Friday, February 4, 2011

Dry Weather Tree Care

Summers in the Western Cape are extremely harsh with strong winds, searing heat and no rain, so growing healthy trees in this region can be extremely challenging.
  It makes sense to consider planting drought tolerant trees in this area, however, other species will do well provided they are properly cared for.

Recognise the Symptoms

Trees that are exposed to long dry periods, may suffer from drought stress that can be recognised by certain symptoms which may occur suddenly or could take as long as 2 years to appear.

Some of these symptoms include damage to the leaves such as yellowing, wilting or curling, as well as scorching or browning along leaf edges and between the veins. Leaves may also be smaller than usual or drop prematurely.

How to Care for Trees During a Drought

During drought conditions it is important to provide trees with adequate water. A general guideline is to give approximately 45 litres of water per 2 ½ cm trunk diameter. Young trees will be the most vulnerable to drought stress and should be watered regularly until they are fully established.

To decrease the occurrence of drought stress, certain procedures are suggested such as applying a deep layer of mulch. Bark chips, well rotted compost or even a thick layer of leaves are a good option and should be spread out to the drip line around trees, as this will reduce moisture evaporation.

It is not advisable to fertilise trees during times of drought as limited soil moisture may cause root burn and increased leaf growth may result in too large a leaf area for the roots to maintain during long dry periods.

Planting trees in winter is by far the best practice as at this time they are dormant. 

We are all aware that most landscaping seems to take place in spring and summer, however where possible, urge clients to plant the backbone of their landscape (their trees) during winter. 

This enables trees to establish themselves better and gain a growth advantage during spring. By ensuring that trees are kept healthy and pest free their chance of withstanding unfavourable drought conditions is significantly increased. 

For any specialised queries, please contact Rudi on 082 829 5543 or Leske on 072 385 0270.

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