How to save trees in these drought conditions

Minneapolis, MN (August 8, 2007)- Minnesota’s trees are dying and need help. Experts say the harsh weather in recent years has taken its toll and, in response, residents are being called to action to water trees in their yards and on the boulevards.

Tree Trust, a Minnesota nonprofit, is requesting that residents water the trees on both private lands and boulevards, especially newly planted trees. Tree Trust’s director of urban forestry Janette Monear said: “It’s my assumption that the trees are stressed from lack of water, high heat and windy conditions.”
Extension professor Gary Johnson, University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources, adds bad planting practices to the list of stressors but says, “A lot of sins can be forgiven if water is managed. Newly planted trees need (watering) twice a week, 3 to 5 gallons at a time.”
Johnson also cautions people against watering only in absence of rain. Grass takes up much of the water before it can be absorbed into the top 12 inches of soil where most of the trees roots exist. Using only water sprinklers creates the same problem. To help the soil around trees retain moisture once it has been thoroughly moistened, Johnson advises applying 4 to 6 inches of coarse woodchips under the tree, and 2 to 4 if the mulch is fine textured.
It is important to water strategically, he said. Plants absorb more water in the early morning, before the warming sun can cause evaporation. Water once a week until the ground freezes unless you notice that the soil is becoming extremely dry.
The best way to water a tree is to lay a soaker hose on the ground around the dripline of the tree and back to within 3 feet of the tree trunk. This allows the water to slowly trickle so that it percolates down until the soil is saturated. The dripline is the circle that could be drawn on the soil around a tree directly under the tips of its outermost branches.
Related Resources:
Tree Trust
Shakopee Valley News