Protecting Your Trees in Time of Drought

May 21, 2021

Some forecasters are predicting lower than usual rainfall for Nebraska in 2021.  In case that happens, here are some recommendation to protect a tree planting in a water scarce year:

  1. Provide supplemental water - trees planted in the last 10 years may need supplemental watering to survive during a drought.  Even well-esablished trees that are 20 plus years old may show stress in times of sustained high temperatures and low moisture.


  1. Concentrate watering under the tree’s canopy for a long enough duration that water reaches beyond the turf rooting zone to a depth of 8-12” or more.


  1. Don’t add fertilizer - adding fertilizer could cause a rush of growth and further stress  plants with higher water demands.


  1. Do not prune trees during a drought.


  1. Use mulch or biodegradable facric barrier around trees to suppress weeds and lock in moisture. 


  1. Do not use rocks or pea gravel around trees, as this will increase the temperature at the base of the trees and result in less moisture available to be absorbed through the soil.


  1. Intalling new trees?  Be sure to plan on watering the trees weekly as they do not have a well developed root system.

Tree plantings with weed barrier installed helps retain moisture in the soil and enhances tree survival. 

If you have questions on your trees, contact Jorden Smith, Northeast Area Forester, at  or call LCNRD at 402-254-6758.

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