Water conservation has devastating consequence for trees

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
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The drought in California is drying out trees in the Bay Area and cross the state which is causing some very dangerous conditions.

CONCORD, Calif. -- The drought in California is drying out trees in the Bay Area and cross the state. ABC7 News took a closer look at how water conservation is having unintended consequences.

Add another set of victims to the California's drought -- in this case, they aren't people, but trees and not only ones in the wild.

Arti Kirch of the Markham Regional Arboretum in Concord can recognize the signs of a tree in trouble. She can tell trees are dying of thirst. In this fourth year of the statewide drought, you can see trees with peeling bark, brown branches and the thin tops of trees.

It is a symptom of this crisis. In yards across the state, many of us are making that symptom worse than it needs to be. When we turn off the water to our lawns, it is a common mistake to forget to water our trees.

In Walnut Creek, Gail Frick Barmby has put more than three decades of love and care into her backyard. This drought year has been the biggest challenge, yet. She had a little help from her gardener, Bird Morningstar.

He said, "The drought is serious. It's the fourth year. We had one in the 90's and 80's and a big one in the 70's and a lot of trees here had to get through all of those..."

Morningstar's methods are tried and true from drip irrigation, to building a small well around the base of a tree to keep water from flowing away, to enriching the soil and mulch, to watering at night.

Frick Barmby's yard has responded well, even in this tough time. She said, "It is OK to have things not as aesthetic, but maintaining the trees is most important. It helps the environment to have the trees survive."

Nothing is perfect, even in a drought year, except maybe finding a balance between water conservation and holding on to the yards we love so much.