Caring For Stressed Trees and Shrubs

Caring for stressed trees and shrubs.A few simple, but very important practices can improve the chances of your plants recovering, or extend the life of a healthy one.

Courtesy of Teas A&M AgriLife

The Rolling Plains is known for harsh environmental conditions.  A few simple, but very important practices can improve the chances of your plants recovering, or extend the life of a healthy one. Read Texas A&M AgriLife Extensions tips for caring for stressed trees and shrubs.


  • Apply it 3-4 inches deep. More is not better.
  • Hardwood mulch is recommended.
    • apply mulch to the drip line or just beyond.
    • do not place mulch against the trunk.


  • Target the tiny feeder roots at the drip line.
  • SLOW, DEEP SOAKING at the drip line is the best method. Use a soaker hose, or move the end of a water hose. It could take several hours, but the deeper the moisture goes, the less often you need to water.
  • Water trees until soil moisture is approximately 12 to18 inches deep. Use a screwdriver or rod to see how deep it will penetrate. This indicates the depth of adequate soil moisture.
  • Over-watering is as harmful as underwatering.
  • Newly planted /young trees need to be checked weekly, especially if there is limited or no rainfall. **check moisture inside the root ball, not just in the surrounding soil.
  • Mature trees don’t usually need watering, except possibly during extended drought.
  • Irrigation bags often don’t provide enough moisture to reach beyond the drip line

Fertilization— Not recommended

  • Fertilizing increases stress on trees, as this signals the plant to grow at a time when heat and wind can be a problem and providing adequate water is difficult

Borer Treatment

  • Treatment is not recommended as borers typically attack only unhealthy trees.
  • If you treat, imidacloprid (active ingredient) is recommended each year about February.


  • Cut at the correct location of the branch for proper healing
  • Make 3 cuts on a large branch to prevent damage to the trunk
  • Pruning can be done any time of year except for oaks. Don’t prune them in February until June if there is a risk of oak wilt disease. Pruning paint is rarely needed, except for oak trees.

Going Above and beyond

  • Vertical mulching can improve aeration. Click here to learn more.
  • If you feel your tree may warrant injection treatments you need to find a certified arborist. You can find one at


Click here for information on Heat Stroke In Trees

Click here for Water Recommendations.


Courtney Blevins | Texas A&M Forest Service Ft. Worth, Texas

David Graf | Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Wichita County [email protected]