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A Brief Guide to Drought-Time Tree Care From Denver Landscaping Companies

May 16, 2018

When it comes to taking care of your trees, routine rainfall makes it easy. With proper moisture levels, even young trees thrive, producing vibrant growth and creating the shade most homeowners look for in their yards. However, during drought conditions, those same trees may not be grow as well without additional help. Though water levels may be low, you’ll still need to care for your landscaping and your trees until the rains start to fall again. Your trusted Denver tree service explains how to take care of your trees, even in periods of extreme drought.

Understand the Signs of Stress

Before you can adequately care for your trees, you need to understand the signs of drought stress those plants may exhibit. Look for yellowing leaves, brown edges around the leaves’ perimeters, and any spotting on the tops of the leaves. These signs all indicate that the tree is not receiving enough moisture or nutrients from the soil under current conditions. If you have evergreens in your yard, inspect the color of the needles. If they appear red or brown, the tree is not receiving enough moisture from the soil. Keep in mind that the symptoms of drought stress may not appear throughout the entire tree, so it’s important to take the time to inspect each area closely throughout the summer.

Avoid Supplementing With Fertilizer

Since drought conditions can leave trees producing growth more slowly, many homeowners are tempted to fertilize the roots in order to encourage normal growth. While this may seem like a good idea, it’s actually bad for the trees. Fertilizers contain salts and chemicals that can be caustic to roots without proper dilution. During drought conditions, there is not enough moisture in the soil to adequately dilute the fertilizer, putting the roots and your trees at risk. Instead of trying to encourage new growth, focus your efforts on keeping your trees as well-hydrated as possible. This will ensure that they’ll survive the drought so you can enjoy their shade and growth in years to come.

Water Properly

Even if you decide to let the rest of your landscaping go, it’s important to keep your trees watered during periods of extreme drought. Remember, tree roots go deep into the soil, so you’ll need to make sure the water reaches 12 to 18 inches beneath the surface of your yard. Any shallower than that and the roots will not receive the water they need to support the tree. If you have a drip irrigation system in place, make sure to use it to water your trees—these systems reduce the amount of water that evaporates during watering as they’re placed beneath the soil. Should the drought be severe enough that your community enacts water restrictions, make use of your grey water. When waiting for your shower to warm up, collect the cool water in a bucket and use it to water your plants. Rather than discarding pasta water, let it cool and water your trees with it.

Make Use of Mulch

Keeping the roots and soil moist will help your trees survive the drought and nothing helps more than spreading mulch around the base of the tree. Mulch acts as a protective barrier between the soil and the sun, reducing the amount of heat that reaches the roots. This lets the soil retain as much moisture as possible between watering. Keep in mind that too much mulch and too much moisture can lead too root rot. To prevent this, leave about four inches of space around the base of the tree so the roots can breathe without being covered by mulch.

Schedule a Pruning Appointment

Proper pruning helps keep your trees healthy while eliminating diseased or damaged parts of the tree that could do damage both to the tree’s vascular system and your property. During a drought, proper pruning will ensure that the tree can support itself, getting rid of problematic limbs and branches. Keep in mind that you’ll want to hire a professional tree service to handle drought-time pruning as trimming too much growth can damage the tree’s ability to produce new blooms in the affected area. Furthermore, pruning reduces the risk of insects and disease, helping keep the rest of your landscaping healthier even when it’s under duress. If additional measures or treatments need to be taken, your arborist will be able to make the appropriate recommendations after the pruning.

Water at the Right Time of Day

If you’re like most people, you probably water your landscaping whenever you happen to think about it. While this is fine on cooler days, it’s dangerous during warmer drought conditions. Watering during the heat of the day or the afternoon allows the sun to evaporate more of the water. This means your plants receive less water than they should. Rather than watering whenever the urge strikes, try to establish a schedule. Water once every week in the early morning or after dusk when the moisture has a chance to penetrate the soil. This will go a long way towards keeping your plants in good condition, even if rainstorms are few and far between.

Understand the Watering Needs of Your Trees

Established trees are more equipped to handle drought conditions than younger trees. This is because their roots already reach deep into the soil. Younger trees have smaller root systems that dwell only in the top few inches of soil. To keep their roots happy, you’ll need to water young trees more frequently. Check the soil around the base of the tree every few days and water once the soil is dry to the touch. It won’t take much, just enough to saturate the dirt.

If you’re worried about the health of your trees, let the experts at Arbor Garden help you care for them this summer. Our experienced landscaping professionals understand the unique conditions Colorado’s weather creates and we’ll help you develop a tree-care protocol, whether it keeps raining regularly or dry conditions create a drought. Contact us today to schedule a free estimate.