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If you live in an area that experiences intermittent drought, you should have a plan in place to take care of your trees when the rain stops.
You need to know how to give your trees some care during a prolonged drought, including watering methods, mulch, and pruning frequency.
We’ll even discuss what you can do to Take Care Of Trees During A Drought and how to spot the signs of drought stress in your trees.
Signs Your Tree Is Drought
1. Drought Stress
Drought stress weakens the tree, paving the way for disease or insect infestation. Leaves wilt, curl or turn yellow when stressed by drought. Deciduous trees have brown edges or darken between veins, while evergreen needles turn yellow, red, purple, or brown.
Prolonged droughts cause new leaves to become unusually small and growth to slow and almost stop, making the tree canopy appear sparse and thin.
2. Drying damage to the bark
During prolonged drought, trees can develop cracks in the bark, especially trees with thin bark. In addition, the trees become more susceptible to pests such as borers, spider mites, and fungal diseases.
They will also have difficulty closing and healing wounds caused by insects, bark damage, or pruning. Submerged gray cankers, root rot, and wood rot are more likely to occur due to drought stress and can spread to other trees.
3. Drought damage to branches
Your branches may show signs of dieback at the tips or outer tips during prolonged droughts. Stems will die from the outer canopy inward if unable to absorb nutrients.
You must cut off dead branches so they don’t drain the life energy from the living parts of the tree.
How to Take Care of Trees During a Drought
If you want your trees to survive the summer heat, there are a few things you can do.
Mulch is ideal for your trees during a drought as it helps your trees retain moisture, keep the soil cool, and reduce evaporation. You should apply 4 inches of mulch between each watering session and keep the mulch at least 6 inches away from tree trunks to prevent rot.
Using organic mulch such as bark chips or pine needles improves soil quality and prevents pesky weeds. Avoid using rocks around your tree as they increase the temperature around your trees.
Do not use fertilizer during or immediately after a drought as tree roots are susceptible to root burn from fertilizer salts during a drought. Since they degrade, improve soil structure and increase soil fertility, the use of organic mulches is recommended, such as Wood shavings, Pine needles, Hardwood bark, Softwood bark, Cocoa shells
In times of drought, make sure your trees are getting enough water above the drip line. A drip line is the very edge of the tree canopy where water drips onto the ground.
Most trees do not have taproots and their roots extend well beyond the canopy. In heavy clay soils, the roots grow even more horizontally and can be wider than the drip line.
Because of this, watering, fertilizing, and mulching right at the base of your trees is not providing them with the nutrition they need. Because a large percentage of tree roots are in the top 12 inches of soil, make sure the moisture reaches a depth of 12 to 18 inches.
It would be a good idea to invest in a drip hose or sprinkler system. You can always install a water-efficient irrigation system such as B. Drip irrigation.
You might even consider investing in a weather-based irrigation controller that automatically adjusts watering time and frequency based on rainfall, wind, soil moisture, and rate of evaporation. Do not use saline water for irrigation as this will exacerbate drought conditions.
Proper pruning of branches throughout the year will help your trees withstand dry weather and improve their structure and stability. It’s important to maintain proper pruning by removing broken, dead or diseased branches that can weaken the health of your trees.
However, during a drought, only prune problem branches. Avoid heavy pruning during a drought until conditions improve. When trees are stressed during a drought, they are more susceptible to disease and insects, and when they are not the risk increases.
How To Help Your Trees Recover From Drought
Helping trees recover from drought is the same as preparing them in advance: proper mulching, watering, and pruning.
It is best not to plant seedlings during the summer heat. During a drought, young trees should be given 15 to 20 gallons of water once or twice a week. You should also create a 3 to 4-foot-wide container around the tree to hold water.
Old trees handle drought better than young trees and only need watering once or twice a month. You should water until moisture absorbs 18 inches below the topsoil. You can use a ground probe to determine how far away the water is. was soaked. Be sure to water beyond the drip line and not near the stem.
However, there are some additional things you can try if you are not satisfied with the results.
Aerating and loosening compacted soil with compressed air when mixed with compost encourages root growth and the soil’s ability to hold water. to root growth to bring the tree back into balance.
Root stimulants are used to ensure rapid root development. Root stimulants applied to the soil around trees can help improve root growth.
These materials have undergone multiple tests to improve tree health with promising results.
Growth Regulating Hormones
Growth-regulating hormones help support trees recovering from drought damage. These hormones allocate energy to root growth to bring the tree back into balance. The five main types of plant hormones are Auxins, Cytokinins, gibberellins, ethylene, and abscisic acid.
Insect damage control
Drought can lead to increased activity of harmful insect pests, such as They infest the main trunk and larger branches of trees, leaving small, perfectly round entry holes.
Bark Beetle Infests large numbers of conifers, causing extensive vascular injury and tree death. Symptoms of pine bark beetle infestations include pitch tubes, reddish perforated dust, exit holes, and yellowing foliage.
In dry weather, the parasitic fungi and viruses that keep sponge moths in check are suppressed, allowing the larvae to grow. escape and graze trees. Repeated attacks can kill trees or seriously weaken them, exposing them to more diseases and insects.
Injections into the soil and trunk are absorbed by the tree and control pests. These methods are used by professional users and arborists, and some can be purchased at your local garden center.
It is recommended that you use environmentally friendly sprays to treat your trees. You can find them at the garden center of your local hardware store. The most time-consuming method is to simply remove the cocoons and egg masses by hand.
Precautionary Measures During Drought
There are a few things you should avoid doing to your trees (newly planted or mature) during a drought, which is an additional stress factor. It can also encourage growth that the tree needs to sustain.
Don’t dig under the top of your tree. Digging under the canopy during drought damage the roots and reduces the tree’s ability to absorb water. Avoid pruning live branches.
Pruning removes some of the tree’s living tissue and forces the tree to expend energy repairing pruning wounds, which is unnecessary and adds stress to a tree already stressed by drought. Watch out for the mulch.
While mulch is great for keeping the soil moist, this protective barrier can damage your tree during a drought by intercepting rain and irrigation and directing it away from the tree roots.
When people say “seedlings” they usually mean trees that have been planted in the last two years. Young trees do not have as extensive a root system and may be more susceptible to drought stress.
When looking for drought damage, look for signs of leaf drop, yellowing foliage, brown foliage, wilted leaves, or dead branches in the upper canopy.
Remember that while mulch is good for keeping moisture in the soil, it can also prevent water from getting to the roots of your trees.
When you water your tree, remove the mulch from the top of the root ball and pull him from the root ball of the tree. You will need to apply about 5 gallons of water per inch of stem diameter to the top of the root ball and the surrounding soil.
For example, if your tree is 5 inches in diameter, you would need to apply 25 gallons of water. Be sure to apply the water slowly enough to allow it to penetrate the roots and not just run off into the parched garden.
Watering twice a day per week is usually considered sufficient to keep young trees alive during a drought.
We don’t generally worry about watering large trees; they seem so stable and constant. However, some types such as wetland trees, fruit trees, and older trees are more susceptible to drought stress.
Since damage can be difficult to spot, it’s best to water your tree during a severe drought, regardless of whether you see damage or not.
When watering mature trees, you want to add enough water to wet the top 12 inches of soil. In sandy soil, this means adding about an inch of water.
You can use tuna or other similar cans placed in the sprinkler’s path to measure. This extra watering should be performed every 2 to 4 weeks during a drought.
Water all soil under the tree’s canopy if possible; this could take quite a while, depending on how you are watering, and may not even be possible if you are under watering restrictions.
If you can’t water the entire area beneath the tree canopy, it’s best to completely wet a smaller area as opposed to only barely wetting a large area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use herbicides around my tree that is under drought stress?
Since weeds are mostly dormant during a drought, applying herbicides is a waste of money. Wait for the grass (and the weeds) to be actively growing before they apply herbicides.
How long can trees survive in a drought?
Most established trees can survive up to a year without photosynthesis. Trees that experience extreme drought stress enter their winter dormancy much earlier, and prolonged drought can have a significant impact on your lawn, creating a cycle of longer dormant periods and shorter maintenance periods in between.
If my outdoor water use is restricted, which trees should I prioritize?
Trees grow within a limited root zone (when plants are placed in a location that will eventually restrict their root growth), and trees that have recently suffered root injury or have a damaged root system.
Can a tree recover from a lack of water?
During long periods of dry soil, temporary wilting turns into permanent wilting. Permanently wilted trees do not recover overnight. Permanently wilted trees will only recover if additional water is added to the soil.
Can we help trees survive?
Check the soil once or twice a month and water the trees as needed as long as you follow current water conservation codes in your area. around the tree below the edge of the canopy and further spiraling outwards.
How do you save a stressed tree?
Deep watering will revitalize the drought-stressed tree. Low current water seeping into the ground.
Do this once or twice in the summer. The best mulch is natural oak leaf litter, but other plant-based mulches can be used.
What happens when the trees dry up?
Trees that survive long periods of drought may lose all their leaves and hibernate early. Established trees can typically survive for up to a year without photosynthesis, but prolonged annual drought can kill water-stressed trees or make them more susceptible to insect pests and diseases.
Before attempting any type of maintenance on your trees during a dry spell, you should know what signs of tree stress to look for. If you’re unsure about tending your trees during the hot summer months or just prefer to sit indoors with a popsicle or iced tea, then you might be happier hiring a trusted gardening professional.