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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Leaf Scorch and Thin Canopy of Ornamental Pear Probably Water

Q. We are renting and we have a tree in our front yard that is not that old.  We have been noticing that the leaves are turning a brown on the ends and not sure if it's due to a watering issue, disease or pest problem.  I have enclosed pictures of the leaves and would appreciate any help so that we can correct the issue.

A. I looked at the pictures you sent to me. It looks like may be an ornamental pear tree. The leaves that I could see certain appear to be browning due to a lack of water. The canopy of the tree also does not seem to be very full.
            My initial guess is the tree is not receiving enough water every time it is irrigated. What can be confusing is that we can see similar symptoms to trees that are also receiving too much water but in this case I think it is not enough.

I am assuming the tree is on drip irrigation and I am also assuming it is in a rock landscape. We can increase watering by increasing the number of drip emitters surrounding the tree and making sure that these emitters are 12 to 18 inches from the trunk. 
We can also increase the amount of water by increasing the number of minutes on the irrigation controller. The problem when we do this is that everything else that is watered will also get an increase in water when it may not be necessary. 
Also, this will increase your water bill perhaps unnecessarily. It is best to increase the number of emitters that way only this particular tree will get the increase in water. Another possibility, and I don't want you to do this, is to increase the number of days the tree is receiving water during the week. 
This is frequently not a good solution to a lack of water. Trees need to receive deep irrigations with lots of water, then arrest of a couple of days during the summer with no additional water, and then watered again deeply. 
You do not want to water trees daily if it is at all possible or unless they are in containers. In the meantime, take a hose and give that tree a lot of water at its base very slowly. Do this once a week and I think you will see an improvement in the number of leaves produced and the overall quality of the tree.

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