Types of Sprinkler Systems in Denver

In-ground Irrigation

The most effective and efficient way to keep your lawn green is to install an in-ground irrigation system. Green lawns can increase your home’s resale value by 14%, according to experts. This post will explain the basic components that are used in an underground irrigation system.

What is an In-ground Irrigation System?

An in-ground irrigation system disperses water through sprinklers attached to risers connected to a network of underground pipes that run throughout your lawn.

It can also include a drip system that disperses water to a precise area, producing deeper root growth and more abundant foliage for gardens, shrubs, roses and groundcover.

Drip irrigation offers many money and time saving benefits. Delivering water directly to plant roots saves you money by reducing up to 70% in water waste from evaporation and run-off.  It replaces hand watering, and reduces yard maintenance by delivering water directly to plants, reducing weed growth.

Parts of an In-ground Irrigation System

Valves – Valves turn the flow of water on and off for your irrigation system. The two types of valves used in irrigation are anti-siphon and in-line.

Pipe and Fittings – Pipe used for irrigation includes:

  • PVC – Rigid pipe available in sizes ranging from ¾” to 1 ½”.
  • Polyethylene tubing – Flexible pipe that comes in rolls from ½” to 2″.  Typically used in climates where freezing occurs.

Plastic pipes are connected using slip fittings, which glue together. Threaded fittings are used to connect pipe to valves and to risers for sprinklers.

SprinklersThe type of sprinkler head you choose should cover the area adequately and apply water only where it is needed. The two basic types of sprinklers for in-ground applications are rotor and fixed, or spray, heads.

  • Rotor systems – spray a rotating stream of water and have a lower application rate than fixed spray heads, making them more suitable for slopes.
  • Fixed – spray heads disperse water in a set pattern at a high application rate and are most suitable for small level areas.

Risers - Risers are used to elevate spray coverage. They can also be used to add a few inches to improve the positioning of the head, and should not be used near sidewalks and driveways.

Flex Assemblies Flex assemblies, also known as “Funny Pipe™”, are an alternative to risers to for connecting sprinklers to pipe.  

Drip TubingDrip tubing can be installed in conjunction with an in-ground irrigation system. While the hose itself is typically laid above ground, it can be linked to the in-ground system by connecting to a riser.

Timers - Timers tell valves when to open and close to start and stop watering.  They allow you to program schedules for watering different areas, or zones, in your landscape automatically at a given time of day on specific days of the week.

Mountain High Tree, Lawn and Landscape offers a full range of sprinkler services in Denver, including sprinkler installation, sprinkler winterization, sprinkler spring turn-on, and general sprinkler repair and maintenance.


Water your trees in the winter!


Your trees are thirsty! Make sure to water your trees on warmer days, give them a nice long soak with the hose. Did you know that on average, it takes up to 12” of snow to equal just 1″ of actual moisture? That means these light dustings of snow in Denver the past few weeks have not equated to much moisture for your trees.

Water whenever you can during dry, warm spells to help ensure that your trees can survive our often-dry Colorado winters.

Winter Tree WateringHomeowners should evaluate their ability to water their trees, shrubs and turf areas, and don’t be fooled when it snows. Dry winter conditions result in serious damage to newly planted landscapes as well as mature and established trees. Damage to vegetation includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Desiccation and dieback to fibrous
    (nutrient absorbing) root tissue.
  2. Undersized leaves in the spring.
  3. Needle browning and pre-mature
    needle drop in evergreen trees.
  4. Increased susceptibility to insect attack.

Learn more on our Supplemental Tree Watering page »

We also offer deep root tree watering, call our Denver office at 303.232.0666 or Colorado Springs office at 719.444.8800 and buy your trees a drink!


Seasonal Sprinkler Tips

Water Saving Practices


  • Turn your sprinklers on! Preform a check-up on your irrigation system.  Check for leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Once on, make sure adjust the sprinkler heads to make sure it’s not watering streets or sidewalks. Want help? Contact our Mountain High Tree Irrigation department and we can help you with all your sprinkler needs.
  • Install a rain sensor that turns off your system during rainy weather.
  • Consider upgrading to a smart controller that automatically adjusts your irrigation schedule based on soil moisture and weather.
  • Water at the right time of day and only water when needed. The best times to water are in the early morning and in the evening when the temperature is cool.
  • Water when the winds are calm.
  • When you go out of town, make sure someone is keeping an eye on your irrigation system.


  • Continue regular irrigation maintenance, checking for leaks and overwatering.
  • Consider installing drip or micro irrigation in your flowerbeds and vegetable gardens to reduce water loss due to evaporation.
  • Be weather aware. If you don’t have a rain sensor or smart controller, check weather forecasts and shut off your irrigation system when rain is in the forecast.


  • In the fall, plants require less water. Adjust your system accordingly.
  • To prepare for winter and freezing conditions, turn off water, drain valves and blow out excess water in the lines with compressed air (contact us for our sprinkler turn-off service)
  • Disconnect, drain, coil and store garden hoses to reduce wear.


  • Tree roots continue to grow during the winter and do need watering monthly if extended dry spells occur.
  • If dry conditions persist, irrigate your lawn in the morning during warmer winter days to avoid winter drought damage, along with the lawn mite damage that comes along with it!

Source: http://squeezeeverydrop.com/SavingWaterOutdoors/SeasonalTips.aspx

Water Saving Tips for your Denver Lawn

We all want beautiful, colorful and healthy lawns, but how much watering is actually needed. There are often water restrictions and our own environmental concerns telling us to use less water. So how much water should you use and how should you use it?

Divide By Zones

Different plants need different amounts of water. Divide your yard into separate irrigation zones so the grass can be watered separately and more frequently than groundcovers, shrubs and trees.

Keep It Balanced

Your lawn wants about one to two inches of water per watering.  Put measuring cups in various places around your lawn and run the sprinklers for 15 minutes. This will give you an idea of how much water the grass is getting and where.

Waste Not, Want Not

The greatest waste of water comes from applying too much, too often—much of it runs off and is never absorbed. Instead of watering for one long continuous session, try splitting the watering time into shorter periods and take 15-minute breaks in between each session. This will let the water soak in, while minimizing runoff.

Watch The Clock

Water between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.—when the sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Midday watering is less efficient because of greater water loss due to evaporation and windy conditions during the day. Watering in the evening isn’t a good idea either because leaves can remain wet overnight—creating prime conditions for fungus to grow

Adjust The System to the Season and Be Rain Smart

Adjust your irrigation system as the seasons and weather change.  You can also install a shut-off device that automatically detects rain or moisture.

Water Only What Grows

Adjust sprinkler heads to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways. A properly adjusted sprinkler head should spray large droplets of water, not a fine mist, to minimize evaporation and wind drift.

Consider Drip

When it comes to watering individual trees, flowerbeds, potted containers or other non-grassy areas, you can apply water directly to the roots with low volume drip irrigation. This will reduce water waste through evaporation or runoff and keep weeds from growing.

Do Routine Inspections

Periodically check your sprinklers to make sure everything is working properly. A clogged head or a torn line can cause damage to your landscape and bump up your water bill.

If you have questions about your Sprinkler system, or if you want a system installed with all the latest technology to help it run as efficiently as possible, contact Mountain High Tree Irrigation department »

Source: http://www.rainbird.com/homeowner/education/watersavingtips.htm

Emerald Ash Borer Traps at Denver Botanic Gardens

Emerald Ash Borer in Denver

Wrapped Ash tree at the Denver Botanic Gardens help spread awareness of the Emerald Ash Borer

The Denver Botanic Gardens is helping spread awareness of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a destructive pest that is responsible for the death of millions of Ash trees across the nation.

They’ve marked their Ash trees with yellow bands – prompting people to read more at www.eabcolorado.com, a great resource for everything EAB. Near the Birds and the Bees area, they also have a large sign (seen below), that educates visitors about the pest, and also mentions the possibility of seeing the purple EAB traps they are placing in Ash trees. These traps are for detecting the presence of the EAB, they do not draw the pest to the area. We didn’t see one in the tree at the gardens; maybe we overlooked it, or maybe it is only there in the summer months when the beetles are active; so we found some photos of the traps online to share, below.

Want to learn more about the Emerald Ash Borer?
Visit our Emerald Ash Borer webpage for videos, tips for detection, and to find out whether or not you need to protect your Ash trees in your landscape: mountainhightree.com/Emerald-Ash-Borer.aspx

Emerald Ash Borer in Denver

Sign at the Denver Botanic Gardens that educates visitors about the Emerald Ash Borer.

Photo from: nationalfirewoodassociation.org

Example of a purple trap used to detect Emerald Ash Borer. These traps do not draw EAB to the area, but will attract the beetles that are already there. Photo from: nationalfirewoodassociation.org

Emerald Ash Borer Denver Trap

Emerald Ash Borer beetles stuck to a purple trap used for detection. Photo from: www.dontmovefirewood.org

Emerald Ash Borer – Spring Webinars

Emerald Ash Borer ColoradoAs you may have already heard, our Ash trees in Colorado are now threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer, a destructive pest that is responsible for the demise of millions of Ash trees across the country. Learn more on our Emerald Ash Borer page here.

Arborists and scientists are trying to find out the best ways to combat this pest, and the Emerald Ash Borer University was created to help with the mission.

This spring, the Emerald Ash Borer University is hosting some Webinars this spring from February — April 2015. These informative webinars will discuss the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive wood-boring pest, as well as other pest and disease threats to our forests and trees. If you’re interesting in learning more about tree pests and diseases, you should check out any of these free Webinars below (be sure to check here for updates to the schedule, as the below list may change)

Upcoming Schedule:

Asian Longhorned Beetle: Update from Ohio

Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 11am ET
Joe Boggs, Ohio State University Cooperative Extension

Emerald Ash Borer’s Latest Victim: White Fringe Tree

Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 11am ET
Don Cipollini, Wright State University

2015 EAB Toolkit Update and the Best of EAB University

Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 11am ET
Cliff Sadof, Purdue University

Developing EAB and Ash Management Plans for PA

Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 11am ET
Donald A. Eggen, Forest Health Manager, Pennsylvania DCNR, Bureau of Forestry

Invasive Species? We have an APP for THAT!!

Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 11am ET
Joe LaForest, IPM and Forest Health Coordinator, University of Georgia

View the schedule and learn how you can watch the webinars at:

We also have a wealth of information on our Emerald Ash Borer page »


How to Plant a Tree in Denver

So you want to plant a tree? Wonderful! There is more to be done than simply digging a hole in the ground. Below are some easy to follow guidelines to insure your tree is happy and healthy in its new home.

If you would like help, our Arborists are the very best at planting trees. We can help you choose the best tree for the location, based on your needs – we’ll take into consideration the shade the tree will provide, how fast it will grow so that it will not outgrow it’s location, and if it will thrive in the location with the existing irrigation and light conditions. When you have us plant a tree for you, we also provide a Tree Planting Watering Instructions & Warranty brochure, view the PDF »

Step 1: Select the right time of year for planting the tree. 

In general, April and May are the best times to plant a tree in the Northern hemisphere, because the tree has all summer to grow and get accustomed to its new home. You can also plant certain trees in September and October, as the weather is cooler and will put less stress on the new tree.

Step 2: Check to see if there are any local requirements about digging.

This step is to make sure that when you dig, you do not run into any telephone or cable lines.  Simply call 811 in the US to get your underground utility lines marked for free.

Step 3: Choose a suitable tree for the region, climate, and space.

Picking a tree native to your area is the simplest choice.  Native species tend to adapt and thrive.  A native tree will be the easiest to care for.

Step 4: Prepare the hole. 

Use a shovel and dig a hole that is 4-5 times the width of the root ball, leaving a pedestal of dirt in the center, about ½ inch higher than the rest of the hole.  This large hole allows the roots to easily grow outwards towards the soil.  The pedestal prevents the root ball from continuously sitting in water.

Step 5: Prepare the tree for planting. 

If it is a small tree, then you can turn it upside down gently to get it out of the pot.

If the tree is larger and is wrapped in netting or burlap, place the tree in the hole and then cut off its wrapping.  Keep as much dirt on the root ball as possible.

Don’t leave a tree’s roots out too long, especially in sunny and windy conditions.

Step 6: Place the tree into the hole gently. 

The ground level of the plant in the pot should match up with the ground level after you fill the hole in. Do not bury over the crown (where the stem changes to root) or leave any roots exposed.

Step 7: Use some compost or composted manure if needed. 

If the soil that you currently have is not rich, has clay-like qualities or has the consistency of dust or sand, the addition of manure or compost will give the tree a great start in life.

Congratulations!  You’ve just planted a tree.  Now that the tree is planted, it still needs some tender loving care.  Below are a few steps to follow to give your tree the best start you can.

Step 1: Water the newly planted tree. 

Water one gallon for every six inches of tree height.   After the first watering, come back in about an hour and water one more time.  Let the ground dry out between watering, but continue to water your new tree weekly with a slow trickle until the roots are established. In the winter months, it is also very important to keep watering newly planted trees to help them get established in our dry climate.

Step 2: Use mulch.

Cover the planting hole with 1-3 inches of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch. Keep the mulch 2-3″ away from the trunk or the trunk will rot.

Step 3: Stake the tree if necessary, for about the first year. 

Make sure that whatever stakes you use are tied loosely to the trunk and do not dig into the bark or tighten around the tree. Remove the stakes once the roots have a chance to become established, after about the first year.

Step 4: Weed

Make sure to remove weeds that come within 4 feet of your new tree.

Step 5: Enjoy!

All trees are different and will have different watering and mulching needs.  Make sure to talk to your arborist about your trees specific needs.

Ongoing: Prune, Water and Fertilize

Contact our Mountain High Tree Arborists today and we can recommend the best ongoing care for your tree, such as trimming & pruning, fertilization, bug and disease control, and winter watering. 


De-Icing Products and your Landscape

With the recent snow and cold weather most of us have to use some type of product to help keep the resulting ice under control. There are many products on the market that can be used and each has different properties, end results and impact on your landscape. These products can be very effective if used correctly. But if they are overused or misapplied, they can damage the concrete as well as nearby plant material, including the lawn.

There are four main materials that are used as chemical de-icers:

Calcium chloride

The traditional product that has been used is calcium chloride.  It will transform ice into a slippery, slimy surface. This product is effective to about minus 15 degrees.  Plants are not likely to be harmed unless excessive amounts are used.

Sodium chloride (salt)

Salt is the least expensive material available.  It is effective to approximately 10 degrees but can damage soil, plants and metals.

Potassium chloride

Potassium chloride can also cause serious injury when washed or splashed on foliage.  Both calcium chloride and potassium chloride can damage the roots of plants.

Magnesium chloride

Calcium magnesium acetate or CMA is a newer product that is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid, the main compound found in vinegar.  CMA works differently than other materials in that it does not form brine-like salts, but rather helps prevent snow particles from sticking to each other on the surface.  It has little effect on plant growth or concrete.  The product works best when temperatures remain about 20 degrees.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

All of these products are acceptable for use.  Limited use of any of these products should cause little damage.

Salt damaged plants in Denver

Salt damaged plants in Denver

Problems occur when they are used excessively and there is not adequate rainfall/moisture to wash or leach the material from the area.  It is still best to remove the snow and ice by hand when possible and spot treat with the ice melts, thereby using lesser amounts. Putting these products on newly poured cement is also not recommended for the first year.

If damage from de-icers is going to occur, it will not be noticeable right away.  Problems are uncovered in the spring when the plants and grass along the walks are dead.

For areas that may have had excessive runoff or product applied – additional hand watering in the winter on warmer days will contribute to your plant health in the spring.

Winter Lawn Maintenance in Colorado

While during the winter months most of us don’t normally think about lawn care, there are a few things everyone can and should do to keep lawns in the best condition possible for greening up when spring arrives.

Keep Lawn Areas Clean:

Rake Leaves for lawn healthIt is not uncommon for items to be left out and forgotten once the snow starts to fall. Also, this year we had a late fall and a very fast cool down. This means many lawns still have leaves and other debris on them that is normally cleaned up before the harsh cold hits. During periods of milder weather it is good idea to do what you can to get leaves and other debris off the lawn. Also keep your eye out for larger items: stray chunks of fire wood, dog toys, rakes, and even lawn furniture can leave dead spots on the lawn if left sitting in the same place all winter long.

It is also often more difficult to pick up pet waste, but when the snow clears making an effort to pick up after pets will prevent heavy spotting, and prevent the need to do seeding or even replacing areas of the lawn.

The best way to make sure your lawn stays clear of foreign objects is to do a sweep of the lawn every couple of weeks during the winter.

Avoid Heavy Lawn Traffic:

When the grass is dormant it can be easy for people to forget that it shouldn’t be walked on as much. Try to prevent too much foot traffic on your winter lawn. Turf is relatively resilient, but it will have a difficult time recovering if paths become established. If possible, dogs should be encouraged to move around and not stick to one or two areas of the lawn. Keep sidewalks free of snow and ice so people don’t need to walk across the lawn.

Also, never allow anyone to park a vehicle on lawn areas. Even the smallest vehicle will leave impressions in the soil and kill off the grass underneath the tires. Using the lawn as a parking lot is a sure-fire way to kill the good grass, and leave patches open for unwanted grasses and weeds to creep in the following spring and summer.

Shovel snow to prevent iceIce-melt and Salt Damage:

Icy walks are treacherous and often some salt or other ice-melting products are needed to prevent slips and falls, especially in shady or north facing areas. Unfortunately these products can damage the lawn as well; to lessen the impact use them only when needed. Shovel the areas first so there is less runoff going into the grass, and do not over apply the de-icing product. Learn more about de-icing products here »

Winter Watering and Lawn Mites:

Lawn-MitesWatering the lawn a few times a month during warmer weather is very helpful during long dry spans. When the temperatures are above 40° F is a good time to water. Stop watering in time for the moisture to soak in before the temperatures fall below freezing.

Also keep in mind winter watering helps replenish moisture taken by lawn mites. Mites, especially during dry winters, can do significant damage to lawns. Mountain High does offer winter mite sprays which drastically cut mite populations, but winter watering is still needed to prevent damage.


Brown Needles on Pine Trees – Winter Needle Desiccation

Pine Needles Dropping in DenverOur Arborists and technicians have been finding significant needle desiccation all over the Denver Metro area.

This type of dry needle and leaf tissue is typically a result of our dry winter conditions in Colorado. This early winter has been more damaging than most years; needle desiccation normally becomes evident in the latter parts of January and February. The record setting temperature drops on October 15th and throughout the week of November 10th produced the coldest early temps in Colorado’s history. This extreme weather resulted in tissue damage to many plants including Pear, Cherry, Viburnum, Oak, and nearly every Pine that grows in Colorado.

Pine Tree Brown Needles in DenverIn our deciduous trees the damaged portions are evident in the retention of leaves that did not go through their normal dormancy processes. In our evergreen trees we have found extensive amounts of dry needle tissue that has lost most of its color.

There is very little that can be done about the damage that has already occurred. Protecting the root systems of these trees for the remainder of the winter is “key” to making sure the plants have the best chance to begin their recovery first thing in the spring.

Pine Tree Needle Desiccation Prevention:

  • Make sure to protect young trees throughout the winter by trunk wrapping those with thin bark which can be damaged by overexposure to the sun.
  • Water your plants when dry winter conditions persist.
  • Talk to your Arborist if you have questions or concerns about the best course of action for trees exhibiting damage.