Are your trees losing leaves early this year? Drought is likely the cause

NOW: Are your trees losing leaves early this year? Drought is likely the cause

It's still summertime in Michiana, but many trees are already starting to lose their leaves and change colors.

You've been taking care of yourself and your plants by drinking plenty of water during the long, hot summer. Have you been watering your trees as well? This might sound strange, but can actually help prevent some of the issues we are currently facing.

Both trees and grass are losing their green color in this photo at Boland Park in South Bend. Chief Meteorologist Tom Coomes


No water for trees means they can have slow or reduced growth. Trees go through water reserves typically stored for wintertime to make up for lack of water in the summer. This can lead to fewer, smaller leaves next spring. Additionally, trees with less water have a harder time fighting off pests and diseases.

Currently trees in Michiana are experiencing yellowing leaves, leaf scorch, and some early leaf drop. According to the University of Maryland Extension, these symptoms are often associated with drought.

Stressed leaves at Boland Park in South Bend Chief Meteorologist Tom Coomes

Weather will continue to impact the look of fall foliage. If you've been looking forward to beautiful autumn colors, you might be disappointed in 2020. The U.S. Forest Service says periods of hot weather usually mean less vibrant leaf colors. Periods of drought typically mean leaves change colors later in the fall, but this year, since we are already seeing problems with our leaves, this might not be the case.

To protect trees from drought, maximize water available to them. Here are a few ways to help.

Remove plants and grass from the base of trees. While this is visually appealing for landscaping, this proximity also creates competition between plants and trees for water. Let your trees retain all of the water by removing nearby plants.

Add mulch around the base of the tree. Mulch stops water from evaporating, which in turn keeps more moisture in the ground for the tree to "drink."

Water your trees, just like you water your plants. This is especially important during the first two years a tree is planted. Use the 5 + 5 rule for watering. Start with five gallons of water, then add an additional five gallons for each inch in diameter of the tree trunk.

Even if you don't notice any signs of distress in your trees right now (like leaves falling or browning early), it's a good idea to try watering them now to keep them in good health.

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