In times of drought trees take precedence over other landscaping plants. Lawns and landscape plants are easily replaced; a large shade tree takes many years to become established. Mature trees shade homes and walkways, provide wildlife habitat, absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, filter pollution from air and water, reduce energy use and increase property value.
If your trees are surrounded by grass, they may suffer when water for lawns is reduced or eliminated because they never developed extensive, deep roots due to shallow irrigation.
Here are steps you can take to keep your non-irrigated trees healthy during drought:
Apply mulch or leaf litter about 4 to 6 inches deep in a circle around the tree from the drip line to about 8 inches from the trunk. Avoid using rocks as they hold heat and stress roots.
Water established trees slowly, deeply and widely to a depth of 2 to 3 feet. You can circle a tree with a soaker hose, wrapping rings around the tree starting about 2 feet from the trunk out to the drip line. Water every 10 to 14 days in cooler seasons, once a week in hotter months.
Young trees need more frequent watering, perhaps twice a week in hotter months. Since roots of young trees are near the trunk, make a small watering basin with a dirt berm. You can also drill a small hole in the bottom of a five -gallon bucket, put it near the tree, fill it with water and let it slowly drain into the soil.
For more information on how much water your trees need, look at CVWD’s watering guide at cvwd.org/conservation.