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How to Save a Dying Tree from Lack of Water

Your trees may not get enough water during a drought, leading to potential tree death. Our certified arborist with Top Tier Trees, offering specialized tree trimming and pruning in Marietta, describes how to save a dying tree from lack of water in the paragraphs below.

Identifying the Signs of a Dying Tree

You can tell if a tree is dying or dead by identifying several key signs, including:

  • The tree is brown and brittle.
  • The leaves show scorching patterns.
  • The bark is peeling, cracked, or split.
  • The foliage is wilting.
  • The tree canopy (leafy top) has missing leaves or dead branches hanging from the trunk.
  • The canopy shows fall coloration of the leaves.

The difference between a tree that is dying and a tree that is already dead is in the results of a scratch test. If you take a knife and scrape some of the brown coating off some twigs and branches around the tree and there’s green underneath, your tree is still alive.

Even in bad shape, a living tree can recover with careful tending and maintenance. If you have signs of a dying tree with any of your trees, work quickly to help restore it to its former glory.

Different Needs Between Young and Mature Trees

One reason a tree is dying could be that young and mature trees have different needs. A young tree often needs more water as it establishes roots and acclimates to your yard. Once established (after one to two years), a mature tree rarely needs watering except in times of drought because the root system can have a larger spread than the canopy.

Young trees could require as much as 20 gallons of water per week. However, once established, you may only need to water a mature tree one to two times per month, and perhaps even less often in humid areas.

Risks of Dying or Dead Trees

Dying and dead trees are more susceptible to disease and pest infestation. Keep a close eye on trees that show signs of dying. For example, common diseases and pests in Georgia include Seiridium Canker, Hypoxylon Canker, Ambrosia Beetles, Pine Beetles, and invasive Japanese Beetles.

When you notice signs of a dying tree in your yard, call your certified arborist to inspect your trees for pests or diseases. Your arborist can recommend the removal of the infected tree if necessary to protect other healthy trees in your yard.

If your tree doesn’t show signs of pests or disease, your arborist can recommend a regular schedule of watering, fertilizing, and preventive treatments to protect your tree from becoming infected when it is most susceptible.

How to Rehydrate a Tree

You need to consider several factors when determining how to save a dying tree from lack of water. 

The things that matter most when a tree is dying include:

  • Tree species. The type of tree you have will affect how much water it needs to recover from the drought, and then how much water it will need in the future to maintain.
  • Maturity. Older trees need less water than young trees that haven’t established a large root system yet. Old trees can have massive root systems that spread out deep under the soil’s surface.
  • Soil type. Clay soils will stay moist longer than sandy soils, which drain water very quickly. Water trees in sandy soil more often.
  • Soil checks. Poke a knife, screwdriver, stake, or something else into the soil down to at least four inches to test for moisture in the soil.

Watering recommendations vary, but you typically want to use a slow drip method to hydrate the soil around your tree adequately. A drip hose is an excellent solution to manage your water flow.

You can calculate the amount of water you need by multiplying the tree’s diameter by five minutes of hose time set to a medium flow. If your tree is 18 inches in diameter (the distance straight through the trunk, calculated as the distance around the trunk divided by 3.14), you should water it for 90 minutes (18 x 5) on a medium flow every two to three weeks during a hot drought.

Caring for Healthy Trees Year-Round

Once your healthy trees recover from dehydration, work closely with your certified arborist to maintain a lush canopy, healthy bark, and beautiful foliage. Your trees will need regular watering, fertilization, pest and disease prevention, and pruning and trimming of dead branches. Your arborist will know more tips on how to care for trees.

Our Qualifications

We have two ISA-certified arborists on our staff and are members of the Georgia Arborist Association, the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), and are TrustDALE Certified.

We proudly support the TCIA Vision and Focus for tree care, including:

We are also proud members of the Georgia Arborist Association, where we:

  • Receive additional arborist training according to ISA standards.
  • Support partner organizations like the Women Arborists of the Southeast (WASE).
  • Organize and participate in public education.

Hire a Top Tier Trees Certified Arborist in Marietta to Help You Care for Your Trees

Now that you know how to save a dying tree from lack of water, you need a certified arborist to help you maintain your healthy trees. At Top Tier Trees, Founder and Owner David Hall leads our team with ISA certification and a goal of 100% customer satisfaction. Call us today for arboriculture service in Marietta, GA.

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    • My favorite tree service crew! I rank Top Tier high for their safety and professionalism. Did removal & stump grinding last year, and called them again for tree service this year. David shared vital info about my trees. Chaz and Erin have been great to work with. The tree svc crews work very well together on site; a pleasure to watch. I'd call them again

      -Frank Maina, GA
    • Wow, great customer service, promptly returned my calls and had Erin, a sales and customer service representative out within 2 hours. I was very happy with the quote so we wanted to get started right away. Their was an opening in their schedule and had a crew at my house all before noon on Friday. Very fast and efficient, i could not be more pleased.

      - Robin Chitwood, GA
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