Lack of water reduces a plant’s ability to produce food, which weakens the tree and limits growth. Moisture stress also increases the tree’s susceptibility to harmful insect and disease pests that would not ordinarily attack healthy plants. Long-term drought can eventually lead to branch dieback and tree decline. For these reasons, Bartlett’s Drought Recovery Programme has been developed to help offset the effects of drought damage. The programme consists of the following elements:
- Irrigation: Thoroughly watering trees and shrubs during the summer and autumn months is critical.
- Mulching: Mulching trees and shrubs with wood or bark chips conserves soil moisture, suppresses weeds, insulates soil to reduce winter injury, fertilises and improves soil conditions.
- Soils and Nutrient Management: Plants weakened by moisture stress should be fertilised in autumn or spring, following the drought. Avoid fertilisation during droughts given that it provides little benefit when water is limited.
- Insect and Disease Management: Drought-stressed plants are more susceptible to insect borers, mites, and foliage diseases. It is important to detect and treat insect problems before significant injury to a plant occurs is.
- Pruning: Pruning reduces the demands for water and nutrients. Pruning must be done carefully because excessive pruning can weaken a plant.
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