How to Protect Your Trees from Summer Heat Waves

Heat Waves

Summer can be particularly harsh on trees, especially during heat waves when temperatures soar and the risk of heat damage to trees increases. Understanding how to care for your trees during these extreme conditions is crucial for their health and longevity. 

This guide will provide you with practical tips and insights on protecting your trees from the summer heat.

Understanding Heat Stress in Trees

What is Heat Stress in Trees?

Heat stress occurs when trees are exposed to prolonged high temperatures, which can disrupt their normal physiological processes. During a heat wave, trees may experience reduced water availability, leading to wilting, leaf scorch, and in severe cases, death.

Signs of Heat Stressed Trees

Wilting Leaves: Leaves may droop or curl as the tree attempts to conserve water.

Leaf Scorch: Brown or yellow edges on leaves indicate that the tree is losing water faster than it can be replaced.

Premature Leaf Drop: Trees may shed leaves to reduce water loss.

Slow Growth: Heat stressed trees often grow more slowly due to reduced photosynthesis.

Protecting Trees During Heat Waves

1. Watering Strategies

Deep Watering

Ensure your trees receive deep watering rather than frequent shallow watering. Deep watering encourages roots to grow deeper, making the tree more resilient to drought. Water early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce evaporation.


Apply a thick layer of mulch around the base of your trees. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, regulates soil temperature, and reduces water runoff. Organic mulches like wood chips or bark are excellent choices.

2. Shade and Protection

Shade Cloth

Consider using shade cloths to protect young or sensitive trees from direct sunlight. These clothes can reduce the temperature around the tree and prevent sunburn on leaves and bark.

Strategic Planting

Plant trees in locations where they can benefit from natural shade, such as near buildings or larger trees. This not only protects them from extreme heat but also reduces their water requirements.

3. Soil Management

Soil Aeration

Aerate the soil around your trees to improve water infiltration and root respiration. Compacted soil can hinder water absorption, exacerbating heat stress.

Organic Matter

Incorporate organic matter into the soil to improve its water-holding capacity. Compost and well-rotted manure can enhance soil structure and provide essential nutrients.

Managing Heat Damage to Trees

1. Pruning

Remove dead or damaged branches to prevent pests and diseases from taking hold. However, avoid heavy pruning during peak summer as it can further stress the tree.

2. Monitoring and Maintenance

Regularly inspect your trees for signs of heat stress. Look for changes in leaf colour, texture, and overall tree vigour. Early detection can help you take corrective measures promptly.

Long-Term Strategies

1. Selecting Heat-Resistant Species

Choose tree species that are naturally adapted to hot and dry conditions. Native species often perform better in extreme heat compared to non-native varieties.

2. Proper Planting Techniques

Plant trees at the right depth and provide adequate space for root growth. Proper planting ensures that trees establish strong root systems capable of accessing deeper soil moisture. For professional assistance in planting trees correctly in Manchester or surrounding areas, contact Scott Davies’ team.


How hot is too hot for trees?

Most trees start experiencing stress when temperatures exceed 90°F (32°C). Prolonged exposure to temperatures above 100°F (38°C) can cause severe damage, particularly if combined with drought conditions.

How to overcome heat stress in plants?

To overcome heat stress, provide ample water, use mulch to retain soil moisture, and offer shade when possible. Ensure the soil is well-aerated and rich in organic matter to support root health.

How to save a plant that got too hot?

First, move the plant to a cooler, shaded area if possible. Water it deeply and consistently. Prune any severely damaged leaves or branches to reduce the plant’s stress and focus its energy on recovery.

What happens if a plant gets too hot?

When a plant gets too hot, it can suffer from leaf scorch, wilting, and stunted growth. Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can lead to tissue damage, reduced photosynthesis, and even plant death.

Can trees recover from heat stress?

Yes, trees can recover from heat stress if the damage is not too severe. Providing proper care, such as adequate watering, mulching, and protection from further stress, can help them regain their health.

How can we save trees from heat stress?

To save trees from heat stress, ensure they receive deep watering, apply mulch to conserve soil moisture, provide shade, and avoid heavy pruning during hot periods. Regular monitoring and early intervention are key.

Should I cut off scorched leaves?

Yes, it’s advisable to cut off scorched leaves as they can attract pests and diseases. Removing them helps the tree conserve energy and focus on producing new, healthy growth.

Why are my outdoor plant leaves turning brown and crunchy?

Leaves turn brown and crunchy due to heat stress, which causes water loss faster than the plant can replace it. This condition is often exacerbated by insufficient watering and poor soil moisture retention.

Can brown leaves turn green again?

No, once leaves have turned brown, they cannot turn green again. However, by addressing the underlying issues such as heat stress and improving care, new healthy leaves can grow.

Summing up, protecting your trees from summer heat waves requires a combination of proactive care and responsive measures. By understanding the signs of heat stress and implementing strategies like deep watering, mulching, and providing shade, you can ensure your trees remain healthy and resilient even during extreme heat. Regular monitoring and proper maintenance are essential to help your trees thrive in the long run.