Two Tips For Safeguarding Your Tree Farm During A Drought

Posted on: 17 March 2015

Whether you have a large tree and shrub nursery, or just a simple tree lot as part of your landscaping business, you know that water is the most important element for keeping your trees alive. There are special sprinkler systems that provide slow drip hydration to your trees all day long, which can keep you from worrying about whether your trees are getting the water they need. However, when the hot days of summer come, you're going to have to up the ante to protect your investment.

1. Augment with additional water.

Slow drip systems allow water to flow slowly from a main hose to each tree individually. Slow, constant water delivery is best for trees, making this system ideal. It also saves water and labor, while making sure than no tree misses out on essential moisture. This is perfect for when the temperatures are consistent, but in intense heat, this water delivery system may not be enough. You can increase the flow, but the small hoses at the end can only move so much water at a time. You'll need some strategies in place to delivery additional water efficiently during very warm weather. 

First, have a separate sprinkler system installed that you can turn on during hotter days. The best sprinklers for trees have a large shooting distance, and sit two or three feet above the ground. Place these throughout the tree lot, and have them connected to your main water source. This way, you only need to turn them on when the weather is dry. These sprinklers move gallons of water in just a few minutes. They may be imprecise, but they can help to supplement your slow drip system.

Also, invest in a small water truck or tank. You can attach a hose to a water truck or a tank that mounts on the back of an ATV. This way, an employee can go tree to tree with ease, giving the roots a good soak in the morning to anticipate water loss during the heat of the day.

2. Properly Store Harvested Trees

Trees that are already harvested are in particular danger of drying out. If you store trees that are already packed, with the roots in a burlap ball and basket, they don't have the benefit of rooting deeper for ground moisture. Because of this, you need to devise a way to prevent evaporation from the root ball.

If you are planning on keeping the trees long term (this is common if you order trees in anticipation of a coming season), then you should:

  • store them in deep holes that are larger than the root ball, each with their own slow drip hose.
  • fill the remaining gaps in the holes with wood chips, which capture moisture and feed it to the roots in a controlled manner.
  • cover the tops of the root ball with wood chips, being careful not to allow wood chips to touch the trunk of the tree, which would cause decay. Covering the tops prevents moisture from the root ball from escaping into the dry summer air. 

If you are storing or readying harvested trees for transport, keep the root balls covered with a tarp during the hottest part of the day, and try to keep the trees as upright as possible. Also, drench each root ball with water at least once per day. Harvested trees should only be out of the ground for a short time. If you will have them for more than two or three days, store them in holes until they are ready to be moved. 

Protecting your trees from drought is simple, as long as you have the best water delivery and sprinkler systems in place. Trees have a better chance for survival if they are properly stored and covered. Talk to a sprinkler expert today about the moisture needs of your tree lot. 

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