Extreme heat and drought can have a serious impact on the health and survival of trees, shrubs and landscapes. At Trees Forever we work closely with our community and landowner partners who have planted projects to make sure they have all the information they need to help protect and preserve new trees, roadside plantings, and other planting projects during times of drought.
Timely and appropriate watering is crucial to the survival and success of newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennial plants through their first few years of establishment after planting. The frequency and amount of watering needed is dependent on the amount of natural rainfall that is received and other environmental factors. When high temperatures, periods of windy weather, or drought conditions prevail, be sure to provide adequate supplemental water for your young trees and plants.
It is generally best to water trees and plants slowly and deeply. Adding water too fast can cause the water to run off onto surrounding areas, rather than soaking down into the root zone where it’s needed. Until the new roots start to grow out into the surrounding planting bed or lawn, all the demand for water occurs close to the base of the tree or plant - in the area of the original root ball that came out of the pot. Overhead spraying is also less effective, as a considerable amount of water can be lost to evaporation before it even reaches the plant roots.
Mulching around newly planted trees and plants also helps keep the soil moist and cooler, lessening stress on the tree or plant and providing a better environment for root growth during the hot and dry summer months.
Click Here to view a tip sheet that contains information about helping to ensure tree survival during times of drought.
Click Here to view a similar tip sheet that was specifically tailored for our water quality and buffer program participants.
Click Here for some general tree care and maintenance tips from the Trees Forever website.
You can view some of Iowa State University Extension’s plant watering tips here.
Finally, both Iowa State University Extension & Outreach and the University of Illinois Extension Service have set up comprehensive websites covering a variety of issues related to the severe drought. You can access those pages by clicking on the university names above.
For much more information on proper watering and care of young trees and plants in your planting projects or landscape, be sure to check out the many resources listed above, or call your local Trees Forever field coordinator.