The Drooping Apricot Tree

“…oh, and I’d like him to look at my apricot tree, it seems to be drooping.”

This was a comment from a client who was setting up an appointment to have one of our arborists to look at his trees. I have been setting up appointments like this for close to 30 years, and I’ve gotten pretty good at diagnosing what might be wrong. It’s always guess work because I cannot see the tree for myself and there are usually important details clients inadvertently leave out. However, in this case, the answer seemed so obvious to me, based on what the client was describing, that I decided to hazard a guess.


“It sounds like this is a watering issue to me. Is the tree on an irrigation system where it is getting water on a regular basis? “

“Yes, it is.”

“Okay, how often do you water and how much water does the tree get?” This an important question because even though a tree is on an irrigation system maybe the client is not using it often enough to provide adequate water to his tree.

“Well, it is on a drip system so I’m not sure.”

Aha! Now I was pretty sure I knew what the problem was!

“Let me ask you, is this the original drip system from when the tree was planted? Have you made any adjustments to it since?’

The answer was no. So I told him I thought the tree probably was not getting enough water because it had outgrown the system. I explained that drip systems are great for newly planted trees because the tree’s entire root system is within the confines of the container it came in. It is critical (especially in California) to make sure those roots are moist while the tree grows and expands its root system. However, after a couple of years the hair roots that absorb the water from the soil are now 10-15 feet away from the trunk and the emitters on the original drip system. So the system needs to be modified. It may be necessary to add additional emitters and pull them away from the trunk to the drip line of the tree.

This is a common problem that we see with drip systems and with irrigation systems in general. Landscapes are living and dynamic and constantly changing so it is important to check irrigation systems to make sure they are still doing the job.

Steps to Check your Irrigation System

1. Turn the system on and check to make sure water is coming out of all the heads and/or emitters and there are no leaks

2. Make sure none of the heads are hitting the trunk of the trees, this can damage the trunk and create an area of rot

3. Make an appointment with an arborist to verify if your trees are getting enough water.


An arborist can tell you the overall health of your tree and can see if there are any issues with watering. Any information you can provide about your system will greatly help the arborist determine if your tree is getting enough water. Call one today.