Sick Tree Day addresses common tree concerns

Photo by Don Benjamin During Cedaredge\'s annual Sick Tree Day on June 15, members of the town tree board confer about the health of a stand of aspens at the home of Dr. Terry Wade and his wife Susan. Tree experts visited 14 homes in the Surface Creek are

During a Sick Tree Day, tree experts visited 14 homes in the Surface Creek area and provided advice and guidance to homeowners. The free service was provided by the Cedaredge Tree Board.

The group included Colorado master gardeners who were assisted in their analysis by Vince Urbina, a Colorado forester from Grand Junction. Other members traveling with the team included Bruce Pendleton and Anita Evans of Hotchkiss along with Cedaredge residents Gloria Good, Jim Leser and Dave Pipkin.

During each visit the members diagnosed a specified problem and prescribed recommendations. This annual Sick Tree Day is typically held in June; not too early to see problems but not too late in the season to begin rectifying situations.

Last year the tree board received several questions regarding the drought and how best to protect trees. Leser, tree board president, said he was surprised to see that in general the trees seemed to "do okay with the drought."

Having been on the tree board for many years Leser says he tends to see the same recurring problems, whether it's during Sick Tree Day or on a house call. For example, citizens sometimes don't water trees long enough. In Cedaredge trees may need to be watered a couple times into November. In Delta they might need water at least once in the winter.

Though a pain, the benefits of proper tree care can prevent the need for a Sick Tree Day visit, or a house call from a master gardener.

Another issue is when a tree's leaves are crinkled and the tree is deteriorating. The culprit is often weed killer. A citizen will spray the herbicide in gravel but not realize a tree's roots stretch underneath, or nearby.

In general it's best to consider where a tree's roots spread when planting or when looking at a property with trees. Similarly, Leser said he sees issues when a tree is planted too deep, or the soil isn't amended for breathability.

Another common issue is when a tree's branches are allowed to grow too long. They can experience breakage at the joint. Pruning is critical to tree care.

"Sick Tree Day tends to find problems that have become quite obvious," said Leser. He advises people not to wait too long when they see an issue arising with their trees, because then it's more likely they'll need to take drastic measures later on.

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