Tree maintenance during the drought

KANSAS CITY, Mo.— We've been talking about the drought all summer.

The effects of the dry weather have put an added stressor on trees throughout the area. 

Matt Evans, an arborist with Ryan Lawn and Tree, said the age of a tree can determine how a drought will affect it.

Trees that have been in the ground for three years or less haven't developed an adequate root system, and if they haven't been watered properly, many will die in drought conditions. 

Older trees build their own defense system over time, which helps them withstand the drought.

The reason is that they've stored enough energy, and can draw on reserves to make it through difficult weather patterns.

Evans said the biggest thing for tree maintenance is being proactive early on a regular basis. 

"Everything has to be prevented, versus cured later on, because they have stored energy. Everything's delayed," Evans said.

Another thing to keep in mind is where the tree is planted.

"A tree growing in a grass situation is usually extremely stressed because there's a lot of competition for water and nutrients, all the things that a plant needs," Evans said. "But when we can isolate a tree into a mulch bed, that is separate from the lawn, we can actually have a healthier tree that's more apt to move through drought periods easier than a tree that would just be growing in the middle of a lawn."

Evans said to be mindful and consistent in watering trees.

"What I recommend to homeowners is on trees that are five years or less, is one inch of water per week, and I usually like that in one good solid watering," Evans said. "The exception to that would be a very young tree that's recently been planted. We may have to break up that inch of water during a couple time during the week."

Evans said if the area does get one inch of rain during the week, you don't need to water your tree. If the area gets half an inch of rain, you can offset it with another half inch.

The best seasons to plant trees in the Kansas City area are spring or late fall. The exception would be evergreen trees. Evans recommended planting those in the spring.

"The last couple of winters have been dry and evergreens will continue to lose moisture through the winter, which makes it really difficult on them if they don't have an established root system," Evans said. 

As a general rule, Evans said deciduous plants (trees that have leaves that fall) can be planted in the fall.

If you have any questions about proper tree maintenance or need work done, be sure to check with a certified arborist on the matter. You can find one in your area by checking the Better Business Bureau.

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