Help Your Trees Survive a Drought
Recent drought conditions make things hard for everyone, especially trees. During drought conditions, established trees and native trees, which typically don’t require additional irrigation during normal rainfall conditions, need to be watered periodically. The Town’s Parks Services Department is keeping a close eye on trees in Town parks and is increasing watering as needed. Residents of Flower Mound are encouraged to do the same with their trees.
Signs of Drought
It is important to understand the signs of drought stress in trees and know if a tree exhibits signs of drought stress; it does not necessarily mean it is dying. Trees are capable of doing what is necessary to protect themselves. Dropping their leaves and going dormant during a drought is one way that they do that. However, It is still important to water these trees during this time even if they are dormant. Signs of drought stress in trees include: browning or yellowing of the leaves, wilting leaves, and losing leaves earlier than normal.
What to do
If you have trees that are exhibiting signs of drought stress, or if you have trees that appear healthy but are not receiving regular irrigation, it is a good idea to use a hose at low pressure to water the critical root zone of you trees. The critical root zone is typically about 12 inches in depth and extends from the trunk of the tree to the edge of the branches; also know as the drip line of the tree. Additional information about watering your trees during severe drought can be found on the Texas Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture website.
Mature, established trees should be watered once a week during periods of drought, and newly planted or young trees should be watered twice a week. Please note, the Town of Flower Mound has initiated Stage One Water Conservation Measures, which prohibits outside water use, including lawn watering, garden watering, and irrigation between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Therefore, efficient watering of trees during the allowable hours will meet the objective of the conservation measures and help protect the trees.
In addition to watering, using mulch over the critical root zone of your trees can go a long way toward helping them cope with drought conditions. Mulch can aid in moisture retention, reduce temperatures in the soil around the roots, improve soil conditions, and reduce soil erosion. Just remember not to put mulch against or around the trunk of the tree. Contrary to popular opinion, a mulch volcano or mound around the trunk of the tree is not a good thing. Mulch should be kept about a foot away from the trunk. Roots are used to a moist layer around them, but the trunk is not. Also, the mulch layer doesn’t need to be any more than 2 to 3 inches thick. Mulch that is too thick can actually keep moisture from reaching the roots and can even suffocate the tree.
For more information on tree care, contact the Environmental Services Division at 972.874.6352, or visit the Texas Forest Service website