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Handling Trees in Heat in Rochester

How To Help Your Trees Handle Heat Waves & Heat Stress In Rochester

Are you noticing that your trees are wilting, yellowing, and dropping leaves during a heat wave? If so, the answers to your questions about how to prevent stress in these trees can be found below. We cover topics like what steps you can take to help better protect them from heat waves and aid them in their recovery process.

Faqs About Heat Waves And Trees

How Do Trees Get Hot?

Even though the temperatures of trees are normally synonymous with those in their surrounding environment, during a heatwave they can be heated past these levels due to several factors.

  • The sun illuminated the environment around the tree, its rays bouncing off of nearby surfaces.
  • Radiating heat from the surrounding surfaces and structures,
  • Hot air currents like a breeze or the process of convection (warm air naturally rising),
  • Unprotected soil in direct sunlight can reach an astonishing 140°F, releasing waves of heat into the atmosphere.

In Rochester, what temperature is too hot for trees to tolerate?

For optimal growth, most of our trees prefer temperatures between 70 to 85°F. As the thermometer crosses 94°F and keeps rising, photosynthesis declines as well as their energy reserves. Once it reaches 115°F or higher in our region, shuddering trees succumb to heat exhaustion just like we humans would without treatment – organs start malfunctioning before leading to irreversible damage or death. It is not a surprise that when the temperature outside increases so does inside the tree since they have similar internal and external temperatures.

What Happens When Trees Become Overheated?

Depending on the circumstances, extreme heat can be damaging to older, younger and unhealthy trees that are planted in shallow soil such as between a sidewalk or street. Any kind of tree may also demonstrate signs of heat stress.

Common symptoms include:

  • Debilitating foliage
  • The wilting branches and stems droop languidly in the air.
  • interior leaves or needles turning yellow
  • No fresh foliage sprouting, resulting in a meager and scrawny tree canopy.
  • rust-colored spots or bumps on leaves
  • scorching around leaf edges
  • dead leaves
  • leaves falling off
  • Sap oozing from lesions on the trunk is common, particularly on the south/south-west side of trees that have been exposed to direct heat and sun. This causes them to burn their bark, leading to these unsightly lesions.

In hot weather, can trees cool themselves to beat the heat?

Trees have a unique way of cooling themselves in hot weather, much like how we rely on sweat to keep us cool. Through transpiration, water evaporates from small openings in trees’ leaves, stems and flowers – an amazing process that requires the tree to be well-hydrated via their roots. When experiencing high temperatures, trees will perspire more and require greater amounts of hydration with higher energy expenditure until they eventually reach their limit.

With temperatures climbing, how can we protect our trees and prevent damage caused by a heat wave?

To protect trees from the dangers of heat stress, it’s important to plan ahead by taking preventative measures. However, there are also several swift actions you can take during a heat event that may help reduce damage.

Provide Water

It’s clear that providing your trees with water will assist them in battling the heat by supplying them with enough moisture to enable transpiration.

However, the key to success lies in being able to properly water your plants:

  • deeply (allowing for the moisture to penetrate 12 inches underground and reach the tree roots).
  • slowly – Rather than running off, water permeates through the soil.,
  • regularly (so the soil stays moist, promoting healthy root growth), and
  • throughout the entire root zone (As a result, each area of the tree is adequately supplied with water.).

In hot weather, lawn irrigation systems or sprinklers alone may not be enough to protect your trees. To give them full hydration and relief from the heatwave, use a hose with just a trickle of water on it. Make sure you’re watering all sections beneath the tree’s canopy by moving the hose around every few hours. That way, your trees will remain cool and refreshed!

During scorching summer days, spraying a fine mist of water can be an effective way to keep trees (and people!) cool. As the droplets evaporate almost instantaneously, it helps lower the temperature of whatever they touch and also reduces the ambient air temperature.

Spreading Mulch

To give your tree the best environment possible, surround it with an organic mulch layer of 2 to 4 inches. Not only will this protect its roots and help retain moisture in the soil, but it can also:

  • Mulching not only keeps the soil hydrated, but it also reduces its temperature, hinders weed growth for moisture conservation and decreases the heat load of nearby areas.

Enhance your trees’ health and nutrition by utilizing organic mulch as a protective layer, like wood chips, bark chips, grass clippings or straw. Place it around the dripline (the edge of the tree canopy) but make sure to keep it from going too near the trunk to prevent fungal issues.

Create Shade

When it comes to planting near a tree, especially one that is still young, we generally advise against introducing any plants that could steal moisture from the soil. However, companion planting can bring certain advantages! Deciduous shrubs and large-leaved plants placed nearby offer partial shade which helps cool the ground around smaller trees without blocking out too much sunlight – an essential component in photosynthesis. For best results select drought tolerant species as this will help keep water stress levels low for your beloved tree.

Small trees can benefit immensely from shade-providing, landscape structures such as pergolas, trellises, arbors and sails. Not only do they help reduce soil temperatures around fragile trees to prevent their demise but also add an aesthetically pleasing flair to the surrounding environment. Furthermore, vigorous climbing plants like vines planted on or over any of these structures will offer even greater protection against excessive heat while producing a stunning feature in the process!

Whenever possible, stay away from pruning trees that are providing shade to those already struggling with the heat. When they lose their protective cover and become exposed to direct sunlight all of a sudden, it might be too much for them, resulting in an immediate death.

Minimize Pruning

Don’t hesitate to trim dead, diseased, or damaged branches from your tree during a heatwave – although it is understandable that you may not want to work in the sweltering sun! However, if possible and safe to do so, wait until temperatures cool down before removing any faulty limbs that are not posing an immediate threat.

On the other hand, it is advised that pruning of living branches takes place in moderate temperature. Every cut made on a tree is an open wound which exhausts its energy and causes further stress to the plant. When leaves are trimmed off, it decreases the available energy for healing wounds (making them harder to close) and reduces transpiration process resulting in excessive heat within its environment.

Avoid Nitrogen Fertilizers

Trees need a boost of nutrients to thrive, making spring and fall the ideal times for fertilizing. However, if temperatures are mild enough and soil conditions favorable, they may benefit from an organic fertilizer or compost tea during summer as well.

During dry or scorching weather, don’t use any high nitrogen fertilizer on trees. High nitrogen stimulates rapid stem and leaf growth–which is the last thing a struggling tree needs to work on during this time! Instead, wait until spring when the tree has recuperated and sprouted its full set of leaves before using fertilizers again.

If you over-fertilize during a hot spell, the salt content of your soil will soar and make it more difficult for tree roots to gain water. To avoid this issue, limit how much fertilizer is applied on your lawn or switch to slow-release organic soil amendment. Additionally, wait until temperatures cool down before applying fertilizers in garden beds.

Don’t Disturb the Roots

Summertime in Rochester is the perfect opportunity to spruce up your home and landscape, however it’s important to be mindful when doing so. During extreme heat waves not only are trees at risk of damage from construction projects that break branches and trunks but also roots which can cause serious harm. To ensure everyone’s safety (and for your own good!) wait until temperatures cool off before beginning any major renovations or landscaping work.

When a tree is deprived of strong and healthy roots to absorb the necessary water, it begins to deteriorate rapidly.

When reworking a previously planned project isn’t feasible, it’s best to create a tree protection plan ahead of time. This will help safeguard your precious trees and their root zones before the building process begins. After all, why replace expensive mature landscape trees come springtime when you can prevent harm in the first place?

More Questions About Heat and Trees?

Let us aid the trees of Monroe County and Rochester area! If you are concerned about heat waves affecting your trees, call our team at (585) 326-8188 and we’ll inspect them to see if they’re suffering from stress. We understand how important these trees are to the beauty of this region, so rest assured that we will do everything in our power to help bring them back to health!

Also check out our blog and our homepage for more info!


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