Question of the Week
browse by: questions
With the past few years of drought, many of our trees have been under stress for some time. It's important to understand that trees live basically in their root system. If the root system is limited, and it often is in our rocky shallow soils, we need to make sure that the tree is getting enough water. That means a good deep soaking on an infrequent basis. You don't want to make them dependent on you, like a little annual flower. You want to encourage deep roots that don't rely on irrigation to stay alive. But when we go through extended periods of stress, a good deep soaking, to an inch or two deep, will help alleviate the tree's stress.
You may notice that the canopy starts to thin out as it loses leaves above ground and that's often due to these combined stresses. When trees get stressed, they start a cycle of decline that's sometimes hard to stop. Insects and diseases may be more able to get a foothold of the tree and start to take it down. Also, as they lose their leaves they're not able to make carbohydrates, which are the energy source for the trees. So no leaves: no energy.
Fertilizing doesn't help. It's not a lack of nutrients that's stressing them: it's the fact that the root system is stressed. The best things you can do to help your tree: avoid compacting the soil and avoid trenching or doing something that might cut the roots, which will only make the problem worse. And hopefully over time we'll get a bit of rain and those trees will have a chance to recover.