Tree Teams help homeowners learn about their landscapes

The education for Colorado Master Gardeners (CMGs) doesn’t stop when the 16 weeks of classes are over. Each year the volunteers are offered advanced training; training has included plant disease diagnostics, insect identification and tree care.

20160406_091440They’re called Tree Teams, and their mission is to help get information out on tree issues. Some volunteers focus their training on the troubles that trees have — like emerald ash borer — and volunteer in their community to help people understand how to care for these leafy giants.

We have an established Tree Team with over 25 volunteers, which was started  in the late 1990s,” says Alison Stoven O’Conner, horticulture Extension agent in Larimer County. “The best approach is to talk to a CMG in person; we can then help them decide if a visit is necessary.” The Larimer County Extension office has Colorado Master Gardeners staffing the phones throughout the summer on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can also email

For example, Tree Team members might advise a homeowner on supplemental plantings for the understory that can one day take the place of an ash tree. They could give information on when to call an arborist in to assess the health of the tree, and measures for removal.

Three years ago, it was confirmed that the emerald ash borer (EAB) had established itself in Boulder, Colorado. Since then, members of the Colorado EAB Response team across the Front Range have been assessing trees, pinpointing hotspots and educating commercial and home tree tenders on best practices. With a new detection of EAB in Longmont, educational efforts are ramping up throughout the Front Range.

“Make a Plan” is the tagline being used by Boulder County educators to encourage homeowners and others to consider what to do in their landscape well before a tree dies. This could include treating the tree, or removing it sooner rather than later. The Tree Teams can help homeowners identify problems with trees, looking for disease, insects or planting problems, and advise them on when to call in a professional arborist.

The Boulder County Extension office has been on the front line of tree education around emerald ash borer, but questions coming into other Extension offices have led to expansion of the outreach efforts to neighboring counties. In addition to Boulder County, Weld, Adams and Larimer county horticulturalists are going out to homes and training volunteer Master Gardeners to do so as well.