Trees Are In Need of Your Help During Drought
I can't get my mind off the weather. I've been watching TV forecasts like a soap opera addict, waiting for a prediction that rain is on the way and that this drought will break. But slight possibilities or a few afternoon thundershowers won't make up for the nearly 20-inch rainfall deficit we are now enjoying. Even if tropical moisture on its way, it will never be enough to deep-root water all the trees in our area that are in such desperate need.
So, this week I hope I can encourage you to chip in and help some trees near you. We are going to lose many because of drought stress — we simply won't be able to save them all. In fact, we could experience one of the worst tree losses since Dust Bowl days of the 1930s. But let's at least save as many as we can. I and organizations like the Texas Forest Service and Trees for Houston are encouraging residents to water the trees around them, whether they own them or not. And, yes, it needs to be done even with the watering restrictions that have been imposed on many communities.
Damage from the current drought has been seen in exponential ways just in the past couple of weeks. And it's only going to get worse if some of us don't step in to help out. Otherwise, there could be an even more absurd domino effect that could go on for three years. I could write five more columns on how such a loss would reduce the environmental benefits of healthy tree canopies, not to mention the beauty of healthy trees in general.
So, here are some helpful tips about watering trees. Please help out where and when you can — especially with younger trees. Experts say a tree's first two years are crucial.
A rule of thumb during a drought is to give a small, one-year-old tree 28 gallons of water a week, a two-year-old tree 56 gallons a week, and a three-year-old 112 gallons a week.
Large, mature trees also need help. About 10 gallons per inch of trunk diameter is recommended each week.
Don't waste your time or water on any tree that doesn't have at least some green in it right now. If it's completely brown, holding on to brown leaves, it's dead. No amount of moisture will bring it back to life.
To help save the urban forest, Trees for Houston recommends a deep, thorough soaking once a week during the growing season. A watering schedule that maintains a lawn in a drought is not adequate to maintain trees.
The key is a long, slow soaking, so water can penetrate deeply into the root zone. Options include:
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