Tree Care During Drought Conditions.

Trees. We love them, and we need them.

They clean the air of pollution, Tui’s, Kekeru, Blackbirds, and a host of other birds, and insects make their homes in the branches of trees. Trees act as a natural protection from the harsh New Zealand sun but with that we have been getting lately, they also need our help to keep healthy!

Most trees don’t have tap roots that reach into nearby water supplies. They count on us to provide the water they need to grow and stay healthy.

A tree’s root system can grow up to four times wider than the breadth of its branches. There is no point in ‘freshening up the branches’ A tree needs water at its roots, all the way round.

Trees like regularity. Water consistently. It’s also important to water deeply. Trees need more than a few sips.

Most of a tree’s roots are shallow. About 90 percent of the roots go no deeper than about 25cm. Soil stakes or watering stakes can help, but nothing beats a deep water with the hose or multiple watering cans.

During a drought, many people let their lawns die. The grass usually comes back once it starts to rain again. That system doesn’t work with trees. Trees need continued care to do well when the weather’s hot and dry.

It’s easy to see if a tree is suffering during periods with little rain. The leaves may wilt or turn yellow. Evergreens trees may have needles that turn yellow or brown.

I can’t emphasise how important proper tree pruning is all year round, but especially if drought has caused disease or damage. Prune trees to keep them healthier. Cut off dead branches. Remove branches that look diseased or that have been damaged by pests. Disease and pests may spread if you don’t prune trees properly.

A tree may slowly get sicker if it stays in dry conditions too long. Drought often paves the way for sickness. As the tree gets weaker from a lack of water, it’s overall health gets worse. When that happens, the tree may not be able to fight off diseases or pests.

So, remember, as you lounge in the sun, on your holiday break this Summer, your trees still need a little attention from you!

Happy New Year everyone!