If you’ve ever noticed a prominent section of tree that appears brown or wilted among a backdrop of remaining tree that appears relatively healthy, then you have likely witnessed the presence of leaf scorch.
Leaf scorch occurs when a tree’s root system is unable to absorb enough water to sustain it. Typical signs indicative of leaf scorch include browning and brittleness in the outer margins of affected leaves. The outer margins are the first areas to become water-deprived. Eventually even the tissue most near the veins of affected leaves may appear yellowed or discolored. Over time, the leaves eventually wilt completely and drop. If you’ve ever stepped on leaves that have fallen, specifically during any season other than autumn, chances are those leaves may have suffered from leaf scorch.
When water absorption is inadequate, a tree’s nourishment is inadequate as well. Leaf scorch is a direct result of just such a scenario.
Of all the seasons, there are several reasons why leaf scorch is particularly prevalent during the summer months.
Drought, most common during the summer months, is one reason leaf scorch may occur. A tree whose root system is already at a disadvantage when it comes to water absorption is affected more so when coupled with insufficient amounts of available water for absorption through natural means, such a rainfall.
Often seen hand-in-hand with drought conditions is heat stress. As living things, trees, like humans, are susceptible to damage done by excessive heat and humidity. If transpiration outweighs absorption, the tree will surely suffer imbalance due to heat stress.
Ironically enough, an opposing reason leaf scorch may occur during summer months is excessive amounts of water. If natural sources of water, such as rainfall, or artificial sources, such as sprinkler systems, over-water an area, feeder root expansion may become stunted. This decreases the amount of water, and oxygen, that a tree can effectively absorb and distribute, essentially suffocating the tree.
Poor root expansion may also lead to leaf scorch. Since a tree’s feeder roots tend to expand, or grow outward rather than downward, the inability to do so greatly impedes the tree’s ability to absorb water. Poor root expansion may occur as a result of heavy rocks, such as boulders, the presence of a structure, such as a home or other building, or pavement, such as a sidewalk or a structural foundation.
Yet another reason leaf scorch is typically seen more during the summer months is due to people’s home improvement habits. Outdoor and landscaping work generally increase during the summer.
Because of this, the opportunity for inadvertent damages increases, too. Tree and lawn care tools and equipment can cause injury to a tree, including its roots. If the roots suffer damage, the absorption, and subsequent distribution, of water may be impacted and could lead to leaf scorch.
In many instances, an affected tree initiates a shedding process, of sorts, in an effort to sustain itself. If you notice that signs of leaf scorch are apparent, occurring simultaneously with a tree’s dropping of twigs or branches, contact an Austin tree trimming specialist to assist you. He/she will likely be able to help restore the tree to good health and prevent the onset of other diseases, such as Austin oak wilt.
Although applying fertilizer is quite common, over-application may cause leaf scorch by burning tree roots. Consult an Austin arborist for assistance in the proper application of fertilizer, including an effective, but not excessive amount.
An Austin tree care professional can advise in the prevention or correction of the effects of leaf scorch.
About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree service in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and oak wilt treatment. For more information on Austin tree service, please visit http://www.centraltexastreecare.com.