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15 Aug 2017

Drought Stress and Tree Health – What You Need to Know

The Short- and Long-Term Effects of Drought on Trees and How to Combat Them

 

With the effects of climate change becoming more evident and undeniable, one of the most popular discussions among arborists and gardeners is drought and trees, specifically how to alleviate the stresses experienced by trees and shrubs brought on by drought.

This is such a crucial topic because the lack of water won’t only cause certain plants and trees to slowly wilt and die, but it can severely affect plant development and growth as well.

Plants, especially trees, can experience short-term and long-term effects from drought. Short-term stresses can go away once rain starts pouring in regularly again. However, the long-term stresses can linger on even after the rain returns.

So what are these stresses, these detrimental effects on trees that are brought about by drought? What can you do, as a tree owner, to help your trees survive the drought and recover?

 

Drought and Trees: The Short- and Long-Term Effects

As your trees continue to starve from lack of moisture, symptoms will start to appear. Some are quite obvious, while others not so much.

 

Wilting of Leaves

Wilting is the first and the most obvious sign of tree health problem brought about by drought, although not exclusively. Wilting may also be caused by other detrimental factors. But this is the first sign that you will most likely notice on your trees and shrubberies during a drought.

 

Premature Shedding of Leaves

The fall season is typically the time when trees start to shed their leaves and they prepare to go into hibernation for the winter. During a drought, however, trees and other plant life can go into premature shedding; their leaves will slowly wither and die, due to the lack of water and ground moisture.

There’s just isn’t enough water to sustain the tree, so it starts to shed its leaves as a form of defense.

 

Dramatic Reduction of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is crucial to a tree’s growth and development. It’s the machinery that enables trees to absorb sunlight and synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. If the tree’s ability to photosynthesize is compromised, it could have serious, long-term, and even fatal effects on the tree’s ability to recover and survive.

Imagine if something were to happen to your digestive system, if it’s compromised in some way. How will you be able to process the food you’re taking in? How will you be able to absorb the nutrients that your body needs in order to properly function?

 

Pest and Insect Infestation

With the lack of water and a compromised ability to photosynthesize, trees will become weak and susceptible to pest attack. They won’t be able to adjust or defend against the onslaught of insects that are trying to survive the drought as well. And this will only weaken the tree even more, causing long-term damage that may be difficult to recover from.

So those are just a few of the potential effects that trees may experience during a drought. The question now is how do you mitigate or lessen the effects of drought on your trees? What can you do to protect them and give them the best chance to recover?

 

Tree Care Tips during a Drought

 

  1. Water your trees, but water appropriately.

During a drought, you’re going to need to water your trees and shrubs regularly. But you need to be mindful of the amount of water, the frequency of which you water the trees, and the type of tree you’re watering. Remember that not all trees require the same amount of water or the same frequency. Some species require less, while others may need more.

 

  1. Check your trees for signs of stress.

It’s important to inspect your trees for any sign of stress or symptoms, especially those mentioned on the first part of this article, so you can take the appropriate action to mitigate those symptoms. Keep in mind that there are symptoms that take longer to appear, while there are those that materialize almost immediately.

 

  1. Skip the fertilizer and focus on mulching instead.

During a drought, a tree’s root system is susceptible to damage from the salts and other strong chemicals from fertilizers due to lack of water. So instead of adding fertilizer, you should do some mulching instead, in order to preserve soil moisture and protect the root system from further damage.

 

  1. Consult a certified arborist.

Your best asset in helping your trees recover from a drought is having a certified arborist guiding you on what to do along the way. Arborists know about trees better than anyone. So if you see signs of drought stress on your trees, contact your local arborist as soon as possible.

 

More info:

 

Pixabay.com photo by chillervirus

 

16 Apr 2017
How much mulch and when to water

How Much Mulch and When to Water: Best Ways to Fertilize Trees

Of course, we all want our trees to be healthy and strong.  They don’t just provide us a shade to keep us cool during the summer season. They also help filter the air we breathe.

And guess what?

Having trees in our property can even increase its value. Isn’t that great?

Now, if you really want to ensure your trees’ health, it is important that you also try to learn about how to properly take care of them. And besides pruning and providing them with enough water, you also have to mulch and give them a good amount of fertilizer regularly.

Let’s talk about tree mulch and fertilization, and find out how mulching is necessary to guarantee that your trees will always be in top-notch condition. But first, let’s learn about the basics.

What Is Mulch?

Mulching is actually one of the easiest ways that you can do to help keep your trees healthy. Mulch refers to the protective layer of material that you spread on top of the soil where your trees are planted. There are several materials that you can use in mulching; these include straw, bark chips, and grass clippings.

 

Why Is It Necessary?

Mulching a tree has plenty of benefits—it protects the soil against erosion, prevents weed growth, maintains soil temperature, and also reduces soil compaction from heavy rains. Moreover, applying mulch around trees can also help reduce your reliance on synthetic fertilizers. (More of that later.)

 

How to Mulch

Here are the general guidelines that you should follow when mulching:

  • Remove all the weeds near the tree before spreading mulch around the surrounding area. It is a good idea if you do the weeding earlier before the grass makes a foothold and becomes harder to remove.
  • You can remove clumps of grass within a 3- to 10-foot radius around the area of the tree. The size of the mulch greatly depends on the size of the tree. Basically, you should mulch the entire root zone of the tree.
  • When mulching small trees, create an earth basin so that it would be easier to keep the mulch away from the trunk.

 

How Much Mulch Is Enough?

While mulching is really beneficial, you have you to ensure that you properly distribute the mulch around the tree’s immediate area. Always remember that the mulch should not be too thick near the tree’s base. If you spread too thick a layer of mulch around the trunk, you run the risk of impacting the amount of water that can seep to the tree’s roots. Ideally, applying a 2″ to 3″ mulch layer is enough to help make your trees grow properly.

If you are using organic mulch such as chipped or shredded bark, straw, or composted manure, be reminded that once they decompose they need to be replaced as soon as possible.

 

Organic versus Synthetic Mulch

Technically speaking, there are two types of mulch: organic and synthetic. Bark mulches, compost and composted manure, shredded leaves, and grass clippings are the most common types of organic mulches. As for synthetic mulches, stones, landscape fabric, and black plastic are the most common. The main difference between organic and synthetic mulch is that the former decomposes and needs to be replaced from time to time, while the latter doesn’t decompose and require regular replacement.

However, since organic mulch decomposes, they add fertility to the soil and improve its organic content. With organic mulch, relying on synthetic fertilizer is reduced. You also get to help improve the environment!

 

Watering Your Plants

Just because you have properly mulched your trees doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be watered anymore. Providing them with water is a necessity, especially among young and growing trees.

As a general rule, young trees that have just been planted in less than two years should be watered regularly especially during summer, since their roots haven’t yet been established to withstand heat and drought. Just ensure that the soil around the tree area is moist.

Once your trees grow and their roots become established, they will be able to withstand more exacting conditions and strive to grow without regular watering.

However, know that as a tree owner, you need to ensure that the trees get enough water from the rain and the soil moisture. As much as possible, avoid compacting their root zone.

More info:

Tree Health Care

Urban Forest Management

Pixabay Photo by Olichel

14 Jan 2017

2017 New Year’s Resolutions (From Your Trees)

It’s a new year once again, which means I have a new growth ring that tells a story of all my experiences in the past year, both good and bad. The past year was full of exciting moments, spending most of the afternoons watching little Johnny having fun playing with the swing his father placed on one of my stronger branches. I can only hope to become stronger this year so I can continue to support little Johnny’s weight as he swings back and forth with glee.

My list of resolutions this year is modest; I just want to be able to grow in peace. I would like to provide shade to anyone who needs it, provide a stable home for my avian friends, and bear fruits for my human companions to enjoy.

But in order for me and my fellow trees to realize our New Year’s resolutions, we’re going to need all the help we can get from our human friends. Here are some of our resolutions that we hope you can help us achieve this year.

 

New Year’s Resolutions – From Your Tree

 

  1. Give me mulch and I promise to become healthy, grow bigger, and provide a beautiful green glow to your garden.

 

Not a lot of humans are aware of the importance of mulch and the process of mulching when it comes to the health and development of us trees, especially those who are newly planted and are still getting acquainted with their new surroundings.

So why do we need mulch?

  • Mulch helps to insulate the ground soil we stand on, providing a strong buffer from fluctuating hot and cold temperatures.
  • It helps to retain water and moisture in our root system, thus keeping us well-hydrated and healthy.
  • Mulch helps combat weed growth, effectively eliminating our main competition for water and nutrition.
  • Mulch reduces the negative effects of compaction common in urban environments.

This year, if you promise to take care of our mulch needs, we in turn promise to provide you with thick foliage for shade, strong branches for your kids to climb, and sweet, juicy fruits for the entire family to enjoy.

 

  1. Keep us well-hydrated and we will develop into a healthy and vibrant tree you will be proud of. Your neighborhood will be thanking you for it.

Tree watering is a crucial part in our development, especially for those of us who are newly planted or have just been relocated to a different environment. Even though a lot of our kind tend to live for decades, if not hundreds of years, during our formative years, we do need your help when it comes to hydration.

So how do you effectively provide us with our daily watering needs?

  • For trees that are newly planted – It is important to give us water immediately after we are planted. Our roots are still getting acquainted with the ground and the new soil composition; we need all the moisture we can get to firmly attach ourselves to our new environment.
  • The first couple of years are crucial for our development – The first two growing seasons is quite challenging for most of us, especially for those who need an extensive amount of water and moisture to grow and develop.
  • Hot summers are especially difficult for us – During the hot summer months, we spend most of our energy growing, producing buds near the end of summer. This occurs during what is referred to as lignification. Trees do most of their growing in the early summer.  In late summer they store up reserves to begin the growing process again the following spring. During this time, we need all the help we can get from our human companions.  lack of water reduces our leaves ability to produce sugars through photosynthesis and remain cool through the process of evapotranspiration.  In severe cases our leaves may wilt or even fall off to prevent further water loss.
  • Proper mulching can go a long way in maintaining root moisture – Heat and drought can cause our root system to dry up, preventing us from getting water and moisture from the soil. You can avoid this by covering the top soil with wood-chip mulch in order to maintain ideal temperatures underneath and sustain moisture and water in the soil.

 

  1. Prune me right and I will grow into a lush and vibrant tree that will enhance the beauty and elegance of your yard.

Every once in a while I will require a good pruning to establish and maintain good health and structure especially if I am young tree. As I mature pruning will help me remain healthy and beautiful.  Be sure to have a goal set before establishing a pruning plan, never prune without an objective, remove dead, diseased and crossing branches so that I can heal properly and not waste energy on problematic branches.  Please use proper pruning practices to ensure all the pruning cuts heal properly, don’t remove too much foliage or you may cause more harm then good especially if I am mature.

Happy New Year! What are some of your New Years resolutions for 2017? Comment below.

 

Stocksnap photo by Ryan Hafey