If you live near a little tree and have an outdoor spigot, screw a hose to it and give the tree some water. It needs 15-20 gallons per week, more during these very hot and dry days.
Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society offer some great tips for us to help our trees. In Pittsburgh, a slew of new trees have been planted and many of them are already dead with their braces still attached. Those trees cost lots of money and took a lot of city-employee man-hours to plant, so think: that tree is your tax dollars at work.
I’ve just received an email from the PHS that I will run almost in its entirety below. You can also check out http://www.pittsburghforest.org/. The photo is from their web site.
And keep in mind that, even if we get a T-storm on Friday, it won’t take the place of a good soaking.
PHS TIPS ON HOW TO CARE FOR TREES IN DRY CONDITIONS:
Water is crucial for your tree’s survival, particularly during the first year after planting. Water deeply and slowly.
Water your tree when the soil is dry beneath the mulch. Apply approximately 15-20 gallons of water once a week from March until the end of October, and twice a week during periods of no or little rain.
Trickle water onto the soil surface using a hose, or allow water to seep from a bucket with small holes in the bottom or a “tree gator.”
The best time to water is before 9 a.m. – during a drought emergency this even may be the law!
Trash can prevent water from reaching your tree’s roots, and cause a decline in your tree’s health. Substances like motor oil, de-icing salt, detergent, and urine can kill your tree.
Clean the area around your tree periodically and prevent toxic substances like dog pee, leaking garbage, car oil or de-icing salt from entering the soil.
Tree roots require water and air for survival. Compacted soil and cemented pits prevent water and air from reaching tree roots.
Avoid compacting the soil around the tree’s roots: don’t pile trash, walk or drive over them.
Never cement over the surface of your tree pit.
Bark is necessary for protecting the trunk and maintaining tree health.
Keep car doors, dogs, and bicycles away from the trunk to avoid potential bark wounds.
If you lay dry brick or stone around your tree, keep the material at least 6 inches away from the trunk and check each year to maintain this space (pavers placed too close to the trunk can strangle the bark as the trunk gets wider).
Weed and Mulch
Weeds and grass have extensive root systems that compete with trees for limited resource like water during dry conditions!
Mulch helps conserve water, it reduces the regrowth of weeds and grass, keeps roots cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, prevents lawn mower disease and soil compaction.
Maintain a 2-4” layer of mulch around your tree, taking care not to pack it against the trunk. Always remember to weed and cultivate the soil, before mulching. Recommended mulches include: wood chips, composted leaves, and pine needles.
Plant Annual Flowers
As flowers wilt in the summer heat and drought, they will remind you to water your tree. Annuals have shallower root systems than perennials and do not compete as vigorously with trees.
Plant flowers such as impatiens, begonias, marigolds, and vinca around your tree.
Prune only as a last resort
Pruning a tree during dry conditions can stress it our even more by forcing it to put energy into healing the wounds caused by the pruning cuts. Pruning exposes previously shaded leaves to the strongest rays of the sun, potentially burning them.
DO NOT Fertilize
One of the first reactions that many individuals have when plants are under stress is that the plants should be fertilized. Many fertilizers contain high salt indexes and this salt can exacerbate drought problems on plants
PHS TIPS ON EASY WAYS TO CONSERVE WATER IN THE GARDEN:
Use mulch to preserve soil moisture.
Use composted soil.
Choose plants with low water requirements.
Use shading to protect sensitive plants from the hot sun.
Use “gray water” on ornamental plants when possible (“Gray water” refers to all non-toilet wastewater created from household uses, such as phosphate-free dishwashing and laundry, dehumidification, and shower & bath water.)
Water-saving tips are also available on the PHS website, www.thepennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org.
For drought status, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection