The Dog Days of Summer stretch from about July 3 to August 11. These days were named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, and the period lasted during the conjunction of Sirius, the Dog Star, and the sun. Now the expression is used to describe weather similar to what we have been experiencing this past year in the southeast. Dog Days of Summer conjures up images of dogs panting, lying around and lapping up water, and for the past few weeks, it’s been difficult for me to coax my dog, Sadie, off the cool kitchen floor to go outside for a walk.
We know what dogs are doing in this heat, but what about your trees and shrubs? How are they staying cool? Where are they getting water? And why am I seeing so many trees turning brown or dropping leaves?
We have been blessed with rain for the last couple of years and everything has grown well as a result. However, now that the water is turned off and the temperature spiked, we are looking at some pretty stressed out trees that are trying to keep all that new growth alive. Above ground, leaves droop and some even fall off to conserve water. Below ground, the tree is cutting off root growth. This leaves trees very vulnerable to insects and diseases.
How do you care for a 50 or 100 year old tree in these conditions? Trees located in woods are going to be better buffered in the heat because they are in their natural environment. In your yard, you need mulch to help retain moisture in the ground, and your soil could also be too compacted to take in water when it does rain. Most urban soil is also absent of beneficial organisms and organic material that helps hold water and make it available to the tree. Having us inoculate, fertilize and decompact the soil a couple times a year will help maintain the health of your shrubs and trees to better withstand harsh summers or winters.
Think about how hard your trees are working this summer to keep you and your yard cooler and more tolerable. More than likely, your irrigation system or hose cannot keep a tree requiring about 50 gallons of water every day alive and well.