Can Trees Drown on Your Fredericksburg, VA, Property?

Can trees drown? You might think that’s a crazy question, but the answer is “Yes.”

In this post, ArborPro, Fredericksburg’s most trusted tree service, delves into the waterlogging effects on trees. The truth may surprise you.

can trees drown

Learn How Trees Breathe

To start understanding tree drowning risks, you need to know how plants breathe. You may have learned about respiration in biology, the process whereby the tree absorbs carbon dioxide and emits oxygen through its leaves. However, what few people realize is that any tree needs oxygen, too.

Instead of “breathing” oxygen in through its leaves, a tree absorbs it through its root system. Therefore, the impact of water saturation on tree health can be quite dire. 

The Consequences of Excessive Tree Watering

Can trees drown? Or can roots suffocate in waterlogged soil? Suffocation is, perhaps, a more apt description of what happens when a tree’s roots cannot access oxygen.

No More Oxygen

When the soil becomes saturated, the pockets of air will fill up with water. Under normal conditions, this moisture drains away, and everything will be fine within a few hours or days. However, when there’s too much water over an extended time, there won’t be enough air for the roots to absorb as they need it.

If they reach this saturation point, the roots will start to emit harmful gases like nitrogen, hydrogen, and methane. If there were still air pockets in the soil, this emission would be harmless. However, when there’s too much water, the gas chokes or kills the roots, which is very damaging to the tree. 

If too many of the roots die, the tree will, too. 

The Microbiome Changes

There are also anaerobic and aerobic organisms in healthy soil, which balance each other out. 

In a natural setting, both types of organisms prove helpful to the tree. However, when there’s too much water, the air-breathing organisms die, and the anaerobic counterparts (bacteria) run riot. They consume nutrients from the soil and attack the roots, which eventually causes rot.

Saturated soil also makes it easy for fungi to gain a foothold because the weakened tree is more vulnerable.

Preventing Tree Damage from Water Overload

How can you help a waterlogged tree? The first thing to do is to try to dry the soil out, which isn’t easy if you’re in the middle of the rainy season. Why not try covering the soil with a waterproof tarp so that the moisture runs off to the sides?

When the rain is over, help the soil dry out by doing the following:

  • Dig the soil over. 
  • Remove mulch, and don’t add any more until the area is dry. 
  • Add nitrogen-rich fertilizer (at a rate of about one to three pounds per 1,000 square feet). 

If it’s an ongoing issue with that particular patch of soil always flooding, moving the tree might be appropriate.

Contact Our Team to Save Your Tree!

Can trees drown? Yes, but if there’s one that you’re worried about in particular, there are solutions. So, whether you need help with waterlogged trees or proper pruning in winter, call ArborPro at 540-379-8383 to request a free proposal! 

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