Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
August, 2010
Regional Report

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My preferred method of watering trees is the "frog-eye" sprinkler placed at the dripline.

Keep Your Trees Healthy and Happy

Consider the trees in your landscape. How is their health and beauty these days? Are they suffering from several years of drought stress and summer's heat? How about any hidden stresses that are inflicted by you, their caretaker?

One of the biggest killers of trees in Colorado landscapes is a man-made disease coined "lawnmoweritis." It begins with careless mowing practices as the lawn mower whips around tree trunks and nicks off pieces of bark. Additionally, weed trimmers with the strong nylon string will scar the bark and cause injury to the trunk. These kinds of injury will predispose the tree to diseases and insect invasion.

Homemade Tree Guards

You can prevent the scraping of your tree trunks by placing inexpensive plastic drainpipe collars around the base of vulnerable trees. Buy 10-foot lengths of 4-inch-diameter plastic drainpipe. Cut the pipe in 1-foot sections and slit each section so you can easily slip it around the tree base. These homemade guards will protect the tree trunks from "lawnmoweritis," and the teeth of gnawing rodents, including rabbits and field mice.

Another one of my favorite ways to reduce the scraping of tree trunks with the lawn mower and weed trimmers is to recycle old automobile tires. You can make two tree guards from one old tire. To make a tire trunk protector you'll need to poke a heavy duty sharp knife through the middle of the tire tread. Start cutting the tire in half, cutting away from you. Once the tire is cut, turn each tire half inside out. Carefully slit the tire open on one side of each tire half so you can easily separate the tire for placement around the tree trunk. 

If you desire, fill the tire guard with shredded cedar mulch, but don't place mulch up to the tree's trunk. Keep the 2 inches closest to the tree trunk bare so pests and critters won't have a place to hide, nest, and chew on the bark.

Water Trees Deeply
During the heat of summer it is important to water trees deeply to maintain vigor and reduce stress. Watering the lawn with an automatic sprinkler system every few days is not adequate for deep watering of trees. Instead, place a "frog-eye" or twin-eye sprinkler at the dripline of the tree (the outermost branch area). Water to apply one-half to one inch of water so it soaks down four inches or more. It is my preferred way of deep watering the active root system and maintaining tree health. When temperatures are in the nines or above for extended periods, plan on watering your trees every two weeks. What you do now to keep your trees healthy will preserve their legacy.

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