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How much does flooding affect your trees?

April 7, 2017

Wow. So we had QUITE the rain storm yesterday. For awhile I was thinking maybe I should give up landscaping and start building an arc. I couldn't find any giraffe's to put on the arc though, so I gave up. Luckily, we don't seem to be in any immediate fear of drowning. However, if your yard is like mine, you may have some low spots or paddling. Ok, I have a virtual lake in my backyard. Bring your kayak, come on over, I'll throw some burgers and dogs on the grill and we'll have a good time. Seriously though, my neighbor drove by yesterday and wanted to know if "Lake Manna" was open for the season.

We've only lived here 3 years and like many of you, there are many things to be tackled and one can only do so much at once.

 

Even if you don't have depressions or low spots in your yard, there is only so much water the ground can absorb and you may still have puddling and you may find your trees are in standing water. How harmful is this for them?

Truth be told, in late winter or early spring, flooding from rain or even melting snow is not uncommon. Your trees can handle a week or two of standing in water with no long term negative effects. Species do however have different tolerance levels. Typical trees you might see in floodplains are species like cottonwoods. Other trees such as pines and oaks are less tolerant and can have some damage after just a week of standing in water.

 

The good news is the temperatures are supposed to be nice this week. In the low 70's on Tuesday!!! (For those of you who don't know, I double as a meteorologist. Weather effects my business so if you miss the local news, give me a shout, I'll let you know what's going on.)

With these warm temperatures the water should recede quickly and trees will start to break bud and get their first flush of growth. I love this time of year. I find myself looking at the trees every day to see just how far along their bud growth is. If your trees have been flooded, some of them may delay bud break, but trees are very resilient. If you notice your ornamental trees having branches that die back you can prune this out. Other signs of damage from flood includes smaller than normal leaves, wilted leaves, or even chorionic tissue. Chlorosis is a technical term for yellow tissue. Everybody knows that's not good.

 

For the most part, all you can do is wait and see. If you have a particular tree that's very special to you and is in standing water, you can always get a bucket and something like a snow shovel and shovel the water out from around the trunk and roots. Be very careful though, the last thing you want to do is injure the trunk by accidentally scraping it with the shovel. Often times these trees that do produce stunted growth or chlorotic tissue will resume normal growth once the growing season gets farther along. If you suspect that so much flooding has compromised the structural integrity of the tree (sometimes you see trees fall over that are so overly saturated because the lack of stability in the ground has caused the stability to be compromised), or you still have concerns, you should contact a local arborist. Personally, I use Tree Tactics and have had them out to look at some of my more ornamental trees from time to time for various reasons. https://www.treetacticsllc.com/contact-us-1, Dan and Mike can tell you what kind of shape your tree really is. They're super knowledgable and I love to listen to them talk about trees.

To avoid this happening in the future, if you can, there are a few options you can take to correct the problem. Sometimes, simply re-routing your downspouts and changing the direction of the run-off can make a big impact. If you have low-lying areas, you can build that area up with soil so it doesn't get to your trees. Be careful not to add soil around the tree itself, you could smother it. If you have run-off from the road, again, soil can create a barrier.

 

If you're not sure what to do, you can always give us a jingle. Consultations are free.

 

Now, bring your life-vests because Lake Manna is deep!

 

 

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