Simple Tips For Reviving Any Burnt Trees In Your Yard

The devastation wildfires can cause is outright drastic. While a certain amount of fire can be beneficial to the land and overall ecosystem, too much of it is extremely harmful, especially when flames spread to residential areas.

If you are recovering from a small or large-scale fire and have trees that were burned, there are crucial steps you need to take to help them survive. A tree's recovery potential depends on a wide range of factors, including the overall damage from the fire, the type of tree, how long the fire burned, and if your tree has been severely dehydrated for a prolonged period. A few positive signs your tree will survive is if you notice buds on the branches and cambium most of the way around the stem. Cambium is the growing part of the trunk and can be found underneath the bark -– if healthy, it will be fresh and green.

Once you determine if your tree can survive, there are several steps you will want to take to improve its vitality, including hydrating your tree. Your tree's soil is likely dried out from the fire, so it is important to soak the entire area under the canopy on a regular basis.

Water your tree and determine if the soil is absorbing moisture

Deeply soak your tree and water the ground slowly near the branch tips at a depth of 12 to 15 inches — repeat this about once a week or when the soil dries to 6 inches deep.

One problem you might run into is after a fire soil can become water-repellant and will not absorb any applied moisture. A sign of this is if water is beading on top of the dirt instead of naturally sinking into the ground. If this is the case, you can scrape or rake and remove the top 2 inches of dirt that's not allowing water to pass and add a layer of straw, which should help with absorption. 

After your soil is well-hydrated, adding a slow-release fertilizer can be beneficial. A good fertilizer helps replace depleted nutrients and organic matter lost from the fire. Your local garden store or tree farm can help you assess what type of fertilizer is needed for your tree species.

Wrap tree for added protection while it recovers

As for protecting the tree from more damage, you might want to consider a wrap. Fire-damaged trees are more vulnerable to sunscalding, which is when there's too much direct sunlight on the trunk, and the bark is not thick enough to protect the tree -– this can lead to damage, disease, and even tree death. 

As far as the materials needed, you can wrap the trunk and any major limbs of your tree with a light-colored cloth, cardboard, or tree wrap for up to a year. In some cases, aluminum foil can be used to protect your trees from sunscald. Be mindful to loosen the material every couple of months to avoid strangling the tree. Before wrapping, remove any dead branches — this will help your tree recover faster because dead branches can attract pests and pathogens.

Lastly, for overall prevention, it can be beneficial to keep fire season in mind while planning your landscaping. Consider including some of the best plants to have in your yard if you live in a fire-prone region. Also, focus on helping trees survive fires by removing lower limbs to avoid flames spreading into the canopy. Mow shrubs and small grass back regularly, and plant fire-tolerant species. These tips will help your trees survive and benefit the planet too!