Homeowners still need to help their trees and lawns make up for a record soil moisture deficit to mitigate damage done by a dry fall and winter.
This week’s wet weather is providing much-needed moisture to parched soils, but it isn’t enough to pull the state out of its moderate to severe drought classification, according to University of Minnesota Extension climatologist Mark Seeley.
Water landscape trees as soon as ground is thawed
Drought conditions can lead to tree decline, pest problems, and permanent damage for young and old trees alike. “Dry soils get colder in the winter and freeze deeper, which can kill roots,” explains Gary Johnson, Extension specialist in urban and community forestry. And dead roots make it hard for trees to take in water.
Even if damage was caused by the dry fall and winter, you can minimize its effects by keeping the soil moist but not saturated. In the metro area, the ground is thawed enough to begin watering now if you haven’t already.
To check if your ground is thawed and assess moisture, push a kabob skewer or other metal rod into the ground. If the skewer can be pushed into the ground 8-10 inches, you can water. If the 8-10 inches is moist, there’s no need to water yet. If the 8-10 inches is dry, watering is critical.