JoAnne Skelly: Advice for tree owners

JoAnne Skelly

JoAnne Skelly

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As a tree hugger, literally as well as figuratively, I’m loath to admit thoughts of cutting down a 40-plus year-old poplar or two have wandered through my brain. This goes along the lines of “How many leaves might I not have to rake if there was one less poplar? Two?”
This comes on the heals of raking 10 three-feet by four-feet by 18-inch cartloads of leaves this past week.
Some of my regular readers may remember me writing, what seems to be endlessly, about raking leaves in the fall. You may have thought I was done! But no, there are still more leaves to clean up even after the latest 10 cartloads. And so, now you may understand why I find myself wondering if removing a couple of trees might reduce the workload. Or, would the reduction actually be negligible?
Actually, the point is moot, since I doubt I could kill a healthy, large shade tree that I have watched grow through the 33 plus years we have lived here. Not only have I watched these wondrous creatures, I have nurtured them. They are part of me. We have appreciated their shade and wind mitigation, even though the cleaning up chores seem never-ending with trees this big. How could I cut one down?
Which brings me to the point of the story. It’s time to water our trees. I recently heard it had been at least 45 days since our last precipitation event. If we want our trees to thrive next summer, particularly recently planted ones and evergreens, they need water at least once a month through the winter. The recent “heat wave” and drought spell makes providing water essential now. We need to soak the soil from the trunk out to the dripline (farthest tips of the outermost branches) to a depth of 12 to 15 inches. To do this, perhaps you turn on your outside water again to your drip and irrigation systems. Perhaps it means getting out all the hoses and hose-end sprinklers and dragging them tree to tree. This is tedious, especially since you will have to drain everything when you are through and re-winterize it all. Believe me I know how demanding this is because I have so many huge trees.
I’m sure many of you are tree lovers as I am and want your trees to flourish this year. Bite the hose, rather than the bullet, and irrigate your trees.
JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator Emerita at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Email


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