We all know how to keep ourselves healthy during the hot and dry summer days. It’s important to try and keep cool, stay hydrated, and eat well. Did you know that’s great advice to follow for your trees and shrubs as well?
Trees and shrubs sometimes need additional care when the weather changes. Unfortunately keeping them cool can be a challenge, but keeping them well hydrated, with good nutrients is possible, and typically all that’s needed to keep them healthy.
Signs your trees and shrubs may need additional attention during hot and dry weather may include; wilting, leaf or stem discoloration, slow growth, dry or brittle leaves, and dry soil.
Here are things you can do to care for your trees and shrubs during hot and dry weather.
Get them hydrated
The root systems of many trees and shrubs grow broad and deep enough to sustain their water needs in most instances. However, in times of extended dryness, the subsoil isn’t replenished with water and eventually, there isn’t enough moisture for the root systems to absorb. Even in instances when it has rained recently, if the subsoil is particularly dry there may not have been enough precipitation to adequately replenish the moisture.
Appropriate irrigation is a good way to ensure your trees and shrubs have the moisture they need, but not in excess. Most newly planted immature trees need 20 gallons of water a week applied to the root ball. Mature trees have a more established root system and require less direct watering, but should be watered every 2 weeks during dry periods. For shrubs, make sure they receive water weekly. If it has not rained recently, water your shrubs slowly to allow moisture to penetrate the soil more effectively. We recommend trickle irrigation or using a hose with a slow trickle.
The easiest way to see if there’s enough moisture in your soil is to test the soil by trying to penetrate it with a trowel, pick, or screwdriver. If you’re able to easily penetrate the soil 4 or more inches, your soil has adequate moisture. If it’s difficult to penetrate, you need to water.
Heat and direct sunlight are some of the top challenges in maintaining soil hydration. One of the best ways to combat this is through the use of mulch. While mulch provides an attractive look, it also has a practical purpose. It provides a barrier between the soil and sunlight, heat, and dry air, thus assisting in maintaining the soil’s moisture.
When installing mulch, 3 inches is a good standard depth to work to achieve. Be careful not to mulch directly onto the base of a tree trunk as this area needs to be left exposed so the tree can breathe. Finally, keep your mulch fresh and hydrated. While dry mulch may still do an adequate job keeping your soil moist, excessively dry mulch can be a fire hazard and is prone to blowing away. As mentioned prior, a good irrigation program can help assist in both maintaining your soil moisture and also the freshness of your mulch.
Moisture is an important conduit to help your trees and shrubs realize their nutrient requirements. Sometimes, during hot and dry weather trees and shrubs experience challenges in absorbing and utilizing proper nutrition.
During hot and dry periods we recommend considering the use of bio-stimulants such as Fish Hydrolysate, Humic Acid, Mycorrhizae, and Seaweed Extracts. These can help provide benefits to growth, development, and stress response in your trees and shrubs by enhancing nutrient uptake and altering the way your plants utilize nutrients. They also encourage stronger and healthier growth, making your plants more robust and able to survive difficult weather patterns.
The use of bio-stimulants can be challenging. We recommend seeking the help of a professional, or taking the time to educate yourself on proper application techniques, and going slow for the do-it-yourselfer.
With general care and proactive maintenance, your trees and shrubs can thrive even during hot, dry spells. If you’re unsure of how, or what to do our certified arborist and team of plant health professionals is available to help service your property needs.