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Take time to deeply water trees when high temps hit
August 15, 2008
Contact: Paul D. Ries (503) 945-7391 or Cynthia Orlando (503) 945-7421
When temperatures in Oregon soar into the triple digits, it can take a toll on trees as well as people. This is especially true if, in conjunction with the high temperatures, the area of the state you live in has seen little recent rainfall.
The Oregon Department of Forestry suggests a few tips for keeping your trees healthy during times of heat stress.

”Prolonged drought is hard on landscape trees, and may make them more prone to insects or disease problems,” said Paul Ries, an urban forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry.  Symptoms of drought on deciduous trees (deciduous trees are trees that lose their leaves in the winter) include wilting, curling at the edges, and yellowing of leaves. Leaves may also develop “scorch” – turning brown on outside edges, or between leaf veins. Leaves may also appear smaller than usual, drop prematurely, or stay attached, but turn brown. Evergreen needles may turn yellow, red, purple or brown.

Watering tips
During prolonged dry periods with higher temperatures, remember to give trees higher watering priority over lawns. Also, be aware that caring for trees properly in the summer and fall requires using different watering methods than you may be accustomed to when watering your lawn.

Watering trees for short periods of time encourages shallow rooting, which can lead to more damage. To make sure your tree gets the water it needs, saturate the soil within the drip line – that’s the circle that could be drawn on the soil around the tree directly under the tips of its outermost branches. Using a regular hose or a soaker hose, water deeply and slowly (slowly is important so the water doesn’t run-off) under the drip line; for conifers, water 3’ – 5’ beyond the drip line on all sides of the tree. Saturating soil within the drip line helps insure that water reaches the roots of the tree.

Other tips
Using mulch is a helpful way to care for trees in hot or dry climates, since mulch helps trees retain moisture. Mulch can be made of bark, wood chips, leaves and evergreen needles. Apply organic mulch within the drip line, at a depth of four inches, leaving a six-inch space between the mulch and tree trunk.

Do you know what kinds of trees surround your home or business? Some trees, especially fruit trees, will need extra water in a heat spell, whereas trees adapted to drier climates – like elms and pines - need far less irrigation than other species.

Trees and forests enhance quality of life in many ways, including by providing wildlife habitat, shade, wood and other products, raising property values, and providing clean, healthy streams. Remember that proper tree care - including deep watering of trees during hot summer months - pays big dividends in the long run.

For more information about trees and  tree care:
 About urban forestry:
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