Swingle Offers Solution to Colorado Front Range Residents with Tree and Plant Freeze Damage

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April’s freezes bring May challenges to Colorado trees and plants. Freeze damage is being noticed on Denver & Front Range landscapes. Swingle offers signs and solutions.

Tree Service Denver - Plant Health Care Colorado - Freeze Damage Pine Tree - Swingle

Colorado pine tree with brown foliage from freeze damage

The severe damage caused by our sudden, unprecedented and sustained freeze is only now becoming apparent because of the contrast generated by growth and blooming of healthy lawns, trees and plants.

As Colorado temperatures rise and seasonal plant growth, blooms and leafing in Denver, Fort Collins and along the Front Range occurs, some residents and commercial property owners will observe severe landscape damage stemming from April’s sustained cold. Colorado tree service company Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care offers how to identify freeze damage and what to do.

“The severe damage caused by our sudden, unprecedented and sustained freeze is only now becoming apparent,” said Tom Tolkacz, Swingle CEO, “because of the contrast generated by growth and blooming of healthy lawns, trees and plants. Unfortunately, effects of the freeze may last throughout the 2013 growing season.”

Why It Happened
In April, 2013, temperature records dating back to 1872 were broken. The April 8 high temperature of 71 degrees was 11 degrees above normal. On the night of April 8, the mercury plummeted nearly 50 degrees to 22.

The freeze continued through April 9, as that day’s high temperature of 22 was a record low. The low that night was also a record--9 degrees. The high on April 10 was just 23 degrees and the low that night was a record low of 6. April 16’s low temperature of 22 degrees tied the record. The low on April 22 of 21 degrees was a record breaker.

Spring is the most critical and vulnerable time for outdoor landscape plants. During winter dormancy, plant cells are protected from freezing by increasing the concentration of natural “antifreezes.” In spring, the cells become active as leaf and flower buds swell.

Due to the severity of the arctic events, Colorado trees and plants normally unfazed by spring cold snaps including pines, spruce, junipers and arborvitae were damaged. During the April freezing weather, ice crystals formed within plant cells disrupting membranes. Cells suddenly became dehydrated. Foliage, flower and twig mortality ensued.

The severity of the damage differs with plant species, genetics, age of the plant and hydration prior to the cold weather. In some cases just the foliage was frozen. In more extreme cases, tree twigs and branches were also frozen.

What to Expect
Trees and plants can only replace, not repair damaged tissues. Damaged leaves, flowers and twigs will be shed.

Some plant material has begun to recover. New leaves are forming from the secondary buds.

Some foliage is damaged and distorted. The replacement growth may not be as durable. Chlorosis (yellowing) and/or early leaf drop later in the summer should be expected.

What to Do
Swingle advises requesting a complimentary evaluation of trees and plants on your property from an experienced Colorado tree service company. Swingle, a Colorado tree company since 1947, employs more certified arborists than any other Colorado company.

Based on the condition of the trees and plants, the consulting professional such as a Swingle Landscape Care Consultant could recommend any or all of:

1. Remove damaged trees, sections of trees and/or plants. Recommend new trees and plants when appropriate.
2. Foliar spray fertilization. This special application is designed to increase the quality and vigor of ornamental plants damaged by extreme cold temperature. If successful, results may be expected within two weeks.
3. The Landscape Care Consultant should return in July to re-evaluate the plants and determine if the landscape has recovered or needs further treatment. If removal and replacement is necessary, Swingle will apply the cost of the fertilization application towards the removal and/or replacement.
4. Allow trees and plants to recover.

“While there are no guarantees any treatment will succeed in restoring freeze-damaged trees and plants to full health,” said Tolkacz, “our resident plant pathologist and treatment team have designed this treatment specifically for Colorado landscapes and the unique anomaly presented to us this growing season.”

About Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care
Founded in Denver in 1947, Swingle Lawn, Tree and Landscape Care has grown to be the one of the largest residential and commercial lawn service and tree care companies in Colorado, employing more certified arborists than any other Colorado company. For information please contact Vince Serio VSerio(at)MySwingle(dot)com (303) 337-6200 or visit MySwingle (dot) com/contact.

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