Help your trees survive drought

In this article from the Sacramento Bee, Matt Morgan, a sales arborist from Davey's Sacramento office, tells readers the steps they can take to ensure their trees stay healthy through this drought. 

Posted: May 18, 2015 

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We have a common plea: “How do I save my trees during this drought?”

“That’s what we hear over and over,” said Matt Morgan, certified arborist for Davey Tree Service in Sacramento. “People are really worried. Sacramento has the most trees per capita of probably any place in the world. If we lose our trees, our whole ecosystem changes.”

Without trees, Sacramento will be hotter with more smog and less wildlife. We want to stay the City of Trees.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, 12.5 million trees already have died in California due to the drought. Many more are at risk, particularly in urban areas as residents cut back water use. State mandates call for up to 36 percent cutbacks compared to 2013 use.

“The biggest problem right now are lawn trees,” Morgan said. “Everybody is trying to get away from lawn; they’re taking it out or stop watering it. But they still have trees, and those trees were getting their water along with the lawn. It’s a good thing to get rid of the lawn, but you still need to water those trees.”

Coastal redwoods and birches are dying, but even drought-tolerant crepe myrtles and native California sycamores are showing stress from pests, Morgan said. “We’re seeing a lot of (sap-sucking) scale on sycamores, which normally are very drought-tolerant. Crepe myrtles are getting more aphids.”

Trees need special attention now, said author and citrus grower Lance Walheim, expert for Bayer’s Advance, which makes lawn and garden products.

“People need to look up and pay attention to their trees,” Walheim said. “Then, look at your irrigation. In reality, you will end up with healthier trees.”

Treat your trees like Mother Nature

Water the drip zone: This is how nature designed trees to be irrigated. Rain hits tree leaves, cascades off the canopy like an umbrella and drips to the ground. That outer edge is the drip line where the strongest feeder roots gather moisture. More rain drips between branches and leaves under the canopy like a leaky umbrella; that’s the drip zone where more feeder roots do their work. Few feeder roots are close to the trunk; don’t water there.

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