Tree Care Issues

Tree Care Issues

As Highlands Ranch’s trees become mature, we’ve seen a small but real change in the type and amount of issues that Highlands Ranch residents encounter. So we wanted to take a few hundred words to highlight some of the issues your neighbors have asked us about so you can have a deeper understanding of tree care issues you might be facing in your yard.

Aspen Tree Decline

As many of the developments reach the thirty-year mark, expect to see aspen trees start to decline and die. This is just the natural lifecycle of the species. Aspens have a 30-50 year lifespan. This year, aspen removals are the overwhelming majority of named tree species we get asked to estimate in Highlands Ranch.  Most developer-planted aspens will match the age of the home/development itself. So if your home is around thirty years old, then the aspens are likely around that age also.  Signs of aspen decline are branches dying off at the top.  If you notice black spots on the leaves, this is likely a common aspen condition called marssonina blight. It is a chronic disease that can be prevented by making sure the leaves are raked in the fall. The leaves act as a vector for this blight. While not damaging to the overall tree, it can make the tree look less robust.  Poplars are another tree in the Highlands Ranch arboriculture that have a relatively low life span, as you would expect from another member of the aspen family.

Cottonwood Tree Management

While not quite the issue as older parts of the Denver metro, Highlands Ranch residents are starting to deal with the “sleeping giants” in their yard, cottonwoods. A fast-growing tree, planted by developers for their quick growth, towering canopy, and low maintenance cost, smart residents are starting to get these removed and replace them with, frankly a better tree. One H’ Ranch woman wrote to us simply, “Remove my cottonwood!” The urgency is that she knows cottonwood trees are:

  • very expensive to remove down the road
  • water hogs that steal water from lawn and other trees
  • brittle branched due to the fact that they grow too fast to allow sturdy branch development

Additionally, they don’t last very long, and their roots run along the top of the soil. And they’re the most common hazard tree in the Denver metro area. And so on and so on.

Do Denver Water restrictions affect me?

While many suburban cities rely on Denver Water for water supplies, Highlands Ranch does not.  “Centennial Water and Sanitation District serve as the water and wastewater utility in Highlands Ranch,” according to the community association. Residents are not allowed to water from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. However, there are no restrictions on the days residents may water.  In 2013, your trees may need water due to drought. If you have a sprinkler system and use it on a regular basis the trees should be getting enough water. However, if they are outside the watering zones they may need extra watering, by hand. Typically ten gallons for every diameter inch of the tree. You measure the tree diameter at chest height, not at the base.  By the way, typically drip watering systems are not covered under watering restrictions.

What about mountain pine beetles?

The mountain pine beetle (MPB) and IPS beetle have not been huge issues in Highlands Ranch since they usually target pine, in the case of MPB, and spruce in the case of IPS, that are larger than 4 inches in diameter. As your evergreen trees mature it will be more of an issue and we are starting to get calls from the neighborhood. We do have a mountain pine beetle FAQ on this site as a guideline for what to look for and how to treat it.

Please let us know if you have a question about your trees or lawn and we’ll do our best to answer it.

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