In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
June, 2006
Regional Report

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A simple frog-eye sprinkler is one of the most effective tools for watering trees.

For Your Tree's Health

Have you taken time this year to check the trees in your landscape for signs of stress or disease? Now that trees have fully leafed out and are growing, they are enduring one of the hottest spring seasons on record. Temperatures soaring to an unprecedented 102 degrees F will cause trees to wilt, and some may experience the onset of scorched leaves.

Watering
It's especially important to give your trees a good, deep drink during these prolonged periods of heat, without overwatering them. While some may choose to use a root-feeding probe to water trees, it is often not the most efficient way to get water to percolate deep to the root zone. My favorite method of watering trees is to attach a "frog-eye" or circle sprinkler to the hose and water at and beyond the dripline of your trees. (The dripline is the area of the tree where the outermost branches extend, or the area where rain drips off the outer branches of a tree after a storm.) This is the region where the most active root growth occurs and is also where the feeder roots are growing.

Allow the sprinkler to run 10 to 15 minutes in one spot to apply 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water over the area, then continue moving it around the tree in a circle to moisten the entire dripline region. It should soak down to a depth of 6 inches or more. During hot weather and extended periods without rain, trees need to be watered every two to three weeks to help ensure their survival.

Fertilizing
What about fertilizing trees in the summer? For trees growing in lawn areas, an adequate supply of nutrients is usually provided through lawn fertilizers. It is imperative not to use weed-and-feed combinations around the root zones of trees, as this can eventually build up herbicide levels that can be damaging to trees. If weeds are a problem near trees, it is best to hand pull or dig the offending weeds. It may not be the easy way, but it is the "cowboy way!"

Hold the Weed Killer
During a recent visit to a home landscape that had an ailing ash tree, I discovered that the tree was predisposed to herbicide injury. The tree had reportedly shriveled up its leaves several days after a lawn was installed. The culprit: phenoxy herbicide. The tree's roots and/or foliage had come in contact with the weed killer. The foliage can be affected when the phenoxy herbicide volatilizes and drifts through the air on a hot day.

The trees in your landscape represent a major investment that deserves your attention on a regular basis. Take time this summer to protect these assets, as they not only provide needed shade and a cooling effect, but they are a living legacy that can outlast your lifetime.


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