How to Keep Your Garden Trees Healthy During a Drought

If your garden hasn’t seen any rainfall in a while and there are no rainy days being forecasted in the near future, then you need to turn your attention to your garden trees.

A lack of water means dry soil, which, in turn, causes tree roots to dry out and shrivel up. While some trees, such as the Queensland Bottle Tree, are known for being drought tolerant, extreme dry spells can lead to signs of dehydration and stress in any tree, making it important to know how to prevent this.


Water Slowly, Deeply, and Widely

If you suspect that your garden trees are succumbing to a drought, the very first thing that you should do is give them a good, long drink of water.

Use a garden hose for this and take your time. You need the water to saturate the soil deeply enough that it’s able to reach the longer roots of your trees. The older and more established the tree, the deeper its roots will be.

Water widely too, especially if your trees are mature. Their roots will stretch far and wide, sometimes extending out for several metres, and you want to ensure that the entire root zone is able to enjoy a good soak.


How often do you need to water garden trees during a drought?

It depends on the age of your tree – younger trees require more water than older trees. A mature tree could survive on an inch of water every three weeks, while a young tree ideally needs water every week, especially when it also has to deal with the hot sun.


Apply a Mulch

Mulches serve a number of different purposes:

  • They help to regulate soil temperature, protecting it from both extreme heat and cold
  • They help to retain moisture in the soil
  • As they break down, they provide nutrients to trees
  • They help to aerate the soil beneath, sending more oxygen to the roots of your trees
  • They suppress weeds, allowing trees to thrive without having to compete for resources

A mulch doesn’t have to be complicated – simply spread an organic material a few inches thick around the base of your tree.

Good mulch materials include:

  • Straw
  • Grass clippings
  • Well-rotted manure
  • Shredded bark
  • Mushroom compost

One thing to remember is to always keep a few inches of space between your mulch and the trunk of your trees. If the two come into contact, the extra moisture retained in your mulch could cause the trunks to start rotting.


Extra Care for Trees in Pots

If you are growing your garden trees in pots and they are still relatively small, moving them to a shadier location would really help.

Reducing exposure to the scorching sun will slow down how quickly moisture evaporates out of the tree, allowing it to stay hydrated for longer.

However, even in the shade, trees in pots will dry out much faster than those in the ground, so will need to be watered more often. Choose a pot that increases moisture retention, such as one made from wood or large GRC pots, as these will also increase humidity around the tree.

You may also want to give your potted trees an extra dose of fertiliser. Keeping them strong and healthy will enable them to better tolerate harsh dry spells, rather than leaving them stressed and susceptible to various pests and diseases.

If your garden trees are looking wilted and yellow, then this could mean that they are suffering from the drought conditions that you’ve been experiencing. Trees are precious and will stick around for generations when given the right care, so spend some time helping your trees when they’re dealing with seasonal extremes.


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