Not out of the woods yet

In this article from Golf Course Industry Magazine, Michael Bova, a project specialist for Davey Resource Group, tells readers how to take action and keep their trees alive and healthy during times of drought and extreme heat. 

Posted: July 7, 2015 

By Sarah Weingarten 

Faced with summer’s extreme heat and water restrictions, trees suffer more than ever. Understanding tree care and how it differs from turf care not only save’s course trees, but also saves superintendents from wondering what went wrong.

First, determine if the tree is worth saving. Michael Bova, a project specialist at the Davey Resource Group, Kent, Ohio, says to look at the canopy. If the canopy is 80 percent to 90 percent dead, then the tree will definitely not rebound. But, if drought and heat stress signs occur, the canopy is still green, and superintendents take action right away, then the tree will probably make it.

“If you can get the tree through the summer and there is good rainfall in the winter, it’ll probably survive,” Bova says. “If you improve your cultural practices, you’ll probably save it.”

Once survival is determined, the next step is to change cultural practices to undo heat and drought stress. Tchukki Andersen, an arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association, explains a combined watering system can have a negative effect on course trees.

“There are so many more grass roots than tree roots and watering the grass or the turf actually results in overwatering a tree because it can’t take it up as fast as grass can,” Andersen says. “You want to separate the irrigation systems into zones so you are watering the turf at a separate time and volume than when you would water the trees.”

The first thing superintendents should do is water properly, Bova says. “When watering you want to increase the duration and decrease delivery rate, so use a soaker hose,” he says. “Sprinklers deliver water too fast. You have to get water deeper and increase duration without creating runoff.”

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