Early Spring Maintenance for Your Denver Landscape
Dev Team December 21, 2016

As a general rule, planning ahead for your landscaping needs is always a smart way to approach each season. Spring ushers in new growth, flowers, and lush green landscapes, but only if it is properly tended to in the months leading up to it. Take the time this winter to assess your full landscape, including trees, shrubs, beds, and more, to determine what will need work in the early part of spring as opposed to the normal maintenance you should expect.

Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Freezing temperatures can eliminate some of the winter trimming or pruning. There are times, however, where pruning during the winter can promote growth in your tree come spring. Instead of digging into winter pruning yourself, assess what needs to be addressed in your shrubs or smaller trees. Gauge the shape that you desire for the plants and make mental notes, or even mark branches or limbs that you think might need to be trimmed in the future. Take time with these tasks and ensure that the following week you also see the need for the same cuts to be made. When it comes time to prune, you will have nothing holding you back and no preparation needed.

Buds and Bulbs

Did you mark the placement of your bulbs before the snow hit? If not, you might be at the mercy of waiting for the spring flowers to pop up before planting anything new. If you do have placements of the bulbs intact, take a photo or mark them more obviously to carry you through to the spring season. When it comes time for planting new bulbs to enhance your current flowerbed, you will be happy to have the confidence you aren’t digging up anything planted previously.

Checking On Mulch

After any heavy snow or rain, it is a great idea to check on your mulch and be sure it is still in place. Mulch will decompose to some degree over time and waters can sweep it away from its intended placement, so take a look once the snow has mostly melted to see if you have proper amounts of mulch in your garden or around your trees and shrubs. Generally you should have around 2 inches of mulch, but more can be ok with cold temperatures as long as your plants are able to get enough hydration and sunlight.

Clear Your Gutters

While most homeowners consider gutter cleaning as something unrelated to your landscape, it can have a heavy effect on things if not tended to properly. Water runoff from snow can be high in volume, which can provide too much water to some of your plants beneath. Take a look at the setup of the water flow as the snow melts and check the moisture levels in the soil around it. If you have plants which are subject to this flow of water, consider redirecting the gutter’s water elsewhere. With too much moisture, some soil and plants can freeze and severely damage the root system of the plant or tree.

Have additional questions about early spring maintenance? Let our team assist in getting you prepared for the blooming season ahead. Call American Arbor Care today to schedule an estimate and get a head start on your landscape design today!

Brown Leaves or Needles? You Might Have Winter Desiccation Damage to Your Denver Trees
Dev Team December 14, 2016

Homeowners around the Colorado area may see their trees (particularly those with needles or evergreen trees) begin to brown, become partially brown and partially green, or become completely browned. While it is completely normal for these types of trees to lose needles regularly, when it happens to large portions of the tree, it is a sign of something more serious – winter desiccation damage

What is Winter Desiccation Damage?

Essentially, this type of damage is a burning or scorching of the leaves due to climate conditions. The most prevalent time for this to happen is when the winter days give us warm sunshine, but are extremely dry with very little to no humidity in the air as well. Because the temperatures fall in the lower degrees, watering has halted, and many trees can be affected negatively. Generally this happens more with trees which were recently planted or are fairly young, as their root systems have not fully grown into the ground deep enough not to be affected. It can, however, happen with all trees, so it is important to know the warning signs. The dryness of the soil is the main culprit here – with little to no moisture available at the roots, the leaves or needles will begin to show the damage with discoloration. 

How Can You Prevent Desiccation Damage?

One way to take your trees from the temperate fall months into winter is by watering well during the fall months and into early winter. This year, we experienced an unseasonably warm start to the winter, so watering should have continued for a prolonged period of time. Because we have not had much moisture, it is smart to continue watering your trees in the morning or the late afternoon to allow for absorption at the roots. Although it is important to ensure your trees and shrubs receive proper hydration, be careful of overwatering in cold weather, as ice can be treacherous in walkways and paths. 

How Does One Combat Desiccation Damage?

A method of managing desiccation damage comes in the form of a spray. Anti-transpirant sprays on your plants will prevent the moisture from being expelled from the plant’s leaves in the transpiration process. This process occurs when the weather warms and water cools the plant by expelling and evaporating on the leaves. Another factor in this process is the depletion of water from the plant and root system – and it would need to be replenished. Anti-transpirant sprays, however, eliminate this function of the plant and prevent moisture from leaving. It acts as a coating over the leaves – and should only be applied when temperatures during the day are above freezing, which is luckily quite often in our Colorado climate. Not sure how to solve your tree or shrub problem? Make sure to contact the team at American Arbor Care – serving the Denver Metro Area for over 25 years. If you suspect your trees or shrubs are in the midst of withstanding desiccation damage, let us assist you in nursing them back to full health. Allow us to give you an estimate for your services, and also recommendations for future treatment to ensure your landscape is lush and healthy come spring.

De-Icing Damage and Prevention for Our Denver Landscape
Dev Team December 9, 2016

With the recent snow that has blanketed the Denver landscape, homeowners tend to take all precautions to minimize efforts of removing it – one of which is using de-icing salts on the walking paths. While this is a highly effective and necessary component of maintaining your sidewalks and walkways around your home for safety – it unfortunately can have a negative effect on your plants or other living things. 

Types of Salt Damage

Trees and shrubs take on the brunt of damage when it comes to applications of sodium chloride (salt) and can lead to severe issues in the future. 

Damage from Spray-Salt

For any trees or shrubs growing on the sides of major traffic areas, salt can affect them heavily due to the way it is applied. Rather than spreading by sprinkling on the sidewalk like most homeowners are used to doing, a spray application actually will dissipate further into the air and can make it onto trees and shrubs nearby. While this would typically fall on their branches, leaves, and trunk, it has more immediately obvious damage. 

Root Absorption of Salt

When salt is spread in large quantities on roads and sidewalks, it generally gets mixed into the runoff of melting snow in addition to piling up on the sides of the road when plows make their way through the streets. This can accumulate on grasses and near tree roots, which will eventually make their way to the tree’s root system. High levels of salt are toxic for trees and shrubs and can affect the overall soil content for extended periods of time. 

Prevention of Salt Damage

There are measures you can take to prevent de-icing salt damage to your trees and shrubs this winter as we prepare for the next snow to hit. Some of the more obvious ways to reduce the possible damage are just reducing the amount of salt you use and the coverage of the area you apply it. Basically, keeping it just on the sidewalks instead of your pathway to the side of the house might keep it away from some of the larger trees around your home. You can also protect your plants by creating a physical protection around them – meaning, you can cover them with plastic, burlap, or create a small snow fence to block the snow and salt from fully reaching their roots. By creating a barrier between the plants or trees and the main pathways, you can prevent future damage by way of human error as well – sometimes plants are covered by snow, and if they are planted near a walkway, they may accidentally get trampled as well. Alternatives to salt for de-icing do exist as well. Instead of salt, use a product that is mainly CMA or calcium chloride. This will not incur the same type of damage as salt. It is best to avoid any products which contain urea or rock salt – so keep that in mind when shopping. You might have heard about kitty litter as an alternative, but this is in fact not a viable option for removing ice. The rocks in litter will only create a mess in your home and collect on passerby’s shoes, so stick with another option.

Have questions about whether your plants have been affected by de-icing salt or need to know how to make sure it doesn’t happen at your home? Call the experts at American Arbor Care for more information. As a top tree care and landscaping company in Denver for over 25 years, our team can assist with your home’s landscape and help keep your trees and plants thriving throughout the year. Call us today to schedule an estimate and to get more info!

Understanding Tree Health: When is the Right Time for Leaves to Drop?
Dev Team December 2, 2016

We all understand the seasonal changes that happen with foliage, and living in a region with particularly beautiful seasonal shifts, we get used to the timing if it as well. This fall and early winter, Colorado experienced unseasonably warm weather – and some of the effects may not be apparent to you at first. This year, the warmer weather created a continued need for watering – homeowners kept their sprinkler systems running, potted plants and baskets continued to receive daily water, and things remained as they had all summer until the first snap of cold weather hit. Because this temperature shift came so late, all of the trees and plants continued to produce more leaves, blades, or flowers and also continued to gain strength. 

Why Do Some Leaves Take Longer to Drop?

It might feel like once trees begin to drop their leaves, all of them do – but in fact, the type of tree and its overall health determine when the leaves will drop. 

Deciduous Trees

Types of trees like birch, cherry, or maple, will begin to drop their leaves more quickly. As a measure of efficiency in their internal ecosystem, reducing their susceptibility to winter’s frigid temperatures and increasing their energy productivity in the most optimal times of year. This development is considered to be adapted from past methods of leaf shedding, but does continue to work in favor of the tree’s health. 


Pine, fir, and spruce will all maintain their needles for a much longer time than deciduous trees. It seems like it would be of the biggest health benefits for any type of tree to hold on to their leaves a bit longer due to longer durations for photosynthesis (learn more about how photosynthesis works with leaves in our article about the right way to treat iron chlorosis). But in fact, both Evergreens and deciduous trees gain proper nutrients and operate under their own measure of efficiency. 

Other Types of Leaf Shedding

In some cases, like with beech or oak trees, you won’t see the leaves drop, but you will see them die. As a strange in-between, these leaves will remain on the tree branches even after they die and lose their color and moisture. Most of the time this happens to younger trees who have not yet reached their maturity, and on lower branches that don’t receive as much sunlight. Although different than the other methods of leaf shedding, this is actually also efficient for the growing tree in its own way. By keeping the leaves off the ground, they do not decompose quite as fast and can become a perfect mulch material for the tree when they drop in the springtime. These leaves can also help protect newly growing material on branches during the colder months of winter. Curious about whether your tree is following its proper schedule for leaf shedding? Give the experts at American Arbor Care a call to get their advice. Still need some help getting your plants and trees prepared for the full swing of snow? Schedule your appointment with their team today and spend your holiday worry-free.

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