Tree Body of Palos Park
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The recent drought has caused many stresses on our natural environment.  Our area has experienced its hottest and driest mid summer in some time.  Our early spring time luscious, bright green lawns and gardens have given way to a dry and sandy sierra like setting.  Fortunately even though our lawns have turned “crispy brown”, that doesn’t spell the end for our grass.  During severe drought conditions, most lawns will not die, they just remain in a dormant brown state.  In order for the grass roots to survive, they need less than an inch of rain in a 30 day period.  That inch of water won’t make the grass look green but roots will stay alive until the rain falls regularly again. 

Residents who routinely water their lawns during drought conditions risk the chance of losing their lawns to a grass root-eating pest known as the white grub.  The Masked Chafer beetle and the Japanese beetle will look for good soil moisture to lay their eggs during hot periods in July.  As the beetles’ eggs mature, they form into grubs.  Grubs will feed on moist well-maintained lawn roots.  Eliminating watering lawns during hot periods of the summer and allowing grass to go dormant will drive these pests out of your lawn area. 

Unfortunately, trees and shrubs are not as resistant to severe drought as lawns are.  Due to the lack of rain, the majority of trees and shrubs, both established and newly transplanted, are stressed.  Tree stress can often lead to the invasion of all types of pests and diseases which then can cause severe decline and death of any kind of tree and shrub.  Trees, unlike grass, take longer to establish and are harder to replace.  It is vitally important to your trees’ health and well being to take the following steps so your trees maintain a healthy vigor during severe drought conditions: 

1. Newly planted trees or young trees (1 to 3 years) need approximately 1 to 2 inches of water a week (which is equivalent to 10 to 20 gallons).

2. When watering newly planted or established trees, use a soaker hose or adjust your garden hose for a slow steady stream.

3. During hot and dry conditions, larger established trees need a minimum of 200 to 250 gallons of water every week.  A garden hose or a soaker hose should be placed under the drip line of an established tree at a slow steady stream. Good mulching practices will help the soil around the drip line area maintain moisture.  A 2 inch to 4 inch layer of mulch should be placed around the base of the tree.  It is important to remember not to pile the mulch directly on the trunk of the tree.