City of Red Deer urban forester Susan Katzell inspects an American Elm tree in a small green space in Johnstone Park on Jarvis Avenue on Thursday.

Dry winter and spring can be tough on trees

Despite the moisture that July storms have been routinely bringing almost each day, some trees could be in need of extra watering because of drought conditions, says the City of Red Deer’s forester. As Susan Katzell puts it, trees in Red Deer “went to bed fairly dry and woke up dry.” Drought is tough on trees.

Despite the moisture that July storms have been routinely bringing almost each day, some trees could be in need of extra watering because of drought conditions, says the City of Red Deer’s forester.

As Susan Katzell puts it, trees in Red Deer “went to bed fairly dry and woke up dry.” Drought is tough on trees.

A dry fall and winter, followed by a dry spring will have been harder on young trees, which do not have an established root system yet, she said.

Surface root trees in the city such as poplar and spruce are okay now that there’s been rain but the deep-rooted ones could be suffering.

At the same time, younger spruce trees can suffer from dry conditions because they haven’t yet got established roots systems.

Katzell said that in construction areas she has noticed that the ground is dry a foot below the surface so deep-rooted trees could use supplemental watering.

“We were dry until probably the end of June.” Trees such as American elm and green ash, which are deeper rooted trees, are suffering a bit more.

During drought conditions trees should be watered deeply, she said. “Put the hose on them and soak the area around mature trees. Don’t just water around the trunk because the root mass is further out around the tree. But don’t over water new trees because the roots need air too.”

Insects haven’t been any more of an issue this year than usual, Katzell said.

“For tree insects, 99.9 per cent of insects do little damage to your trees. If you do suspect you do have an insect on your tree, it’s good to identify it properly, and save your money … they don’t do too much damage. They’ll eat a few leaves and then they turn into a butterfly or something like that,” said Katzell who much prefers to call bugs insects rather than pests.

Drought is something to be more concerned about, she said. The recent rains have “staved off the hounds for the moment” from drought but a few days of soaking rain would really help.

The City of Red Deer has almost 30,000 trees inventoried that have been formally planted in areas like boulevards and parks. There is a good mix in the city of planted trees as well as those in the river valley and other the forested areas, Katzell said.

Trees are one of the city’s biggest environmental assets as they help to reduce greenhouse gases and they also have a cooling affect, she said.

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

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