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Tree care often demands patience for case-by-case study

In this article with Total Landscape Care, Rex Bastian, technical adviser for Davey Tree, tells readers why proper watering is so important for the health of trees. 

Posted: August 2, 2016

By David Rountree 

Because the drought in parts of California and the desert Southwest has been so severe in recent years, it’s easy to forget that prolonged periods of exceptionally dry conditions are affecting many areas of the country.

It’s in those dry areas, The Davey Tree Expert Co. says, that trees may be suffering more than you know – and more than your landscaping clients realize.

More than you know, that is, because unlike drought-affected lawns, which have turned a tell-tale brown, the damage trees are sustaining from the same lack of water could take a year or longer to show up. What’s more, it can take several forms.

Rex Bastian, a Chicago area technical adviser with Davey Tree, knows all too well the damage that too little water can cause, yet he is quick to point that “overwatering can result in just as many problems …” Ironically, says Bastian, the problems caused by overwatering of trees, such as fine root death, can easily appear to have been caused by drought. Leaf browning, too, is often seen as a sign of drought, but it can also be a sign of overwatering, the arborist said.

Whether in providing advice to clients or in training your own landscape crews in proper tree care, Bastian says, it’s important to remember that mature trees need plenty of water, but they need it slowly, and in soil that enables water, if applied slowly, to reach deep roots.

Water the area under the tree’s canopy slowly and thoroughly, Bastian says, though not the trunk itself.

Although landscape companies without certified arborists on staff need to know when to call in an expert technician, Bastian says landscape professionals can learn a lot about tree care that will help them help their clients.

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