Managing Drought Stress in Your Trees

The Houston area is known for hot, dry weather and this summer is shaping up to be no exception. While your lawn may provide more obvious signs of drought stress, your trees may also be quietly suffering. Here are a few signs to look for and what you can do to help:

Signs of drought stress in your trees may appear quickly or gradually (over a period of years) and may include:

1. Leaves which are wilting, curling, yellowing

2. Deciduous leaves may turn brown on the edges or between the veins

3. Evergreen leaves may turn yellow or red while their leaf tips will turn brown, progressing back to the twig

4. Leaves may be smaller or drop prematurely

Keep in mind that while these symptoms are primarily aesthetic, the underlying stress may result in insect or disease attacks that can kill your trees.

In order to mitigate the effects of heat and drought stress, proper watering is imperative. Trees will benefit most from deeper, less frequent waterings. During periods of extreme heat and drought, it is not likely that your standard irrigation system will adequately water your trees. In this case, a good means of watering your trees is with a garden hose on a slow trickle. By allowing the hose to drip irrigate the tree, very little water is wasted due to spray or run-off and the tree benefits from a slow saturation of the top 12 inches of soil under the entire canopy of the tree. Timing will also be important since your tree may suffer if it is allowed to stay soaked constantly. Established trees should be watered with 10 gallons of water per diameter inch of trunk diameter, once per week. Newly planted trees may need this type of watering as many as two to three times per week. The important thing is that the trees receive adequate moisture and adequate time to dry between waterings. Lastly, when planning your watering strategy, you must consider your trees’ species. Different tree species will vary in their ability to cope with heat and drought conditions.

If you suspect that your valuable trees or landscape may be suffering from drought stress, call the professionals at Embark Services Tree and Landscape Services. Our staff of trained Arboricultural, Horticultural, and irrigation experts can help you develop a plan to protect your investment while minimizing wasteful water consumption.