Street Trees Suffer in Summer Weather

By BECKY GOODRICH

The heat is hard on all of us, but did you know it can KILL trees? The next time you seek shelter under a cool, leafy boulevard tree, Parks and Recreation wants you to remember that street trees need your help to survive summer’s soaring temperatures—and City ordinance requires property owners to care for adjacent street trees.

Well-maintained street trees increase property values, provide shade to make your home or business more comfortable, and filter air and water pollutants.   The cost of watering this valuable resource is just pennies a day, but boulevard trees pay immeasurable benefits all year long.  Your lawn may yellow a bit during these hot weeks of summer, but it will spring back to life when the weather cools.  Trees, on the other hand, will be permanently damaged by lack of water during hot weather.

The M

Photo by ©Carol Blodgett

Urban Forester Chris Boza offers these tree care tips:

  • Mature boulevard trees need deep watering once or twice a week to help ensure their continued survival.  Normal lawn sprinkling does not provide enough water to keep trees healthy during dry months. For established trees, run your sprinkler so that each time you water you are applying two inches of water. To measure watering depth, place several empty containers, like tin cans or plastic cups, in the radius of your lawn sprinkler. When the average depth in the cans is two inches, you have adequately watered your tree and encouraged strong root growth.
  • Saturate the soil around the tree within the “dripline” (the outer edges of the tree’s branches) to disperse water down toward the roots. Check for adequate moisture levels by sticking a screwdriver into the soil around a tree.  If the screwdriver pushes into the soil easily, at a depth of 6 to 8 inches, the tree is probably getting enough water. Soaker hoses provide a great, efficient way to water your trees and supplement the more shallow watering sprinkler systems provide.
  • For newly planted street trees, the Urban Forestry Division has installed “ooze tube” irrigation bags to ensure the young trees get the water they need to establish healthy root systems and survive summer heat.  The tubes slowly release 25 gallons of water over the course of several days. Adjacent property owners simply need to refill the ooze tube as it empties, about once a week.
  • Mulching will increase the moisture-holding capacity of your soil. An organic wood mulch, layered about 2 to 4 inches thick, and spread as wide as the drip line of the tree will hold the moisture longer, inhibit weed growth and help moderate soil temperatures. Pull the mulch away from the trunk of the trees at least 4 to 6 inches to deter fungal diseases.
  • Landlords, please remind tenants to water boulevard trees. The trees add value to your property and reduce your utility costs.
Backpack in a tree

Sunday Streets Missoula. Photo by ©Carol Blodgett

Remember, City ordinance requires residents to maintain the trees on the boulevard; Parks and Recreation will assist property owners as much as resources allow.  Please feel free to call the Urban Forestry Division at 552-6253 or email parksrec@ci.missoula.mt.us for more information. Visit our website, www.missoulaparks.org, for tree care tips and ordinances related to trees in the City right-of-way.

Any pruning, planting or removal of boulevard trees must be done by a licensed and insured ISA Certified Arborist, and approved by the Urban Forestry Division prior to the work.  Boza would also like to remind citizens that “topping,” or the indiscriminate cutting back of tree branches to stubs, is perhaps the most harmful tree pruning practice known and is never recommended by responsible arborists.