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Jan 12, 2012
The National Weather Service declared 2011 as the driest year on record and the second hottest, leaving close to 500 million trees dead in its wake, according to the Texas Forest Service. While recent rain has helped trees and landscaping, it is important to keep watering throughout the winter when the soil is dry and the rains have stopped
Though your tree may look like it’s not doing anything right now, it’s growing new roots. Maintaining adequate soil moisture to a depth of 12-15” is key.
The abnormally high temperatures, lack of normal precipitation and windy conditions have been stressful for our trees this season. Especially trees in urban heat islands, along medians, and in areas where there is a wind tunnel effect.
Deep watering helps our trees. To best water your tree this winter, use a soaker hose at the dripline of the tree and let the water slowly trickle in an area. The amount of water needed, and the timing between watering is dependent upon the amount of water in the soil and the amount of rain we’ve gotten. As a rule of thumb your tree needs an inch of water covering the space beneath the canopy of the tree a week, or roughly 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter.
Visible signs of drought stress can be hard to tell this time of year. Some trees in your yard may look dead, but tree experts say don’t cut them down yet. Continue to water your tree through the winter between periods of rain and take a wait and see approach and wait for spring. If you suspect your tree is stressed or dead contact a certified arborist to take a look.
“A lot of trees are dormant right now and some went dormant early because of the drought as a defense mechanism,” said Matt Grubisich, Urban Forester for Texas Trees Foundation. “Even with water restrictions, most municipalities will let you use a soaker hose, which is a great way to be able to water your trees.”
We will continue to see stressed trees throughout the Metroplex into Spring. We can hope for normal to cooler temperatures and more rain. And, we should continue to water our trees this summer if the rains stop . For additional information about tree care and watering visit www.texastreesfoundation.org.