Ask Burton: Q: I came home last night and saw two big branches had broken off my crape myrtle overhanging my back driveway. We had wind this week, but it just wasn’t severe. Any reason for this to be happening?

A: It’s a weather-related issue, but it’s not the wind alone.

Trees and shrubs throughout the Metroplex have had two pretty tough years to get through in a row, between the February ’21 freeze and the searing heat of this summer’s drought. Plants weakened by hard weather, and in particular drought, will often have branches that are easily broken. Big trees (and large shrubs, like your twenty-foot-tall crape myrtles) can survive these weather events, but they’ll need some care the next few summers to help them stay healthy. It’ll probably take about five years of normal weather for North Texas’s tree population to fully recover.

In the meantime, check your crape myrtles for weakened or cracked branches, and have an arborist do maintenance pruning on your trees if it’s been a few years since you’ve done so. For the next few summers, pay attention to the drought status of the area. One slow, thorough watering a month in summer – read as, a slow dripping water hose moved over the tree’s root zone across the course of several hours – will make all the difference in the long-term health of your trees during a drought. And reduce the number of falling tree limbs!