If your trees look like it's fall already -- you may have a problem

ATLANTA — All of north Georgia is currently under a drought and the lack of rain is making it hard for our trees to thrive and remain healthy.

Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Eboni Deon learned that it could take a long time before you know your tree is in trouble. In some cases, it could be up to two or three years before a mature tree starts to die from drought stress.

“We’re seeing a lot of trees that are suffering the ill effects of the drought now. And the effects are going to continue through the rest of this season and even a little bit into next season,” said Tierson Boutte, certified master arborist for Boutte Trees.

Newly planted trees are the most negatively impacted by drought stress. Then, the older more mature trees are most vulnerable, along with any tree that’s under stress already.


The drier conditions weaken trees and put them in a starvation mode. They’re not able to produce nearly as much food during a drought.

Boutte told Deon that without food they’re unable to fight against diseases as effectively in the following spring. That is why drought is so dangerous to trees.

The stressed trees make it easy for insects to capitalize on their weakened defenses and they destroy them.

If you’re worried about your trees, watering them now will make a big impact later.

Christie Bryant, an arborist for Speaking for the Trees, told Deon that trees right now should be storing energy for late fall.

“If your trees are looking like it’s fall already, then you have a problem. The calendar might say fall, but trees are not ready for it yet,” Bryant said. “Normally we see our leaves start changing color, depending on the weather conditions, probably mid to late October. They start falling in November and almost all of our leaves are down in November.”

Another sign of drought stress is dry, crispy leaves.

In order to lessen the stress, water your trees. Bryant suggests watering your trees for 10 to 20 minutes per tree once a week. This process tries to mimic 1 to 1 1/2 inches of rainfall per week.

In addition, add mulch to the base of your trees. Ideally, about 3 to 6 inches.

“Imitate the forest wherever you can. Nice layers of mulch keep that moisture in there,” Bryant said.