Improving landscape drainage.

Who could have ever imagined Denver having as much precipitation as we have had this year? Not only the amount but the duration of the wet weather has made a tremendous impact on our industry. One of the most common requests this year has been for improving drainage on our client’s properties. As this is not an easy or direct answer for most people, here are some drainage basics.

First and foremost, one of the easiest and most important things you can do on your property to improve your drainage is to make sure that you have adequate slope away from any building structures. This means that you have a minimum of ¼ inch of drop per foot of run. So to grade away from the house 8 feet, you would need at least 2 inches of drop from the house out. The shorter the distance you are able to grade away from the house, the more the slope should be; as much as ½ inch per foot (or more).


Second, once you have addressed the slope around your house and out buildings, you
will want to make sure that you have little to no irrigation within the first three to four feet next to the structure. You should have beds with little or no plantings at the perimeter of the house or a hard surface like a sidewalk or drive. There should never be lawn against any building.


And finally, one of the biggest issues that need to be addressed at most residences is the downspouts. Downspouts should be run well past the drip line of the roof of the house, and should go to a point where the water will not accumulate in a large rain storm. Clogged downspouts, or downspouts that dump at the foundation, are one of the primary reasons people have foundation issues or flooding issues. Downspouts that run into corrugated pipe below grade may seem like a good way to mitigate your water issues, but in reality, over time sediment will build up in the grooves of the pipe and eventually it will clog and back up. This is much more of a problem if the pipe has not been run to daylight (the end is visible) and just run to a “french drain”. Our recommendation: if you need or want to run your downspouts underground, use a solid P.V.C. pipe with a cleanout installed. Cleaning your gutters and checking your drainage on a regular basis will also make a significant difference when we get a heavy downpour.


Lawn Care for Late Summer:

For the best grass health it is best to water more heavily, but less often. Deep watering and letting the soil dry forces deeper roots and makes the lawn more drought resistant. During the hottest times of summer a lawn needs about 2.5 inches of water per week.

Mow at the right height:
Keep mowing height at 2.5 to 3 inches. Taller grass shades the soil, which reduces water evaporation, leads to deeper roots, and prevents weed seeds from germinating. Mow often enough so you’re never removing more than one-third of the leaf height during any one cutting.

Sharpen your mower blade:
A dull mower blade rips grass instead of cutting it. This makes ragged wounds, brown edges, and opens the tip up for disease organisms. By late summer many mower blades have gone dull. A good rule of thumb is to sharpen blades after every 10 to 12 hours of mowing.

weedy yardGet weeds under control:
Weeds steal nutrients and moisture from the lawn while smothering out desirable grass. Keeping weeds under control is one key to keeping a lawn healthy and happy. A weed free lawn is also far more enjoyable to walk on in bare feet.

Keep an eye open for damaging insects:
Several insects lay eggs in the spring and early summer. These eggs hatch into grubs in mid- to late summer. At this point they feed on lawn crowns and roots causing damage to turf. Insect damage is normally uneven and gives the lawn a ‘splotchy’ appearance, or damages areas close to sidewalks and driveways.

Pick up pooClean up pet waste quickly:
Pet waste can cause major damage. If you see dying grass due to your dog’s urination, flush the area with water to dilute the 
urine in soil. Hand aeration of damaged areas can also help to move the material out of the root zones of grass better. The quicker solid waste is picked up the less time it has to create a burn spot.

Avoid taking vehicles onto the grass:
Driving or parking on the lawn is bad for the grass in several ways. First and foremost, it leads to soil compaction. Compacted soil prevents moisture penetration and limits the amount of air available for the roots of the grass. Driving over grass also damages the crowns of the grass. Finally, oil, gas, cleaning solvents, and road grime are all toxic to grass.

Slip and slide damageKeep lawn free of debris and toys:
One of the main reasons for a lawn is to enjoy it during the summer. This leads to toys, lawn chairs, grills, and a host of other debris being put onto the lawn. Leaving these items on the lawn for long periods of time can cause heat damage, or even the death of turf areas if the sun heats up items lying on the lawn too much.








Damage from a slip n’ slide.
Don’t leave them laying on your lawn.





Japanese Beetles and Leaf Spot Disease

As we enter August we are seeing another season of Japanese beetle with increasing adult populations and expanding area.

Japanese Beetle with frameThis year we are finding adult Japanese beetles as far east as Havana Street, and as far west as Wadsworth Blvd.  This expansion may be attributed to the excess spring moisture supporting a larger population.  As the large adult population emerges from the soil, the beetles will travel to find the food resources they need to survive.  With over 200 species of suitable hosts, the beetles often find good food sources around every corner. Be on the lookout for these large, green colored, metallic beetles.  They have big appetites and can severely impact your landscape before you know what hit you.

OakLeafSpot 2The spring moisture not only helped foster a large Japanese beetle population, but also created conditions that have produced large amounts of foliar diseases.  We are now seeing the results of the spring disease activity with early leaf drop in several species of trees and shrubs.  Most noticeably, we are seeing large amounts of leaf drop in the Cottonwood trees.  Many landscapes are also seeing excessive amounts of leaf drop from Crabapples, Apples and Maples.  Because these foliar infections began in the spring there is nothing that can be done now.  It is important to clean up all the infected leaf material, as the disease will overwinter on dead leaves and infect new leaves next spring.

Summer Observations from the Springs

2015 is on track to be the wettest year recorded in Colorado Springs.  This along with an early Arctic freeze last November and cool/cold temperatures in May have created some unique problems for trees and shrubs. Following are some of Mountain High’s observations this summer.

  • Douglas-Fir tussock moth populations blew up on Cheyenne Mountain and in Cheyenne Cañon, defoliating thousands of Fir trees and causing a visible band of brown trees across the mountain.

fireblight apple tree

  • Fire blight has shown up with a vengeance on many Apple and Crabapple trees. Spring Snow Crabapple trees have been especially hard hit.
  • Leaf spot fungi abound due to higher precipitation and humidity.  These are causing early leaf fall on Cottonwoods and Aspens.
  • Many Juniper shrubs that looked poor earlier in the season due to freeze injury are looking even worse. Also, as it gets hotter more branches that were chewed by voles this winter are now turning brown.
  • With the heat of summer, random leaves on some trees and shrubs are browning and wilting.  They are perhaps shedding overgrowth due to a wet year.
  • There is continued evidence of freeze injury to plants.  Siberian Elms that we thought were leafing out have now shut down and are dead or partially dead.  Many Ash trees are dead or partially dead and have a distorted, adventitious sucker growth emerging from cracks in their trunks.  Dead Cherry trees, Plums and Willows abound.
  • Freeze damaged Cotoneaster, Privet, Burning bush, gold flame Spireas, and Euonymus are recovering and resprouting from the roots.

Get to Know Us – Kathy Torres

Get to know us!

Kathy Torres – Super CSR

Kathy TorresKathy was born in California, but never fear, was raised in Colorado.  She is  happily married and has 4 children. Kathy loves to exercise, crocheting, going to the park with her 9 month old daughter (guess that explains the crocheting) and girl’s night out!  Kathy always has a smile on her face, a good joke to tell  and has an infectious laugh. She loves to hang out with family and friends and loves a good BBQ.

Kathy is an excellent addition to the Mountain High Tree family, and we are  very extremely happy to have her here!

Adjust with the weather patterns

This spring and summer has been even more unpredictable than usual.  February was both the warmest and snowiest February in the past 50 years.  May only offered us five days without rain.  June’s humidity has been more reminiscent of Georgia than Colorado.  We even had the misfortune of a heavy Mother’s Day snow storm that damaged trees and shrubs all over the Denver Metro Area.

So what does this mean for our landscapes?…

First, our trees and shrubs enjoyed the extra moisture.  This was a welcome situation because of the amount of plant material that came out of the winter with severe stress.  The excess moisture has allowed many plants to replace leaf tissue damaged by the Mother’s Day temperatures.
aphid 3
Second, the abundance of new leaf material has encouraged a higher than normal population of several chronic pests such as aphids and mites.

Leaf spot editThird, and most recently, we are beginning to see the occurrence of foliar diseases such as leaf spot, rust, and scab.  These diseases will affect a wide variety of trees and shrubs and cause a loss of leaf color, reduced photosynthetic potential, and early leaf drop later in the summer.

Our erratic weather conditions are often difficult for people to deal with, but it is important to understand that it can be even more difficult for our landscapes to thrive under the extreme conditions.  It is crucial to always pay attention to the weather as it changes so we may adjust how we care for our landscapes.

Hot weather! Lawn care tips


Lawn Care When the Temperatures Go Up
After the spring growing season, summer brings quite a bit of stress to lawns. Lawns that were lush and green in the spring now have to deal with less water, longer days, and more heat. While we all would love to keep the lushness of spring, lawns now require more care to stay healthy and green.

Most of the lawns in the Denver Metro Area are cool season grasses: bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescues. These grasses grow best when the temperatures are in the sixties to low seventies. While our evenings get down in those ranges, the intense heat and high altitude causes stress which needs to be countered by good maintenance practices.

Once temperatures get into the 80s and above, lawns begin to struggle, with cool season grasses having the hardest time. Growth will slow, color may fade, and lawns will show signs of wear and tear as they find it harder to recover from stress and traffic. It is not uncommon for improperly cared for cool season lawns to go dormant during the heat of the summer. When this happens they turn brown and stop growing.

If for some reason you are unable to water regularly, allow your lawn to go dormant. Do not water enough to green it up only to let it fade again. This does considerably more harm than simply letting it go (and stay) dormant. A dormant lawn will normally recover once cooler temperatures come back in the fall. The biggest concern for a dormant lawn is insects. A dormant lawn needs to be checked regularly for insect activity and damage since the damage is harder to spot than it is on a green lawn.

Water Properly
adjusting_spray2Lawns need at least an inch and a half of water per week, and more when the heat is severe. Use a rain gauge or straight-sided can to keep track of the amount of water received from rainfall and irrigation.
♦Water deeply and less frequently to encourage drought-
tolerant roots.
♦Water early in the day to reduce evaporation and fungal growth.

Weed Control
Summer weeds and crabgrass can always be a problem and take vital nutrients and water away from the lawn. Getting and keeping the weeds under control can do a great deal to promote a healthy and happy lawn. Allowing professionals to apply weed control can prevent mistakes such as using the wrong type of weed killer. Also spraying in hot temperatures with the wrong products can cause damage to plantings not sprayed. Anyone spraying their own weeds needs to keep this in mind.

Mowing Tips
Raise your mower blade in the summer. Taller grass is more 04_before_after_rulerdrought-tolerant, grows deeper roots, and helps shade the earth to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Cool-season grasses should be mowed at 2½” – 3½” during the summer.
Mow regularly, to prevent cutting more than ⅓ of the grass blade at a time. This keeps your grass healthier and prevents the clippings from smothering the grass.

Keep mower blades sharp. Make sure your mower is cutting your grass, not ripping the tips off, to minimize stress during hot temperatures. Also do not mow when the grass is wet. Mowing a dry lawn will prevent fungal spread and there will be less build-up of grass on the mower blades.

High-Traffic Areas
By summer, many lawns begin to show signs of wear and tear since we spend more time on our lawns. Dogs often follow the same patterns, so beaten down areas can quickly develop. In areas where there is constant traffic, it may be a good idea to install stepping stones to minimize damage to the lawn.

Finally, if your yard has gone dormant, try to minimize traffic to minimize damage to brittle grass blades. If you’re getting plenty of rainfall and your lawn is actively growing, proper fertilization can help keep it healthy.

Insects and Diseases
Dormant or drought-stressed lawns are more susceptible to insect infestations, such as chinch bugs, cutworms, billbugs, sod webworms, ants, and other pests. Minor infestations often take care of themselves, but severe problems require quick attention.

chinch bugs sod webwormJap beetles cut worm




Summer also can bring about disease problems, such as leafspot, dollar spot, NRS, and Ascochyta. Fungicide applications may be needed in the worst cases. Things to avoid include night watering, and mowing with a dull mower
Leaf Spot resembles Ascochytanecrotic ring spot


Douglas-Fir Tussock Moth!

Douglas-Fir Tussock Moth (Orgyia pseudotsugata) and Spruce Budworm (Choristoneura hebenstreitella)
Populations of these two defoliating caterpillars continue to expand this year in the Colorado Springs area. Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir and White Fir are hosts to these insects.  Larvae were observed hatching in early June and evidence of feeding on new growth is just starting to show up.

douglas fir tussock moth 2The caterpillars of both moths feed on the new needles, eventually moving on to older needles and 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 or become prone to bark beetles.  It is important to spray for these insects.  Chemical controls should be applied shortly after egg hatch in May or early June but can be applied into July if the caterpillar is still on the tree. A biological option, Bacillus thuringiensis, is also available and effective for early instar stages of the caterpillar.  It is a bacterium that feeds on caterpillars. Timing is critical and it is not as effective as other control options.

Spruce Budworm 2Douglas-Fir tussock moth has been most prevalent in our landscape trees but is also in forested areas on Cheyenne Mountain and on Rampart Range Road.  Spruce budworm has surged in forested areas such as Cheyenne Cañon, Cheyenne Mountain and along Rampart Range Road.  It can also move into our landscape Spruce and Fir trees.
Contact us today at 719.444.8800 or online below:

Get to know Chris Georgel

Get To Know Us – Chris Georgel

Chris GeorgelMy name is Chris Georgel and I’ve lived in the Lakewood area for 22 years and have spent the last 10 years working for Mountain High Tree Lawn & Landscape Co. (8 years as a mechanic and the last 2 years as a customer service representative!)

I’m the proud father of two, a girl and a boy. I spend my free time riding, camping, fishing, racing go-carts and shopping (yes shopping, I do have a daughter).

We are happy to have Chris on our CSR team, he is personable as well as knowledgeable!

Pavers: Specifications you should know!


cool paver design 2Nearly every hardware or garden store seems to have an abundance of options when it comes to paver selection. Between the styles, sizes, shapes and colors you can create nearly any look you can possibly dream up. As you go out and tackle a paver project on your own or have a contractor put one in for you there are a few things that you should be aware of.

Simply picking out a paver that looks good is not the last step to building a quality walk, patio or drive. Before you choose the perfect paver because it looks good, you must also keep in mind: how the paver was constructed and what the application you are using it for. Different manufacturers can vary not only the ingredients but the process by which the paver is made. In an effort to keep costs down a manufacturer may minimize the amount of Portland cement and aggregate. They can also modify the way a paver is cured, creating a paver that may have a slightly higher moisture content, making it a less durable product.

All pavers must meet ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Paver Institute) standards. While these are necessary to keep paver products consistent in North America, there are manufacturers that will go above the set standards and create a much more durable product. As a company we install pavers that exceed the ICPI’s standards and suggest if you are looking to install your own paver surface, do the same. Borgert and Belgard are two companies that have been manufacturing pavers for many years and pride themselves on the level of quality they reach in their pavers. There are certainly more companies that create a high quality paver, but be aware of the inexpensive option you may find at your local hardware store.

As important as the paver quality is, the preparation of the sitepaver preparation 2 is equally if not more important. Starting at bottom with the sub grade (native soil), it must be prepped level and mechanically compacted to create a solid base for your pavers. Typically for a walk or patio you will need to excavate approximately 9 inches below your expected finished grade to set your sub grade level (a drive would be closer to a foot or more). A plate compactor should be run over the base area in two different directions, multiple times to ensure proper compaction. Smaller areas can be hand tamped and if necessary a jumping jack can be used near foundations to ensure settling does not affect your finished product. Once the sub base is compacted and level you will install a geo textile fabric over the soil, overlapping the edges. Clean road base set in two inch increments (lifts) will go down next, leveled and compacted with a plate compactor just like the sub base. This will continue until you get your four to six inch base (walk or patio) done. At this point you will level the road base exactly as the top surface will sit. For example if you want the water to shed away from the house at ¼” per foot, the road base must mimic this. After the road base is level and set, a one inch layer of clean washed sand is screeded out to set the pavers on. You can screed over ¾” steel pipe to get a uniform depth. Pavers are now set on the sand (do not disturb the sand) in the desired pattern, gaps are cut in and your edge restraint is pinned in on the edges. Clean washed sand is swept into the joints and once again the plate compactor is run in two directions over the entire surface to compact and set pavers. Sand may be swept in after compacting to fill gaps. A quality product and process will ensure many years of a trouble free hardscape.