Most homeowners will have to choose between their lawns and any other trees or plants they might want to maintain as the heat continues, especially in areas where rationing limits when and how much they can water.
“You have to make a decision on what's going to get water,” Ridlen said. “I made the decision that the only green I'm going to have is going to be around my trees. A 5-year-old tree is a lot more important than having a green lawn.”
Most trees are pretty sturdy, Ridlen said. But sweet gums, silver maples and others with shallow roots are having problems. Even some large oak trees are showing signs that the heat is getting to them.
Ridlen said he is fielding lots of calls from homeowners concerned about their large trees, which already went through one historically hot and dry summer and now are enduring another.
“The leaves dropping is a good sign,” Ridlen said. “It means the tree is stressed and is responding. A bad sign is the leaves turn brown and they don't fall off the tree.”