Drought Stress Alert

Trees and Shrubs

 

Rainfall in New Jersey has been half of normal or less for the month of July alone. Drought conditions for Trees & Shrubs are very stressful and can sometimes kill them outright.

Newly planted trees and shrubs are particularly vulnerable because their root systems aren’t fully developed. They have a harder time foraging for moisture. Depending on the species, site and planting practices, that might mean keeping two- to five-year-old plantings carefully watered during dry periods, hopefully preventing drought-caused leaf damage or loss in the first place.

But don’t give up on trees and shrubs that have shed their leaves. Go ahead and water them. It's better late than never. If they’re still alive, they’ll grow new leaves. And after two weeks of photosynthesizing they’ll have made up for the extra effort it took them to re-leaf. Any extra energy the leaves gather after that can be channeled into new growth or stored by the plants to help them get through winter.

 

Watering Tips for Trees and Shrubs

  • Remove competing vegetation (especially lawn) within at least 3 feet of the base of trees and shrubs. Mulch with 2 inches of shredded bark or similar material to reduce water loss from soil. Do not pile mulch against the trunk of the tree.
  • Focus your watering efforts on recently planted trees and shrubs, applying water slowly so that it soaks in deeply. Dig 12 to 18 inches into the soil nearby to see if water is penetrating deeply.
  • Reduce watering based on rainfall, but remember that all rain is not equal. A quick, heavy a rain falls so fast that it doesn’t have time to penetrate the soil, and much is lost as runoff. A slow, steady rain is much more effective at replenishing soil moisture. Dig 12 to 18 inches into the soil nearby to see if water is penetrating deeply.
  • Continue watering trees and shrubs through October to make sure they are in good shape going into winter.
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