Plant Health Care
Elevating health and happiness through the experience of horticulture
Brookline, Dover, Medfield, Newton, Sherborn, Waban, Wayland, Wellesley, Weston, and extended Metrowest Boston area.
Drought is Deadly
Welcome to our resource page on drought.....a serious topic that has lingering effects long after weather conditions seem to change. Believe it or not, we were still experiencing damage from the 2016 record setting dry summer, when the drought of 2018 reared its ugly head. Now in our 3rd major drought of the last 6 years, we must be especially diligent in our approach to maintaining healthy soils, which retain more moisture and ward off insects and disease. We encourage you to review this page for detailed information on what's happening and learn ways that you can help mitigate the negative effects on your valuable landscape.
What happened in 2016?
In a nutshell, our trees are starving to death.
2016 set the record for the driest summer in New England and our trees are suffering the effects.
Trees protect themselves from drought by slowing down the critical processes of transpiration and photosythesis. When prolonged, their systems can shut down, leading to death.
The signs are not immediately obvious, and the effects cannot be remedied by a couple of rainy days. It takes consistent and thorough attention to bring the trees back to a healthy state.
The 2022 drought is the most severe drought on record since the 1800s.
A normal, healthy tree can consume 400-1000 gallons of water per day. When "dehydrated", its resistance lowers, opening the door to a myriad of potential issues including:
Brittle and unstable interior wood
Shallow root systems
Reduced bud generation
Increased threat from disease & insects The 2016 gypsy moth invasion served as another weakening factor for many trees early in the season. Those that were most heavily attacked are in critical danger of decline. Gypsy moth was expected to reach epic proportions in 2017 - the likes of which had not been seen since 1981. A wet spring mitigated the damage but our urban forests are not out of danger. 2019 is predicted to see heavy defoliation due to the pest - which will only weaken trees further.
What can be Done
Regular, thorough soakings to reduce tree stress is the best treatment.
Light watering promotes shallow roots, which are easily damaged by drought, and eventually cannot support the weight of the tree.
Apply wetting agents which help water absorb into the ground by breaking the surface tension of the soil.
In extremely dry conditions you will often see water pool on the surface of the ground.
Utilize organic soil amendments and compost based products. These add organic matter to the soil, which provide valuable nutrients and require less water.
Attend to safety by removing large, dead limbs.
Establish a complete plant health care program, which includes treating for harmful insects and diseases.