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Save Drought Stressed Trees

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How to Save Drought Stressed Trees - How to Save Trees During Drought


How to SAFEGUARD our trees?

The most important thing we can do to safeguard our trees is to assist the tree root zone (drip line) to obtain maximum water infiltration and also help it rejuvenate the soil microbial activity. On this page, we will tell you where to water a tree, how much water a tree needs based upon its size and the need to use non-chlorinated water and to build up the microbial activity in the soil. 
·Symptoms of drought injury to trees can be sudden or may take up to two years to be revealed. Drought injury symptoms on tree leaves include wilting, curling at the edges, and yellowing.  Deciduous leaves may develop scorch, brown outside edges or browning between veins.

·Evergreen needles may turn yellow, red or purple. They may also turn brown at the tips of the needles and browning may progress through the needle towards the twig.
In continued drought, leaves may be smaller than normal, drop prematurely or remain attached to the tree even though brown.
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First we must locate the tree drip line:

A tree’s drip line is a ring around the tree canopy on the ground level that receives most of the
Rainwater shed from the tree canopy. Feeder root locations go beyond the drip line to get moisture and nutrients being created from organic matter in and on top of the soil. Microorganisms transform the organic matter and create the useful nutrients taken up by feeder roots.

tree drip line










The tree canopy drip line is the beginning point of where the tree begins to get moisture from the soil. Tree root locations are opportunistic and will travel a distance equal to the height of the tree to get moisture. In a natural, undisturbed situation, tree roots go beyond the tree canopy easily a third the distance of the tree radius. Feeder roots are concentrated in the upper 6-8in (152-203mm) of soil, where there is abundant oxygen and moisture. Here a relationship between microorganisms and the tree roots occurs where the microbes break down organic matter and convert it into forms that can be directly taken up by feeder roots. Roots under the tree canopy are mainly for support. Deeper roots are for support and they seek water during dry conditions.

Make the Soil around the drip line more Absorbent: 
The drip line is the area directly located under the outer circumference of the tree branches is where the tiny rootlets are located that take up water for the tree. Trees should be watered here, not by the base of the trunk, or the tree may develop root rot.
A general rule for watering trees is to water deeply and infrequently rather than frequent shallow watering. Most trees being watered on the same schedule as thirsty turf grass will suffer. Sprinkler heads watering on or too near the tree's trunk should be redirected to the drip-line and beyond. A thick layer of mulch is always recommended to help retain moisture. If your tree is not mulched, especially in sandy soils, it's difficult to keep the soil properly watered.
Best Practice of Watering in non-drought conditions: Watering deeply means to saturate the ground over a long period of time such as 24 hours.  Saturation should be done by setting the water flow out of the hose to a stream about the size of a pen or straw. 

Place the end of the hose within 2 to 3 feet of the drip line and allow the water to flow for three to five hours, and then move it to another area within the drip line area. Continue the process until you have saturated 2 to 3 feet on both sides of the drip line all the way around the tree.  Watering this way allows the water to reach the roots at the bottom of the root zone and puts the water where the water harvesting roots are located.

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To insure deep watering in times of drought and water restrictions, each droplet of water is so valuable. To maximize the water infiltration we drill a 2-3 inch size hole in the soil to a depth of 24 inches. We space these holes every 2 feet around the circumference of the tree. We fill each hole up with hollow sand.

Since the hole is filled with hollow sand, there is no issue of the tree roots drying out or possible insect or rodent issues. The hollow sand is now a permanent installation in the root zone profile of the tree and will last for many years unless there is soil disruption due to plumbing or utility piping.

Now when you water the drip line of the tree with this hollow sand method, all the water that your irrigation heads spray on the lawn areas is quickly absorbed by each 24 inch deep hole; each hole now acts like a super highway to get the water down quicker and more efficiently into the clay layer of the soil to re-hydrate the clay or to hold valuable moisture inside the hollow sand in sandy soils.

So now a shorter watering time can maximize watering the tree and less water is needed since the water is not running away on a sloped ground and not evaporating in hot dry drought conditions.

During the drought, trees must be given top watering priority over your lawn. However, caring for trees requires different watering methods than your lawn. During water restrictions, irrigation systems designed to water turf do not sufficiently water your trees; unless you install the Safeguard Tree Program.

During the drought, trees should be given a higher priority than lawns. Lawns can be replaced in a matter of months whereas a 20 year old tree will take 20 years to replace.

How much water your tree should receive depends upon the tree size.

A general rule of thumb is to use approximately 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter for each watering.

Measure trunk diameter at knee height. 
General formula
: Tree Diameter x 5 minutes = Total Watering Time.

·        Example: When you hand water using a hose at medium pressure, it will take approximately 5 minutes to produce 10 gallons of water. If you have a 4” diameter tree, it should receive 40 gallons of water - multiply by 5 minutes to equal total watering time of 20 minutes.

·All size trees should be watered especially during drought conditions because normal rainfall is non-existent. At least once a week watering but preferably 2- 3 times a week if you get no rainfall.  All trees should also receive adequate water during the winter months too but water can be less frequent.

·Water should be distributed evenly under the drip line of the tree.
Most people do not understand what their trees’ root system looks like.

Tree root systems consist of large perennial roots and smaller, short-lived, adsorbing roots. The large, woody tree roots and their primary branches increase in size and grow horizontally. At least 90% are located in the top 12” inches of the soil. Root functions include water and mineral conduction, food and water storage, and anchorage.
In contrast, adsorbing roots, although averaging only 1/16 inch in diameter, constitute the major portion of the root system's surface area. These smaller roots grow outward and predominantly upward from the large roots near the soil surface, where minerals, water and oxygen are relatively abundant. The major function of adsorbing roots is the absorption of water and minerals. Large roots and small adsorbing roots occupy a large area underground.
Understanding the Water we Use
If you have a water well, then this does not apply to your situation. If you utilize water from your local City or MUD then you have chlorinated water. The water is chlorinated so it is safe for consumption to drink.  Ideally, if you can water your landscape with non-chlorinated water you can have a much healthier and thriving landscape.
Do you ever wonder at how beautiful your landscape looks right after a rain shower rather than right after an irrigation cycle? Well if you use the right type of water in your landscape, then you build the ultimate thriving garden that grows the most beautiful flowers, grass and trees.
Part of the soil biology or the underground soil food web is a myriad of bacteria, protozoa, fungi and nematodes that harvest the soil and turn it into food for the plants and animals in the soil profile. Drought stressed plants need this active food web working to maintain their health and energy resources since the tree is under water stress.



Chlorinated Water kills this active underground food web. So now what you have is this big healthy tree and no soil biology or minimal soil biology. We will show you in the next section how to bring back this soil biology, but how do we get rid of this chlorine in the water?

Fill a reservoir with water that you are about to irrigate your lawn. Let the water sit for a few hours in the sun and all the chlorine will have dissipated and now you can use it to water your landscape. If you use this method you will need a pump to fill your water hose with pressure to water your landscape.
The other option is to filter your water with a carbon filter. This will remove the chlorine from the water.
But if neither is an option, go ahead and water with chlorinated water. It is better than no water at all.

How do we Build up the Biology Back in the Soil?

If you develop a strong microbiology in your landscape garden in the turf areas, gardens and around the trees, your landscape becomes extremely self sufficient and your reward is the enjoyment of having such a beautiful landscape. I am not kidding; your landscape could win Yard of the Month each month simply by changing your soil biology.

We make a freshly brewed compost tea/humate tea blend which you can purchase if you so desire. When you take this tea blend and introduce it to your soil profile and your issues with winter brown patch, insects, and health of plants is quickly cleaned up. The food web goes to work and it takes everything in the landscape and makes it more disease and insect resistant as well as most important drought tolerant.

You want to save your big trees in your lawn - don't you?

After we have installed your Hollow Sand columns in the soil around your tree drip line, we add our tea to the soil to allow you to build up the strength of the tree and nurse it back to health.
Yes, I said nurse it back to health because it is in drought stress and unless you have been watering plenty of water to your landscape or unless you have a strong microbial activity in your soil, then you are watching your prize tree have a slow death. ACT NOW!

Not doing anything is guaranteed loss of your tree. You can save it……we can help you!

Ready to Save Your Trees?
Call Us Today: 281-842-2050
H2O Conservation Technology


save drought stressed trees, how to save trees from drought