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Sacramento Launches 'Mulch Madness' To Save Trees

Even though it's August, there are many streets in Sacramento that look like it's fall. Parched trees are losing their leaves early as a result of the drought.

The city is sponsoring a campaign called Mulch Madness to help save Sacramento's stressed trees. 

Under the hot sun, a group of volunteers shovels wood chips and organic matter into a wheel barrow in William Land Park.

Keith Bruni wheels the debris to another sweaty crew armed with rakes.

They're spreading the material at the base of several tall Redwoods and towering Pine trees.

Richard Perez is leading the effort for the city's Parks and Recreation Department. He says mulch improves a tree's health in many ways.

"Number one, it helps with retaining moisture in the trees, also it offers a nutrient balance for the trees," he says. "As well as root protection, and consequently with the retaining of the moisture we water less. Plus, it offers an aesthetic kind of a quality too."

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Kelly Conroy, with the Sacramento Tree Foundation, says the wood chips act as an insulator like wrapping a blanket around an ill patient.

"Just like a person, if a tree is feeling very stressed, then it opens them up for more infections, more diseases, more pests which could cause them to die faster," she says. "And, also spread to other trees possibly."

Conroy recommends homeowners look for signs of wilting, drooping limbs, or crispy leaves. If it looks like autumn in your yard those trees are going dormant in an effort to survive.

Conroy says the watering needs of a tree depend on its age.

"If you've planted [a tree] in the last five years, [it] needs water more near the base of the tree because that's where the roots are," she says. "For mature trees, what a lot of people don't know is, that roots extend underground wider than the branches extend above ground. So where you really want to focus your watering for a mature tree is at that drip line where the canopy ends and beyond."

Conroy recommends using a soaker hose so water can penetrate at least 12 to 15 inches below the surface and quench a tree's roots.

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