A summer of drought followed by deluge is stressful to trees, says LSU AgCenter forester Hallie Dozier.

“Before you cut,” Dozier said, “make sure the tree is dead. If it’s alive, irrigate and protect the root zone.”

Water trees deeply and slowly, Dozier said. A rule of thumb is 10 gallons of water per inch of tree diameter at breast height every two weeks during extended periods of little or no rain.

Lay a soaker hose in the critical root zone, between trunk and edge of the canopy or drip line. If water is running off, reduce the flow. Slow watering waters the roots without loss to runoff or evaporation.

Fungus on a tree’s bark indicates the presence of wood decay. With hurricane season here, get an arborist to check your older trees. Call the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, (225) 952-8100, to be sure the person you’re thinking of hiring is licensed by the state, Dozier says. Go to http://www.ldaf.state.la.us for a list of state approved arborists.