I live in the San Francisco Bay area of California. My avocado tree is about 50 years old. It has produced for about 35 years, some years better than others. In our area we are experiencing our fourth year of drought. My avocado tree is slowly losing its canopy. For the last couple of years it has dropped excessive leaves and some new growth just dies back. I really don't water since it's so large I don't know where to start. We did change around the base of the tree a couple years ago by covering the area around the entire tree with large river rock, just for aesthetics.

Is there any suggestions as to my problem?

  • a picture would help. Insufficient water sounds like the problem
    – kevinskio
    Mar 15, 2015 at 22:17
  • Brings back memories of my Grandparents home in San Leandro. They had an avocado in the back yard. I hope you can get it healthy! Mar 15, 2015 at 22:46
  • 2
    Do your local water regulations permit any sort of greywater recycling for landscape use? One way to water it without increasing your water use, if permitted. Or hang a solar-shower bag from a branch and shower outside ;-)
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 15, 2015 at 23:56
  • One thing I'd recommend is to use an organic mulch rather than the river rock. Conserves moisture better and builds up the soil, as compared with river rock. It also promotes a looser, less compacted texture in the soil.
    – J. Musser
    Mar 16, 2015 at 16:58

1 Answer 1


Avocados need a lot of water. The soil the tree is in should always be moist, not damp but it should always be moist. Are you letting the tree try to fruit? During draught it may be a good idea to nip the buds before it tries to put water in the fruit. If more drastic measures are required and if you really cannot water (and you need a lot of water to feed ANY tree, let alone an avocado) is to perhaps prune back the tree so the tree itself needs less water. This will allow the existing root system to feed less tree. It may look ugly at first, but it can save the tree.

Water down some white latex paint (make sure it doesn't have fungicides and algaecides in it), and paint the tops of the branches that are newly exposed to direct sunlight, this will prevent them from getting sun burned and will also reflect some of the heat away that is burning the water out of the tree that isn't already being used for respiration.

If you are going to do this, now is the proper time to prune an avocado anyway. Jan - April.

Don't rush into this...do some local reasearch and ask avocado growers near YOU what they are doing to keep their trees alive. What to do in san deigo is not necessarily what to do in San Francisco .

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