California’s drought epidemic killed more than 12 million trees from 2011 to 2015. The perpetual heat and lack of rain continuously caused trees to die in California’s national parks. Eventually, it also started affecting the landscape of urban parks, tree-lined streets, and neighborhoods.
Learn how to monitor your trees during drought below.
Len Burkhart, a Davey Institute technical advisor based in California, shares signs of drought and solutions to protect our most valuable natural assets—trees.
Here are some of his tips to detect whether your trees are being affected by this on-going dry spell.
Look Out For These Drought Signs
- Leaf loss
- Leaf wilt or leaves that start to curl
- Scorched, gray-tinted leaves
- Thinning canopy
- Branches drying out and dying
- Wood-boring insects
- Pine tree discoloration: Pines turn grayish-green color and then turn into rust once dead.
10 Steps You Should Take If You Notice Signs of Drought In Your Trees
- Follow all water rules and regulations. Know watering regulations set by your community, water provider and/or water district during drought season. Be conscious and considerate of these watering rules.
- Be water-wise. Do not use excess water during a drought. Know how much water your trees and landscape need to survive and water accordingly. Water using 5 to 20 gallons, depending on the tree species, once or twice a week.
- *Watering tip for clay-based soil: Dig approximately 4 to 6 inches into the ground near one of your trees after watering. Form a ball of dirt in your hand. If water squeezes out, you watered too much. You should not have mud residue on your hand.
What NOT to Do During a Drought
- Water hardscapes
- Water on windy or rainy days
- Use water with high salt content
- Water the trunk of trees, which may cause trunk cankers or lead to root-rot diseases.
For more information about drought tree and landscape care, check out Colorado State University’s Watering a Home Landscape During Drought article.