Drought Taking A Toll On Area Trees

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MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO. (KTVI) - We have triple digit heat, it’s July and yet for  more and more St. Louis area trees,  it's beginning to look more like Winter.  They’re dying  of thirst.  

Young trees are full of dried orange and brown leaves instead of lush, green ones.  

Tree experts or arborists say we need our trees more than we know.  Now, our trees need us.   

Even big trees have gone leaf-less from here to Springfield, MO.  

'They`re really taking a beating,' said Greg Hayes, an arborist and the St. Louis Forestry Commissioner.  

What he`s seeing is alarming: what seem like fall colors popping or leaves just going straight to 'brown' and trees even self-pruning, shedding limbs.  

'It`s sparing no species,' Hayes said.  'The trees are trying to have defense mechanism in place.  

They`re cutting off the supply.  The leaves are falling.  It`s almost like they think it`s Winter time.'

He said they needed a long, slow, drink and people like Jim Roos to give it to them.

Roos operates an enterprise that helps get low income people into quality, affordable housing.  

He`s been running a hose across the street from his office to newly planted city trees.

They`ve started to rebound, but only after he stopped watering them the old fashioned way, in heavy doses for short periods of time.

'Earlier this Spring I watered them but I had the hose running too fast and the water was running off,' Roos said.  'I just realized they were still dying.  I said `what`s wrong?  I`ve got to figure out something else.`  So it was trial and error.'  

'The best thing we can do is rely on property owners who do value their trees that we planted; slow drip irrigation, soaker hoses,' Hayes said.  'They add to neighborhoods.  They help with storm water runoff,  they lower utility cost.  They provide oxygen.'

'It`s Forest Park all over,' he laughed.  

Hayes said the St. Louis Forestry Division plants about 3,000 trees-a-year in public spaces, like parks and along neighborhood sidewalks.

 So, trees are a real investment in St. Louis.  

Hayes said a long, slow, soaking, for a couple of hours, a couple of times-a-week, would save them.  

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email: andy.banker@tvstl.com

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