The Q&A Archives: Dying Redwood Trees

Question: I have several mature Coast redwood trees on a commercial property which are very distressed. They are all in turf and also on reclaimed water. Many other trees throughout the area are having the same problem - and on reclaimed water. We believe the water is the culprit (going into our 4th yr.on reclaimed water).
Any advice on how to save our redwoods?

Answer: The answer to the problem with your redwoods might be the water - not necessarily the quality, but the quantity. Reclaimed water may have some residual contaminants, but the damage would show up first on the lawn, and then on the trees. You didn't mention any problems with the lawn, and by the time the moisture trickles down to the roots of the trees, the soil should collect and hold any contaminants, delivering reasonably clean water to the tree roots. Redwoods prefer moisture, both in the soil and in the air. If lots of redwoods in the vicinity are distressed, I'd look first to the weather patterns. Have the trees endured a dry (droughty) period? Have there been drying winds? Is the lawn on a sprinkler system? Is it timed to deliver a specific amount of water based on the needs of the grass without consideration of the tree roots beneath the soil surface? If any of these situations apply, it might account for the problems with your redwoods. If none apply, I'd check the trees for insects or diseases. Specific trees or shrubs can play host to a population of insects or disease pathogens and spread them around to other trees or shrubs. If you're not sure whether or not insects or diseases are present, why not take a sample of an affected branch to your local Cooperative Extension office for positive identification? Helpful folks there can diagnose the problem and provide you with remedies. Phone 408-299-2635)

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