From the Editor

By Stephen Sapp

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Those familiar words from Ecclesiastes 3 of the Hebrew Bible (or, if you prefer, from Pete Seeger’s 1950s song Turn, Turn, Turn, popularized in 1965 by The Byrds) are certainly appropriate for the “season” in our lives we continue to experience as the coronavirus pandemic rages on in the US, though many of today’s “matters” are certainly not what we would like to be happening now.

It is also, however, the season of summer, and this has been a particularly hot one (only three days below 90 all of July!), with little cooling predicted at least through this month (the second hottest month of the year). At this time, then, we need to pay special attention to the vegetation for which we are responsible. I want to thank Logan Jones of Riverbend Landscapes & Tree Service for granting permission for us to share the following information from their July 2020 newsletter.

First, make sure your plants are adequately watered during dry spells. Riverbend provides this useful guide to watering newly planted trees:

If you have a newly planted tree, the key to keeping it healthy through the summer heat is to provide enough water. Seems simple, but it’s not always done right . . . .
In most areas, including here in Virginia, a newly planted tree needs about one gallon of water per inch of tree trunk diameter. So a three-inch diameter sapling needs three gallons of water each time you water it.
Ideally, you’d irrigate using a slow trickle of water that can be absorbed into the soil around the root ball. To keep water where it’s needed, try building a small wall of soil around the tree (about as far from the trunk as the branches reach) to create a “bowl” that can hold the water. That way water is directed to the tree roots, rather than flooding out in all directions.
As for how long to keep up the watering routine, here are some general guidelines:
For a trunk diameter of less than 2″, water daily for two weeks, then weekly until the tree is established (usually well into the fall).
For a trunk diameter of 2″ to 4″, water daily for one month, then weekly.
For anything larger than 4″, water daily for six weeks, then weekly.
As with anything that’s been newly planted, keep an eye on your new tree for insect or disease problems (which are more common when the plant is stressed, like when it’s been transplanted) and make sure the soil isn’t settling or the roots popping up. 

Second (speaking of pests), Riverbend also offers this helpful guidance about an especially troublesome one in hot weather, spider mites. Hint: The best way to keep spider mites away is to keep your plants consistently watered during dry weather.

If you notice leaves with lots of tiny yellowish or bleached spots, leaves turning pale bronze, scorching around leaf edges, and leaves falling off prematurely, your plant is probably infested with spider mites.

Spider mite feeding kills plant cells; as more spider mites feed (and the longer they feed), more of a leaf’s surface dies. In a severe infestation, the plant loses leaves, declines, and may even die.

And guess what? Spider mites LOVE hot weather!

Learn what to look for, how to treat affected trees and shrubs, and how to prevent spider mite damage here:

So if you have any vegetation around your home (and/or in it—spider mites love indoor plants!), keep a watchful eye out for these and other pests and diseases that are especially active in hot, humid conditions.

As always, we hope you find all of the articles in this edition of Ripples informative and helpful. Please don’t hesitate to send any feedback or suggestions for our community newsletter to

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