By Megan Townsend and Hunter Townsend, ISA-Certified Arborist
This year has been full of surprises. As many of us spent more time at home this spring and summer, we had more opportunities to enjoy our own yards. As we enjoyed the shade, some of us gazed up and were in for another unwelcome surprise. Our trees were not looking so great. Many of us experienced trees with shriveled leaves, less leaf output, or other signs that our plants were in serious distress. Why did this happen, and what can we do about it?
This year has been rough on trees. Just as many trees were beginning to leaf out, a late, severe frost hit with temperatures dropping into the teens. These conditions started many trees on the wrong foot, leading to poor leaf output. Some recovered, and others did not.
Those trees that did not recover may have been young trees or trees already impacted by disease or drought conditions, and the late frost was the ultimate event leading to the death of the tree. If your tree still doesn’t have leaves this summer, it is unfortunately dead and should be removed. Replace (plant a new tree) in the spring for an improved rate of survival.
For trees that did leaf out, they had to also suffer through brutal wind storms, punishing hail, and long stretches of swelteringly hot days without rain. Because of this, many trees have struggled through the summer. Here are steps you can take to increase the chances your trees will survive the winter and look beautiful next spring.
1) Give your tree enough water, but be careful not to over-do it. In most cases, ten minutes with the hose on a trickle at the base of the tree once a week can provide adequate moisture. If you have a newly planted tree, watering with 3-5 gallons every other day (or every day in extreme heat) is appropriate.
2) Consider a fall and spring fertilization. There are fertilizer products you can purchase at home improvement stores. Some tree care companies also provide this service.
3) Realize the late frost may not be the only reason your tree is struggling. Hire an ISA-certified arborist to provide an evaluation of your trees. Many companies offer free estimates. An ISA-certified arborist can determine what is wrong with your trees and offer an individual approach to include fertilization, insect or disease treatment, and a proper pruning schedule to keep your trees in tip-top shape.
4) If you do hire a professional to care for your trees, be sure they have an ISA-certified arborist on staff, they are licensed, and they are insured. You want someone highly qualified, protecting your valuable landscape assets.
With the right approach, you can look forward to enjoying the shade and beauty of your trees, not only next spring but for years to come.
Megan and Hunter Townsend are owners of Altitude Arborist in Broomfield, CO. In addition to keeping busy with all things tree care, they are proud parents of two energetic little girls. They also share their home and property with two dogs, a cat, and a loft full of pigeons.