All Dried Up: Dealing With Drought-Stressed Trees

Posted on: 7 August 2015

With drought conditions plaguing many parts of the country, you may find yourself wondering how you should deal with the trees on your property. Should you be trimming the branches back to limit the water distribution needs? How do you know if the tree is suffering due to the drought? What should you do about it? There are so many questions, and for the inexperienced, it can be confusing. Here are some tips to help you deal with your trees until the rain starts falling again.

Spotting Drought-Stressed Trees

It can be difficult to identify trees affected by drought stress. The lack of sufficient water can cause lasting damage that you may not even be aware of for a long time. In fact, some symptoms may not even appear until a couple of years after the drought has passed. Knowing the immediate signs can be helpful, though, as they can allow you to address it as best as possible and help keep it from worsening.

Trees suffering from drought stress will show yellowing, browning and curling along the edges of the leaves. Some leaves may even wilt. Evergreen trees will turn yellow or reddish in color, and you may see brown appear on the tips of the needles.

Over time, drought-stressed trees will drop leaves and may even produce smaller than normal leaves along the new growth. In many cases, drought doesn't kill the tree, but instead weakens it and leaves it vulnerable to insects and disease later in its life.

Avoid trimming your trees during the drought period, though. You'll want to be sure that the tree isn't stressed before you trim any branches, because the goal of trimming is for the tree to focus on new growth. It can't do that if it isn't getting sufficient water.

How to Water for the Most Benefit

To help your trees combat the drought, you need to ensure that you're getting water deep into the roots. This means deep watering. Saturate the soil under the tree to a radius that meets the outer edges of the branches. This ensures that the soil is wet all the way out around the roots. Once the soil is saturated, it can seep down to those roots for sufficient watering.

For the best results from this process, water the trees slowly and over a longer period of time. Brief spurts of large water volumes will just encourage shallow root treatment, because the water won't saturate the soil deep enough. Instead, slow, extended watering over an hour or so allows the water to seep all the way to the lowest roots. Consider collecting rain water from your gutters and the shower water from the brief periods when your shower is running to get to temperature. Use that water if you're under water restrictions.

For more information, contact Schulhoff Tree & Lawn Care, Inc. or a similar company.

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