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Official Blog of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
by Lynn Medici
on July 24, 2018 at 7:10 PM
I bought a home last November in Danville. It has a large single birch tree in the back yard. Not knowing much about birch trees, I thought it had woodpecker holes all the way up the trunk. It bloomed in the spring and now the leaves are turning brown and I believe it is dying. We have watered it consistently. After checking many websites I now know those “woodpecker” holes are birch bores. Can this tree be saved? Half of the information I’ve read says, probably not. Some sites recommend using pesticides/insecticides. What would you recommend?
by Steve I Morse
on July 26, 2018 at 4:42 PM
Unfortunately Master Gardeners does not have any significant "good news" or an updated "solution" for you that wasn't already given in the above blog. In that you have a "large" birch tree, it is probably reaching its life span in CC County (25 years), especially in the drier and hotter areas of central and east County. The recent drought of multiple years took a significant toll on these non-native trees in many gardens and also made them vulnerable to borers. From my morning walk with the pup in Martinez, most of the neighborhood birch trees are gone or dying, especially now in the heat of summer. From my observations, it's almost always inadequate water with borers fast catching up with the unhealthy ones, e.g. owner took the lawn out for low-water use plants, but didn't keep the tree adequately watered. It's possible that you might be able to save the tree, but we don't know what that might entail from your description, but it won't be a minor endeavor for either the arborist or you as described in the blog and it's various links.  
Steve Morse  
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