Proper summer tree care can be a life and death issue for certain trees so, it’s important to know something about your trees’ needs.
To Prune or Not to Prune
Regular pruning is not always necessary every year. Pruning can cause stress to a tree when pruning during hotter temperatures, or by pruning too much off a tree. Trees grow and produce leaves to manufacture sugars for fuel, and transevaporate water that keep them cool. Removing too many fuel producing leaves off a tree during the summer could cause it stress.
Too often pruning is done for the wrong reasons. If you prune a large tree to keep it small, perhaps you planted the wrong tree. Or it could be that you are over-watering and over-fertilizing, causing the tree to grow too big too fast.
Pruning during the summer deprives the tree of leaf area that it uses for shade as well as food production. Many trees have been thinned and pruned to the point that they provide no shade-even to themselves. Excessive pruning such as that exposes the tree’s bark to intense sun, and can be harmful to the tree. The tree is likely to get sunscald on the bark, especially on thinner bark trees or younger trees.This excessive heating of bark can lead to a condition which can cause limb death or total tree death.
Try to reduce summer pruning to the removal of only dead or broken branches, especially if they are over hanging a structure or walkway.
Temperature – Hot Enough for You?
Heat is also a summer issue for trees. Decomposed granite used as mulch under or around trees absorbs and then reflects the heat and sun. This makes the radiant heat even more intense. Block walls, glass, structures, and water surfaces all reflect and/or absorb heat, and can affect nearby trees.
How About a Little Water? I’m Parched!
The warmer months are an important time to provide water to the tree roots. Insure that your trees have enough moisture stored in their leaves, branches, trunks, and roots to sustain them during the summer. This is when they are growing and expanding, and transpiration is occurring. Otherwise, trees can be thrown into stress which could compromise the health of the tree . In order for trees to have enough water, don’t wait until the tree is dying to water it. Infrequent but deep watering of the entire root system out to the dripline of the branches will benefit the tree the most.
During the summer, the trees may need to be watered every seven days or so. For smaller, newly planted trees a drip system with one or two emitters at the edge of the rootball would provide adequate irrigation. Turn the system on for about thirty minutes every two or three days. Watering needs should be reevaluated after the tree has been in the ground for a few months.
Another important consideration is how trees are staked and tied. It is not always necessary to stake and tie newly planted trees. If it is necessary (to keep the tree from falling over), do so with the idea that stakes and ties should be removed as soon as possible. Usually, the ties can be removed after one full growing season.
Keep your tree as vigorous as possible with good cultural practices. This can prolong the life of your tree, and allow you to bask in its shade and beauty all summer long.