Drought Proofing Your Tree
California is now in a fourth consecutive year of drought and many counties have adopted a one or two day per week watering schedule.
This will undoubtedly take a toll on our landscapes and trees. Trees in particular are considered the most critical aspect of our landscapes because of their size and benefits. Often they create micro climates for landscapes that cannot survive without their shade. The loss of a mature tree or even a severely damaged tree can be devastating. Preventing tree or limb loss can be one of the most valuable things you do for your landscape in this difficult time.
This month’s article provides a case study for a 35-year-old community that began losing many of its prized pine trees last summer due to drought-induced stress. It was already too late for several of the trees; however, we quickly came up with a plan to save the remaining 43 trees.
First, the remaining trees were treated with systemic insecticide applied during the winter to help the trees resist disease. Trees under stress from drought are more likely to fall prey to disease and pest infestation because they are already in poor health.
The second thing that was done was deep root fertilization, which is not the same as tree fertilizer stakes or Miracle-Gro. It is a high volume, balanced liquid fertilizer with slow release nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, iron and many other nutrients injected into the root zone of your tree throughout the drip line with a high pressure power rig. This treatment restores nutrient depleted soil while drenching the root zone with much needed water resulting in a quick, but long lasting boost for your tree.
The third thing we did for the remaining trees was to prune them with the specific goal of removing dead wood, crossing limbs and excessive “end weight.” With this procedure the trees will not be as prone to split or fail because there is less weight for the already weaker trees to support. They will also be able to withstand greater wind speeds.
The final step for these trees was an application of AquaSmart, a water-absorbing material designed for trees, plants and lawns for the purpose of water retention. Maximizing the water we do put down for our plants during a drought is critical in preventing plant loss.
Overall, this process requires a comprehensive understanding of the biology involved as well as the proper application techniques. If you feel your tree needs a little extra attention during this drought, make sure you contact a certified arborist that can help.