Published on 07/14/05

Wet roots lead to yellow leaves

By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

If the recent rainstorms have added a small pond to your landscape, now is the time to protect your landscape plants.

University of Georgia extension horticulturist Bob Westerfield says landscape plants need water to survive. But too much of a good thing can be damaging.

Clay soils hit hardest

"We've had quite a bit of rain this spring and over the past few weeks," he said. "Plants, especially those in heavier clay soils, may be suffering from the effects of standing water."

Westerfield says standing water can cause long-term harm to landscape plants. Too much water can cause plant roots to shut down and leaves to turn yellow.

"When there's too much water, the leaves lack oxygen and the roots can't breathe," he said.

Pull mulch away

To help your landscape plants, pull the mulch away from their base. Once the soil dries out and is free of standing water, replace the mulch.

Next, Westerfield suggests fertilizing the affected plants over the next few months to replace nitrogen that has leached away.

Water may not be the only problem you need to address in your landscape, he said. Although pruning is typically a winter chore, inspect your plants and prune away any twisted or broken branches.

"Make a pruning cut back to the branch collar, where the branch joins the stem," Westerfield said. "The branches aren't going to come back. But leaving them hanging will create a vector for diseases."

Check for lightning damage

Check the trees around your home for lightning damage, too. A spiral streak down a tree trunk is a sure sign of a strike, he said.

"With trees, you're in a wait-and-see situation," he said. "Large oak and other hardwood trees can sometimes recover, but many pines won't."

Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.