It is ironic that the curb appeal of a home is so very important to the value buyers place on homes, but when you sell, your return on the money invested in landscaping is just pennies on the dollar. It is very important to keep your landscaping in at least good condition, and that includes your trees. Most of us take them for granted but they do need our care to stay healthy. You can replace a bush tomorrow but not a mature tree.
Tree trimming is important but so is feeding them. You may have noticed some trees yellowing in the summer far before the fall season. This is especially true in this are for maple trees. The conventional wisdom is to add iron to the soil around the roots. Recently, to help a beautiful maple tree in our yard, we made a concerted effort and spent a significant amount of money doing just that with chelated iron. The results were less than encouraging.
A good friend, Mikl Brawner of Harlequin’s Gardens in north Boulder, helped us to understand that the soil in much of the Front Range is very alkaline. Because of this, the roots of some species of trees cannot take in the minerals they need and will slowly decline until they die. He recommended we talk with an arborist. They injected a special treatment for this area into the soil around all our trees in the spring and in the fall.
With the arborist’s help, our maple, catalpa, and redbud trees improved significantly over the summer. But the real effect did not materialize until the spring. The maple clump returned to a more normal green, and the leaves on the catalpas were once again large and dark green. The redbud showed the largest improvement. In addition, the catalpas bloomed beautifully, some of the only ones in the area healthy enough to do so.
On a recent visit, the arborist told us he believes that without the treatment the weakened maple would have perished in the harsh winter that followed his treatment. My wife, the gardener, had previously come to this conclusion. That winter, the temperatures dropped from 60 degrees to minus 20 as a polar front swept through. An unusually warm January had trees opening up only to be shocked again by a return to winter conditions. The final blow came from roots sitting in water-logged ground for more than a month in May, a condition that virtually never happens in Colorado.
We are continuing the soil treatments with the maple clump and redbud to return them to their full splendor. Having balanced the costs of these treatments against the costs of having a large dead tree removed, purchasing a new tree, and losing privacy and shade during the time it takes a new tree to grow, it is abundantly clear that keeping an existing tree healthy is the most cost-effective choice.