How to Protect Your Trees During Drought
Trees offer us many benefits, especially, during the summer months. Trees offer us somewhere to shade ourselves, cars and properties, which can directly reduce your cooling costs. They also actively cool the air around them and under them, this is due to water evaporating from their leaves this is a process called transpiration. This is especially important in trying to cool cities.
Trees clean the air around them taking in carbon dioxide and replacing with oxygen. They provide habitat; a native oak tree can house up to around 900 different species in any one tree. Trees also play an important role in storm water management.
There are some fantastic reasons to protect our Trees, which often get overlooked. In this log we will explore why we need to think about protecting our trees during the summer months and what we can do.
Do Trees Need to be Protected in a Heat Wave?
A mature tree can use up to 100 gallons of water a day. Needless to say, trees need a lot of water. It is quite often a miss conception that trees have deep roots. Though some trees can have deep roots, usually in climates that have little rain fall. In general, you would tent to find the majority of even the largest trees roots to be in the top 2.5/3m of soil. The reason for this is there tends to be more nutrients in this area.
During times of heat and drought the competition for water is a tough battle that trees have got to compete for. There is competition from other plants. Grass can be a huge competitor to trees. drawing up water from around a meter of the soil depth.
Trees also must deal with MAN MADE issues such as non-permeable surfaces i.e. tarmac which prevents water from getting into the soil.
Young trees and newly planted trees are particularly susceptible to drought due to their unestablished root systems and their roots may not go under the competition i.e. grass.
Most scientists now agree that climate change will mean that we are subject to more extreme weather conditions. Hotter summers and less rainfall mean trees will need to compete for water more than ever before.
How Can I Protect My Trees During a Heat Wave?
Fortunately, there are a few things that we can do to help our trees.
Ensure trees have got access to water:
Try to avoid placing non-porous surfaces over or even near trees as the water will run off and your trees will not reap the benefit. Try to opt for a surface that will allow the water the penetrate the soil and give your tree a fighting chance. With modern technology there a not tarmac like surfaces that do allow the water to get to the soil.
Remove the competition:
Removing plants and specifically grass from around the base of the tree can give a massive benefit to your tree.
If you do one thing for your tree, do this: Adding an area of mulch/ wood chip around the base of the tree can bring huge benefits. It will regulate the temperature of the soil in both winter and summer. It helps the soil to retain water.
Mulching increases the number of inhabitants within the soil. This helps to aerate the soil which increases the amount of water the soil can hold and the nutrients with it. Mulch also stops the competition from growing and prevents damage to tree roots from lawnmowers.
Adding an area of mulch will be especially helpful to young or newly planted tress that do not have an established root system.
It seems quite natural that you would water the rest of your garden plants. Why not your trees? It is especially important to water young or newly planted trees during their first year, this should be done even if there isn’t an unusually warm period without drought.
The best time of day to water yours trees is during the morning when it is coolest that way the soil can absorb more of the water and less is lost due to evaporation.
It is worth mentioning that during times of drought water is a scares resource for everyone not just trees and it is predicted that this will happen more and more. For this reason, I would look at watering as a last resource. Using mulch and making the most of the water we have are much better ways to help your trees in the summer months.
What's the Best Thing I can do to Help My Trees in the Summer:
Trees need a lot of water. Water is becoming a more scares resource and this is likely to get worse. Trees must compete with other plant such as grass and man-made blocks such as non-porous surfaces i.e. tarmac for the water they need.
There are things that we can do like ensuring we allow water to get to trees by using porous surfaces which allow water to penetrate the soil and removing the competition i.e. grass.
If you do one thing:
Give your tree mulch/ wood chip. There are so many benefits that come from mulch and it is relatively low effort.
Water during the first year of planting or extreme heat/ drought. Water your trees like you would the rest of your garden.