Many trees have just merged onto the offramp of the highway of summer. They have let off the gas pedal and applied the brakes to slow and stop for the red light at the end of the ramp. The red light would be winter. I wondered the other day when does drought stress become drought strain? When does the effects of running critically low on moisture become irreversible? This has to be the most difficult time of year for an arborist to determine what is dead or just defoliated due to drought stress/strain, but close examination will reveal buds for next spring rev-up just sitting there idling at the red light.
Occasional drought can be tolerated by native trees here in the valley assuming they got off to a good start to begin with, but trees used to frequent irrigation really are taking a hit right now and it is just simply too late for many.
Trees store water to account for periods of no rainfall, but when they deplete their reserves, all bets are off.
Storing water on your property is a good idea assuming you have room to do so and you may need to get creative with ideas about how to fill and distribute said water.
The initial outlay for storage could be a drop in the bucket (pun intended) compared to tree removal should they croak from the strain of no moisture.
It is ironic that trees utilize about 1% of the water they pull up, most of it just goes through the system only to be pumped out of the top into the atmosphere!
It doesn’t really disappear, it just moves around to return to earth as rain, fog and snow. Have you ever wondered what that blue haze was when looking across a range of mountains in the summer? Yep, that is just water being off gassed from the forest. Drought-resistant does not mean drought-proof, just that that particular type of tree can handle the stress, and maybe strain, of extended periods of rainlessness.
A soil-profiling probe can be an invaluable tool, one I use often and heartily recommend.
If you have mature medium-to-large trees on drip emitters against the stem for goodness sake, please just stop! There is nothing there to water anyway, but the pathogens that will destroy your tree’s root collar are just waiting for a handout in the form of moisture!
There are trees that seemingly grow out of solid rock, but that is an illusion as there must be some kind of moisture in there, right?
Trees are going through their color change as chlorophyll is the first thing to leave the leaf, leaving leaves (HA!) with the rest of the palate to play with this time of year. But sometimes drought stress and strain will just brown the leaves and fall color will have to be put off until next growing season.
We are quickly coming upon the best time to plant trees and now is the time to prepare for a trip to the nursery!
Two trees that would do just fine for our region that are rarely planted that I would just love to have in my yard would be an Italian alder and a Chinese evergreen elm. There are a couple around that are just the coolest!
Enjoy what fall colors come our way and as always,
plant high and often…