September 20, 2014

Drought has trees stressed

A tree in downtown Madison shows signs of stress after weeks without rain.

Drought-stressed tree PHOTO: WRN

Drought conditions have trees under stress in much of Wisconsin. Lisa Johnson, Horticulture Educator with UW Extension in Dane County, said the extremely dry conditions can lead to needle loss and die back, as well as making trees more susceptible to insect damage. “The thing is, you might not see a lot of drought damage this year, but I’m expecting next spring to get all kinds of calls about die back on trees,” she said.

Trees need help, in the form of an inch of water per week. “Especially, you and to make sure that you get that with newly planted material,” she said. “It also helps if the tree is not having to compete with a lot of turf underneath it. Particularly with something like a birch tree, if you have mulch underneath it, instead of grass.”

Older, more established trees can better tolerate drought conditions – up to a point. Johnson said you may want to consider using a “soaker hose” around the base of those larger trees if the lack of rain continues to be a problem.