Recycled Water Is Killing Trees: What Can You Do To Stop It?

Recycling water is becoming a big deal in many parts of the country because it helps make polluted water usable again. However, it is having a negative impact on the tree industry, in that it appears to actually cause damage and even death of trees. If you're growing trees for personal or industrial use, you need to know why recycled water is killing trees and how you can keep your trees safe.

How Can Recycled Water Kill Trees?

Reports are popping up across the country of otherwise healthy trees dying for no particular reason. In many of these instances, recycled water has been found to be the culprit for reasons that may surprise many people: recycled water has salt in it.

Don't worry; it's not enough to hurt you, but it is enough to harm the delicate health of a tree. Too much salt in water will interfere with the tree's life cycle and cause subtle and eventually fatal damage.

Can Salt Be Removed From Tree Water?

Thankfully, desalination is possible. There are a variety of water filters and desalination devices that can be used at home and for personal use. These devices are generally used for drinking water, but can easily be used for irrigation water.

For larger industrial watering needs, there are complex systems that use reverse osmosis and nanofiltration to carefully eliminate salt from water and make it free from salt. These are more useful for larger companies, such as those that grow trees for specific uses (such as Christmas tree companies or paper producers).

What About Desalination Of Irrigation Water?

If you are watering a large number of trees, you're likely going to need to desalinate water on a bulk scale. One method that has caught the eye of people with similar needs (such as golf course owners) is sulfur burners. These devices use the process of burning sulfur to lower pH, and leach or remove salt from the soil and water. Generally, they are used in irrigation systems, rather than individual systems, to increase productivity.

The cost of running this process will vary. One golf course grounds keeper ran a system for several months, using about four fifty-pound bags of sulfur every day, for a grand total of 10 tons of sulfur burned at a cost of $200 per ton. So that's about $2,000 total for the irrigation of an entire golf course, including its grass and trees.

This information should help give you a good idea of how to keep your tree water free of salt and keep your trees healthy for year to come. If your trees are still looking sick or even dying, call a tree care expert, like those at, immediately, as there may be a more serious problem at work.