This is actually a two-part question. First, you may be in the process of planting a new tree or trees and you want to know the precautions you can take to ensure your tree has the best chance of survival during drought conditions. Second, you may be in the midst of a drought in your area and you want to know how to best protect your already planted tree from succumbing to the drought.
Let’s start with the second scenario; protecting an already planted tree from a drought. Remember that a healthy plant will always fair better under stressful conditions. Be sure the soil around the tree has the proper nutrient content. Remove any grass or weeds from around the base of the tree; it is important that the tree does not have to fight with other vegetation for water.
Place mulch around the root zone using coarse mulch. The mulch should be three inches deep but should not touch the trunk of the tree or the root collar or root flares. This type of mulch will keep the area around the root zone moist. Install soaker hoses or drip irrigation; this ensures that you are watering comprehensively. It also simply makes watering the tree much more convenient for you.
Avoid planting new plants until the weather is cool and wet enough, usually in the fall or spring. If you are watering with a sprinkler system, never water during the hottest part of the day; the droplets can act as a magnifying glass. If irrigating with a soaker hose or drip-line system it is ok to water any time. Always take care to watch the weather and reduce watering once the rains come again.
Now for the other situation, you are about to plant a tree and you want it to have the best possible chances for survival under drought conditions. Proper soil preparation, drainage and aeration are critical to the health of a tree. It is important that the soil holds water, but not too much water, so the proper soil matrix is crucial. Always test the soil to be sure it has the proper nutrient make-up; chances are the soil will need to be enhanced.
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Prepare your trees for drought conditions. Call (845) 354-3400.