By Forrest Stone
Herald Staff Writer
The Colorado State Forest Service encourages homeowners to consider supplemental watering to keep their trees healthy during persistent drought conditions.
In Southwest Colorado, drought has parched the soil and stressed irrigated lawns and larger landscape trees. The region is in an “exceptional drought,” the worst category of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
“Adequately watering your trees is the best way to ensure optimum growth and vigor during the summer months,” said Donna Davis, Colorado State Forest Service community forestry program specialist, in a news release. “Dry trees become susceptible to root and branch die-back and subsequent insect and disease problems.”
The Forest Service offers these tips to help residents keep their trees healthy during this summer’s drought:
Use mulch: Mulch is an inexpensive solution to retain soil moisture and save water. Apply 4 inches of organic mulch to bare soil around trees, 2 to 3 feet from the base of the trunk. Remove grass from the area around the tree’s base before doing so, if necessary, and make sure mulch is far enough away from the trunk.Water a wide area: Root systems of trees grow outward, rather than downward, underneath the ground and spread two to three times wider than the tree’s height, with most absorbing roots within a foot from the top of the soil. With this in mind, apply enough water to soak the entire area of soil underneath the span of the tree’s branches.Water slowly: Use an 8-inch-deep root fork to perforate the soil before watering the base of the tree and water soil on a low setting or use a soft-spray wand to apply water gradually to the area.Keep yards green: Trees planted in irrigated lawns generally do not require additional water if areas around trees receive adequate moisture. A dry, yellow yard means roots of trees are also dry.Focus on smaller and non-irrigated trees: Trees that do not receive water from sprinkler systems or irrigation require additional water. Every week, apply 10 gallons of water for each inch of tree trunk’s diameter. Water small and newly-planted trees more frequently because they have less extensive root systems.For more information, visit csfs.colostate.edu.