Cornell professors offer advice for helping trees survive heat

By Brett Kessler
Green Right Now

This year is well on its way to becoming the hottest year the world has seen since scientists began record-keeping in 1880. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the rising worldwide temperatures are responsible for erratic weather – including severe droughts and heat waves.

A Weeping Willow (Photo: Green Right Now)

What does this mean for your lawn and trees? Two experts from Cornell University have some advice that may surprise you.

“Let the lawn go dormant,” says Frank Rossi, professor of horticulture. “Most of the lawn grasses will survive four to six weeks without significant rainfall. In most cases, they'll green up again in late summer or early fall when the rain returns and the temperatures moderate.”

Cool-season lawn grasses, he says, are adapted to the harsh heat of summertime. Watering, in many cases, only “encourages lawn diseases and weeds.”

That’s not the case for trees and shrubs, which stand to benefit the most from additional moisture, says Nina Bassuk, also a Cornell professor of horticulture.

"Don't give up on trees and shrubs that have shed their leaves,” she says. In times of drought, many plants dry up, but this doesn’t mean they have died. “Go ahead and water them. It's better late than never. If they're still alive, they'll grow new leaves.”

"Newly planted trees and shrubs are particularly vulnerable,” Bassuk warns, “because their root systems aren't fully developed. They have a harder time foraging for moisture. Depending on the species, site and planting practices, that might mean keeping two- to five-year-old plantings carefully watered during dry periods, hopefully preventing drought-caused leaf damage or loss in the first place."

For more tips for helping your plants beat the heat, visit the Cornell University Department of Horticulture blog.

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network

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