If you live across the Front Range, you’re probably noticing that the evergreen trees in your neighborhood look partly brown this spring, and they may have you wondering why.
Remember the 10th of October back in the fall of 2019? Colorado Springs went from a high of 80 degrees to a low of 19 in a 24-hour span. Later that night, temperatures dropped into the single digits throughout the region. This record-breaking temperature variance and freeze wouldn’t go unnoticed by our landscapes.
Then, at the end of October, Colorado Springs endured another sustained freeze. This time we were stuck below freezing for four consecutive days. Overnight low temperatures were 15, 12, 11, 6, and 7 degrees for the final 5 nights of October. According to the National Weather Service, Colorado Springs set 3 record low temperatures and 3 record low maximum temperatures in the month of October.
These two harsh October freezes caused significant damage to evergreen trees and shrubs up and down the Front Range. Most of this damage is contained to the 2019 growth on the tree, but some damage is more severe than others. We’re seeing the most damage on trees and shrubs planted within the last 2-3 years, although even mature trees have some browning.
“The freeze damage looks very similar to drought damage,” explained Levi Heidrich from Heidrich’s Colorado Tree Farm Nursery. He goes on to say, “The damage is not likely due to the quality of the plants or how they were planted or maintained. Extreme temperature changes and early freezes are unexpected events that can affect young plants and trees when they are most vulnerable.”
The best advice we can give is to allow your trees and shrubs time to recover this year. Don’t give up on them just yet! New growth should appear as the dead needles fall off.
While living in Colorado presents challenges for plants and trees to survive, most are resilient to the harsh weather conditions we have. So give them a little extra care this season and they will begin to thrive once again.