As Glenwood Springs turns gold for the fall, now is a good time to think about planting trees

People use the crosswalk at Eighth Street and Cooper in downtown Glenwood Springs on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Fall colors are popping brightly in much of Garfield County, which means it is a good time to plant new trees.

It might seem counterintuitive, but fall is the best time of year to plant them, Glenwood Springs Arborist Heather Listerman said.

“Planting trees this upcoming fall is going to be really important to helping to restore our urban canopy,” she said. 

Glenwood Springs plans to make Oct. 20 the city’s Arbor Day with council scheduled to vote on it this week. To celebrate, the city is hosting an Arbor Day Tree Planting Event at Two Rivers Park.

Trees receive more stress during the summer heat than the looming winter freeze. When the winter comes, trees go into a kind of hibernation where they reduce their water consumption and growth while fall rains and cold weather keep the soil moist, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. 

New trees should be planted before the ground freezes. Basically, planting in the fall gives trees an extra season to establish their roots and then take a nice nap before bearing the heat of summer. 

When deciding which trees to plant, the city asks that residents refer to a list that Listerman created for the city canopy. The tree list aims to diversify the canopy while recommending trees that will survive the high-altitude, semi-arid region.

“We want to diversify our canopy and plant species, too, that will do well with our upcoming climate-change issues, species that are going to survive better with less water.” Listerman said. “We definitely want to avoid monocultures.”

If people all plant the same trees, it will make them more susceptible to them all suffering the same ailments. Diversity also makes it harder for those ailments to spread. 

One current example of why monocultures can be harmful is shown with the Ips beetle or engraver beetle that has been spreading through the area and infesting stressed pine and spruce trees.

Ips beetles are attracted to trees that have been stressed by more extreme weather-like drought, wind and fire. Some symptoms include reddish-brown or yellow dust around the base of the tree or in bark crevices as well as tree color ‘fade’ or dieback on the top of the tree.

The city has an Ips Beetle page for more information.

If a tree is suspected for having an infestation, please report it to the city, and be sure to contact a certified arborist for an accurate assessment.

“We are trying to find a healthy balance between native species and having an overall healthy canopy,” she said. “I think it’s great to plant as many native species as possible for sure, but there are a few other species that might be native to neighboring states that have slightly hotter, more arid climates that now are making a little bit more sense for our region.

Leaf collection ongoing through October

Leaf-collection season is beginning. Here’s what to do with your leaves after the kids have jumped in the piles. 

The City of Glenwood Springs encourages residents to remove leaves from their yards, as they can clog storm drain inlets and piping, causing street flooding, according to a press release form the city.

Collection in Glenwood Springs will be at the old rodeo grounds, adjacent from the Glenwood Springs Airport. Collection is free and reserved for Glenwood Springs residents and not available for commercial operators.

Drop-off dates will run from Oct. 10 until Nov. 6.

Drop-off is open 24 hours, and the city encourages people to go outside of the South Midland Project construction hours to avoid excess traffic buildup.

The city asks that people take their leaves out of the bags and make sure to remove rocks, sticks, branches and other debris that might have been scooped up to help prevent equipment damage or worker injuries.

The leaves will be taken to the composting at South Canyon Landfill for processing.

To access the drop off location, head South on Midland to Airport Road and there will be signs on Airport Road that will direct you where to go. Leaves can also be dropped off at the South Canyon Landfill at any time of year for a small fee.

If you’re a little further up-valley and want to head to Carbondale, city leaf collection will begin on Monday, Oct. 10 and it will go until Nov. 2 at the Fourth Street and Colorado Avenue parking lot.

Leaves of all colors mix together at the tops of trees in downtown Glenwood Springs.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Collection is not for any commercial use and only offered to Carbondale residents. Branches are allowed if they are 2” or less in diameter but asked to be placed in a separate container than the leaves. Other general yard and garden waste is also allowed and can be co-mingled with the branches, according to a release sent by the city of Carbondale. 

The collected leaves will be taken to local ranches to be composted, as long as they are not contaminated. 

Leaves should be dumped directly into the containers and not left in plastic bags, even compostable leaf bags. Any plastic or paper containers will contaminate the load and have to be sent to the landfill. 

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