Tips for Protecting Trees During a Severe Drought

Droughts pose many problems for trees such as wilting, disease, insect infestation and even death.

As the drought we’ve been having now falls under the category of severe, proper tree care is more essential than ever. Trees in Milwaukee are dying as a result of the extremely dry conditions. Even if trees show no outward signs of drought stress, such as wilted leaves and downward drooping shoots, the lack of water leaves them more susceptible to insect and disease problems. In order to protect your trees in such dry conditions, attentive care is necessary.

Here are some tips for keeping your trees alive and healthy all summer long:

  • Look for drought symptoms such as wilting, curling on the edges and yellowing. The foliage on some trees may even begin to brown.
  • Keep a close eye on drought sensitive trees such as trees planted in the last 3-5 years as well as magnolias, Japanese maples, dogwoods, beeches, tulip trees and birches.
  • Water your trees properly at least once a week if it has not rained. Trees need a slow, thorough soaking rather than light surface watering. The best way to achieve this is by placing a trickling hose under trees, allowing for enough water to soak the top 6-12 inches of soil. The hose should be moved every 20 minutes and should soak the area from the trunk to the tips of the branches, known as the drip line.
  • Overwatering can be just as detrimental to trees as drought since it restricts the amount of air the roots receive, so make sure to not run the water too hard. Strong water flow also results in runoff, reducing the amount of water soaked up by the soil and increasing unnecessary water waste.
  • Maintain organic mulch over as much of the root system as possible. The mulch serves many functions, such as lowering the heat exposure and allowing for better retention of moisture by the roots. Fibrous root growth can be four times as much under mulch compared to trees without it.

Droughts pose many problems for trees such as wilting, disease, insect infestation and even death. With the proper care and attention, many of these problems can be avoided. Frequent watering will allow your trees to stay healthy through this severe drought.

For more information about drought care or to talk with an arborist, please call First Choice Tree Care at 262-242-1274 or visit our website: www.firstchoicetreecare.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve Rogers July 16, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I've been running a soaker hose over and around a young line of trees trying to do twice a week- longer than what you are suggesting - as they don't get as much water from the soaker ... we couldn't possibly run a hose on each tree as we have to many trees - not enough time - so ... here's to hoping that this will work - !! ??? we're trusting that this is not last much longer ... hard to pray for rain here - I'm worried about our yard we have farmers worried about our crops - praying for end of drought ... slr
Heather Asiyanbi July 17, 2012 at 06:20 PM
We had our majestic ash cut down in July 2010 because it had simply come to the end of its 40-50 year lifespan. A new honey locust (3 or 4 inch diameter trunk) took its place, but this spring, the top branches didn't bud so of course we were concerned. We were told to water every 7-10 days to try and even out the trauma it was feeling from our odd winter and this crazy summer weather. We've been watering it via sprinkler (along with the rest of the grass) once a week and the leaves that did bud look so much better. We're hoping this means buds even up top next year!


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