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How to Keep Your Trees Safe from Summer Droughts

With scorching temperatures on the rise, we’re lucky enough to escape the sun’s heat by going inside, turning on the AC, and cooling down with a refreshing glass of water. However, trees don’t have the same escape, which is why it’s essential to watch out for your trees during these summer droughts.

We’ve mentioned before that due to Denver’s high elevation, being closer to the sun means that any moisture we receive tends to evaporate into the air rather than get absorbed into the soil. And we all know that water is an essential component to a tree’s overall health.

Additionally, droughts can happen at any time of the year, not just when and where it’s hot. It can be brought on by a myriad of environmental factors, such as low humidity, dry winds, and restricted root growth due to compacted soil.

If your tree is in drought, the stress can make it susceptible to further damage by pests or diseases. So, here are some tips on how to recognize these issues before they become an even bigger (and more expensive) problem.

How to Recognize Drought-stressed Trees

Summer droughts can prove to have quite severe effects on trees. There are typical indicators of drought to look out for, such as yellowing foliage, leaf scorch, and leaves dropping prematurely. But symptoms may differ from tree to tree, so here’s what to watch out for if you have any of these in your yard.

Pine needles typically turn brown, while other tree’s leaves will curl up. However, on both deciduous (trees where leaves fall annually) and coniferous (needle leaves that don’t fall) trees, the leaves tend to change colors before dropping while their roots dry out under a dry ground due to the inability to absorb any moisture from the soil.

Meanwhile, drought stress in deciduous trees can often look like leaf scorch, where the area most affected has curdled leaves that brown along the leaf margins or veins. However, on drought-stressed coniferous trees (usually evergreens), the color changes depending on the species of tree.

For example, summer droughts can have fir leaves changing to yellow or even red. Spruces usually turn yellow or brown but can even become red or purple depending on how advanced the case is.

With pines, it’s important to note that the older needles browning before falling can also be due to natural needle drop, so further inspection may be needed to adequately determine the source of the problem.

How to Care for Trees During Summer Droughts

In order to keep your trees from getting stressed from the summer droughts, regular watering is always recommended, but the amount and timing depend on the soil type and age of the tree.

For example, newly planted trees need to be watered daily for the first two weeks, then every other day for the next 2-3 weeks, then weekly after 12 weeks so the roots can get established. But mature trees really only need watering about once or twice a month during the dry season. And always remember, a heavier soak once a week is better than lightly watering a few times a week.

More than that, watering properly is also vital. You don’t want to keep the water right at the base of the tree; you’ll want to water around the width of the canopy because that’s typically how far out the roots are growing. And ensuring all the roots get a good drink makes for an overall healthier tree.

Another method to prevent drought stress is to properly mulch the base of your tree. Mulch acts as a protective barrier against the natural elements, such as the scorching sun or gusty winds. It also retains moisture much more easily than our Colorado soils.

So, when properly done, mulching your tree’s base can help reduce moisture loss and can even help improve moisture penetration into the soil. You can look at our additional services if you’re interested in purchasing mulch.

While these practices are not a guarantee against the stress summer droughts can bring, they can make a significant difference in the health and recovery of a tree.

If you’ve tried these methods and are still uncertain about the state of your tree, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (303) 806-8733. Our certified arborists will come out for a free estimate to discern the condition of your tree and find the right treatment plan for its overall health.

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