Fall Colors May Not Be Vivid This Year

We took this photo the other day. We’d say drought conditions currently exist.  And because of that, colors may not be as brilliant this fall.

Our trees are under a lot of stress. Back in June, we had the driest 22 day period in record keeping history for DuPage County. July was under average for precipitation and between August 1st and today, we’ve only had 2.4 inches of rain.

We should all do what we can to water our lawns now so that when the rains do come, the ground is more able to absorb and accept it. If the ground is rock hard, most of the rain that falls will ‘sheet off’ to lower areas which might make trees go into the Winter too dry. Be sure to water root systems up until ground freeze should it stay unusually dry.  Click here to review the proper way to water your trees and shrubs.

Trees whose roots extend under dry lawn are really suffering right now. Shrubs and small trees, however, that are completely mulched in to their drip lines are under less stress as the mulch will help to retain soil moisture and deflect the sun. The exception is trees that were planted in the last 2 years. Pay particular attention to these trees even if they are mulched.

We have been getting several calls about tree leaves shriveling, drying out and dropping early. Some trees just look thin and sick. Watering now will begin to help. In addition, trees need water to display their best Fall colors.

Over 80% of our clients are scheduled for Fall High Pressure Root Fertilization  which is the most important thing you can do for your trees. We strongly recommend that you consider it!

We hope you take a moment to absorb the Fall beauty around us, even if colors may seem muted this year.

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.

Last Year’s Drought has Lasting Effect

We were delighted to have been on the front page of the Chicago Tribune in their story covering the effects of the 2012 drought on our trees and shrubs. Tree Green’s 40 year Certified Arborist and President, Craig Casino, was quoted along with experts from the Morton Arboretum as well as the Illinois Cooperative Forestry Extension Service.

This article was well written and worth reading. The only thing the article did not cover was an explanation as to what homeowners should do now to protect trees that have been damaged over the past 4 years.

When one considers that 2009, 2010 and 2011 were excessively wet, followed by the drought of 2012, it is important to note that both situations are highly damaging to root systems.  As State of Illinois forestry expert Jay Hayek states at the end of the story, “trees will be struggling to recover for the next 5-7 years and may die during that time frame if their root systems cannot recover in time”.

So how can you help your trees to recover? 

Keep your trees watered going into the winter and during summer dry spells, and make sure they have the proper nutrients. This is especially true for any individual trees that are of particular importance on your property.
Tree Green performs pressurized root fertilization. Fall is actually the best time of year to feed your trees!