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Spike in dead trees across Lethbridge due to early onset of winter 2019: experts

Lethbridge is dealing with a surprising number of dead or nearly dead trees.

“Two trees standing right next to each other: one will be in full leaf, one has no leaves at all,” said Don Nishikawa, urban forestry co-ordinator with the city, on Monday.

He said it all started with the early blast of winter in September 2019.

“One week it was 27 C. The next week it was like -16 C. We think maybe that had an effect on some of the trees hardening off for winter and that’s what we are seeing now,” he said.

Read more: Lethbridge grinds to a halt amid September snow storm

Nishikawa said he’s finding the majority of the dead trees are between five and 15 years old and they weren’t able to handle the ups and downs the season brought.

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“In March, it kind of warmed up again. It was in the single digits, the pluses, then sometime in mid-March, it got cold again for a couple days too, so I mean that could have an effect on your trees and shrubs,” he said.

Green Haven Garden Centre is getting more calls than normal about dead or dying trees.

Co-owner Karen Barby said some kinds of trees and shrubs handled the wacky weather better than others.

“We saw first a lot with the birch because a lot of people’s birches weren’t coming, and then later on towards the end of May and early June, green ash is the one tree that we’ve seen the most damage to,” she said.

Read more: Thousands of fruit trees are ripe for the picking in Lethbridge, but are they being harvested?

Barby added even though you might want to cut the eyesore down and start over, it wouldn’t hurt to wait and give the tree a little more time.

“If they don’t leaf out, definitely take it down if it’s dead wood, but some of those trees still have pliable branches. When you start to see lots of shoots coming out right at root level, you know you’ve got a problem,” she said.

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If you have a tree that is trying to hold on, Barby said you can give it a helping hand.

“If you do see stuff that is completely dead though, do remove it because the tree puts its energy into the living part then, so it recovers actually quicker,” she said.

Read more: Lethbridge-area garden centres slammed with curbside orders

After that, all you can do is wait and see if those struggling trees make any type of recovery by this fall and hope next winter isn’t quite as hard on all the greenery.

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