Monsoon season is back and we will undoubtedly see many unbelievable thing. Often I am asked (after the fact) what could I have done to prevent this? Well being too late the advice is often not usable as one's tree is gone. So I will give you a few tips to help your tree in monsoon storms in Tucson.
I have seen some crazy stuff. Last year we worked on and Airlines property that had over 20 Palo Verde and Mesquite tree's ripped in half. Literally the tree's were fractured half way up and the tops thrown 50+ feet. Cars were smashed and it looked like a hurricane came through. The truth is that a monsoon storm micro burst in Tucson can pack 100 mile an hour winds into a small area and cause devastation. A few years back I worked for a friend who had his pine tree (50') hit by lightening in a monsoon storm and all that was left was a shrapnel stump. I looked out into the desert and found pieces 5' long thrown over 100'.
So lets just agree that Tucson has some of the most violent storms imaginable, and if you are subject to this force all the preparedness in the world may not help. Those of us who have lived here our whole lives have seen them, but the storms causing the most damage do not happen with every cloud buildup and strong wind. Last year only 3 area's, that I saw, faced widespread micro burst. The Airport, Foothills, Ina Road. From power poles knocked over to 100' Eucalyptus tree's it was a bad year last year.
That brings us to the question of how How to prepare for monsoon storms in Tucson. There is 2 types of major tree damage that we come across all the time. One is fracture and the other uprooting. Fracturing happens due to force and weight, even small tree's have their branches ripped off. But there are some preventative measures to take. Thinning, cleaning and renovating your tree is a big help. It can allow the wind to blow through the branches more freely while limiting the weight. Also proper nutrition is essential for strong branches, the absence of moisture in a tree can make it more brittle and prone to fracture. So water your tree from summer to fall.
That brings us to our second type of tree damage, uprooting. This happens to all tree's big and small. Tucson has a hard soil that causes problems on a number of levels. Planting is not done by ANSI Standards because it is so hard to do it right. Most companies just dig a hole. This causes root bound tree's and poor structural integrity. 90% of a tree;s root system is in the top 12 inches of soil and in Tucson I imagine its more like the top 9 inches. I strongly recommend watching your watering habits during monsoon and turn off your drip irrigation. Water out and away from your tree, not by the root collar. A wet root ball is a big no no for monsoon storms. Better to water the outer ends of the roots and encourage deeper growth. Keep the 3 feet around the root collar dry.
If you notice the storms really soaking trunk of your tree and that it is staying wet, consider guying and cabling your tree. After monsoon's every year we see dozens of tree's just fall over (no wind) because the ground is so saturated. It is a sad situation for most we encounter as the tell us how it just fell over for no reason at all.
I hope these tips were helpful and as always we are here to help in any way we can. Tucson is a beautiful town, our community is full of great people and we are happy to be a part of it.