22 June 2022
You have probably invested a lot in your landscaping and that includes your trees. It is important that you make sure that these trees are and stay healthy. Here are some things to be aware of.
Each year the tree should have at least four to six inches of new growth. Look at the branches that are out in the open and not shaded by the rest of the tree or other plants or structures around it. The new growth is greener than what was added the previous year. Sometimes there is a place that looks like compressed growth where it starts from year to year. If there is less than four inches of that new growth, your tree is probably under stress.
Then look at how the leaves are attached. Leaves are produced only on the new growth of the branch. If the new growth stops where the leaves are, with the rest of the branch bare, or if the leaves are forming on short spurs, this is also a sign of stress.
If these things occur, it does not necessarily mean your tree is dying. It does indicate stress but not what is causing it. Stress accumulates. So, the problems could be from some conditions that happened several years ago, like drought or extended periods of extreme cold. As we move into summer with unrelenting heat, it just adds to the damage.
If you are or have been in a dry spell, it is a good idea to water your trees. The idea is to get the water down to a depth of 12 inches every couple of weeks.
Too much rain can also affect your trees. Plants take in oxygen through the root system as well as the leaves. If the ground is over saturated, there are no air spaces for the oxygen. If it is Mother Nature providing the moisture, there is little you can do. However, if you are overwatering, this could be a problem.
One of the best ways to water trees is with a soaker hose. For small trees, circle the tree several times to even out the water distribution. For larger trees, hook both end of the soaker hose to a Y adapter. This will help equalize the pressure for a more uniform watering. If the adapter has a shut off valve this will help control the flow. The ideal is to get the soaker hose circled to the drip line of the tree limbs. What you want is a slow, steady and even watering so that the moisture does not run off the top of the soil but sinks deep to the roots.
The bottom line is that poor growth indicates the tree is under stress, not what the stress is. You can probably infer the problem from the environmental conditions of the year (and even the past couple). If you have concerns, contact an arborist for an evaluation. Be sure to get a qualified arborist and not just some company that lops off limbs. He or she can answer your questions and offer suggestions.