Stressful Drought Damages Trees & Shrubs
There have been droughty conditions for the last 4 years and has homeowners we should be prepared to help our lawns and landscape plants through these hard times. The low soil moisture during the growing season has been stressing our trees and shrubs greatly. Many are casting leaves off early to reduce transpiration (a natural defense for the plant). There is a hormonal change in stressed plants that attract insects that will infest many trees and shrubs. Trees and shrubs will seem to die randomly and suddenly with the sole explanation being "drought stress". This will happen over the next two to three years. Some will die this fall and many later.
WHAT TO DO:
After the middle of August, you should begin taking steps now to reduce the stress on your trees and shrubs. The most important thing to do now is water deeply. Begin a program of "trickle watering" all of your trees and shrubs every week to ten days. Your trees and shrubs need water down in the root zone and below the freeze line, now, when you can do it. The water in the root zone will reduce the amount of "winter burn" you will experience.
Your lawn could use a good soaking once every week to ten days, also. Definitely a soaking before winter sets in. Minimize traffic and mowing while your lawn is still under stress. If you must mow, mow during the cooler parts of the day.
All of this watering is costly, but consider the cost of replacing your trees and shrubs. For example. The cost of replacing 3 small 2" trees and 30 small shrubs would cost $1700 for the plants alone. Don't forget the fuss and bother of removing the dead stock and disposing of it. Therefore, consider your watering costs as an investment in your landscape. Lawns are easier and more economical to re-seed, but still require an investment of time and water to come in.
As a word of warning, we can experience cold weather and no rain or moisture. So, be sure to disconnect your hose from the faucet after you finish using it for the day. A connected hose may freeze back beyond your frost proof water pipe and break the pipe causing a nasty leak.
Mulching the trees in rings and the shrub beds will conserve the water you apply. Remember to remove weeds before putting your mulch down. Define your mulch beds and rings with a "landscaper's edge", which is a 4" deep trench sloped back into the bed. This edge will keep the mulch in place. Apply mulch. A 3 cubic foot bag of mulch will cover 12 square feet of ring or bed adequately. Be sure to not over mulch. The thickness should not be deeper than 3" to the soil. Be careful and don't use uncomposted mulch. If it composts in place, it can emit harmful gases and liquids. Slime mold can be a nuisance and can be handled with a brisk raking. Bulk mulch is cheaper but more difficult to handle on the part of a home-owner.
THIRD: FERTILIZE THIS LATE FALL OR WINTER
Fertilizing your trees and shrubs this winter and early spring will greatly help your landscape recover in better shape next year. Fertilization should not be applied during these low soil moisture conditions. However, dormant deep root feeding will help give your trees and shrubs the energy and nutrients to grow well next spring.
Give us a call to schedule an estimate or treatment at (260) 432-8607.