Drought: Get a Jump Start on Summer Watering
April 29, 2016
Right now we’re enjoying some great spring weather; cool nights, pleasant days, and a bit of rainfall. So it’s easy to forget that the hottest time of year is just around the corner. Now’s the time to do a check-up on all of your irrigation before summer heat and drought arrives. A properly working watering system will help to ensure healthy trees and landscape plants.
To avoid drought stress, trees will need supplemental water during the summer months to stay healthy. Know that trees and lawns compete heavily for water; the amount you water your lawn is never enough to adequately hydrate your trees.
Are my trees drought stressed?
Typically, when any plant is stressed one of the first signs is pest infestation. Pest and diseases are opportunistic and cull out the weak plants first. Your trees might also experience chlorosis, when the leaves begin to yellow and marginal necrosis when the leaves begin to turn brown from the outside margin. Such a nutrient deficiency can be the result of both drought and flooding.
Here are some other symptoms that can be more difficult to detect:
- Leaf drop & wilting
- Loss of pigment, graying
- Smaller than normal leaf size
- Loss of vigor
Even established trees need water
Thought it might seem that large established trees can fend for themselves, all urban trees need care and attention. Without enough water, your trees can’t function properly. When the soil is moist, the microbial and beneficial mycorrhizae are active and working for your trees, helping them to uptake the proper amounts of moisture and nutrients. It can be hard for trees to take up enough water when soils are compacted or lack organic matter; or sustain during times of heat and drought.
How should you water? Soak it up
The best way to maintain your trees during times of drought is by watering deeply on a regular schedule. Deep watering can be time-consuming and the quality can be inconsistent if you try to do it by hand. Our preferred method is to use soaker hoses coiled around the base of your tree. When using the soaker hose make sure it is on medium pressure to avoid damaging the hose and that you leave it on for an adequate period of time. This amount of time can range from an hour to several hours depending on the size of the tree.
You can also have your irrigation system adjusted to include bubblers and drip nozzles to deliver slow, deep watering. The goal is slow watering to avoid run off and tends to work best for absorption. If your tree is extremely stressed it might be time to apply fertilizer and top dress with organic material.
Could your trees be drought damaged? Call your local certified arborist for a consultation to get your trees back on the road to recovery.