How to make your UGLY evergreen trees look GREAT!

Ten years ago, we planted 6 Colorado Blue Spruce trees in our yard. They were the runts of the bunch, so we got them at a discount. Just in case you ever find yourself in this situation, I do not recommend buying sick/diseased/weak trees. They are usually cheap - sometimes free - but they very rarely make it.

And even when they do survive, they often look horribly ugly. I am trying to dig up a photo of the trees from the beginning, but haven't had any luck yet.

The bottom line - they were short (4 feet maybe?) missing needles, one was twisted, one was almost entirely needleless, and 2 turned out to be black hill spruce. So we had a hodgepodge of ugly trees.

I watered them every spring and fall for the first 2 years. They grew a little but still looked terrible. I splinted two of the trees (The twister and one where the top started bending over). I shaved up one of the trees that was really asymmetrical (not generally okay to do with evergreens but in moderation it can really help - just be sure to leave a lot of uncut branches on the cut side so it can continue to put on new growth.)

Around year 5 - the trees all got infected with a needlecast fungus. They started dropping all their lower needles and the insides were dying.

So stressful! I bought an anti-fungal spray and went to town spraying them. To spray 6 trees took 5 bottles! And I didn't even cover them all the way. I don't know that it really helped, but it did lead to better  research about tree health.

It turns out - just like us - if the trees have everything it needs nutritionally it is less likely to get sick.

We have hard yellow clay in our backyard, so the trees were probably not having the best time. This is when I started the following regimen (Year 5).

It turned out to be super easy. Every spring (whenever it's just gotten warmer and is really raining - for us that's April) I give each tree two fertilizer spikes. I just hammer them into the ground within the drip line but NOT right up next to the tree.

Then in the fall, I empty our rain barrels to the trees with a slow soaker hose so they are watered in nice and deep for the cold windy winters.

The results:

All the trees are symmetrical, healthy, and actively growing. They are over 13 feet tall and have really bounced back from the first 5 years of misery.

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