Nancy's Almanac, Wednesday, March 20, 2013: Drought is an oppportunistic killer -
Published Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:26 pm
Nancy's Almanac, Wednesday, March 20, 2013: Drought is an oppportunistic killer

So far, the trees that have been dying in the 2012-13 drought tend to be those that aren't native or have been poorly planted or maintained, according to the Nebraska Forest Service.

There's a sliver of good news in that: Better care can result in healthier trees.

“It isn't indiscriminate,” said Justin Evertson, forester with the Nebraska Forest Service. “Drought really shows us what's wrong. It will take out things that are compromised for other reasons.”

By understanding the weaknesses in your own yard or gardening practices, you can ease some of the impact, he said.

Fundamentally, trees have different needs than lawns, so the passion that people put into lush lawns can end up hurting their trees. The fertilizer, pesticides and shallow, frequent watering that keep a lawn lush are hard on trees for different reasons.

Too much water can drown a tree or prevent it from developing a drought-tolerant root system. Fertilizer forces growth when a tree is stressed and needs to rest. And pesticides contribute toward sterilizing the soil.

This is why foresters hope homeowners will re-examine their yards and think in terms of creating ecosystems.

Trees should be clumped together in their own shady ecosystem. As groupings, trees strengthen each other by interlocking roots and buffering each other from wind and sun.

Companion plantings of shade-tolerant ground cover and shrubs add to, rather than detract from, tree health.

Another obstacle to tree health is the conveniences that make modern life easier.

The increased planting of potted-trees runs counter to creating a stock of long-lived healthy trees. Poorly potted trees lack healthy roots, which is something the tree can't fix once it is in the ground.

Also, mowers and weed whackers deliver cumulative damage to a tree.

“Trees have a delayed response to damage,” said Graham Herbst, also of the Nebraska Forest Service. “You really have to pay attention to what you are doing. There are a lot of things we can do to minimize our impacts on trees.”

Current conditions and forecast

Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
City Council to vote on adding Bluffs pedestrian safety lights
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Midlands runners ready for Boston Marathon
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Omaha police investigate two Sunday shootings
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
For birthday, Brownell-Talbot student opts to give, not get
Two taken to hospital after fire at Benson home
Grace: Pipe organ concert a tribute to couple's enduring love
Omaha-area jails and ERs new front line in battling mental illness
Civil rights hearing to consider voting policies in Midwest
17 senators in Nebraska Legislature hit their (term) limits
It's a pursuit of pastel at Spring Lake Park's Easter egg hunt
Financial picture improving for city-owned Mid-America Center
No injuries after fire at midtown's old Mercer Mansion
29-year-old Omahan arrested for 22nd time in Lincoln
Police: Slaying of woman in Ralston apartment likely over drugs
< >
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »