Front Range trees experience setback in spring growth | TheFencePost.com

Front Range trees experience setback in spring growth

Katie Schmidt
kschmidt@greeleytribune.com

After a warm fall and a freeze in May, trees along the Front Range are dying off.

Residents in the area have reported damaged trees, particularly junipers and arborvitaes.

"In conversation with neighbors, we've all noticed that many of the trees and larger shrubs in our subdivision in the Ashcroft Heights area of Evans have been dying or are already dead," Evans resident Kevin Doucette said in an email. "Once we start discussing it, I started to notice as I drove around Greeley the same problem seems to be taking place."

Employees at Eaton Grove Garden Center and Nursery, 35901 Weld County Road 31 in Eaton, said they have received many calls about dead trees.

This large setback for tree growth was party caused by a sharp temperature drop.

Shiloh Hatcher, forestry manager for the city of Greeley, said plants need a gradual descent into dormancy. Last October, Colorado temperatures reached 80 degrees, but by November, the temperature dropped down to below 13. The stark change in temperature resulted in deep tissue damage. Winter and spring also altered plant dormancy. Because February and March saw warmer-than-average temperatures, some plants emerged in March. These plants were damaged by the light frost on Mother's Day, setting back growth for several weeks, according to Hatcher.

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Hatcher said trees and plants along the Front Range have been affected, including about 250 trees in Greeley. The worst hit were elm trees, with an estimated 30 percent affected in the city, according to Hatcher. Shrubs, roses, burning bush, evergreens and fruit trees were affected by temperatures.

Hatcher said treatment is a matter of wait-and-see, and patience is important.

Homeowners are expected to see portions of their trees die. If the tips are green, the tree will survive, Rosanne Bingham, of Eaton Grove said.

Hatcher said plants need warm weather and moisture.

"Mother nature is harming and helping us," Hatcher said regarding the rainy weather in May.

Hatcher recommends mulch for younger trees. He also advises residents to call Greeley's forestry department at (970) 339-2405 to have trees assessed before taking steps to remove them.

Tips for treatment

» Make sure plants and trees are getting warm weather and regular watering.

» Mulch can help young trees.

» Brown and brittle branches need to be pruned.

Contact Greeley’s forestry department at (970) 339-2405 to have a tree assessment.