Can you help me save my Aspen tree? The lower branches turned black which I cut off. Holes in trunk at ground level. Gouges/Scratches at approx 6' above ground level.
The very things that make aspen a wonderful wildlife tree make it a challenging landscape tree. It is host to many insects and diseases, it dies younger than many species, and gets lots of cankers and fungus. This provides food and readily available wildlife nesting habitat, but might not be ideal in your yard.
We are currently experiencing an outbreak of Aspen Leaf Blotch Miner. These outbreaks happen every 3-4 years or so. There is a natural predatory insect that will eventually control their population. Larvae feeding on the leaves cause the brown spots. It will not kill your tree, even if it hits every leaf.
Aspen like to be in full sun. If this tree is in the shade it will self-prune its lower branches. Having too much shade will also reduce growth and make it more susceptible to other insects and disease. Making sure aspen get full sun and sufficient water are key to helping them be healthy and resilient.