top of page

Drought and your Tree

       Olson Tree Care has observed drought several times over the last few years in Iowa and it brings to light the fluctuating weather patterns and the effects on trees. Iowa's average precipitation of 3-4 inches a month can no longer be expected. The new norm is too much, or too little. 

       Arborists in Des Moines need to understand the effects of drought on an Urban Forest.

       Urban forestry is mainly focused on the maintenance of trees, (structural compliance) and the care of trees (invasive pest and organism management). Left out in this equation is tree watering.

       Residential trees are not native in selection or location with varying micro climates. Roots in a natural forest co mingle symbiotically and the trees of a residential forest tend to be spaced, increasing soil stress and sun scorching. 

       Watering Trees is required to maintain health. Many struggle with this saying “for 30 years I have not watered my tree!”. Believing that a tree is “established” or “native” does not make it natural in selection, cultivation or location. Even old native trees that pre existed development no longer enjoy the same grade, soil or micro climate.

       The future.

       1. Plant resilient trees in clusters. Proper Tree Selection.

       2. Water frequently in dry times. (large trees may need 100 gallons a day) see our Tree Watering Graph developed by Des Moines Arborist Chris Olson.

       3. Mulch and amend soil for health.

       If we enact a community effort these subtle changes will assist future generations with drought.


       For more information you can have the Arboriculturist at Olson Tree Care in Des Moines, Iowa out for an Consultation.

Tree Transpiration in a Dry Winter


       The societal reaction to drought in the Midwest seems to be exclusive only to farmers. While the southwestern US has water basins, rain barrels and drought tolerant plants engrained into their practices, the Midwest is far behind in changing the culture of an often water rich environment.

       Have you watered your trees today? “Its 16 degrees outside, how would I?” you might say.

       - When snow is moved... utilize it. (Slow melt of a pile will add in volume and duration)

       - Roof downspouts to key locations. (Use caution making changes with mature trees)

       - Limit future hardscaping designs and mulch, mulch, mulch.

       - When planting, consider diversity of Native Tree Selection. (Some of our native plants are slow growing and drought tolerant while others fast growing and water hungry. Both are required. Attempt to plant accordingly to grade, runoff etc.)

       A forest has developed over time based on environment. An urban forest has little time to develop and is based on human desire. Will society begin to change the landscape and practices to the benefit of Urban Forests?

bottom of page