Trees are among the hardiest of all plants. They have deep root systems and numerous defenses against infection, harmful insects, and even short-term lack of rain. However, a persistently dry season can take a toll on your tree. By the time you notice the signs of declining healthy, the damage is harder to reverse.
The trick to helping your tree stay healthy during a dry season is to take action before you see your tree start to struggle. Here's how you can help reduce the effects of drought on your tree.
1. Provide Slow Water
When the ground is dry, pouring large amounts of water over the roots of your tree will provide some benefit, but it is not the most effective way to water to preserve root health. Trees do best in soil that is consistently moist. A large amount of water delivered in a short burst will evaporate or run off before it has a change to sink down deep to the roots of a tree.
To help conserve water and make sure the roots get ample opportunity to absorb moisture, circle a drip hose around the tree in a coiled fashion, extending outwards several feet from the trunk. The water will come out in steady drips, keeping the soil consistently moist.
If water conservation is an issue, you can turn off the drip hose for a few days and then run it for several hours. The tree will adapt to reduced water by slowing its growth. You can provide just enough water to keep the roots from dying.
2. Add Mulch
Mulch helps to keep the ground from losing moisture during dry, hot days. You can spread mulch a few inches thick over the ground. Mulch also discourages weed growth. Since weeds take moisture and resources from the soil, anything that discourages them from growing near your tree is helpful.
3. Prioritize Tree Care Over Care for Smaller Plants
Sometimes, it's hard to know what to prioritize during a drought. Trees show delayed injury from dry weather, so your grass will brown and your flowers will die long before the leaves of your beautiful trees begin to curl and brown.
As a result, people will often begin trying to save their grass or their shrubs while leaving trees to their own devices. However, grass can recover from drought more easily, and shrubs are not very costly or challenging to remove and replace.
Trees, on the other hand, can suffer from drought damage for years. They lose precious root growth, and foliage production suffers. Drought-damaged trees are more likely to suffer infections or become infested with insects. And if your tree dies, you'll have to spend a lot to remove and replace it, especially if the tree is larger.
If you have dry weather and limited time and water resources, water your trees first.
4. Avoid Trimming
Trees usually can benefit from proper pruning. However, even if your tree does need to be trimmed, hold off if possible. Trimming your tree causes stress. Your tree must work harder after pruning to seal off the wounded areas. During normal circumstances, a healthy tree can easily recover from careful pruning.
During drought, your tree needs to conserve all of its resources. Requiring your tree to recover from trimming can make the rest of the tree suffer for precious water and nutrients.
5. Don't Fertilize
Finally, don't fertilize your trees during drought. Fertilization can normally help boost a tree's growth, but during a dry season, you don't want boosted growth. You instead want your tree to hunker down and wait until resources are abundant again.
When you force a tree to grow more with fertilizer, you place a greater demand for water, and the water might not be there. Your tree can end up dying as a result of the imbalance.
For more information, contact us at Holcomb Tree Service.