Is Your Spruce Tree Browning? Answers to Common Spruce Tree Problems

common spruce tree pest doesn't harm tree

Cooley Spruce Gall

Cooley Spruce Gall

My neighborhood spruce trees have been attacked by aphid-like insects, Cooley spruce gall adelgids that make the ends or the new growth of each branch brown.  Colorado State University Extension has the best description of this pest.

My neighbor has asked to remove his tree because of his mis- diagnosis of the problem.  This gall doesn’t harm the tree, it just makes it look less healthy than it could.  Even applications of pesticides are not that effective in controlling the problem.  The indicator that I find strange is that it needs a douglas fir species to complete their life cycle, since we don’t have Douglas Fir in our immediate neighborhood, I’m quite perplexed to see such an abundance of the spruce gall affecting about 30 trees.

Western Spruce Budworm Damage

Western Spruce Budworm Damage

Western Spruce Budworm

Utah State has a great description of the Western Spruce Budworm  as does the Colorado State Extention.  This is a very debilitating worm that can kill off stands of spruce, douglas fir, white fir and subalpine fir.  Its larvae feed on young developing buds, needles, shoots, and other plant parts.

Spruce Tree Fungus

Spruce Cytospora Canker

Cytospora Canker

Colorado State Extention Description is very good.  This canker  is a fungi in the species cytospora and can kill the plant.  This canker affects many different kinds of trees and the only evergreen tree that is affected is the spruce.  The other trees that are also affected include apple, ash, aspen, birch, cherry, cottonwood, elm, maple, peach and willow.

Spruce Tree Rhizosphera NeedlecastRhizosphaera Needlecast

The Rhizosphaera Needlecast symptoms of the disease are discoloration of the needles, needle drop, and eventual defoliation. Infected needles turn yellow in July and then reddish-purple in August. The needles eventually turn brown and fall off one to several branches. A severely affected tree will have many bare branches. Premature needle drop is the primary damage, causing the tree to become unsightly. However, branches that are defoliated for four or five years may die. If left uncontrolled, the disease can eventually kill the tree.  New Mexico State University has the best description.

How to distinguish between Needlecast and Cytospora

Overall, if you have browning needles on your spruce tree, they may be one of these problems.  It is best to determine which one it could be and utilize a control as soon as possible.  There are a few others possibilities that may make your spruce turn brown, although I haven’t seen much evidence around Durango Colorado.

Cheers,

David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

970-749-1555

http://www.gardenhartlandscapedesign.com

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Fire Mitigation, Landscaping and Defensible Space

Dry winter and spring can make for very fire prone conditions.  The Firewise website has a bunch of great tips.  It’s important when installing new plants and trees to be aware of how this could impact your home in a fire.  They have a form that helps you to measure how your home is currently protected against wildfire.

Is Your Home Protected from Wildfire?

durango colorado fire prevention effort

Firewise is a national non profit organization.  The national Firewise Communities program is a multi-agency effort designed to reach beyond the fire service by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, and others in the effort to protect people, property, and natural resources from the risk of wildland fire – before a fire starts.

VISION: Wildland fires can occur in areas of residential development without the occurrence of disastrous loss.

MISSION: To promote community-wide responsibility in the use of technology, policy and practices that minimize the loss of life and property to wildland fire independent of fire fighting efforts.

durango colorado landscape fire prevention ideas

What Kind of Landscaping is the Best Fire Defense?

Especially when you are installing a new landscape, make sure to plan for defensible space around your home.  This is very important in most states in the mountain west. For already existing landscapes, remove all dead material; including trees, shrubs and grasses.  The best defense is a healthy green wet landscape.

Defensible Landscaping from Gardenhart Landscape & designI have found so many good tips and information from the Firewise website.  I recommend protecting your home and community by being well educated.

Cheers,

David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

970-749-1555

http://www.gardenhartlandscapedesign.com

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Landscape Watering Dilemmas in Durango Colorado: How Much?

Wildlife Resistant Landscape

How Much Do I water these Trees and Perennials?

How much do I water my SW Colorado landscape?

There is a very similar outcome when you water too much or too little.  One way to really decide whether to water or not is to actually feel the soil.  If you will dig down about three inches and grab a handful of soil and try to squeeze  it into a ball.  If it sticks together, then it still has sufficient moisture.  The problem with over watering is that the water molecules replace the oxygen in the soil and causes distress to plants.

Durango Landscaping Services by Gardenhart Landscape & Design

Sod & Grass use different amounts of water than many Trees and Plants

Signs of Over watering from Gardenhart Landscape & Design

It seems to me that my garden has not been growing very well and perhaps it is because it has been over watered.  The soil at my house is very hard packed river bottom and even though we have  tilled the garden area and applied compost and soil amendments numerous times, we still do not have a “well-drained soil”.  Watering here is difficult, too much and it runs off and not enough we water only the surface, which encourages shallow roots.  Ideal soil will absorb water down to about eighteen inches or deeper, then allow it to gradually dry out over a predictable period of time.  The plant roots will seek the moisture by going deeper in the soil,  thus they are less susceptible to dry times.

Durango Colorado Landscaping Companies help figure out how much to water

How Much Water Does Sod Need?

In summary, watering is very site specific, depending on your soil composition and the requirements of the individual plants.   As long as the soil will absorb water, deep watering is preferred.  You must pay attention to what is going on with your plants and the soil they are trying to grow in.

Cheers,

David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

970-749-1555

http://www.gardenhartlandscapedesign.com

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Monument Plant (Frasera speciosa) Green Gentian in Bloom Now: The Tallest Wildflower I’ve Seen!

Monument Plant

View the Monument Plant near Durango Colorado

While I have been out in the alpine regions of Colorado, recently, I have been seeing the tallest wildflower blooming. These tall spikey, green multi-flowered plants are called the Monument Plant, (Frasera speciosa) or Green Gentian. I haven’t seen a good show of these wildflowers for many years.  So I started to wonder why they bloom en masse so infrequently.  I did some research and found out that the indicator to a good blooming period is for a wet July & August, 4 years prior….can you imagine that it takes four years for a plant to bloom like this?  It is a monocarpic plant, i.e., one which grows many years, flowers once, then dies.  Perhaps the most well know monocarpic plant is the Southwest’s Century Plant. 

A great local webpage by swcoloradowildflowers.com is found at http://bit.ly/a7sVWa which provides a lot more information and great photos!

I have seen great displays at Coal Bank Pass and in Crested Butte Colorado.  I recommend to get out and see some of these tall wonders.  They are amazing.

Cheers,

David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

970-749-1555

http://www.gardenhartlandscapedesign.com

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Best Trees to Plant in Durango, Colorado

Gardenhart Landscape & Design Recommended Everlasting Tree Varieties to Plant in Southwest Colorado

There are many great resources regarding recommended trees to plant in the Durango area.  Gardenhart Landscape & Design’s recommendations are based on years of landscape design and installation and appropriateness in our area with special attention to deer & disease resistance, overall hardiness, ease of care, beauty and  size.  Gardenhart’s list includes:

  1. Ginnala Maple
  2. Wasatch Maple
  3. Western Hackberry
  4. Russian Hawthorn
  5. Green Ash
  6. Thornless Honeylocust
  7. Brandywine Crabapple
  8. Gambell Oak
  9. English Oak
  10. Schumard Oak

Evergreens:

  1. White Fir
  2. Meyer Juniper
  3. Utah Juniper
  4. Limber Pine
  5. Austrian Pine
  6. Eastern White Pine
  7. Southwestern White Pine
  8. Scotch Pine

This link directs you to the unsuitable trees as recommended by the City of Durango.  The list of trees on the link are not planted in Durango because of one or more of the following undesirable characteristics: Prolific seed production, invasive habits, fruit, pods, thorn bearing, weak limbs and/or structure and insect and disease problems.

According to Ron Stoner, one of the city of Durango’s favorite trees is the Wasatch Maple.  It is very hardy and looks great!

landscaping in Durango Colorado

Fall Maple Color

Durango nursery lists all zone 3 shrubs and trees.

If you have other questions about type, location and watering schedule for certain trees, let me know.

Cheers,

David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

970-749-1555

http://www.gardenhartlandscapedesign.com

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Best Perennials to Plant in Durango, CO That are Resistant to Deer & Rabbits

What to do about deer eating bulbs

delicate and tasty bulbs

Best Perennials to Plant in Durango, CO That are Resistant to Deer & Rabbits

How do you deal with the critters that are hungry?  Early spring when there is little to eat, the deer and rabbit are pervasive.  It is very difficult to keep them out of gardens and from eating my early blooming bulbs.  They both eat my daylillies and tulips  on the  south  side of my home every year. Daffodils, rhubarb and grape hyacinths generally go unscathed.  Amazingly also they will nibble on the fresh new growths of rose bushes, of which there is only one in our yard.

Several of our local Durango gardeners like to use a product called Bobex, which is sprayed on your plants.  It makes the plants unappetizing to these critters and they are less likely to eat them up. I do not have personal experience with this product, but some swear by it.  I also think that there are several other brands that work the same way, I would ask at your favorite garden center for their personal preference. Organic Gardening Magazine has several ideas on how to control garden pests.

Locally,  Durango Nursery and Supply’s recommended zone 3 perennials that are more resistant to deer is a very helpful list.  The only really proven way to control the deer and rabbits is to put up a very big and sturdy fence.

Cheers,

David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

970-749-1555

http://www.gardenhartlandscapedesign.com

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Landscaping Can Prevent Damage From Avalanches in Southwest Colorado

Landscaping Tips to Prevent Damage From Avalanches in Durango, Colorado

This past January a snow slide hit a house.  This Durango house was adjacent to a cliff, with little landscaping above it.  If you are located in potential slide area, Gardenhart Landscape and Design recommends planting evergreen trees above and throughout the avalanche run out zone. Another thing that you could do would be to protect the home with rock outcrops above the home.  Overall the best landscaping tactic is tree planting, as the trees will slow down the overall run-out.

Obviously when looking at new homes, it is best to be wary of purchasing anything that abuts any cliff or dirt, especially brand new construction.  The amount of drainage from such area may be unknown, and destructive, plus weather patterns may change.  The major accumulation of snow would be the north side slope, but a west and south-facing slope may melt faster.

 

durango colorado avalanche damage how to prevent with landscapinglandscaping tips to prevent avalanche, mud and water damage

Cheers,

David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

970-749-1555

http://www.gardenhartlandscapedesign.com

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