In the wild, aspen are among the most beautiful trees with their almost snow-white trunks, shimmering leaves and yellow fall color. Because of these qualities, many homeowners have planted them, but have then watched mature trees die quickly. Unfortunately, aspens often struggle and are short lived, living anywhere from 5 to 15 years when outside their native habitat. When planted around homes, they are more susceptible to insect/disease problems and nutrient deficiencies from stress caused from being away from their native habitat. Consider these tips for aspen care.
• Aspens form surface roots and primarily propagate by sending out root suckers that form new trees connected to the mother plant. Both of these qualities make mowing around them difficult. Fortunately, aspens do not usually grow large enough to damage foundations or cement, due to their short lifespan. One possible solution to contain roots is to surround the rootball of newly planted trees with a cement or rust-proof metal ring 3 to 4 feet beyond the root system and about 2 feet deep. Another is the use of products such as Sucker Stopper that are sprayed on newly cut suckers. They are intended to slow or prevent sucker formation from the spot where it is sprayed. This control method is not perfect, however, and is only good for one season. The spray can cost $20 to $60 per bottle, depending on the concentration.
• Columnar Swedish aspen is similar to our native species but taller and narrower when mature. It is relatively new to the landscape and seems to send fewer root suckers. However, it is still susceptible to pests and diseases like the native aspen and can decline rather quickly.
• Even with the limitations aspen have, they can still be used in moderation in the landscape if managed properly. It is important to plant trees in a location where suckering will not be a problem such as landscape beds that are well away from turf areas. Aspens can be enjoyed as long as they are healthy and then cut down when they begin to decline. Younger trees, formed by root suckers, will quickly mature and sustain the stand. These trees should be watered to a depth of 2 feet every 2 to 4 weeks. It is not recommended that trees be overly treated with chemicals when problems occur regularly. Homeowners can easily spend more money on pesticides than the purchase price of a replacement tree.
• Trees to consider as replacements for aspen include chanticleer/Cleveland pear, Queen Elizabeth maple, Tatarian maple, black alder, various crabapples and Sargent cherry. These trees don’t look exactly like aspens but have their own ornamental qualities, are usually much less susceptible to pests and diseases and are much longer lived.
By: Taun Beddes, firstname.lastname@example.org, Utah State University Extension Horticulturist
USU Extension's Terry Messmer Honored with Governor's Medal
Utah State University Extension Wildlife Specialist Terry Messmer is among the 2017 recipients of the Governor's Medal for Excellence in Science and Technology. Also recognized this year from USU are Professors John Morrey and Debra Spielmaker.Read More
USU Extension Awarded Grant from Yamaha for Sage-Grouse Conservation
Utah State University Extension's Utah Community-based Conservation Program (CBCP) was recently awarded a $12,500 grant and two ATVs from the Yamaha Motor Corporation. The grant will support field research designed to balance recreation on public lands with sage-grouse conservation, and was awarded as part of Yamaha's Outdoor Access Initiative to promote safe, responsible off-road vehicle riding and open, sustainable riding areas.Read More
USU Extension Sponsors Urban and Small Farms Conference
Utah State University Extension sponsors the Urban and Small Farms Conference February 21 to 23 at the Viridian Center in West Jordan.Read More