Early Spring: A balancing act for trees

Spring is here weeks early accross the West Coast. Photo: Flickr CC / aaroneus</to
Spring is here weeks early across the West Coast. Photo: Flickr CC / aaroneus

The cherry trees and daffodils are in full bloom. The bees are emerging. Our volunteers are wearing sunglasses and leaving their mud-caked boots at home. What’s going on?! Spring is weeks ahead across the West Coast, with a high pressure ridge keeping arctic cold away.

Not that we’re complaining! But the warmer weather has a few unexpected factors that affect trees, plants, and people.

Dry weather = thirsty trees
There’s a balancing act going on right now with our trees, says Andrew Land, our Neighborhood Trees Specialist and a certified arborist. “They’re potentially benefitting from more sunlight than they’d get during an average cloudy winter. On the other hand, they’re getting less water than they might, and trees only intake nutrition through water. Without that fuel, they probably won’t grow as vigorously,” he says.

Our advice for dry spells: Give trees, especially young and newly planted trees, a deep soak sooner rather than later. That’s two or three five-gallon buckets, or ten minutes of hose dribbling. (We also sell ooze

watering young trees
Ten to 15 gallons… so easy even the kiddos can do it! Photo:FoT File

tubes.) When the rains return, feel free to sit back and take a break from watering again until the next dry spell.

The power of mulch
At Friends of Trees’ green space sites, we’re not only doing more watering this season but also more mulching to ensure newly planted trees and shrubs take root in the dry weather. You can do the same for your trees to prevent moisture loss. We recommend the 3-3-3 rule: A ring of mulch 3+ inches deep, in a ring 3+ feet in diameter, kept 3+ inches away from the base of the trunk to keep it from rotting. Mulch can be straw, bark, or even leaves. We also offer free mulch at our office!

Sniffles and sneezes
With trees and flowers are blooming like bonkers, early allergies are here for many people. If you haven’t been yourself lately, maybe that’s why. A few in our office are already feeling symptoms, leaving us to wonder whether we have three months of this ahead?

Time to get outside!
Still, it doesn’t get any better than this for planting trees outside. Spend a Saturday with us planting in a neighborhood or green space and we promise you’ll go home smiling. We also need some extra muscle for our tree care events, when we’ll be watering and mulching plants already in place to make sure they thrive. Check out our planting and tree care calendar and we’ll see you soon!