|Dead Ginkgo in Waverly|
Although I have come to love the wide-open expanse of this part of the world and feel we should do much more to conserve our prairie heritage, I would not want to live in a community without trees. They are vital to making our communities more comfortable, livable and beautiful. So I say yes! Let's plant more trees, even during times of drought. Our community forests are ever-changing and dynamic and require our constant attention at planting and care. With a changing climate that will almost certainly include more droughts and likely higher overall temperatures, it should be obvious to all of us that we need to adopt the best practices possible when it comes to tree selection, planting and care. A few suggestions that I would offer to help our tree planting endeavors would include:
1. Emphasize the planting of species that have proven drought survivability including bur oak, gambel oak, hackberry, juniper, Ponderosa pine, Osage orange, green ash, walnut, elm, etc. (Note: yes I did intend to include green ash here. Although we don't recommend the species for wide-spread planting due to the threat from emerald ash borer, the advancement of the pest across the region is relatively slow and many green ash trees will likely be alive for decades to come - especially in the western half of Nebraska).
|Walnut is drought tolerant|
2. Plant high quality root systems. Roots should be fibrous and laterally spreading, not circling at the bottom of a container.
3. Plant smaller trees more often. There are several factors at play here, but in general smaller nursery trees with good root systems are easier to establish in the landscape and generally become drought tolerant more quickly than larger specimens. There is nothing wrong with planting seedlings or even seeds, as long as those small plants can be protected in the landscape.
4. Plant properly! The first trees to die in any drought are the ones whose health was compromised for some reason. Common compromisers to good health in landscape trees include problematic roots and trees planted too deep.
5. Group trees together and encourage a healthy rooting zone. Trees grouped relatively close together help protect each other from weather extremes. And if the space between trees is maintained as nutrient recycling system with appropriate groundcover plants or mulch (not intensively managed turfgrass) the soil and rooting zone will be much better at conserving moisture and much healthier for the tree.
|Planting a seedling can be good strategy.|