It’s only August but local maple, tupelo, birch and other deciduous trees are already showing fall color and dropping leaves – two months earlier than normal. It’s a sign of drought stress, say the experts at the Sacramento Tree Foundation. Trees are going dormant early in an effort to save moisture. Save your trees and water, too, by following tips provided by these local tree experts. Avoid fertilizer and pruning; they’ll stress trees even more. Protect tree roots with a layer of insulating mulch such as shredded bark or wood chips. Six cubic feet of mulch – about three bags – will cover 24 square feet with a layer 3 inches deep. Not only will it help your tree feel more comfortable, but save hundreds of gallons of water each month.