With summer temperatures creeping into the triple digits, Monsoon Season is just around the corner. Summer monsoon storms offer much needed rain to our desert environment, but also pose the biggest weather related risk for trees. If not pruned and thinned properly, your trees are more likely to become the victim of high monsoon winds.
Now is the time to assess your trees to determine if they are in need of pruning before the monsoon storms arrive. If you didn´t prune your trees in the cooler months, it is prudent to do the work before the storms arrive. In preparation for monsoon winds, the tree´s canopy should be thinned so wind can pass through the tree easier. Typically, most pruning involves lifting a tree´s branches to a height that people can walk under. When monsoon winds arrive, the tree´s canopy is top heavy because the weight of the trees is concentrated above a certain height. Assess your trees in the upcoming weeks and remove overly thick foliage, correct damage from previous storms and remove dead or structurally unsound branches to minimize the chance the tree will be damaged or cause damage during a storm.
Having proper tools to prune your tree is important to the health of the plant material. Limbs up to 1/2 inch in diameter can be pruned with hand pruners. Long-handled pruning loppers can handle limbs up to 1 inch in diameter but a special pruning saw is needed for larger limbs. Hedging shears or power hedge trimmers should not be used to prune trees because they will not be able to make proper cuts and will damage the tree.
In spite of the damage these summer storms can cause, there is a silver lining to the monsoon clouds: moisture! The monsoon presents us all with a great opportunity to save water. We assess the amount of water each storm brings and suspend or adjust irrigation schedules appropriately. Not only is rainwater free, it is also superior to irrigation water due to its lower alkalinity. In addition to providing moisture, the rainwater helps leach accumulated salts away from the roots of shrubs, trees and turf.
Following a storm, check the status of your irrigation controller. Power outages can reset irrigation clocks and schedules, and it may not be appropriate for the weather. If your property receives a substantial amount of rain, turn off your irrigation system. Be aware of your plant material and soil moisture in order to determine when the water needs to be turned on again. Overall, you may not need to water as much as you did in the drier months.