Adjust with the weather patterns


This spring and summer has been even more unpredictable than usual.  February was both the warmest and snowiest February in the past 50 years.  May only offered us five days without rain.  June’s humidity has been more reminiscent of Georgia than Colorado.  We even had the misfortune of a heavy Mother’s Day snow storm that damaged trees and shrubs all over the Denver Metro Area.

So what does this mean for our landscapes?…

First, our trees and shrubs enjoyed the extra moisture.  This was a welcome situation because of the amount of plant material that came out of the winter with severe stress.  The excess moisture has allowed many plants to replace leaf tissue damaged by the Mother’s Day temperatures.
aphid 3
Second, the abundance of new leaf material has encouraged a higher than normal population of several chronic pests such as aphids and mites.

Leaf spot editThird, and most recently, we are beginning to see the occurrence of foliar diseases such as leaf spot, rust, and scab.  These diseases will affect a wide variety of trees and shrubs and cause a loss of leaf color, reduced photosynthetic potential, and early leaf drop later in the summer.

Our erratic weather conditions are often difficult for people to deal with, but it is important to understand that it can be even more difficult for our landscapes to thrive under the extreme conditions.  It is crucial to always pay attention to the weather as it changes so we may adjust how we care for our landscapes.

Hot weather! Lawn care tips

Lawns

Lawn Care When the Temperatures Go Up
After the spring growing season, summer brings quite a bit of stress to lawns. Lawns that were lush and green in the spring now have to deal with less water, longer days, and more heat. While we all would love to keep the lushness of spring, lawns now require more care to stay healthy and green.

Most of the lawns in the Denver Metro Area are cool season grasses: bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescues. These grasses grow best when the temperatures are in the sixties to low seventies. While our evenings get down in those ranges, the intense heat and high altitude causes stress which needs to be countered by good maintenance practices.

Once temperatures get into the 80s and above, lawns begin to struggle, with cool season grasses having the hardest time. Growth will slow, color may fade, and lawns will show signs of wear and tear as they find it harder to recover from stress and traffic. It is not uncommon for improperly cared for cool season lawns to go dormant during the heat of the summer. When this happens they turn brown and stop growing.

If for some reason you are unable to water regularly, allow your lawn to go dormant. Do not water enough to green it up only to let it fade again. This does considerably more harm than simply letting it go (and stay) dormant. A dormant lawn will normally recover once cooler temperatures come back in the fall. The biggest concern for a dormant lawn is insects. A dormant lawn needs to be checked regularly for insect activity and damage since the damage is harder to spot than it is on a green lawn.

Water Properly
adjusting_spray2Lawns need at least an inch and a half of water per week, and more when the heat is severe. Use a rain gauge or straight-sided can to keep track of the amount of water received from rainfall and irrigation.
♦Water deeply and less frequently to encourage drought-
tolerant roots.
♦Water early in the day to reduce evaporation and fungal growth.

Weed Control
Summer weeds and crabgrass can always be a problem and take vital nutrients and water away from the lawn. Getting and keeping the weeds under control can do a great deal to promote a healthy and happy lawn. Allowing professionals to apply weed control can prevent mistakes such as using the wrong type of weed killer. Also spraying in hot temperatures with the wrong products can cause damage to plantings not sprayed. Anyone spraying their own weeds needs to keep this in mind.

Mowing Tips
Raise your mower blade in the summer. Taller grass is more 04_before_after_rulerdrought-tolerant, grows deeper roots, and helps shade the earth to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Cool-season grasses should be mowed at 2½” – 3½” during the summer.
Mow regularly, to prevent cutting more than ⅓ of the grass blade at a time. This keeps your grass healthier and prevents the clippings from smothering the grass.

Keep mower blades sharp. Make sure your mower is cutting your grass, not ripping the tips off, to minimize stress during hot temperatures. Also do not mow when the grass is wet. Mowing a dry lawn will prevent fungal spread and there will be less build-up of grass on the mower blades.

High-Traffic Areas
By summer, many lawns begin to show signs of wear and tear since we spend more time on our lawns. Dogs often follow the same patterns, so beaten down areas can quickly develop. In areas where there is constant traffic, it may be a good idea to install stepping stones to minimize damage to the lawn.

Finally, if your yard has gone dormant, try to minimize traffic to minimize damage to brittle grass blades. If you’re getting plenty of rainfall and your lawn is actively growing, proper fertilization can help keep it healthy.

Insects and Diseases
Dormant or drought-stressed lawns are more susceptible to insect infestations, such as chinch bugs, cutworms, billbugs, sod webworms, ants, and other pests. Minor infestations often take care of themselves, but severe problems require quick attention.

chinch bugs sod webwormJap beetles cut worm

 

 

 

Summer also can bring about disease problems, such as leafspot, dollar spot, NRS, and Ascochyta. Fungicide applications may be needed in the worst cases. Things to avoid include night watering, and mowing with a dull mower
blade.
Leaf Spot resembles Ascochytanecrotic ring spot

 

Douglas-Fir Tussock Moth!

Douglas-Fir Tussock Moth (Orgyia pseudotsugata) and Spruce Budworm (Choristoneura hebenstreitella)
Populations of these two defoliating caterpillars continue to expand this year in the Colorado Springs area. Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir and White Fir are hosts to these insects.  Larvae were observed hatching in early June and evidence of feeding on new growth is just starting to show up.

douglas fir tussock moth 2The caterpillars of both moths feed on the new needles, eventually moving on to older needles and stripping the branches.  After the initial season of feeding, a tree can usually put out new growth the following year, but with repeated defoliation a tree will die or become prone to bark beetles.  It is important to spray for these insects.  Chemical controls should be applied shortly after egg hatch in May or early June but can be applied into July if the caterpillar is still on the tree. A biological option, Bacillus thuringiensis, is also available and effective for early instar stages of the caterpillar.  It is a bacterium that feeds on caterpillars. Timing is critical and it is not as effective as other control options.

Spruce Budworm 2Douglas-Fir tussock moth has been most prevalent in our landscape trees but is also in forested areas on Cheyenne Mountain and on Rampart Range Road.  Spruce budworm has surged in forested areas such as Cheyenne Cañon, Cheyenne Mountain and along Rampart Range Road.  It can also move into our landscape Spruce and Fir trees.
Contact us today at 719.444.8800 or online below:

Get to know Chris Georgel

Get To Know Us – Chris Georgel

Chris GeorgelMy name is Chris Georgel and I’ve lived in the Lakewood area for 22 years and have spent the last 10 years working for Mountain High Tree Lawn & Landscape Co. (8 years as a mechanic and the last 2 years as a customer service representative!)

I’m the proud father of two, a girl and a boy. I spend my free time riding, camping, fishing, racing go-carts and shopping (yes shopping, I do have a daughter).

We are happy to have Chris on our CSR team, he is personable as well as knowledgeable!

Pavers: Specifications you should know!

Landscape

cool paver design 2Nearly every hardware or garden store seems to have an abundance of options when it comes to paver selection. Between the styles, sizes, shapes and colors you can create nearly any look you can possibly dream up. As you go out and tackle a paver project on your own or have a contractor put one in for you there are a few things that you should be aware of.

Simply picking out a paver that looks good is not the last step to building a quality walk, patio or drive. Before you choose the perfect paver because it looks good, you must also keep in mind: how the paver was constructed and what the application you are using it for. Different manufacturers can vary not only the ingredients but the process by which the paver is made. In an effort to keep costs down a manufacturer may minimize the amount of Portland cement and aggregate. They can also modify the way a paver is cured, creating a paver that may have a slightly higher moisture content, making it a less durable product.

All pavers must meet ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Paver Institute) standards. While these are necessary to keep paver products consistent in North America, there are manufacturers that will go above the set standards and create a much more durable product. As a company we install pavers that exceed the ICPI’s standards and suggest if you are looking to install your own paver surface, do the same. Borgert and Belgard are two companies that have been manufacturing pavers for many years and pride themselves on the level of quality they reach in their pavers. There are certainly more companies that create a high quality paver, but be aware of the inexpensive option you may find at your local hardware store.

As important as the paver quality is, the preparation of the sitepaver preparation 2 is equally if not more important. Starting at bottom with the sub grade (native soil), it must be prepped level and mechanically compacted to create a solid base for your pavers. Typically for a walk or patio you will need to excavate approximately 9 inches below your expected finished grade to set your sub grade level (a drive would be closer to a foot or more). A plate compactor should be run over the base area in two different directions, multiple times to ensure proper compaction. Smaller areas can be hand tamped and if necessary a jumping jack can be used near foundations to ensure settling does not affect your finished product. Once the sub base is compacted and level you will install a geo textile fabric over the soil, overlapping the edges. Clean road base set in two inch increments (lifts) will go down next, leveled and compacted with a plate compactor just like the sub base. This will continue until you get your four to six inch base (walk or patio) done. At this point you will level the road base exactly as the top surface will sit. For example if you want the water to shed away from the house at ¼” per foot, the road base must mimic this. After the road base is level and set, a one inch layer of clean washed sand is screeded out to set the pavers on. You can screed over ¾” steel pipe to get a uniform depth. Pavers are now set on the sand (do not disturb the sand) in the desired pattern, gaps are cut in and your edge restraint is pinned in on the edges. Clean washed sand is swept into the joints and once again the plate compactor is run in two directions over the entire surface to compact and set pavers. Sand may be swept in after compacting to fill gaps. A quality product and process will ensure many years of a trouble free hardscape.

Lawn insect and fungus problems – what to look for!

The strange weather of the past two months has left lawns over the entire Denver Metro Area with some rather unusual problems many home owners have not seen before.

talll fescue in lawn looks like crabgrassMany lawns are growing extremely fast because of the wet conditions. This also means some grasses are really standing out, such as tall Fescue which is wider bladed and clumpier then many lawn grasses; this is not crabgrass. Crabgrass is just starting to emerge and is first seen as small triangular neon green shoots on the edges of the lawn where it is the warmest.

Lawn-MitesWhile the moisture is welcome, the warmth and dryness of February left many areas with mite damage on south and west sides and where the sun could reflect down onto the yard. Dead areas that have not recovered are almost certainly caused from winter mites.

Yards struggled all winter long and the temperatures are  lower than average so this japanese beetlehas left yards with a few disease issues that do not normally crop up in the Denver Metro area. In addition, lawn insects are thriving in the very moist soil conditions including grubs, cut worms and Japanese beetles.  We have seen signs of very high populations this spring.

If green areas are starting to brown out, it very well could be brownin out turfa fungus or insect issue. If you suspect insect or disease issues in your lawn please contact Mountain High.

There are several types of grass that have not completely come out of dormancy this year, including bent grass and buffalo grass. These grasses are normally greening up at this point in the year, but because the weather has remained so cool, they have not and remain brownish. This will change rapidly as the temperatures warm up and stabilize a bit.

Mvc-002sALawn diseases, such as Ascochyta, are just ramping up and after this high humidity and rain. As warmer temperatures come in the next couple of weeks it is important to remember we do live in an area that has normally very dry soil conditions. Soils dry out quickly as humidity levels drop, so watering is going to be very important. Many homeowners have turned off their sprinkler systems at this point, but a lawn’s need for water can quickly become an issue. Tracks in the lawn are caused by the fungus Ascochyta and need more water, regular mowing, picking up the clippings and washing the underside of the mower.

NRSNecrotic Ring Spot: NRS is fully active and lawn areas with poor drainage are developing rings, meaning that there is already fresh damage to some lawns. Yards with NRS need to be watered deeply then allowed to dry out in order to help keep the disease out of the crowns of the plants.

Remember as the heat of late spring hits, keeping a lawn healthy requires good mowing
04_before_after_rulerand watering practices. Mowing should be done to a height of 2.5 to 3 inches and no more than a third of the grass blade removed at any one cutting. Watering deeply and less often is much heathier for lawns than watering for shorter frequent times.

As always the lawn care professionals at Mountain High are here to help keep your lawn happy and healthy. Don’t hesitate to call!

 

 

 

 

How will the current weather patterns affect our trees?

The month of May brought cooler temperatures than Colorado landscapes are used to in spring.  Additionally, we received twice the average amount of moisture in the month of May, and humidity levels barely dropped below 60% all month.  These three factors of temperatures in the 50’s, excess moisture, and consistently high humidity have come together to create conditions that will promote several fungal and bacterial pathogens that will affect our landscapes all summer long.  It is important to be aware of these diseases, their symptoms, and their potential damage to our plants.

Some of the most common fungal and bacterial pathogens that may affect our trees:

Disease Host(s) Symptoms
Powdery Mildew Lilacs, Cranberry bushes, Roses, Privets and turf. White thin covering on leaf
surface, yellowing leaves,and
early leaf drop.
Fungal Leaf spot
(various species)
Aspens, Cottonwoods,
Roses, Maples, Ash, Oak, and many others.
Round or oval spots are often
brown and/or black with dark
margins.
Bacterial Leaf spot
(various species)
Ash, Oak, Prunus species, fruits veggies, Aspens and Cottonwoods. Round or oval spots often dark
in color with yellow or orange
margins.
Fire blight Crabapples, Apples, Pears, Hawthorns and Cotoneasters. Twig or branch die back with characteristic hook on tips, bacterial oozing from infected
twigs and discolored wood tissue.

These diseases often infect tissue in spring, but symptoms do not manifest themselves until mid-summer.  Once infections have occurred it is important to clean up diseased leaf and twig tissue to help prevent further infections.  Some diseases can be prevented with fungicide/bactericide applications in the spring.

fireblight apple tree

Powdery Mildew

 

 

 

 

Tip of the Month:

The snow and cold temperatures of Mother’s Day weekend damaged several trees.  frost damage leaves (4)The newly emerging leaf tissue of many Locust, Ash, Redbuds, and Maples was damaged by the rapid temperature drop.  It will take time and energy for these trees to reproduce new leaf tissue.  Be sure to appropriately fertilize your stressed trees to encourage them to reestablish their leaf canopy.

Colorado Springs – The state of our trees.

The State of Our Trees The rains have slowed and the sun has come out!

Our office has been flooded over the past week with questions such as “what is wrong with my tree”?  Many Honey Locust, Ash and Elm trees seem like they will never leaf out.  Over the last year there have been several major events that have impacted the health of our trees.

  • First, in May and June of last year, devastating hail storms hit many parts of Colorado Springs, stripping trees of their leaves. This caused trees to utilize their reserves to push out a second set of leaves.
  • Second, on November 10th, after a warm October, temperatures plummeted to zero degrees and below.  Many trees were not hardened off or prepared for winter temperatures.  We have seen many Pines and evergreens with discolored foliage.  Plums, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Willows are seemingly dead.  Forsythias, Cotoneasters, Spireas, Euonymus, Privet, Boxwoods and other shrubs have died.
  • Third, this has been a record breaking wet and cool May of 2015.  These cool temperatures coupled with frost and hail have slowed leaf expansion for many trees in Colorado Springs.  Our recommendations are to wait a few weeks and see how your trees leaf out.  Insects that are emerging may be more damaging to new leaves and already stressed trees.

Mountain High can help you decide what pruning and insect controls you might need.   Call our Colorado Springs Office at 719-444-8800 if you have questions about your trees.

Landscape Fabric – is it beneficial?

THE GREAT WEED BARRIER DEBATE:
Is landscape fabric really that beneficial? 

landscape-fabricWhen planning on planting an area around the house most of us think that some type of barrier to minimize the weed infestation is an absolute necessity. Professional weed barriers do provide a level of deterrent for weed populations; however, they do not eliminate the weed problem completely. Mulch on top of the fabric will eventually break down and create a layer of organic material that is perfect for weeds to grow in. Even using a rubber type mulch, dirt carried by the wind will eventually settle in and give the weeds someplace to populate. Truth is, those pesky little plants will find a way to grow nearly anywhere, regardless of the steps we take to minimize them.

A thick layer (3-4”) of good wood mulch will do as much for keeping the weeds down as landscape fabric will. The mulch is beneficial for the plant material because it helps to regulate soil temperature and retain moisture. There are mulch products that will mat together after they have been installed and have had a season to develop mycelia (very fine hair-like filaments) which help hold the material together. Nugget type wood products may look great when they go down, but will not provide the same characteristics that a ground natural wood product will.

When planning the plant material for your beds, remember that along with the trees and shrubs that will go in, perennials and ground cover willrocks for rock bed border help crowd out the weeds as they fill in.

As professional landscapers, there are situations where we will use a landscape fabric in a bed area. Typically this is in areas that will have rock installed in the bed, or in commercial landscapes. One of our biggest issues with landscape fabric is that it creates a thin layer of moisture where the fabric touches the soil. This layer of moisture tends to promote root growth between the fabric and soil. When regular moisture is not available (hot summers and in the winter) it more likely that the plant may struggle in the long run due to the roots drying out so rapidly.

Weeds are going to grow in your beds, whether there is fabric or not. Pulling weeds or subscribing to a bed and border program is part of having a beautiful garden. Let us know if we can help.

Get to know us – Bobby Savage – Certified Arborist

Bobby Savage - Certified Arborist

Check Bobby out at the climbing competition to be held in Colorado Springs on June 13th!

I am a Colorado native where I spent most of my youth skiing and camping with my dad.  I attended an outward bound program through my teenage years which is when I fell in love Bobbywith the outdoors.  I have been snowboarding since I was 12 and started rock climbing 6 years ago, which is why I love to climb trees and why I love heights!

I have been at Mountain High Tree for 11 years starting in the Plant Health Care department and learning about pest control and diseases.  I now work in the tree trimming department as a foreman and have been here in this position for 6 years.  I decided to become a certified arborist two years ago to expand my knowledge. I have recently taken a part time position in our sales department to continue my growth within the company.   I love this industry and have been in it for so long because there is never a dull moment, I get to work outside, and there is always something to new to learn.