Winter is the perfect time to check tree structures!

Tree Tips:
Winter is a great time to take a close look at the structure of your mature deciduous trees. During the growing season, leaf canopies obstruct our ability to see branch structures from the ground.

It is important to take the time to look closely for problems   that could create current or future hazardous conditions. Branches that are damaged from high winds, heavy snow and lightning can remain partially attached or hung up in the tree.  These damaged branches may remain in the tree for weeks or even months just waiting for the next weather event.

Below are a few things to look for when examining a tree’s branch structure:

  • ​Branches broken away from the tree but caught up in other branches​.holes
  • Branches with abrupt angles pointing down that could indicate a previous heavy snow load.
  • Cracks or splits in the bark or wood that indicate a significant amount of strength loss.
  • Open cavities along the branches indicate the presence of decay inside the tree.
  • Mushrooms or fruiting bodies are also an indication of internal wood decay.​

It is also important to know the natural growth habits of a tree in order to identify deformities that need to be addressed.  Our Arborists can help you identify situations that need to be managed to keep your family, home and property safe.


Meet Shane Tucker – Trim Manager

Shane Tucker
Trim Manager/
Certified Arborist
Shane grew up in Michigan and moved to Colorado 21/2 years ago for a better job opportunity.  He was our lead foreman until 6 months ago when he became the Trim Department Supervisor.
He has over 20 years in the tree industry and has worked in Chicago, Florida, New York City, & Ohio.  He has been on high profiles properties such as Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach, FL and The Breakers Hotel.  He was a foreman of a crew of 60 that climbed and inspected all of the trees in Central Park for Asian Longhorn Beetle!

He loves the tree industry because it is challenging and different every single day.  He decided to get his arborist license so that he could be informed of all the correct ways to do pruning as well as be knowledgeable in diagnosing Plant Health Care issues.  He also wanted to know as much about trees as possible. Shane was featured in the Lawn & Landscape Market Leadership Magazine’s November issue.

Shane loves working at Mountain High tree Service!! He particularly loves how involved Ralph is and what he does for his employees; he feels like Ralph treats everyone with so much respect. He relishes working in a team environment and his favorite part of his job is doing large removals and being part of a large project where he has to solve a puzzle in order to accomplish the end goal.

In his spare time he loves spending time with his 5 year old daughter, whom he absolutely adores.


Douglas-Fir Tussock Moth “They’re back”!

Douglas-Fir Tussock Moth (Orgyia pseudotsugata)Tussock moth infected tree web
Populations of this defoliating caterpillar surged in 2014
in Colorado Springs.  You can see groups of partially or totally defoliated trees in many areas.  Especially noticeable were Spruce trees with a distinctive orange colorations along the Academy Blvd. corridor and a
large area of Gray Fir trees on Cheyenne Mountain below NORAD.  Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir and White Fir trees are hosts to this insect.These caterpillars feed on new needles, partially eating them and causing the remaining portion of the needles to turn an orangish-brown.  Eventually larvae move to feed on older needles, stripping the branches.  After the initial season of feeding, a tree can usually put out new growth the following year, but with repeated defoliation a tree will die.
Tussock moth webIt is important to spray for this insect. Chemical
controls should be applied shortly after egg hatch in late May or early June.  A biological option; Bacillus thuringiensis, is also available.  It is a bacterium that feeds on caterpillars. Timing is critical and it is not as effective.

Tussock moth overwinters in the egg stage near the female’s pupal case.  Eggs hatch in late May and larvae move to feed on new growth, often in the top of the tree. They feed heavily from June into July, growing into large caterpillae, distinguished by tufts of hair. They pupate by August and the nondescript adult moths mate and then lay eggs.  Many of you will see a new recommendation for this on your annual proposal!If you would like your trees checked, please call our Colorado Springs office at 719.444.8800 for a free evaluation.

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Keep your trees, shrubs and lawn safe when using a de-icing agent!

Salt and ice-melt damage to yards:As the freezing and thawing of snow on sidewalks and drives occurs, please keep in mind ice melt can damage lawns and other sensitive plants.  To prevent long term injury/damage, toss cleared snow far enough so it won’t melt back onto concrete and refreeze. This keeps salt applications (and subsequent runoff) to a minimum.

Salt is toxic to plants.  When dissolved in water the sodium and chloride ions separate. The sodium ions replace needed nutrients in the soil (potassium, magnesium and calcium) making them unavailable to your plants and shrubs.  The chloride ions are transported from roots to leaves, building up in the leaves and interfering with photosynthesis. Rock salt absorbs the water that would normally be used by roots, dehydrating the roots and stressing the plants. Salt also reduces the cold hardiness of plants, making them more susceptible to frost damage.

Here are a few tips to keep your plants safe and your sidewalks and driveways clear:

  • Don’t oversalt!  Follow label directions precisely.
  • Avoid using rock salt in extreme cold.  Salt is most effective at temperatures just below the freezing point.
  • De-icing agents with calcium-chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate, are salt-free and should be used in extreme cold.
  • Also, in extreme cold, sprinkle water lightly over surfaces before you apply the ice melt for better results.
  • Erect barriers with plastic fencing, burlap or snow fencing to protect sensitive plants.
  • For plants that do get sprayed by salt (road splashing, etc.), use a broom and lightly brush salt off of the plants.  You may not see the damage to plants and trees by salt or ice melt until spring.
  • Shovel ice and snow as soon as possible, and try to keep sidewalks and paths clear to avoid re-applying products.
  • For areas that do get runoff with ice melt products, to help minimize damage try to flush the areas with water on days when temps are above 40° Fahrenheit.

Get to know Austin Lopez – Colorado Springs Branch

Trim Foreman/Certified Arborist
Adrian LopezAustin Lopez has been with Mountain High in Colorado Springs for almost 2 years. Austin grew up in Colorado Springs, learning as a young boy how to climb trees from his father
Tino, also an arborist.  He has been an arborist and climbing trees for over 15 years.He honed his skills in California working as a trim supervisor for 12 years with West Coast Arborists before moving back to Colorado Springs and his roots (no pun intended).He is an ISA Certified Arborist and Tree Worker/Climber Specialist.Austin has a 6 year old daughter, Jesalyn.  His hobbies are fishing and target shooting.

Winter landscape problems – Sunscald

It is hard to believe that with the shorter days and the much cooler temperatures that there is anything that may pose a risk to the plant material in our landscape.


The younger deciduous trees in your yard may be at risk for something known as sun scald. When the day time temperatures climb well above freezing combined with the fact that the sun is lower in the sky hitting the south and west sides of the trunk directly, a tree’s outer cells become active. When the temperature drops below freezing at night, these once dormant cells are damaged, potentially beyond repair. Signs of this damage can be seen in the discoloration of the young bark, cracking, or a flat spot under the bark, typically on the south or the west side of the                                         tree.

SunscaldThe end result of sun scald is the diminished transportation of nutrients to the canopy which will cause branches  at the top of the tree to die off. If the damage is significant enough the tree may not recover. As a tree matures and the bark becomes thicker the risk for sun scald significantly diminishes. It can take 2 to 3 years for the bark to become thick enough to withstand the drastic temperature changes in the winter. That can vary greatly depending on what type of tree is planted in your yard. An Oak tree may need to be protected for only a couple of years while you may want to protect a Tulip Poplar, Aspen or Apple tree (for example) for five or more years. Evergreen trees typically do not have issues with sun scald due to the large amount of needles on the trees that help block the sun’s effects.

tree wrap 2There are some simple and  inexpensive ways to help  protect your young trees. The  trunk can be wrapped with a  light colored, porous tree wrap  or boards can be placed against  the trunk. Start wrapping the trunk at the base of the tree, working your way up, overlapping 1/3 up to the first or second branch, finishing the wrap with tape. Prior to the ground freezing in the fall, it is also helpful to give the trees a deep watering.  It is important to make sure that whichever product you use, that there is sufficient air flow for the trunk. Typically you will wrap the trunk to the first or second branch.

Whichever way you decide to protect the tree, make sure that the material is removed in the spring, generally around Easter.

Types of Sprinkler Systems in Denver

In-ground Irrigation

The most effective and efficient way to keep your lawn green is to install an in-ground irrigation system. Green lawns can increase your home’s resale value by 14%, according to experts. This post will explain the basic components that are used in an underground irrigation system.

What is an In-ground Irrigation System?

An in-ground irrigation system disperses water through sprinklers attached to risers connected to a network of underground pipes that run throughout your lawn.

It can also include a drip system that disperses water to a precise area, producing deeper root growth and more abundant foliage for gardens, shrubs, roses and groundcover.

Drip irrigation offers many money and time saving benefits. Delivering water directly to plant roots saves you money by reducing up to 70% in water waste from evaporation and run-off.  It replaces hand watering, and reduces yard maintenance by delivering water directly to plants, reducing weed growth.

Parts of an In-ground Irrigation System

Valves – Valves turn the flow of water on and off for your irrigation system. The two types of valves used in irrigation are anti-siphon and in-line.

Pipe and Fittings – Pipe used for irrigation includes:

  • PVC – Rigid pipe available in sizes ranging from ¾” to 1 ½”.
  • Polyethylene tubing – Flexible pipe that comes in rolls from ½” to 2″.  Typically used in climates where freezing occurs.

Plastic pipes are connected using slip fittings, which glue together. Threaded fittings are used to connect pipe to valves and to risers for sprinklers.

SprinklersThe type of sprinkler head you choose should cover the area adequately and apply water only where it is needed. The two basic types of sprinklers for in-ground applications are rotor and fixed, or spray, heads.

  • Rotor systems – spray a rotating stream of water and have a lower application rate than fixed spray heads, making them more suitable for slopes.
  • Fixed – spray heads disperse water in a set pattern at a high application rate and are most suitable for small level areas.

Risers - Risers are used to elevate spray coverage. They can also be used to add a few inches to improve the positioning of the head, and should not be used near sidewalks and driveways.

Flex Assemblies Flex assemblies, also known as “Funny Pipe™”, are an alternative to risers to for connecting sprinklers to pipe.  

Drip TubingDrip tubing can be installed in conjunction with an in-ground irrigation system. While the hose itself is typically laid above ground, it can be linked to the in-ground system by connecting to a riser.

Timers - Timers tell valves when to open and close to start and stop watering.  They allow you to program schedules for watering different areas, or zones, in your landscape automatically at a given time of day on specific days of the week.

Mountain High Tree, Lawn and Landscape offers a full range of sprinkler services in Denver, including sprinkler installation, sprinkler winterization, sprinkler spring turn-on, and general sprinkler repair and maintenance.


Water your trees in the winter!


Your trees are thirsty! Make sure to water your trees on warmer days, give them a nice long soak with the hose. Did you know that on average, it takes up to 12” of snow to equal just 1″ of actual moisture? That means these light dustings of snow in Denver the past few weeks have not equated to much moisture for your trees.

Water whenever you can during dry, warm spells to help ensure that your trees can survive our often-dry Colorado winters.

Winter Tree WateringHomeowners should evaluate their ability to water their trees, shrubs and turf areas, and don’t be fooled when it snows. Dry winter conditions result in serious damage to newly planted landscapes as well as mature and established trees. Damage to vegetation includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Desiccation and dieback to fibrous
    (nutrient absorbing) root tissue.
  2. Undersized leaves in the spring.
  3. Needle browning and pre-mature
    needle drop in evergreen trees.
  4. Increased susceptibility to insect attack.

Learn more on our Supplemental Tree Watering page »

We also offer deep root tree watering, call our Denver office at 303.232.0666 or Colorado Springs office at 719.444.8800 and buy your trees a drink!


Seasonal Sprinkler Tips

Water Saving Practices


  • Turn your sprinklers on! Preform a check-up on your irrigation system.  Check for leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Once on, make sure adjust the sprinkler heads to make sure it’s not watering streets or sidewalks. Want help? Contact our Mountain High Tree Irrigation department and we can help you with all your sprinkler needs.
  • Install a rain sensor that turns off your system during rainy weather.
  • Consider upgrading to a smart controller that automatically adjusts your irrigation schedule based on soil moisture and weather.
  • Water at the right time of day and only water when needed. The best times to water are in the early morning and in the evening when the temperature is cool.
  • Water when the winds are calm.
  • When you go out of town, make sure someone is keeping an eye on your irrigation system.


  • Continue regular irrigation maintenance, checking for leaks and overwatering.
  • Consider installing drip or micro irrigation in your flowerbeds and vegetable gardens to reduce water loss due to evaporation.
  • Be weather aware. If you don’t have a rain sensor or smart controller, check weather forecasts and shut off your irrigation system when rain is in the forecast.


  • In the fall, plants require less water. Adjust your system accordingly.
  • To prepare for winter and freezing conditions, turn off water, drain valves and blow out excess water in the lines with compressed air (contact us for our sprinkler turn-off service)
  • Disconnect, drain, coil and store garden hoses to reduce wear.


  • Tree roots continue to grow during the winter and do need watering monthly if extended dry spells occur.
  • If dry conditions persist, irrigate your lawn in the morning during warmer winter days to avoid winter drought damage, along with the lawn mite damage that comes along with it!


Water Saving Tips for your Denver Lawn

We all want beautiful, colorful and healthy lawns, but how much watering is actually needed. There are often water restrictions and our own environmental concerns telling us to use less water. So how much water should you use and how should you use it?

Divide By Zones

Different plants need different amounts of water. Divide your yard into separate irrigation zones so the grass can be watered separately and more frequently than groundcovers, shrubs and trees.

Keep It Balanced

Your lawn wants about one to two inches of water per watering.  Put measuring cups in various places around your lawn and run the sprinklers for 15 minutes. This will give you an idea of how much water the grass is getting and where.

Waste Not, Want Not

The greatest waste of water comes from applying too much, too often—much of it runs off and is never absorbed. Instead of watering for one long continuous session, try splitting the watering time into shorter periods and take 15-minute breaks in between each session. This will let the water soak in, while minimizing runoff.

Watch The Clock

Water between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.—when the sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Midday watering is less efficient because of greater water loss due to evaporation and windy conditions during the day. Watering in the evening isn’t a good idea either because leaves can remain wet overnight—creating prime conditions for fungus to grow

Adjust The System to the Season and Be Rain Smart

Adjust your irrigation system as the seasons and weather change.  You can also install a shut-off device that automatically detects rain or moisture.

Water Only What Grows

Adjust sprinkler heads to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways. A properly adjusted sprinkler head should spray large droplets of water, not a fine mist, to minimize evaporation and wind drift.

Consider Drip

When it comes to watering individual trees, flowerbeds, potted containers or other non-grassy areas, you can apply water directly to the roots with low volume drip irrigation. This will reduce water waste through evaporation or runoff and keep weeds from growing.

Do Routine Inspections

Periodically check your sprinklers to make sure everything is working properly. A clogged head or a torn line can cause damage to your landscape and bump up your water bill.

If you have questions about your Sprinkler system, or if you want a system installed with all the latest technology to help it run as efficiently as possible, contact Mountain High Tree Irrigation department »