Much of the western United States has been plagued by years of drought now, with California being the hardest hit. Weather forecasters are predicting a major El Niño will be hitting this year and providing some relief to reservoirs and improving water storage levels, but heavy rain can cause even more problems after a drought. If you have trees in your yard, prepping them before the rain comes can help you to prevent severe damage to your trees as well as your home.
The Drought Effect Danger
Heavy rains may sound like the best way to rescue trees that have been suffering through the drought, but it can actually cause a great deal of damage to them. When trees go through prolonged periods of drought, their roots wither, becoming weaker and smaller, while the branches of the tree remain the same length they've always been. Unfortunately, this causes a lot of problems for the tree once the rain hits.
First of all, as the ground becomes saturated, the tree isn't able to absorb as much moisture because its roots are smaller. As the ground around the roots becomes wetter, it also gets looser, and the top-heaviness of the tree may send the tree toppling. But wait a moment before you go out and start trimming the tree. Pruning the branches back can put the tree at a higher risk of becoming infested with insect life, which can kill it outright during a drought. Instead, contact an expert.
Tree Removal Evaluation
The sad fact is, if a tree hasn't received much care during the dry years, it may need to be removed from the property. Your tree's roots may already be dying, or it could be infested by the aforementioned insects. Contact a tree removal company to evaluate the trees on your property. If any are dead or dying, they'll remove them and thereby protect any healthy trees from getting knocked down by dead ones during a storm. Removing sick or dead trees will also help to prevent one from crashing into your roof during a storm.
Rehydrating Your Trees' Roots
For any trees on your property that are still in good enough condition that they don't need to be removed, follow these steps to get them ready for the downpours.
Your tree's roots have probably shrunken, so water slowly, and not too deeply. Going beyond the healthy roots will just loosen the soil and risk damage to the tree. One good way to gauge how much water your tree is receiving is to place a metal can near your tree while the sprinklers or hose is turned on. Once the can fills with a few inches of water, turn the water off, and repeat the process again the next day so the roots have ample time to absorb the liquid. If the tree is young, wait a couple days instead, as smaller trees have smaller roots and generally need less water than large, older trees.
Repeat this process until the storms come, and your trees should be able to handle a moderate-to-heavy downpour.
Unfortunately, not every tree can survive the drought, even if you take good care of them. While it's sad to have some of your trees removed, it's better than risking the safety of your home and the well-being of other healthy trees.