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Experts advise to continue watering trees even during drought

During the last big California drought, millions of trees died. Experts warn this is preventable and especially important in urban areas during heat waves.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — During California's last big drought, millions of trees in natural and urban areas died due to lack of water, high temperatures, and fires. 

Experts on urban landscapes are advising trees still need to be watered despite the drought to avoid the same fate.

Cindy Blair from California ReLeaf advises nonprofits on grants, funding and projects to maintain urban forest canopies. She said 90% of Californians live in urban areas and manual tree watering will go a long way to maintain the health of trees in a drought.

Many watering agencies have tree-watering exemptions to their restrictions and deep watering once a week will greatly benefit a tree. The best advice is to deep water trees along the "drip line," or the outer perimeter of the branches of the trees. 

A soaker hose left on to deliver about five gallons to the roots should be enough to efficiently keep trees healthy. The cost of the extra watering amounts to about $3 extra per week, according to other water conservation groups.

Urban forest canopies have many benefits like more shade, lower temperatures, cleaner air and higher property values. Modern efforts in maintaining or growing areas for tree canopies are focused on traditionally underserved and lower-income areas.

Policy from decades ago encouraged tree planting and maintenance in higher-income areas and either directly or indirectly encouraged fewer trees or fewer funds for plantings in lower-income neighborhoods. Many current grants are trying to correct this inequity.

When it comes to drought, Blair's advice is simple: "Lose the lawn, save the trees."

Watch more on ABC10: Northern California cities to escape the dangerous record-breaking heat wave | Labor Day

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