How Landscapers Can Help Save Trees During Drought


There is little landscapers can do to fight the drought, especially in states like California and Nevada.

Plants, landscapes and trees will continue to suffer through the extreme heat, but according to the Tree Care Industry Association, there are a few things landscapers can do to help trees survive.

“While it’s impossible to keep every tree in good health in times of severe drought, taking a proactive approach for a prized or sentimental tree can support its good health,” recommends Tchukki Andersen, CTSP, BCMA and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. “A plan that is supported with good cultural practices, proactive monitoring for pests and disease, and response to warning signs is more likely to survive.”

First landscapers need to know the signs of struggling trees, and it may not always be obvious.

RELATED: Tips to Help Trees Survive Drought

Trees do not show the effects of drought immediately.

In fact, trees begin to suffer damage in the roots, according to the association.

“After a tree’s unsuccessful attempts to conserve water by closing leaf stomates, feeder roots die back, sometimes so drastically that the tree is unable to take up enough water to support itself,” the association says in an article.

At the same time, pests start turning their attention to a stressed tree.

TCIA says that boring insects are attracted to the chemical and acoustic signals of stressed trees.

“The sound of water columns breaking cues the borer to invade the tree and lay eggs,” TCIA says. “Andersen recommends applying a 3-inch layer of organic mulch or wood chips over the root zone at least out to the drip line. This will hold moisture longer for stressed roots to access, and will provide a long-term nutritional source for the soil.”

Landscapers need to be watering trees deeply with soaker hoses or irrigation systems instead of a brief surface watering. However, because trees need a great deal of water, especially the larger ones, landscapers may have to make a choice of which trees to save. 

In the end, the strongest trees will survive, but landscapers can help keep more and more trees alive over a five-year timeframe. 

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