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You know your trees need water to survive the heat of summer, but did you know it's possible to over-water, too?

Enjoying Summer? Make Sure Your Trees Are Enjoying It, Too, With These Dos and Don'ts

July 22, 2014

Summertime is what many of us wait for; the warm weather, the sun and pleasant afternoons spent outside. This is the season in which we can finally step outdoors and take the time to stretch out our bodies and minds after a long, harsh winter.

We spend hours dangling our feet into the pool with a cold drink nearby. We dig out our shorts, sunglasses and sandals, and head to a park to enjoy a picnic full of summer fruits, like watermelon, cherries and peaches.

We look forward to the summer all year long, but do our trees look forward to it, too?

You can help your trees enjoy summer as much as you do with a little touch of TLC.

Like some people, some trees thrive in the summer, showing off their bright green leaves, magnificent canopies and fragrant flowers. They welcome the heat and humidity with outstretched branches. Others enjoy the summer season from the comfort of the air-conditioned indoors—and some trees prefer cooler air as well. They don’t thrive as much in summer compared to some of their leafy counterparts.

These few months allow many trees to soak up the sun to acquire that summer glow, just like us, but ‘tis the season for droughts and sun scorch, too. Just like we protect ourselves in the summer with sunscreen and lots of water, make sure you take time to protect your trees!

Here’s a list of summer dos and don’ts to make sure that your trees are enjoying the summer months just as much as you are:

Summer Tree Care Dos

  1. Water Right. Some trees require more water than others. In summer, you may consider creating a watering schedule to make sure your trees are receiving adequate nutrients. Most trees will do best with this rule of thumb: Water five gallons for every inch in trunk diameter. Get to your trees before the summer sun does and water in the morning. Remember to slowly water your trees, possibly with a sprinkler or drip hose to minimize evaporation and soil runoff losses. Watering trees regularly from May to October can help reduce tree mortality.
  2. Much Ado About Mulch. Mulching not only adds visual appeal to your lawn, but it also can help protect trees. Surround the tree’s base with 1- to 3-inch depth of mulch to conserve moisture within the soil and keep it moderately cool for the tree’s roots. Mulch also reduces moisture lost to weed competition. Remember not to place mulch closer than 2 to 3 inches from the trunk, or it will cause rotting.
  3. Drip, Drop, Drought. Droughts can be extremely harmful to trees, especially newly planted trees, and they can greatly increase the mortality rate. A lack of water can cause serious, irreversible stress to trees’ growth. Stressed trees are more prone to insect damage and diseases. In fact, drought-tolerant trees exist for residents in areas prone to experiencing drought. These trees include: California buckeye in the western region; Kentucky coffee tree in the Midwest region; blue hesper palm in the southwestern region; hornbeam in the southeast; and silver maple in the northeastern region.

Summer Tree Care Don’ts

Although it's possible to give your trees too much water, also be aware of drought’s effect on your trees as you monitor their health this season. Healthy trees = strong trees!
  1. Overwatering—it’s possible. Trees can get too much water. In summer, we experience those wet, gloomy days when it just seems like the rain will never stop. If you are experiencing a rainy day, do not water your trees. According to arborday.org, a good rule of thumb is to first check the wetness of your soil. If your soil is soggy, you do not need to water. Also, remember to slowly water trees’ roots, rather than soak the soil.
  2. Too Much Trimming. Trees are very active in summer and can be stressed after pruning. The ideal time to prune most trees is the dormant season. Since trees are typically in full bloom with leaves in summer, it is more difficult to see trees’ structures, which can lead to over-pruning.
  3. Planting at the Wrong Times. Although it’s possible to plant new trees in the summer, it’s best to do so earlier, during the spring months, or later, during the fall months. Newly planted trees require more water maintenance. Since the summer can be hot and dry, there is a greater chance for new trees to die if they are not properly watered. Unless you are ready to devote extra time to tree care and watering, wait until the cooler fall months to plant.

Since trees are so giving to us in the summer (think shade and cooling effects), we need to make sure we are giving them as much care as they need. By watering deep, yet infrequently, and paying close attention to your trees’ health, they will enjoy these warm, sunny months just as much as you do!

How do you care for your trees in summer? Comment below with your tricks and tips that make your trees happy this season. If you suspect sun damage, request a free Davey consultation to learn how to help your trees love the summer.

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