Trees Stressed Out From Summer Heat & Drought? What You Should do Now.
August 25, 2015
Despite the fact that we had heavy rainfall this spring, you might notice some of your trees looking a bit lackluster. Sometimes too much of a good thing can cause problems. In this case, the heavy spring rains caused oversaturated soils and soil heaving; they also depleted soils of nutrients, leaving many trees hungry.
All that heavy flooding was followed by 40+ days of no rain at all. So, while the extra spring rainfall might have left you thinking your trees were set for the rest of summer, your trees will tell you a different story.
We’re now seeing many trees that are stressed from heat and lack of water, on top of having nutrient deficiencies. With repeated years of drought already taking their toll before all the rain this spring, many of trees are still suffering from drought damage; it can often take years for you to notice damage to your trees. Over time, heat and drought stressed trees become weak and are unable to fight off even the most benign pests and diseases. They become brittle and break easily in storms.
With cooler night temperatures already on the horizon, now is a great time to help your trees de-stress from the summer heat.
Believe it or not, big trees often need supplemental water in our area. Supplemental watering is typically required throughout the warm growing season (April through September). If rainfall is regular and substantial enough, then you won’t need to worry. But when the rainfall dries up, you’ll need to step in. Know that watering your lawn is different from watering large trees. The amount you’ll water a lawn is not enough to keep your trees healthy and vigorous.
How much water does your tree need? While amounts will vary by individual tree, you can ballpark 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter, each watering. That means a 4” diameter tree will need 40 gallons of water, each watering. An 8” diameter tree will need 80 gallons...and so on. A garden hose open on medium pressure will generate about 10 gallons of water every 5 minutes. Drip irrigation will take much longer, but is an excellent and efficient way to water your trees.
Plan on watering your trees 2 to 3 times per month in addition to your allowable irrigation schedule if it’s not raining. (Water restrictions often allow for drip irrigation and tree watering beyond standard lawn watering days).
Don’t forget, winter can also often be dry in our area. If rainfall is lacking, plan on providing an extra watering once per month during winter.
Late summer is a good time to give trees a boost with liquid compost extract. Applied as a foliar spray, nutrients not available in the soil are absorbed directly and quickly into the tree’s leaves. Foliar feeds offer quick relief to stressed trees. We also apply a soil drench around the roots that also stimulate beneficial microbes in the soil.
Autumn is the time we feed trees to prepare them for winter. Trees put on a good amount of root growth in fall. This is when we give them a deep root zone feeding using high-pressure injections of an organically-based fertilizer which we inject below the soil surface. These injections provide a gradual, long-term source of nourishment for your trees. In spring, you’ll see the effects of fall feeding with a flush of robust new growth. More on fertilization here.
Weakened trees damaged over time from drought stress become brittle and can cause damage to your home and property during a storm. Now is the time to prune off dead or weak limbs, or possibly removal of trees that pose a risk to your home, or even worse, your family. Proper pruning now will greatly cut down on the risk of damage as we head into storm season. For more information on trees in storms, visit this section of our blog.
When it comes to tree care, we believe in preventative care. A yearly tree check can offer you peace of mind.