Water Deficiency

Description: Tree health and growth depend upon an adequate supply of water. Normally, rainfall supplies enough to sustain healthy trees. Even moderate dry periods can be tolerated by healthy trees. Trees begin to show stress when they cannot take up enough moisture from the soil to replace water loss from transpiration. 99% of the water taken up by tree roots is lost to transpiration and a mature tree can lose hundreds of gallons of moisture a day.

Symptoms: Symptoms of water stress during the growing season: leaves first begin to droop, then they start to dry out, especially on the edges. Drought tends to be the first conclusion most make when trying to diagnose water stress. However, root damage, soil compaction, vascular wilt diseases, and insect infestations are also causes. Wind accelerates drying causing increased transpiration and evaporation from the soil. Cold weather can also play a role when prolonged temperatures freeze water and make it unavailable for uptake. Evergreens are especially susceptible to winter drying because moisture is lost through foliage continually. However, damage may not be noticed until spring when yellowing or browning of needles occurs.

Action: When lack of natural water is the cause of water stress there are several ways to alleviate this problem. Sprinklers, in-ground or oscillating, can be used. A hose running very slowly on the ground will work, but must be moved for even distribution. With any watering method make sure the water is supplied slowly enough to avoid excessive run-off.

When watering, water deeply and thoroughly. A single application of water equal to one or two inches of rainfall is ideal. To measure the amount of water being applied by sprinklers, place coffee cans in the area being watered and average the depth in each can.

Watering newly planted tress is essential for survival. Root loss always occurs when transplanting and the tree is much less efficient at taking up water during this time. Ideally, extra water should be provided for 2 years after planting. At planting time, build a soil basin just above the planting hole. Add a two inch layer of mulch in the basin to conserve soil moisture. (Be sure that the mulch does not touch the trunk.) One inch of water per week should be added to the basin.

Thank you for reviewing this information. Schneider Tree Care is committed to preserving and enhancing the quality of your property through tree care education and services. We employ professionally trained and certified arborists who are available to meet with you for a consultation at no charge. If you have any questions or need additional information regarding the health of your trees, please contact us.

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