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Drought Takes Toll on Area Trees

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - If you see a tree with brown leaves, that means this summer's dry and hot conditions have already taken their toll.

"That means that [the tree is] drawing moisture back in," said Becki Lynch, Linn County Master Gardener.

If you have any trees on your property, Lynch said Wednesday you need to be watering them, not your lawn.

"Lawns are the lowest priority. Trees and shrubs are the top priority, because they're the backbone of your landscape," Lynch explained.

Lynch recommends giving saplings under a year old about 5 to 10 gallons of water per week. For a 2-year old tree, the same amount every two weeks. For a three year tree, every three weeks. Even mature trees need watering about once a month, and failing to do so may not show for a few years.

"They'll show that stress. You might lose parts of the tree, or you might lose the whole tree," Lynch said.

City departments are also feeling the effects of drought. Craig Hanson, Public Works Maintenance Manager, has been pulling night street sweeping crews to water trees on city property instead.

"We are spending roughly $4,000 to $5,000 per week, between equipment, manpower, and other resources for it," said Hanson, clarifying that those are redirected expenses, not extra.

For his department, it's been that way since mid August. He said residents can help by taking on a little extra work when they're out by the curb by picking up any trash or debris, and watering any tree they see that might need it, regardless of whether it's on their property or the city's.

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