California Drought Can Still Mean Healthy Trees


For our trees, there is more to the California drought than just lack of water.

With hot temperatures and minimal rainfall this past winter, trees undergo stress during the summer months. We commonly think of water stress causing dead leaves and drooping branches. But drought also reduces a tree’s ability to fight off insects and diseases. Normally if a bark beetle starts to borrow its way into a tree, a tree will respond by producing sap to push the beetle out. But producing sap requires resources and under drought stress trees don’t have many resources left.

How can you reduce drought tree stress in the Santa Barbara area?

The University of Colorado has produced a list of recommends that fit right into actions you can do locally to reduce stress brought on by drought:

  1. Mulch around your trees with 4 inches of mulch. Do not use stone or rocks around the tree as this increases air temperature and moisture loss. Make sure that the mulch is not placed within 4 – 6 inches of the trunk.
  2. Do not fertilize since most fertilizers will stimulate growth and could potentially burn the roots if there is not sufficient water.
  3. Keep your trees pest free. Postpone construction or trenching around your tree and treat for insects or diseased with appropriate fungicides or insecticides.
  4. Properly prune to improve structure, limb stability, and to remove dead and weakened branches. Any of these will further weaken or stress the tree and increase the potential for insects or disease.
  5. Restrict use of herbicides in areas under the tree. Some trees are harmed by heavy applications of herbicide in the root zone.

 Help your trees survive the drought flyer!

The California Urban Forests Council and Invest From the Ground Up have a comprehensive and concise flyer outlining all the things you can do to keep your trees happy, healthy, and drought stress free.

Help Your Trees Survive the Drought Flyer

What can Branch Out Tree Care do to help?

We can evaluate your trees to determine if they are under water stress and provide recommendations to increase the health of your tree.  We can provide an aesthetically pleasing trim to remove dead or weakened branches.  We can diagnose insects, fungi or diseased and provide a plan of action.