How does flooding affect urban trees?
January 6, 2016
As we enter into the new year, and reflect on 2015, we can’t help but remember the record breaking rains that often led to flood conditions in the area. And while we definitely need the extra rain after years and years of drought, too much water too fast can cause just as many problems for our trees. Damaged root systems and nutrient deficiencies are just a couple of the common conditions we’re diagnosing in trees all across Dallas and Fort Worth.
Heavy rains that fall within a short period of time are often too much for our heavy clay soils to handle. Because the heavy soil drains slowly, excess water from the torrential rains sits in the soil for too long. When such large volumes of water finally drain away, they take with them valuable nutrients.
Suffocated roots. When roots around trees are water-logged for too long, they they are starved for oxygen. Essentially, they drown. When root systems become damaged, the overall health and structural integrity of your tree can be compromised. Water-logged soils can also lead to fungal disease issues and decay.
Nutrient deficiency. As large volumes of water move through the soil,valuable water-soluble nutrients such as nitrogen are leached from soil. As a result, your trees can begin to suffer from nutrient deficiencies. When trees are nutrient deficient they are more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Soil heaving is another problem we’re seeing a lot of right now. The excess water causes the soil around tree roots to swell, which can “lift” the tree up and potentially cause it to fall. If it looks like the soil has lifted around the base of your tree, call an arborist right away.
How can you recover from flooding?
A breath of fresh air
Your entire landscape could benefit from soil aeration at least once a year. Saturated soil is often lacking in oxygen. Aerating the soil around the base of your trees allows for better airflow and water circulation around the tree’s roots. More on soil aeration here.
Show some flare.
Exposing your tree’s root flare (where the base of the trunk meets the soil) can reduce pests and disease from entering into the bark through cracks. When soil covers the the root flare, it can soften the bark creating wounds that allow pathogens to enter the tree. Wet soil or mulch built up around the base of a tree trunk can do a lot of damage before you realize anything is wrong. To expose the flare, we use a high-pressure air spade that will not damage roots during the procedure. For more on Root Flare Exposure, visit our services page.
Feed your trees.
Heavy rains leach away nutrients from the soil. If you can’t remember the last time your trees were fertilized, then they could probably use some help. Each tree will have it’s own special needs and some may be more hungry than others. Depending on what your tree needs, we may perform a deep root fertilization: organic fertilizer and soil conditioners are pressure injected below the soil line around tree roots. Or, we may need to directly infuse specific nutrients right into your tree using Arborjet technology. Think of it like an IV for your tree. This technique is a good way to deliver nitrogen or other micronutrients to chlorotic trees.
January is a great time to schedule tree health services through February. Call soon to be sure to get the time most convenient for you!