MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We start with a new sign that our summer drought has reached a critical stage. Trees are wilting and experts say up to 20% more trees could die this year compared to other years.

These days in Minnesota, leaves are becoming crispy. And the grass crunchy.

READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: Drought Conditions Holding In Place As State Moves Into Fall

“It’s been dry, very dry and I’ve been trying to keep a couple of flowers alive,” Mary Sulliban of north Minneapolis said.

Sulliban already had a lot on her hands. She just got home from her daughter’s wedding.

“I’ve been busy. Glad to be home, take care of a few things here,” she said.

Something she hadn’t thought of was her trees.

“I’ve got kind of older trees and seems like they’ve been doing fine,” she said. “They look OK.”

But whether they show it or not, all trees are dry right now. Ralph Sievert, director of forestry with Minneapolis Parks says it’s “probably as bad as I’ve seen it in the 27 years I’ve been here.”

READ MORE: Burning Restrictions To Be Lifted In Much Of Northern Minnesota Overnight

Sievert says the drought is causing trees to wilt, crisp up and change color early and they’re at high risk for disease and insects.

“The big message we are trying to get out is to just take some time to water whatever tree is important to you,” he said.

His Minneapolis crews are working overtime and asking locals to help water boulevard trees, and for people around the metro to protect theirs, too. Sievert says the right way to water your trees is to cover the entire ground with water under the circumference of the canopy.

“Even if you water a tree once a week all summer long into the fall, 20 gallons of water, we’ve calculated and it’s like $3,” Sievert said.

A small cost to save the valuable trees. Sulliban says she learned something new.

“I will have to start watering them,” she said.

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The state’s drought task force met Wednesday for the first time in nearly a decade. The Department of Natural Resources says we’d need at least 3 to 5 inches of rain over two weeks to help alleviate the drought.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield