Harsh Effects of a Dry Fall

hemlock pine with winter burn

hemlock pine with winter burn

It’s been a dry Fall in the western suburbs, so here are some things you should be aware of:

Other than that 3 inch rainfall we received about four weeks ago, it’s been pretty dry since June. Much of that rain quickly ran off the ground and into the sewers as the ground was so dry the rain simply sheeted away.  Hopefully we will soon get into a Fall weather pattern that will bring much needed moisture to the trees and shrubs prior to Winter. But what if it stays relatively dry?

If your conifers, (pine or evergreen trees and shrubs) go into the Winter without sufficient moisture stored inside them they might suffer severe needle browning either during the Winter or early next Spring. This situation, called ‘Winter Burn‘, could cause certain sections of the tree, or the entire tree, to suffer severe browning. If the tree or shrub is really low on moisture a severely cold, windy Winter could even kill it.

White Pine, Spruce, Scotch and Austrian Pine, Hemlocks, Mugho Pine and Arborvitae are just a few examples of conifers that should be watered.

Don’t worry too much about the really large older trees as they are too big to efficiently water. Also, older trees have a more expansive and dense root system allowing more water storage capacity. Do pay particular attention to your younger trees however. Younger trees and shrubs, especially those planted within the last 5 years or so, should be given special watering attention as their root systems will not be as fully developed.
Conifers need to have plenty of stored water in their roots and needles because they do not go completely dormant in the Winter like deciduous (leafy) trees and shrubs do. If they go into the Winter without sufficient moisture the plant suffers.

euonymous with winter burn

euonymus with winter burn

In addition, shrubs that retain their leaves all Winter long such as Boxwoods, Euonymus, Azalea’s and Rhododendron should also be thoroughly watered.

Your neighbors might think you are a little crazy if they see your sprinklers running in November but if they ask, share this knowledge with them. You will be doing them a favor. For the record, watering can be done right up until December as trees and shrubs continue absorbing water and nutrients until the ground freezes.

If you have an underground automatic watering system that is due to be winterized find out when winterization is due to happen. Water everything thoroughly just prior to the system being shut down for the Winter. If it has already been shut down, or will be soon, pull out the old fashioned hose and sprinkler.

For tips on proper watering here is a direct link to our website covering that topic.