How Droughts Can Affect Your Trees

Though the April U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook report from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center doesn’t forecast much drought in the Southeast this summer, it’s something we should all remain prepared for.

The National Integrated Drought Information System asserts that “Drought’s consequences are far-reaching, impacting water quality, public health, the economy, the natural environment, public infrastructure, and more.”

At Premier Tree Solutions, we care about the impact drought can have on the entire community, but here are a few particular ways it may affect your trees.

Loss of Foliage & Lack of Photosynthesis

One of the first things you’ll notice if your tree is suffering from lack of water is wilting and shedding of leaves. This is a form of defense when the tree is fighting to retain as much moisture for survival as possible.

But leaves are the primary vehicle for photosynthesis — how the tree absorbs sunlight to synthesize food — so it isn’t just the beautiful green canopy that’s being damaged. Imagine if you lost the function of your digestive system, and could no longer process food for energy. The same complex problems arise for trees that are losing leaves because of drought.

Susceptible to Insects and Disease

The negative effect of leaf loss during drought is visually obvious, but because of it, trees also become more vulnerable to insects and disease. When the amount of available moisture in surrounding soil declines significantly, it can cause the root hairs (and sometimes more established roots) to die back.

“Root loss leads to tree stress, and dramatically increased susceptibility to a number of insects and diseases,” reports Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities Extension. While fighting to hold on to as much moisture possible, your trees may also be losing the battle against other intruders.

Growth Lag

Even if the rains return and your tree is able to recover in the short term, the effects of drought may reverberate longer than you think. A 2015 study by the U.S. Forest Service found that “Trees do not recover to normal growth rates immediately following drought; growth rates may take up to four years to recover.” This could mean that they remain in a weaker state for a longer period, and continue to struggle fighting pests, disease, or damage from storms or other extreme weather.

Caring for Your Tree During Drought

There are several things you can do to help your trees through a drought:

  • Limit pruning to only dead limbs and branches, so that your tree does not have to expend energy healing unnecessary wounds.
  • Apply organic mulch around the base of the tree to help it retain water.
  • Hand water your tree with strategic deep waterings to help sustain the roots. The Georgia Gardener Walter Reeves has specific advice about how much, and how often to water during drought. 

Concerned about your trees during drought (or any other time of the year)? Our Certified Arborists are ready and eager to give you a hand. Call us at 404.252.6448 or book an appointment online.

Flowering Trees to Plant and Enjoy Next Spring

Was it just us? Or did it seem like an unusually beautiful spring this year? Perhaps it’s simply because so many of us were finally able to emerge from a winter of seclusion and social distancing, but we noticed exceptionally gorgeous weather — and blossoms — all around.

So as the pollen clears and the petals drop away to be replaced by the lush green of summer, what can you do to hang on to the beauty, and give yourself something to look forward to next year?

We’re here to provide some suggestions that will bring some pleasure next spring — and all year round.


The bright flowers of forsythia serve as little yellow flags signaling the oncoming of winter’s end, as forsythia is often among the first to bloom. They are also tough, reliable plants that can withstand several types of soil. While the Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests planting in the fall, getting them in the ground now will give buds and roots a chance to develop during the summer before the plant goes dormant in the cooler months. Be sure to plan ahead and leave plenty of room, however, as forsythia can grow as large as twelve feet high and ten feet wide, at a rate of as much as 24 inches in a year!

Flowering Dogwood

Possibly one of the most commonly enjoyed flowering trees of the South, well-cared-for dogwoods can provide a canopy of beautiful blossoms. According to the University of Georgia Extension, flowering dogwoods are adaptable to several types of soils, though in the wild they flourish in moist, fertile ground that is high in organic matter. Be sure to place them in a well-drained area, and protect them from drought, but you can plant with confidence from now until the early fall.

Bridal Wreath Spirea

For another plant that will provide a shower of white blossoms invoking the beauty and delight of a blushing bride, try the Bridal Wreath Spirea. Plant experts at The Spruce assert this is another adaptable plant well suited for Georgia’s plant hardiness zone (6a – 9a), and is easy to grow in average soil with full sun. Planting now in the early growing season will allow the root system to become well established before winter.

Common Hawthorn

Perhaps a somewhat uncommon suggestion, the Common Hawthorn is a lesser-known tree that you won’t want to overlook. Resistant to other diseases that may affect other hawthorn types, The Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends this tree for its multi-seasonal beauty in spring, summer and fall. It also comes with some interesting folklore behind it — and may even attract fairies for those of you who believe! 

Though the southern region is famous for other flowering trees (such as the redbud, crepe myrtle, and saucer magnolia), fall may be a better time for planting those before winter dormancy. Read here for more planting advice from us.

Regardless of whether you’re establishing new trees, or tending to those you’ve had for years, we care about your tree health. For pruning and trimming service, or just a general assessment, reach out to us online or give us a call at 404.252.6448.