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How to Recognize Drought and Water Stress

It's important to be able to recognize the first signs of drought stress because there is a point of "no return" where no amount of water will save a stricken plant. Large trees and shrubs are an investment worth saving. So how to recognize drought stress and how do you save these plants?

  • Wilted or drooping leaves that do not return to normal by evening
  • Curled or yellow leaves that fold or drop
  • Greyish foliage that loses its green luster
  • Smaller than normal new leaves
  • Lawns that keep footprint more than several minutes

Use whatever water is available to save mature ornamentals and fruit trees. One or two deep, slow irrigations with a garden hose several weeks apart will often keep these plants alive through another dry summer.


If you have any questions, please call, write, or drop by the Help Desk at the Master Gardener Extension Office in Novato.