CHICAGO (CBS) — With most of Illinois having been classified as being in severe drought, it’s not only farmers who are suffering. Plenty of homeowners have seen their prized plants shriveling, and their trees shedding leaves.
CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot has some tips to help homeowners protect their trees from the dry conditions.
Homeowner Sue Paist’s Norway Maple tree has started showing signs of scorching from the hot, dry weather. Its leaves are browning and crumbling to the touch, just one of many signs of stress that many homeowners have seen in their trees, due to the drought.
“We were just really trying to take care of it this summer, because of the heat and drought,” Paist said.
She has been working hard to make another tree in her yard — a sapling and an endangered species of plant — survives during the latest heat wave.
“We have to water it every day, a lot … because it’s a baby,” she said.
Morton Aboretum plant information specialist Doris Taylor had some advice for Paist.
She suggested deeply watering right at the tree’s roots.
“In the next year or two, it’ll start to establish more on your lawn, and you’ll probably want to get rid of some of that grass, put a mulch ring down and you’ll be fine,” she said.
Taylor said some of the major signs of trees in distress are leaves that are browning, curling, and wilting.
“I never really spent much time water trees in the past, now we have to spend a lot of time,” Paist said.
She is not alone. At the Morton Arboretum, workers have been busy watering the plants during this summer’s drought. There have only been 11 inches of rain there this year, compared to 22 inches last year, and it’s taken a toll.
Taylor said as little as one inch of water per week can keep an established tree healthy.
“It’ll keep it alive during these drought periods, just because that water does percolate down about six or eight inches,” Taylor said.
It’s new trees that need more water, to help their roots grow.
“Anything you put in this year, those are what don’t really have established root systems into the soil, so those are the key plants to keep watering, if you can,” she said.
Experts also advise homeowners and gardeners not to plant anything new right now, but instead wait until fall.