Drought Issues Continue Across Central Texas
The 2011 drought in the state of Texas was the worst in recent recorded history. Now the state has received some much needed rain, and thirsty trees and plants are soaking it up; however, the rain, along with the accompanying winds, has caused a lot of problems for landscapes in the Austin area.
With the sudden softening of the ground, many have been uprooted and blown down. Additionally, dry, brittle branches have cracked and been blown about in a dangerous manner. Trees that are well cared for during drought are less likely to experience these kinds of damages post-drought, that’s why it’s very important to take preventative measures to protect your trees.
How to protect you trees from this assault
It’s important to protect them during dry conditions because trees add value to your home and provide multiple benefits to the environment. They produce oxygen, keep the air humidified via transpiration of moisture and provide habitat for birds and insects; however, if they become severely damaged by extended periods without rain, they can present hazards. Falling limbs can cause severe damage to homes and property as well as presenting the potential for injury.
Drought damaged trees near utility wires cause high risk for fire, power surge and/or electrocution. If a drought damaged limb flies off and breaks a utility line, it can cause all kinds of problems and dangers. A dead, drought damaged tree falling on a utility line can threaten the safety of your home and those in the vicinity of the tree and power line. Of course, removal of fallen limbs and trees from power lines is costly and complicated, as well as dangerous, so the need for it should be avoided!
Older, More Established Branches May Suffer The Worst
Be sure to care for your mature trees in a regular, ongoing manner during Summer and at all times by watering, mulching around the tree to hold in moisture, and keeping dead limbs trimmed away. Avoid trimming living limbs during this time, as this will stress your tree. Also, do not over fertilize during drought, since your goal during times of stress is to help the tree survive successfully. Encouraging growth is not a good idea.
During a severe dry season, be sure to water deeply, at least once a week using a soaker hose or simply allowing water to trickle from your hose all day long. Note that if you use the trickle method, you must move your hose four times during the day to be sure that the ground all around the tree is completely saturated. Mentally divide the area around your tree into quadrants and shift the end of your hose from one quadrant to another every 4-6 hours.
Managing Tree Hazards Safely & With Loving Care
If your trees have been damaged by low moisture, you should examine them closely to determine whether or not you should call a professional tree service to help you care for them, save their lives, make them safe to be around or possibly even remove them. Here are some things to look for when evaluating the needs of your affected Texas trees.
* Listing to the side (especially if leaning toward a potential target)
* A forked trunk that displays multiple branches all the same size
* Splits and cracks in the trunk or at the base of limbs
* Mushrooms at the base or on the trunk of the tree
* Nearby trees that are dead or fallen
* Sudden and unseasonable leaf drop
* Fallen branches around the tree
* Dead and/or dangling branches
* Injured, damaged, broken roots
* Decay in old damaged spots
* Odd color or size of leaves
* Holes and cavities
* Insect infestation
* Rotting wood
* Wilting leaves
Source: International Society of Arboriculture
If you determine that you have trees that are at risk, hiring a professional arborist can open a world of options to you that you may not have thought of. From simple solutions, such as removing possible targets from harm’s way to more complex solutions involving precise and regular pruning, filling of cavities, bracing, tethering, planned fertilizing and so on, a professional arborist is sure to have access to the latest information and techniques in tree care. He or she will know the best way to treat your tree to save its life, as well as knowing when it is time to simply remove the tree. When you take good care of your trees, you increase their health life span as well as the attractiveness, value and safety of your home.