Climate change has reduced annual rainfall in many regions. Although lawns and herbaceous plants wither immediately due to water shortages, trees are also affected in the long term. While grass and flowers might be easily replaced, the loss of a tree is permanent. However, with proper care and treatment you can help your established trees continue to thrive.
When a tree first experiences water shortage the fine root hairs are affected. As soil dries out, the concentration of salts and minerals in the soil is greater than the concentration in the roots of the tree. In order to reverse this inequality, water will be drawn from the tree into the soil. The cells in the root hairs shrink, then die of dehydration. When rain returns to the soil, the tree cannot efficiently absorb the water because of the reduced root mass.
The foliage of the tree suffers damage because water serves as the tree’s lifeblood. Water is the conduit that carries nutrients up and down the trunk of the tree from roots to leaves. In order to slow evaporation from the leaves, the stoma cells in the leaf close. This action prevents water loss, but it also prevents the tree from breathing carbon dioxide from the air. This, in turn, prevents the tree from acquiring the materials it needs to transform sunlight into food. Reversing the closure of the stoma can take hours after water returns, and during those hours the tree is going without food.
Over time, the tree reacts by growing new roots near the surface of the soil to take advantage of any rain that falls. If water is not available, then these roots begin to die off. To compensate for loss of mass below the soil, the tree then eliminates mass in the canopy. As branches in the canopy die, an opportunity arises for pests and parasites to infest the tree. Pests like tree borers and bark beetles take advantage of the stresses placed on the tree. Such pests would not be able to harm a healthy tree so easily. For example, stem canker is more prevalent in areas that have been subject to drought because stressed trees are less able to compartmentalize injuries and prevent the spread of disease.
Caring for Your Drought-Afflicted Trees
A variety of methods can be useful for helping your tree live through a period of drought. Proper watering techniques, organic amendments, mulch, and regular weeding all help the tree acquire the water it needs for growth. Tree maintenance services have the expertise to ensure the continued successful growth of a tree as it experiences the first effects of drought. Additionally, tree maintenance services have the experience necessary to correct the adverse effects of a continued drought through pruning and disease treatment.
If this summer’s heat has “done a number” on your trees, please call us at Timberlane Tree Service to get help with reversing the effects of drought, or remove trees that are beyond saving. 1-888-718-TREE.