Soaker hose around a tree

It may be common knowledge that new plantings require initial watering, until the plants become well established, but many people do not realize that more mature trees and shrubs may also need added moisture. This becomes especially necessary in times of severe plant stress, such as the drought experienced this year. While we have received some moisture this fall, it wasn’t enough to make up for the lack of rainfall this past summer.

Without adequate moisture, trees and shrubs experience a number of stress conditions. This includes susceptibility to disease and insect problems, yellow leaves and slower tree growth. If not corrected, mature trees can suffer from drought symptoms for years after the initial drought occurred. Branches will die, starting at the top of the tree and leaves may drop early in the growth season, caused by the lack of food reserves. These are just a few of the serious conditions mature trees can experience from a water shortage. Tree death can also occur as a result of severe dehydration. 

When a drought has occurred, continue to water all trees and shrubs, until the ground freezes. The plants will continue to absorb the moisture and use it the following growing season. Water both new and established trees and shrubs. It may help to establish a watering schedule. Trees and shrubs planted in the last 2-3 years should be watered weekly, while older trees and shrubs can wait every other week. A watering schedule helps prioritize and remember all the plants that need water.

Watering an established tree requires a different technique than a newer planting. The water absorbing roots of an established tree are located much farther from the trunk. Most of the water an established tree takes in is near the “drip line” of the tree. The drip line is primarily at the canopy or outer edges of the branches. The water absorbing roots are located within the first two feet of soil. Because of this, slow watering with a low to medium water pressure is more effective. In addition, the tree should receive one to three inches of water each time its’ watered.

Contact KTS for more information on caring for your trees or to have a Certified Arborist evaluate the current condition of your landscape. It’s not too late to get a handle on future landscape difficulties. Your trees will thank you!

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