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City asks help watering trees

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The lack of rain for weeks and recent high temperatures are putting stress on the City of River Falls's street trees, according to Tony Steiner, city planner and city forester.

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These trees are a valuable resource to the community, Steiner said, and the City of River Falls is asking for help watering them, especially newly-planted trees in and along city right-of-ways.

Threes are usually fairly drought-resistant, according to Steiner. Their root systems spread wide and infiltrate the topsoil to varying depths, depending on the soil and the species. It takes several years of continuous drought conditions to cause serious or permanent damage to a healthy tree.

Trees that are most at risk are those that have been planted in the last couple of years. Newly planted trees suffer “transplant shock” the process of removing a tree from a nursery bed causes a loss of roots and it takes several years for the tree to replace them. 

During this period, a drought can lead to top dieback--a condition in which a tree begins to die from the tips of leaves and branches and working its way inward--as the tree tries to balance out water loss through the leaves via photosynthesis and transpiration with uptake from a limited root system.

A prolonged or severe drought can also lead to problems as the tree become more susceptible to insect pests which can cause trees' leaves to fall off or in some cases kill the tree.

According to Steiner, newly-planted trees need a good soaking once a week. The soil in the root zone needs to be thoroughly soaked.

The soil type and how fast the water will soak in and move through the soil will determine how much water is needed, but a good method is to turn a hose on low, place the nozzle at the base of the tree and let it run for several hours, according to Steiner. Trees will probably still lose some leaves and maybe even some branches but this will prevent the worst of the damage.

For more information, contact Steiner at 715-426-3424 or tsteiner@rfcity.org

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