The importance of a diversified planting!

Trees and shrubs cleanse the air we breath, give us shade, and add value to our homes and businesses. Most species are very tough once they are established, which is why many native species have been around for thousands of years and remain largely unchanged. Unfortunately, we have learned that even some of the most grand species are not invincible from pests and pathogens. With good planning, you can mitigate against future losses attributed to diseases and bugs by following a few simple steps, which we will talk about below.

At Chief River Nursery, we consistently preach species diversity to our customers. Our nursery offers a large selection of conifers, hardwooods and shrubs to fit most land uses. We encourage our clients to mix it up a bit when planning their planting project, rather than sticking with a mass planting of one species type. We call this hedging your bets, pun intended.

Customers Joe and Mike had similar ideas for their separate planting projects. Both had recently purchased pieces of land in the same county, and wanted to add some privacy between themselves and their neighbors. They both decided to plant three rows of evergreens along their lot lines in order to make a living fence.

Joe was always a fan of Colorado Blue Spruce trees, and decided to plant a total of 300 of them. Mike also planted 300 trees, but decided to diversify his planting using a mix of 5 different evergreen species. Mike liked Colorado Blue Spruce too, but also added White Pine, Douglas Fir, Eastern Red Cedar and Black Hills Spruce to his planting. Both of them planted and cared for their trees, and several years later their lines of conifers were looking beautiful and serving their intended purpose.

One day, Joe was out walking the boundary of his property and noticed that one of his trees had lost many of its needles. Upon further inspection, several of his trees looked somewhat bare. He contacted a local arborist to come and look at the trees, and the arborist gave him some bad news. Joe's trees had contracted a needle blight. This blight would cause Colorado Blue Spruce to drop their needles, and eventually perish. Over the next 5 years, Joe watched with dismay as every one of the 300 trees he planted lost their needles and died. Gone was his hard work and investment, and gone was all of the privacy he had watched develop over the last 12 years. How could this happen? He had done his homework, and there was no such problem with Colorado Blue Spruce in his area at the time of planting.

Mike was admiring his line of evergreens one autumn weekend, and noticed the same thing Joe had seen. Several of his trees were dropping their needles. When his research was complete, he discovered that some of his trees also had the needle blight. Mike's arborist gave him some much better news though. The needle blight was confined to just one species, his Colorado Blue Spruce trees. The remaining 4 species were unaffected, and would survive and thrive on his property. Mike removed the dead and dying trees from his planting, and the rest of the trees filled in quite nicely. While Mike was disappointed that he lost 20% of his planting, he was extremely thankful he followed the rule of planting diversity 12 years ago. 240 of his 300 trees went on to flourish, and adequately provide the privacy he was always seeking.

While the specific story above is ficticious, the general scenario plays out routinely. Our nursery regularly fields calls from customers who are replacing large swaths of trees or shrubs that have been completely wiped out due to a pest or disease. Pests can be imported from other countries, diseases can be spread to new areas by unsuspecting campers simply transporting their campfire wood. Once pests have been introduced to an area, they can spread rapidly and leave a path of destruction in their wake. Take for instance the Emerald Ash Borer. It was discovered in SE Michigan in 2002. Prior to its discovery, no one knew this pest even existed. The Emerald Ash Borer has now spread to 30 states and portions of Canada, killing hundreds of millions of trees. The EAB is now considered the most destructive forest pest ever seen in North America.

The next pest or disease that will inflict large losses on a certain species is just around the corner, but we may not know what it is yet. Taking precautionary measures now will ensure that you have what you want in terms of vegetation in the future. Be smart and be prepared. Plan your next planting project to include a diverse range of species. In addition to hedging your bets against a future unknown pest or disease, you will enjoy the differences that several varieties will bring to your planting.

Thank you for visiting the Chief River Nursery website. We've been serving customers since 1973 with a large variety of bare root evergreens, hardwoods, bushes and fruit bearing selections. Our passion is providing quality nursery stock at affordable prices. Whether you need 2 trees for your backyard, or 20,000+ for a government reforestation program, Chief River Nursery is ready to serve your needs. We look forward to earning your business, and giving you a customer service experience so good that you will tell your friends!

Please keep in mind our sister company, for your potted tree and shrub needs. We encourage you to view their potted selections at