Those homeowners who relentlessly track the holy grail of suburban pursuits – a lush, green lawn and fertile landscaping – look back on 2007 with disdain. The sustained dry spell that stretched into the fall stressed lawns, landscaping and trees to the breaking point, leaving in its wake dead evergreens, patchy yards and frail flora choking for water.

And the impact on plants is not over yet, experts say. “Be prepared to see more damage as the spring approaches,” predicts Rick Hanna, Cincinnati manager of the Davey Tree Company. “We had an extended period of drought, into the extreme area.” Those in the lawn care and landscaping industry often cite the drought of 1988 as a high-water mark for plant stress; Hanna says 2007 will now takes its place. “Even in 1988, it started to rain in mid-September. But last year, we didn’t have a decent rain until the end of September, and we continued to have extremely dry soil into October. Once it started to rain, on the lawn care front it was almost too late.”

Scott Jones, an arborist with Bartlett Tree Experts in Cincinnati, agrees. The warm temperatures in late winter last year caused some plants to begin new growth prematurely, and then the April freeze killed the growth. That, followed by the dry, hot summer, was a double whammy for all plants and trees in the area. By the end of summer, when greenery had suffered for months, it was dying or going dormant. Then the rains came. But the ground was so hard and dry by then that much of it ran off.

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