• George R. Lee

How To Identify Drought Damage on Trees


In 2010 and again in 2012, lower southeast Michigan trees suffered from drought weather conditions creating tree decline and death. At the time of this article in August of 2022 once again southeast lower Michigan is dealing with tree, shrub and crop decline caused by heat and drought weather conditions.


Even with the best of irrigation systems in place nothing soothes the watering needs of trees (for the rest of this article "trees" will also includes other types of shrubs and plants) like a cool slow long drink from mother nature. And as far as we know, there are no umbrellas large enough to shade an entire landscape.


Heat stress and drought can and will be a primary cause for tree mortality. If your trees are important and valuable to you then care should be taken sooner than later to ensure their continual health and survival.


Symptoms of drought stress:

  • Leaf scorch (leaves look burnt around the outer edges)

  • Yellowing of the leaves (which normally look dark green)

  • Leaf drop

  • Premature fall leaf color

  • Wilting foliage

  • Other signs of drought stress include, small twig growth and deformed buds


Perhaps an equal or greater threat is the invasion of borer and beetle pests which are drawn to drought-stressed trees the following 1-3 years. While the tree is currently suffering from lack of moisture and depleted nutrients, wood boring and bark feeding beetles can smell the tree's stress and are drawn to it and they aggressively attack the tree. It is very important to follow up the following years after the tree suffers from drought and heat stress by way of inspection and treatment to ward off unwanted deadly insect and disease invasions.


What You Can Do For Drought Stressed Trees:


Most active roots are within 12 inches of the grade. Soaking the area around the tree 2-3 times per week or as needed will help. Slow watering every 4-5 days using a soil injectable probe. Mulch under the tree starting from the flare and working your way out to the branch drip line. The bigger the mulch area underneath the tree the better. Also, for drought protection, apply mulch 3-4 inches deep but avoid mulch applied around the trunk flare.


Professional Care for Drought Stressed Trees:


Schedule invasive insect treatment protection (such as for shot hole borer, Pine bark beetles and for many other damaging wood feeding pests). Sub-soil, root zone, fracture drip edge and injection with water carrier root enhancement mixture. Inject Hydretain and CytoGro to help restore root growth and vigor. Treat root flare with a plant growth regulator.



Professional Arborists understand what your tree's roots need during or after drought damage and how to best care for the overall health and preservation of your tree.


You may not be able to save every tree in the woods from a heat stroke but you can certainly help to save those valuable trees and plants located in your own landscape.


At Branch Tree Service we have the experience, skills and knowledge to help you help your drought stressed trees. Don't wait until it's too late, call our tree doctors for help today.