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Summer Tree Management

Ford House shares summer tree management tips to prevent drought stress.

Summertime is usually that time of year when scorching temperatures and lack of rain cause drought-like conditions in your yard. Do not think you’re the only house on the block with wilting, yellowed leaves on your trees. Driving through the community, it’s apparent that many trees have been affected by drought stress.

The beginning of July started with crazy, wet weather. After experiencing drought-like conditions during the month of June, we made up for it within the first week of July. The Grosse Pointe communities received almost two and a half inches of rain during the holiday week. However, as much rain as we received; it’s still not enough to quench the thirst of the beautiful trees that line Maple Lane at Ford House.

Drought stress is most commonly seen in trees that are less than five years old. Symptoms may include wilting, curling at the edges and yellowing of the leaves. Please note that some trees, for example Dogwoods, tend to curl their leaves during high temps but may not be suffering from drought stress. Additionally, the tips of the needles on evergreens may turn brown. If drought stress is left untreated, insect and disease infestations may occur and trigger early fall color.

Drought stress may not kill your tree, if taken care of properly. Typically, lawn irrigation systems do not provide enough water to wet the tree’s root zone. To alleviate drought stress, you must soak the root zone. This can be done periodically throughout the summer as long as the high temperatures and lack of rain continue.

There are several ways to quench the thirst of your immature trees. A soil needle (deep root feeder) can be used to soak the root zone and is relatively easy to use. It attaches to your garden hose and is inserted in the ground at least three feet from the tree trunk. This should be done in four different areas surrounding the tree. You can also use a bucket with holes drilled in the bottom. Fill the bucket with water and set three feet away from the trunk. If you prefer, there’s always the old fashioned way of watering with a garden hose. Ensure the area surrounding the tree is thoroughly soaked.

Following these tips just a few times a month will help alleviate the drought stress and ensure a beautiful landscape that you can enjoy during the summer.  

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Mr.Q July 29, 2012 at 11:56 PM
We have a large pine tree that has died a quick death since a power line fell onto it last year. We plan on taking it down in the fall, however I have a couple of questions about that. I am wondering if if matters the season when trees are cut down, and if it is possible to plant veggies or even perennials on that spot within the next year or two. (When our Ash was taken down, they told us we couldn't plant there for another 3 years.) Thanks for any guidance you offer.
Douglas Conley, Edsel & Eleanor Ford House August 01, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Hi Mr. Q, There is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to replant in that location. I recommend a soil test through Michigan State Extension (they have offices in most counties.) Follow the link for the location nearest you: http://www.msue.msu.edu/portal/default.cfm?pageset_id=25744&page_id=25770&msue_portal_id=25643 You would not replant for three years if a soil born organism, such as fungi, is present in the soil. But, if an insect infestation is the cause, there is no reason why you couldn’t replant in that same area. I also want to note that you should not replant an ash tree at this time. Planting an oak or maple would be a better option.
Mr.Q August 02, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Thanks for the quick response. They said our Ash tree did have a fungus, so no planting there (about 50 feet from the pine tree) for another year (we'll make it a Maple). Good to know about the pine tree. I am thinking of using the chips as mulch for my cold-weather vegetable garden. Thanks also for the link. I'll follow up on that before we chip the tree.

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