One of the best parts of spring and summer is watching your tree go from a dormant state into lush greenery. Laying back in a hammock with a beer under the shade of a nice, full tree is one of the best ways to stay cool in summer, so you might be disappointed if the leaves turn brown during the height of the season. The reasons can be fairly natural and simple, so don’t panic – just get out the hose!
Leaf Scorch Causes Dry Leaves
Brown leaves are often the result of something called “leaf scorch”. This is caused by drought conditions forcing the tree to use its water stores faster than it can absorb more from the soil. Droughts are most often accompanied by hot, sunny weather and drying winds, all of which exacerbate leaf scorch and accelerate the browning.
Leaf scorch means your tree doesn’t have the water in its system to replenish the moisture lost in the leaves. The brown starts around the edges of the leaves, moving inward as the problem worsens. Deciduous trees will see the leaves eventually curling and turning crunchy, but don’t think they’re the only ones susceptible to leaf scorch – any coniferous trees on your property can suffer in their needles, too.
Don’t be too alarmed about the situation. Trees are awfully resilient, and leaf scorch by itself is unlikely to kill a healthy tree. But it can leave (pardon the pun) the trees susceptible to other damage, so you shouldn’t leave (sorry, it’s hard) scorch untreated. A deep watering every 10 to 14 days should be sufficient (just check to see you’re not in a water ban during drought season). Put down organic mulch around the base, about 3 to 4 inches deep, as good mulch will conserve soil moisture. If you notice any dead or dying branches, prune them off to allow the tree more resources to dedicate to the healthier parts of its system.
Transplant Shock Causing Brown Leaves
If you have a young tree, the problem isn’t always leaf shock. Another issue known as “transplant shock” can lead to wilted and brown leaves. Transplant shock is caused when a tree is moved from one spot to another and has to go through a period of adjustment for the roots to grow in this new soil. It’s almost unavoidable when moving a tree, so don’t let it shock you!
To minimize the problem, do as much as possible to jostle or disturb the roots and bring as much of the system as you can. Make sure the root system stays moist during the move, and after making the transplant, give the tree plenty more water. Other than that, there’s not much else to do but water and wait! Don’t let transplant shock fool you into thinking the plant is a lost cause.
Brown leaves can be caused by other things, of course. If it’s localized, it could be a dying branch or a problem with the canopy. Examine the tree to see if there are any funny-looking holes or running sap – the cause could also be invasive species like the Emerald Ash Borer. If you’re not sure of what’s causing random browning, or watering and mulch just aren’t helping, give us a call. Our team of professionals can give you the advice you need to get that green back!