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Issue: January 10, 2004

Dying globe willow


I am writing to ask about my Globe Willow tree. I live in Bosque Farms, NM (15 miles south of Albuquerque) and would like to have an arborist look at the tree. Can you recommend someone? The tree is close to 20 years old so I'm not sure whether it can be saved or not. It is dead on one side and is leaning on the right. The weight is on the right side and it is beginning to uproot. I realize these trees do not last much beyond 20 years. If I do have to cut it down, can you recommend a replacement tree? Jan


To preserve the pine tree portions that you wish to use as a plant stand, there are several penetrating wood preservatives that can be used. You will need to coat all cut surfaces and the bark with the preservative. If you want to use the stump portion, you can't paint the roots that remain in the ground, but you can treat all above-ground portions. The roots will eventually rot, but that will take a few years because of the resin in the pine tree. As to which preservative is best to use, your local paint or hardware store can give a much better recommendation than I can.

I am not familiar with all the arborists working in the Bosque Farms area, so it is best if I donāt try to recommend an arborist. However, it is a good idea to look for an arborist who is certified by the International Society of Arborists (ISA) as you contact arborists in the telephone directory. This indicates that they have passed a test showing that they are familiar with proper tree care practices. You can also contact your local County Cooperative Extension Service. Valencia County has an active Master Gardener Program.

From what you have told me, removal of the tree may be the best recommendation. This is especially true if the leaning causes it to be a hazard for structures, vehicles, or people. Once the globe willow has died on one side, it will probably decline rapidly. That, of course, depends on exactly what is causing the death of the one side. Globe willows, while pretty when young, have many problems once they reach maturity. Your tree, as you have stated, has reached maturity and is in the process of declining.

I can give some suggestions for replacement trees, but this is based on my preferences and you may prefer others. Some that I like are:

Texas red oak with red fall color;

Bur oak (usually no fall color, but very well adapted to New Mexico);

Chinquipin oak (the cultivar 'El Capitan' has maroon fall color and is native to the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico);

Live oak(if winter shade will not create icy patches that are hazardous) - there are several species of Live oak to consider;

Chinese pistache (a smaller tree, very water efficient and has good fall color);

Desert willow (a small, open structured tree, even more water efficient than those listed above and produces flowers attractive to hummingbirds through the summer);

Austrian pine(much like a ponderosa pine but better adapted to valley conditions);

Scots pine does well in New Mexico and has a yellowish papery bark on branches;

Japanese black pine does well here and has an interesting structure;

Dawn redwood (deciduous conifer from China has a pyramid shape);

Bald cypress (another deciduous conifer);

and Giant sequoia (an evergreen slow-growing tree that becomes very large).

There are many other good choices, but these are some interesting trees. Remember that all of them will need some irrigation during establishment and afterwards. Some will need more water than others.

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Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

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