Brown trees ‘under stress’ during hot temperatures, long-term damage

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Forestry experts say there are things you can do to help those trees out.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The extreme heat is having an impact on trees and plants in the Pacific Northwest, according to forestry experts.

Some trees are turning brown under the pressure of hot temperatures this summer. If you’re not under a water restriction, there are ways to help trees during this extreme weather.

KOIN 6 News is talking to experts on what people can do to make sure trees survive this summer. Jenn Cairo, Portland’s city forester & urban forestry manager, said that leaves on trees becoming brown or crispy or trees dropping their leaves is a sign of stress on that tree.

Cairo said watering trees is a great help during this weather and you can use something as simple as a bucket.

“The simplest one for most folks is just get a 5-gallon bucket, put some holes in the bottom, and you fill it three times, and you have got 15 gallons of water,” explained Cairo. “Place that right underneath the tree – somewhere between the trunk and the edge of the canopy. Do that each week.”

People can also put a soaker hose under trees to help them out, and there are other watering methods you can use as well, including specially designed reservoir bags that allow the water to seep out at a slower pace.

For evergreens, watch to see if their needles are turning brown or red because that means the plants are under stress as well.

“It’s important for people to realize that even though it’s OK to let their lawns go brown, grass will probably green up after the rains come back,” said Kristin Ramstad with the Oregon Department of Forestry. “When a tree dies because of drought, it will not come back the same.”

Ramstad added that the worst-case scenario is when a tree is in bare soil and bears the brunt of the afternoon sun.

Young trees will need water for the first two to three years they are planted – about 15 to 30 gallons a week, according to Cairo. Mature trees may not need as much help, but if they look like they are under strees, she suggests 15 or more gallons a week for mature trees as well.

Cairo advises that when you water those trees, you make sure the water isn’t running off the surface by scuffing up the ground with a garden trough, stick or shoes. This will help the water penetrate the soil.

She added that people might want to also consider putting down mulch or wood chips around the base of the tree to hold the moisture in.

Ramstad is also a fan of mulch to keep your trees watered. She suggests to help friends and neighbors out with watering, especially if they lack mobility during high temperatures.

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