Save my young Brandon Elm....?

duramaximosJune 6, 2009

...or cut my losses and go with something else?

In the spring of 2007 I planted two 2' caliper Brandon Elms in my urban Calgary backyard. In hindsight IÂm learning it was not such a smart choice of trees. My wife and I were excited about the idea of having two stately trees in our backyard and did too little research regarding their heartiness or appropriateness in our application. Our yard is rather small and the trees are forced near the perimetersÂ.I digress.

One of the elms is actually fairing very well. It seems to have established good roots and the bark, leaves, and structure all appear very healthy to my untrained eye.

The second tree by comparison has shredding and peeling bark, and sparse leaves that droop all the time. This last point is my primary concern and observation. Each year since this tree was planted it will leaf out normally and after a couple short weeks the leaves will slowly but inevitably droop down and point to the ground. They remain this way for the rest of the season. The healthy tree has vigorous leaves, all pointing slightly upwards and evenly spread. The healthy tree also exhibits densely packed smaller leaf/branches that cover the main branches. These smaller branchlets (?) on the unhealthy tree have mostly dried/died back leaving the main branches relatively bare looking.

In the short time weÂve had the trees the healthier tree has also gained noticeably more girth than the other.

So my question is: Can this tree be nurtured to good health so it will at least match the quality of the other?

Then, is it really worth while? This particular tree is even closer to the side boundary than the healthy tree. Perhaps this would be a good time to remove the tree and add something more appropriate in its place. IÂm eager to make a change because IÂm not the type to invest my time into something that is sub-standard. My wife, on the other hand, doesnÂt want me to touch it. She feels it will come around on its own...but when, and will it ever look as good as the elm standing right next to it?

On a somewhat related note, both trees exhibit a problem of leaves curling up. By the end of the season about 10-15% of the leaves will have curled edges. The leaves with the curled edges also have small holes in them. Perhaps some insects are causing the leaves to curl? I don't believe these bugs are causing the poor health of the one elm because both trees are affected equally.

I've linked a picture of the two trees in my yard. The tree on the left is the 'unhealthy' one.

Your suggestions and advice is much appreciated.

Thank you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Brandon Elms

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Look at this link. It tells you about dutch elm disease and other problems with elms

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 8:31AM
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Thanks for the link. I'm fairly certain my tree does not have DED. I did call the City of Calgary because I heard they have a dedicated person or team that monitors for DED in the city. Sure enough they put me in touch with the appropriate people and within 2 days someone was here to inspect the tree. I wasn't home when the person arrived but his verbal report to my wife was "all clear".

I was disappointed not to be able to pick his brain regarding the trees apparent poor health.

As for the other diseases mentioned in the article, neither of them appear to match my tree's symptoms.

Things have become progressively worse of the past week. All the leaves are very large now and it almost appears that the leaf stems are too weak to hold up the weight of the leaves. All the leaves now are pointing straight to the ground. It's a sad looking tree...

The folks at Green Gate Garden Center believe there could be a problem with watering or poor drainage...however both trees are being treated the same and only one is showing problems. I find this hard to accept since the problem as been apparent for 3 years now, and each season has brought slightly different moisture to the ground. This spring, for example, has been very cool and late with decent rain and some watering.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 12:39AM
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Doesn't look too bad to me. Young trees often do weird things.

Whatever you do, absolutely, positively, do not prune elms if they are not dormant.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 1:28PM
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