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Arborists’ advice on caring for trees during drought

In this article with the San Francisco Chronicle, Nick Crawford, sales arborist for Davey's San Francisco office, tells homeowners about the importance and benefits of watering their trees during drought. 

Posted: August 7, 2015 

By Julie Chai 

“Brown is the new green” signs are sprouting in yards all over the Bay Area as more residents are letting their landscapes go dry in response to the drought. But one place you may want to continue letting water flow is to your mature trees.

“The crunch that everyone’s trying to resolve is that they’re cutting back on water use because we have to, but they don’t want to lose trees, especially mature trees that have been growing for decades,” says Nicholas Crawford, board certified master arborist with the Davey Tree Expert Co. in San Francisco.

“The risks of not watering trees outweigh those for other landscape plants and turf. Lawns can go dormant and will rebound, but with trees, you don’t have that option.”

When the weather is warm and it hasn’t rained for a couple of months, trees may suffer from drought stress. That shows up as leaves that are wilting, browning at the edges, dropping at an unusually high rate, or a canopy is more sparse than normal.

Along with increasing property values, trees help clean the air of pollutants, control erosion, reduce runoff after storms and create shade that lessens the need to use energy for cooling. The more mature the tree, the greater the benefit.

If a lawn, perennials or shrubs die from lack of water, they’re relatively inexpensive to replace. But losing a mature tree can be pricey.

Removing a dead tree can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the size and situation; if you choose to have a new one planted, you’ll incur the costs of installation as well as of the tree itself. And over time, you’ll end up using more water.

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