City of Austin seeing "drought stress" in trees

The City of Austin says they're seeing "drought stress" in a lot of trees.

City officials couldn't give a specific number. They say although Austin had a very wet spring, there hasn't been much precipitation lately and the recent dry spell has carried on much longer than normal. 

It's been hot and dry and Austin has had a lack of moisture. Several fronts have passed through that didn't really materialize so Austin is seeing some stressed trees.

“It's been dry,” City of Austin arborist Naomi Rotramel said. “Younger trees that are typically establishing in the first 3 years need a lot more water, regular watering, and irrigation. Older trees are a little bit more resilient because they're established.”

Rotramel says if you see this problem at your home or nearby where you work, you can't assume the tree is already dead.

“You might be seeing a live oak that's losing its leaves and you're wondering why is it losing its leaves so earl,y it might be other factors," Rotramel said. "Not all trees are dead right now because of droughts. It could be from construction it could be from oak wilt. It could be from another pest or disease so determine what it is. It may take years for a tree to die from this one drought instance. We just won't see it for a while."

She says it's best to first consult a certified arborist and have them take a look at it. A lot of times with a tree in decline, it may not be one single factor, but a multitude of factors.

“The city has a tree protection ordinance that any tree over a certain size needs a tree permit for removal," Rotramel said. "A city arborist would come out and inspect."

In the meantime, Rotramel says the city has been planting a lot of native trees that are drought-resilient and are already adapted to the Central Texas climate.

The City of Austin says to call 311 with any questions and having pictures prepared will help.