Adopt A Thirsty “Orphan Tree” During This Heat & Drought
BTB Reader Rebecca Dare brought this to our attention a few days ago â€“ around Burien, there are numerous “orphan” trees (and plants/bushes) that may be suffering from this extreme heat and drought.
These living things might be growing near unattended buildings, near sidewalks and other places where they may not get the water they need, especially during times of high heat.
So we’re putting out the call to all Readers to “adopt” one of these poor trees and bring them water.
Here’s Rebecca’s email to us:
I noticed a Forest Pansy Redbud (one of my favorite trees) dying near the Thai restaurant (the old IHOP) and started taking bottles of water to try to save it for the last few days. The rhodys around it are already toast so I’m not bothering with them.
I’d like to add that mulch can help hold in the water — just don’t put mulch all the way up to the trunk of a tree.
At this point — this week — I think just water would be a big help! And whenever & however a person could do it. (At this point I’ve just been watering the redbud once a day — approx. 4 gallons or so.
On the day we did the big walk around with Thomas Sieverts, some of us were pretty concerned (Kitty Milne among us) about the plants by the old City Hall. I’ve been meaning to take a look at them, but not sure how best to water — maybe I’ll look into it. At the SuBu raised beds at B/IAS was have access to water.
If you see another plant or tree suffering, it’d be wonderful if you’d adopt it until things get better.
UPDATE 8/3/09: Rebecca sent us these pics of herself and Bill Opfermann watering one of these trees:
We did some research, and here’s more information that might help you save one of these plants and keep Burien green:
- What a tree under â€œdrought stressâ€ looks like:
- Symptoms of drought injury to trees can be sudden or may take up to two years to be revealed. Drought injury symptoms on tree leaves include wilting, curling at the edges, and yellowing.
- Deciduous leaves may develop scorch, brown outside edges or browning between veins.
- Evergreen needles may turn yellow, red or purple. They may also turn brown at the tips of the needles and browning may progress through the needle towards the twig.
- In continued drought, leaves may be smaller than normal, drop prematurely or remain attached to the tree even though brown.
- Often times, drought stress may not kill a tree outright, but set it up for more serious secondary insect and disease infestations in following years.
- Where to water your tree:
- Deep watering to a depth of 12â€ inches below the soil surface is recommended.
- Saturate the soil around the tree within the â€œdriplineâ€ (the outer edges of the treeâ€™s branches) to disperse water down toward the roots.
- For evergreens, water 3â€™-5â€™ beyond the dripline on all sides of the tree.
- The objective is to water slowly, dispersing the flow of water to get the water deep down to the trees roots. Wateringfor short periods of time only encourages shallow rooting which can lead to more drought damage.
- Donâ€™t dig holes in the ground in an effort to water deeply. This dries out roots even more. A soil needle/deep root feeder attached to a hose is acceptable to insert into the ground if your soil is not too hard and compact.
- Overhead spraying of tree leaves is inefficient and should be avoided during drought conditions. Watering at ground level to avoid throwing water in the air is more efficient.
- Tree Watering: Amount of water needed and methods to use:
- During the drought, trees must be given top watering priority over your lawn. However, caring for trees requires different watering methods than your lawn.
- During water restrictions, irrigation systems designed to water turf do not sufficiently water your trees. During the drought, trees should be given a higher priority than lawns. Lawns can be replaced in a matter of months whereas a 20 year old tree will take 20 years to replace.
- How much water your tree should receive depends upon the tree size. A general rule of thumb is to use approximately 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter for each watering. Measure trunk diameter at knee height. General formula: Tree Diameter x 5 minutes = Total Watering Time.
- Example: When you hand water using a hose at medium pressure, it will take approximately 5 minutes to produce 10 gallons of water. If you have a 4â€ diameter tree, it should receive 40 gallons of water – multiply by 5 minutes to equal total watering time of 20 minutes.
- All size trees should be watered April through September according to the guidelines below. All trees should also receive adequate water during the winter months too â€“For more information on winter watering, see below.
- Water should be distributed evenly under the dripline of the tree.
- The best watering method depends upon whether you have a small (1-7â€ diameter), medium (8-15â€ diameter) or large sized (16â€+ diameter) tree.
- Small Trees (1-7â€ diameter) â€“3 times per month, April through September.
- Newly planted and smaller trees can get adequate water within the existing watering restrictions by hand watering with a soft spray hose attachment as a separate zone on your designated day.
So, if you decide to help out one of Burien’s (and your planet’s) fellow living things, please take some pics and email them to us along with info on where the tree/planet was located!