Have you noticed that some trees can withstand really bad storms but occasionally, one gets taken out by heavy rain? This might leave you wondering how some trees hang on, while others don’t make it? Our team at Five Star Tree Services want to go over how excess soil moisture can impact your trees and what you can do to protect them.
Excess Soil Moisture
Oxygen in your soil gets replaced when there is an excess of water and it becomes oversaturated. Trees need to absorb oxygen from their roots in order to survive so, due to this imbalance, it puts major stress on the tree. When this happens, there are certain short-term and long-term impacts.
The roots are the main concern for the short-term impact. As you are aware, the roots of the tree are what hold it down in the ground; they act as an anchor. This becomes extremely helpful when there is bad weather, such as strong wind, the tree stays secured to the ground and upright. However, if the soil around the tree roots becomes saturated and soupy, the roots don’t have anything solid to hang on to, making them lose their strength and grip, allowing them to start slipping through the soil. Which is a major contributor to trees failing during strong winds following heavy rain.
If a tree is in continuously water saturated soil for extended periods of time, there are a few things that can happen that impact your tree and its health. One thing that can happen is the soil can begin to buckle on a particular side of a tree. This will make the tree start to lean to that one side, indicating that the soil is not stable under the roots, and they are shifting from the lack of stability. When roots are submerged in water for too long, this will cause root decay and death. The tree canopy can actually start to show signs of this when you see thinning leaves, or the limbs are dead or dying. It’s possible to even see mushrooms growing at the base of the tree, which is also an indicator of decay, since mushrooms exclusively feed on dead plants.
Signs A Tree Might Fall
If you have a healthy tree, there might not be a lot of obvious visible signs it’s in trouble from oversaturated soil. It will take time for symptoms to show but once you have a tree in distress from oxygen deprivation, the signs will be as follows: (these can show in varying degrees depending on the extent of the water damage)
-Yellowing, wilted, or brown leaves
-Cracked or heaving soil
-Reduced leaf size
-Root rot (they will be soft, mushy, or black)
-Sections of the canopy are dying
-Cavities, discolouration, or fungus on the trunk
Ways To Improve Waterlogged Soil
If you notice you have particular spots in your yard that gather a lot of moisture on the ground around your trees, you might be wanting to fix this to help your trees. Luckily, there are things you can do to rectify the issue.
Adding Organic Material
Heavy Clay Soils
If you need to enrich the soil, add organic matter. This will allow the heavy clay soils better drainage from improved structure and softening it, so it isn’t so hard and compact.
Adding organic matter to sandy soil will help it hold together better. It also helps to retain nutrients.
Using 2 inches of compost for every foot of depth in the soil should do the trick in both soil situations.
Another thing you can do is implement proper drainage. Your yard should be designed in a way that the grading moves water away from your house and trees. Usually, if you have sandy soil this will naturally drain fast. Silt based soils will also drain fairly well. Whereas clay-based soils hold a lot of water. But no matter what your soil type is if it has been compacted by construction, there will be negative impacts on the drainage. To combat drainage issues, you can add French drains, vertical mulching, drainage tiles, rain gardens, or bioswales to help lead water away from where it is pooling by our trees.
How Five Star Tree Services Can Help
One more way to combat this is to get plants and trees that thrive in moist soil conditions. If you are having problems with excess soil moisture our team at Five Star Tree Services can help! Give us a call at (416) 990-3355 if you need our tree care services in Toronto!