads to toys, lawn chairs, grills, and a host of other debris being put onto the lawn. Leaving these items on the lawn for long periods of time can cause heat damage, or even the death of turf areas if the sun heats up items lying on the lawn too much.








Damage from a slip n’ slide.
Don’t leave them laying on your lawn.





Japanese Beetles and Leaf Spot Disease

As we enter August we are seeing another season of Japanese beetle with increasing adult populations and expanding area.

Japanese Beetle with frameThis year we are finding adult Japanese beetles as far east as Havana Street, and as far west as Wadsworth Blvd.  This expansion may be attributed to the excess spring moisture supporting a larger population.  As the large adult population emerges from the soil, the beetles will travel to find the food resources they need to survive.  With over 200 species of suitable hosts, the beetles often find good food sources around every corner. Be on the lookout for these large, green colored, metallic beetles.  They have big appetites and can severely impact your landscape before you know what hit you.

OakLeafSpot 2The spring moisture not only helped foster a large Japanese beetle population, but also created conditions that have produced large amounts of foliar diseases.  We are now seeing the results of the spring disease activity with early leaf drop in several species of trees and shrubs.  Most noticeably, we are seeing large amounts of leaf drop in the Cottonwood trees.  Many landscapes are also seeing excessive amounts of leaf drop from Crabapples, Apples and Maples.  Because these foliar infections began in the spring there is nothing that can be done now.  It is important to clean up all the infected leaf material, as the disease will overwinter on dead leaves and infect new leaves next spring.

Summer Observations from the Springs

2015 is on track to be the wettest year recorded in Colorado Springs.  This along with an early Arctic freeze last November and cool/cold temperatures in May have created some unique problems for trees and shrubs. Following are some of Mountain High’s observations this summer.

  • Douglas-Fir tussock moth populations blew up on Cheyenne Mountain and in Cheyenne Cañon, defoliating thousands of Fir trees and causing a visible band of brown trees across the mountain.

fireblight apple tree

  • Fire blight has shown up with a vengeance on many Apple and Crabapple trees. Spring Snow Crabapple trees have been especially hard hit.
  • Leaf spot fungi abound due to higher precipitation and humidity.  These are causing early leaf fall on Cottonwoods and Aspens.
  • Many Juniper shrubs that looked poor earlier in the season due to freeze injury are looking even worse. Also, as it gets hotter more branches that were chewed by voles this winter are now turning brown.
  • With the heat of summer, random leaves on some trees and shrubs are browning and wilting.  They are perhaps shedding overgrowth due to a wet year.
  • There is continued evidence of freeze injury to plants.  Siberian Elms that we thought were leafing out have now shut down and are dead or partially dead.  Many Ash trees are dead or partially dead and have a distorted, adventitious sucker growth emerging from cracks in their trunks.  Dead Cherry trees, Plums and Willows abound.
  • Freeze damaged Cotoneaster, Privet, Burning bush, gold flame Spireas, and Euonymus are recovering and resprouting from the roots.

Get to Know Us – Kathy Torres

Get to know us!

Kathy Torres – Super CSR

Kathy TorresKathy was born in California, but never fear, was raised in Colorado.  She is  happily married and has 4 children. Kathy loves to exercise, crocheting, going to the park with her 9 month old daughter (guess that explains the crocheting) and girl’s night out!  Kathy always has a smile on her face, a good joke to tell  and has an infectious laugh. She loves to hang out with family and friends and loves a good BBQ.

Kathy is an excellent addition to the Mountain High Tree family, and we are  very extremely happy to have her here!