With such a strong history of hot summers, Texas residents are used to having to take special precautions during the warmest months of the year. In addition to staying cool, drinking plenty of water, and making sure your family does the same, you should make a conscious effort to care for your trees during the hot summer months. Just like people, trees need extra water during the summer, but the other precautions you should take are not necessarily as obvious.
Water Your Trees Enough
The most important part of caring for your trees during the summer months is making sure that they get enough water. There is unlikely to be enough natural rainfall in Austin to provide for your trees, especially recently planted ones or saplings. Remember that trees may lose hundreds of gallons worth of water on the hottest summer days. If you want to make sure your trees thrive throughout the summer, invest in a good irrigation system with the help of your landscaper or arborist. The ideal systems will minimize water evaporation and runoff so your trees get all of the water and none is wasted.
Soaker hoses are a good idea since they can help you get the tree wet enough for the water to reach the soil between 8 and 12 inches deep. You can also use a handheld hose and direct the water to the proper spot. Another option is to drill a hole within a five-gallon bucket so the water can drain out slowly, giving the tree time to absorb it.
Experts suggest that you water young trees about once each week and older ones monthly. Watering too often can cause its own problems and waste water. Just be sure to keep any local water usage regulations in mind when watering your trees. As important as caring for your trees is; it is more important that your area doesn’t develop a water shortage. That being said, if you have to choose between watering your trees and lawn; pick the trees as they take longer to grow.
Time The Watering Correctly
In addition to making sure you give your trees enough water to work with, you want to maximize the amount of time they have access to the water without sunlight. If you were to water your plants in the middle of the day during the hot summer, a large majority of the water would evaporate before it could enter the soil due to the harsh sunlight. You can avoid this by watering your trees early in the morning or in the evening after the sun has started to come down. Watering at one of these times maximizes the amount of time that the tree’s roots and the surrounding soil have to soak up the water before the sun makes it evaporate.
Cover With Mulch
Mulch is one of the most important tools to keep your trees healthy any time of the year, especially during the hot summers. Most arborists suggest applying mulch in a layer that is around two to three inches thick on top of the soil by the tree. Ideally, you want to be able to see the tree flare, the area where it widens when meeting the ground. Put the mulch right outside of this area or around six inches from the tree’s trunk.
Mulch serves two important purposes during the summer. It helps the soil retain the moisture by preventing evaporation and it reduces the overall temperature of the ground. Since hotter ground can be harder on the tree’s roots and simply absorb more water, both of these things are important.
Special Care For New Trees
If you have recently planted any new trees on your property, these will need special care during the hot summer months. Start by consulting with an arborist to select a tree that will do best in Houston weather. Trees that grow in field soil, for example, tend to dry out less quickly than those that grow in a soilless mix. While talking to your arborist, make sure that you know how much water your new tree will need, since it will need to be watered much more frequently than your older trees that have been on the property for years.
Because of the extra watering and attention needed, most experts suggest you try to plant your trees in spring as opposed to summer. If you forgot to do so or didn’t get organized in time, you will need to keep a close eye on the sapling.
As with any time of the year, you need to care for trees by pruning them during the summer months. This is essential for getting rid of diseased, damaged, or dead branches that can pose a safety risk. Pruning can also help keep certain infections in check or prevent them from spreading throughout the tree.
Be careful with pruning, however, as certain types of trees have a higher risk of disease if they are pruned during the summer or late spring. Honey locust can develop stem canker, oaks may develop oak blight, and fireblight may attack shrub cotoneasters, hawthorns, mountain ash, crabapples, and apples. Beetles can also pose a problem, so be careful with pruning.
Certain trees, however, do best when pruned during the early summer months. These include maples, butternuts, ironwood, blue beech, and birches.
Harvest Fruits And Nuts
Depending on the type of tree that you have on your property, part of the tree care for summer will involve harvesting its fruit and/or nuts. This is a delicious part of caring for trees and can prevent fruit from falling off and rotting, thereby attracting bugs or animals. Just some of the fruits and nuts that should be harvested at this time include apples, cherries, citruses, bananas, pears, almonds, pistachios, and chestnuts.
Check On Your Trees
During the summer months, it is particularly important to check on your trees regularly. This lets you know that they are indeed getting enough water and do not have any diseases or infestations. When checking on your trees, pay special attention to younger ones, recently transplanted greenery, and trees close to pavement. The last of these will be exposed to more heat while the other two are simply more vulnerable.