Spruce Aphids

Shamrock Pines HOA Creekside

As many of you know, the Sitka spruce trees around Gearhart and our HOA have been hit hard this year from spruce aphids. The board has looked in to the possibility of homeowners or the board taking any proactive measures to limit the damage from the aphids.

Ashley Letora from the Oregon Department of Forestry spoke with me on the phone and answered questions I had regarding the aphids. She indicated that there really is not anything we can do for the large trees in the HOA and that it will be a waiting game hoping for better conditions to mitigate the aphid population.

Fertilizing is NOT recommended as the aphids actually prefer the nitrogen rich growth, and as the pamphlet she forwarded on indicates, the reason the aphids die off during the non-spring months is in part due to the lack of nitrogen rich growth.

Insecticides can be used, but are NOT recommended due to prohibitive costs (certainly a factor for the HOA), as well as the “impacts on non-targets”, possibly disrupting the rich ecosystem we are lucky enough to have in the HOA.

She also mentioned on the phone that she did not think watering the large trees would have much impact.

Action could be taken on the smaller ornamental trees some may have in their yards as the pamphlet below indicates.

I also have a request in with the OSU extension office for their new Master Forester to contact me after she comes on board in mid-July. I will let everyone know if she has any additional or conflicting advice.

Additional Information on the Spruce Aphid

Deer and Elk Resistant Landscaping

One of the joys but often challenges of our neighborhood is the abundance of wildlife. They can be fascinating to watch, however they can also wreck havoc on our yards.

The plants that animals eat will vary between seasons and is influenced by the density of their population, the availability of native forage and weather conditions. At the end of particularly dry or cold winters and during hot and dry summers, animals will eat just about anything.**

One way to avoid the frustration and heartache of having your newly planted landscape nibbled on or worse is to ensure that wildlife isn’t attracted to the plants you’ve chosen.

Recommended wildlife plants
Click to view full list

A landscaping company has published this extensive list of plants that many animals, particularly deer and elk, will avoid as well as ones that will attract birds, butterflies and other less destructive critters.*

Keeping larger wildlife like deer and especially elk out of your yard can make our neighborhood safer as well.

Many nurseries and garden shops have “elk and deer resistant” sections. A little planning and prevention can go a long way toward an affordable and beautiful yard that you can enjoy for years to come!

* NOTE: Some of the plants listed may or may not be available locally, plus some may not be desirable for other reasons. It’s highly recommended that you talk about it with a local garden shop or landscaper before planting.


* *With thanks to Evergreen Landscape & Design, Evergreen, CO.

Busting Broom in Our Backyards

Scotch Broom is an invasive species that was eradicated (as much as possible) within the Shamrock Pines HOA. Unfortunately there is still plenty of it in the surrounding areas which allows seedlings to return.

Removing scotch broom from our development was a costly but necessary expense. We have asked our HOA’s landscaper to remove any his crew finds in the public areas. If you find scotch broom on your property please use these recommended control methods as soon as possible.

Basically it should not be dug out, but cut just below ground level and the materials taken away before it goes to seed. Its yellow flowers are easy to spot and appear as a ground cover initially. Of course it’s much easier to remove when it is small.

As you can see in areas outside of our development, if Scotch Broom is left to grow it will invade and overtake your landscape very quickly.

The following is a reprint of an article on the topic posted by our friends at the North Coast Land Conservancy:

It’s hard not to notice all of the Scotch broom invading the north coast this time of year when the yellow flowers conspicuously dot the landscape.

We now refer to the month of May as Broom Buster month, and during this time we are working (extra!) hard to cut back the Scotch broom on NCLC properties. Do you have Scotch broom on your own property? Are you wondering about ways to get rid of the broom in your back yard?

LEFT: Scotch broom flowers. RIGHT: The fruits are blackish-brown pods with hairs on the seams. Flowers © Steve Dewey / Utah State University; Fruit pods © Gil Wojciech, Polish Forest Research Institute.

Small infestations can be effectively treated with basic hand tools (and a lot of dedication). Scotch broom plants produce prolific seeds that are extremely long-lived, so if you have mature plants in your yard you are certain to have a good crop of seeds waiting eagerly for some bare soil and disturbance. For this reason, using a weed wrench to pull-out mature plants or a shovel to dig out large plants, can actually do more harm than good. The one big plant you kill by ripping it out of the soil, makes great habitat for 50 young broomlings to take its place. A more effective (and easier) way to get rid of a mature Scotch broom plant is to simply cut it (with loppers, hand saw, or chain saw depending on size) below the photosynthetic stem (where the stem is at or below ground level, and brown not green). If you cut it too high on the stem, the plant will continue to photosynthesize and will just resprout from the existing stem. If you cut the stem down low enough, however, the plant will not resprout and the ground will remain undisturbed.

For more information on Scotch broom control in the Pacific Northwest, click here.

To see what activities we have planned in May this year during Broom Buster Month, check out the Stewardship Events section of our website.

Thank you for helping us get rid of Scotch broom on the Oregon Coast!

Content provided with thanks to the North Coast Nature Conservancy

Noxious Weeds and Plants

SPHOA Invasive Plants

The City of Gearhart has issued a new brochure about various and often dangerous invasive plants and weeds that can damage our neighborhood and gardens.

The information offers guidance with respect to removing these types of plants and how to keep them from propagating.

Click here to view the brochure

As homeowners we are responsible for keeping noxious plants and weeds out of our yards. While doing so we must ensure that no harm comes to the natural habitat around our properties including the waterways, etc., so the use of chemicals is restricted and not recommended.

Here are some additional resources:

OSU Native Plant Gardening

Oregon Native Plants Poster

Oregon SOLVE Guide to Invasive Plants

Removing Scotch Broom

Oregon Department of Agriculture Oregon Noxious Weed Profiles

City of Gearhart Riparian Zone Management

Shamrock Pines Common Area Management

Thank you for keeping our neighborhood beautiful! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the HOA for further information.