The recent and continued wet weather experienced across the UK and particularly here in the west country may pose problems for trees – the main concerns at this time of the year are the increased likelihood of winter storms and high winds.
Flooding can alter the soil structure by allowing the various aggregates to fall apart, thus resulting in a lack of, or reduced soil cohesion. Saturated soils and high winds can increase the risk of trees falling over. It is probably worth keeping an eye out for obvious signs/symptoms of damage; such as a leaning tree with recent soil or ground disturbance around its base.
Flooding can cause numerous problems for trees depending on the length of time the soil around them is saturated or submerged. One such problem is the increased risk of water born ‘nasties’ such as Phytopthora which thrives in wet soils and has the ability to kill trees.
Tree growth in the following growing season may also be affected and soils which have been subjected to prolonged flooding may need to be decompacted or aerated and mulched with good quality organic matter to aid recovery.
It is important to be vigilant and to assess trees following any extreme weather event, but to also remember that the impacts of these events may be responsible for later symptoms of poor growth, decline or even mortality.