Best Trees for Drought Areas (Drought Tolerant Trees by Zone)

Best Trees for Drought Areas (Drought Tolerant Trees by Zone)

Noticed higher energy or water bills this summer?

You may have if you’ve been cranking the AC or watering your garden more to combat the extreme heat. And, you’re right to take action. 2016 is on pace to be the hottest year on record.

Instead of reacting, though, approach the dry spells and heat proactively. Pick drought-tolerant trees–especially if your state is currently in severe drought. Remember though, wait until fall to plant new trees!

What states are currently experiencing drought?

As of early August, the U.S. Drought Monitor found more than 20 percent of each state below is experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought.

  1. California: 59 percent of state
  2. Georgia: 28 percent of state
  3. Massachusetts: 40 percent of state
  4. Nevada: 22 percent of state
  5. New York: 27 percent of state

What are the best drought-tolerant or drought-resistant trees for my zone?

Set yourself up for success by picking trees in your planting zone that will also tolerate drought.

Note: Trees with an asterisk are drought-tolerant only when established.

Drought Tolerant Trees: Zone 9 and Zone 10 (California and Las Vegas, Nevada)


Pictured: Sycamore tree

  •  California sycamore* (zone 7-10): Large, fast-growing shade tree
  •  Western sycamore (zone 7-10): Fast-growing shade tree
  •  California oak (zone 7-11): Fast-growing shade tree
  •  Holly oak* (zone 7-11): Durable shade tree that stays evergreen
  •  Southern magnolia (zone 6-10): Flowering evergreen that’s moderately drought tolerant
  •  Eldarica pine (zone 6-10): Heat-tolerant, fragrant and evergreen

Drought Tolerant Trees: Zone 7 and Zone 8 (Georgia, North California and Southern Nevada)

Pictured: Oak tree

  • Kentucky coffee tree (zone 3-8): Drought-resistant shade tree
  • White oak (zone 3-9): Large shade tree that can tolerate moderate drought
  • Northern red oak (zone 3-8): Fast-growing tree with fall color and some drought tolerance
  • Eastern red cedar (zone 2-9): Heat-tolerant evergreen with good drought tolerance
  • Thornless honeylocust (zone 3-9): Fast-growing shade tree with moderate drought tolerance

Drought Tolerant Trees: Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 and Zone 6 (New York, North Nevada and Massachusetts)

Pictured: Maple tree

  • Sugar maple (zone 3-8): Shade tree with fall color and moderate drought tolerance
  • Silver maple (zone 3-9): Large, fast-growing tree with moderate drought tolerance
  • Colorado blue spruce (zone 2-7): Evergreen with moderate drought tolerance
  • Bur oak (zone 3-8): Large shade tree with some drought tolerance
  • Paper birch (zone 2-7): Fast-growing tree with fall color and some drought tolerance

Learn more about caring and watering trees in drought here.


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