January is a month that surprises us. It is one of the driest months of the year, but in many ways it is the most exciting. January 2017 has set many records for both Mountain High and the Pikes Peak region. Record breaking winds peaking over 100 mph hit on January 9 and 10 toppling trees throughout the region. Most of these were large spruce trees notorious for their shallow roots and full evergreen canopies. This wind event kept our crews in emergency mode for two weeks.
These strong powerful winds are not unusual in winter. The Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University explains it this way: “Episodic strong winds are a part of life for all areas in the immediate lee (just east of) the high Rocky Mountain chain. Most of these strong winds are relatively brief but severe and are associated with rapidly descending air cascading over the crest of the Rockies and racing out to the plains. These ‘down slope wind storms’ are most common from late autumn into spring and accompany upper level disturbances in the strong winter-time jet stream. The highest winds ever in Colorado? Longs Peak holds the record at 201 mph set in the winter of 1981. Boulder, one of the nation’s windiest cities, clocked 147 mph in 1971.”
January also offers many other records. The record low for January in Colorado Springs was -26 on January 31, 1951. The record high of 73 was set on January 2, 1997. In January of 1987 a record 28.7 inches of snow fell.
~Update~ This is what 2 weeks worth of storm damage tree removals looks like – This is a lot of wood!
Advantages of Pruning Your Trees in Winter:
In Colorado, a major obstacle for trees to overcome is the harsh winter storms that can bring dry Chinook “hurricane” force winds or heavy wet snows that can damage tree structures. Besides getting a good look at the structure and form of a tree in winter, there are other benefits to pruning. When other plants in your yard are dormant it is an opportune time to prune your large trees and minimize the impact to the rest of your landscape. Trees such as American Elms or Pines that are susceptible to bark beetles should be pruned when beetles are inactive during the winter months.
Most of our landscapes need over 20 inches per year of consistent moisture to sustain them. Normal annual precipitation in Colorado Springs is around 16 inches. Most of that is received in the summer months with winter being our driest season. Providing supplemental moisture to tree roots will help promote optimal nutrient uptake and growth. We feel that watering your trees and shrubs is an important part of plant healthcare. Call us if you would like help with winter watering.
As winter approaches, dead Scotch and Austrian Pines have been appearing with more frequency in Colorado Springs. The culprit has been found to be the Pinewood nematode, a native to North America. It does not generally cause mortality 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. Dead needles 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 a blue stain fungi will be present.
Removal of infected trees before May of the following year is important. If other trees nearby are at risk there are a couple inject-able compounds that are recommended for protection from the nematode.
If you are concerned about your Scotch or Austrian Pine please call our Colorado Springs Office at 719-444-8800.
September and October have been extremely hot and dry. It’s important to water your plants well one last time before they go dormant. An added layer of mulch can help insulate roots and hold in moisture. Winter is one of Colorado’s harshest seasons. Cold and dry conditions threaten the biggest investment in your yard — your trees. Winter is the driest season in Colorado Springs, temperatures can drop well below zero and warm Chinook winds can batter our trees. Keep your trees healthy, avoid winter-kill and minimize insect and disease problems by having a winter tree care plan that includes watering and pruning. Winter is an ideal time to prune your trees. Our arborists can see dead wood and visualize tree structure in order to properly prune your trees.
If you have any pruning, removal, plant health or lawn care needs and would like a free estimate, please call 719-444-8800 or click the link below. Your local experts are here for you!
March is the time to start prepping your vegetable gardens for planting in later spring. PPUG offers the following suggestions. Apply a layer of compost now so soil organisms have time to break itdown so it is ready for plants. A general rule is to add a 2-inch layer of compost to the garden beds and work it down 10 inches into the soil. Manures tend to be high in salts and too much salt can damage your plants. If you use a manure, use less and apply only every 3 years.
Also, a good practice is to top dress your beds with dry molasses, which can help feed the beneficial microbes in the soil. Finally, moisten your garden beds and then mulch with a 3 inch layer of straw. This will keep the soil hydrated until you are ready to plant. Your garden beds are now ready until spring finally arrives. Go to Pikes Peak Urban Gardens website at www.ppugardens.org for more great information on gardening in Colorado Springs.
“Our historic 118-year-old American Elm Tree, thanks to the TLC given by Mountain High Tree Care, is still going strong. Mountain High’s informed treatments have stopped problems as they have occurred, resulting in renewed vitality and healthier appearance.” ~ Dave Munger, Past President, Old North End Neighborhood.
“When we have a difficult problem or a special need with key trees, we call on Mountain High for professional care we can count on.” Jerry Switzer, Grounds Manager, Colorado College
We value the remaining American Elm trees in Colorado Springs. Your American Elm tree is a part of the heritage of the Old North End. Proper care is important for their health and protecting them for years to come.
Recommended care of American Elm trees:
Bark Beetle Control /
Dutch Elm Disease – Spring
American Elm trees are very susceptible to Dutch Elm disease. An annual protective spray can minimize its risk to this deadly disease.
Elm Scale Control – Spring or Fall
Elm Scale with its resulting honeydew and black sooty mold are prevalent on American Elm trees in Colorado Springs. This insect causes die back and a thin unhealthy canopy. A soil injection every 2 to 3 years can greatly improve the health of your American Elm tree.
Pruning – Winter
Pruning deadwood prone to Bark Beetles and heavily scaled branches is important for your American Elm tree. Winter or the dormant season is the opportune time to prune American Elm trees.
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.
The 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.
Douglas-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.
To protect your trees, call our
Colorado Springs Office:
719.444.8800 or contact us online:
Maintaining a healthy lawn in Colorado Springs is a challenge. With our high elevation, strong sunshine, and dry climate, grass needs proper watering, aeration and fertilization to excel in these conditions. Healthy grass will crowd out weeds, and withstand foot traffic, and our Lawn Care Service is designed specifically for our Colorado Springs conditions to help keep your lawn lush and green.
Our Certified Arborists are ready to take care of all your tree care and plant health care concerns. We will send out a Colorado Springs Arborist who will perform on-site evaluations of your trees’ health, and recommend treatments and trimming as needed to improve tree health and beauty.
We will trim your trees with care, making sure to remove deadwood, hazard limbs, and improve the overall shape of the tree. We also are experts at treating for disease and insects, approaching the trees with the best treatment for ongoing health, such as root treatments, fertilization, trunk injections, and watering. We always consider the environment first, and recommend the best (and only necessary) treatments to safely take care of your trees and landscapes.
Mountain High Tree Care & Consulting performs Fire Mitigation on many properties in the Colorado Spring area to help protect property from forest fires. This drone video shows aerial footage of our fire mitigation work in Colorado Springs.