California is in our fourth year of drought and summer is just around the corner. A drought could cause terrible results for trees across the state. Water shortages in trees have an adverse effect on many of the tree’s health and growth processes. Severe water stress will injure trees – some beyond recovery. Stressed trees have a tougher time fighting off insect infestation and disease. Some trees show stress by dropping their leaves and branches, while others have leaves that turn yellow or brown. It’s hard to say for sure just how many trees we might lose before the drought breaks.
Due to the dramatic scarcity of water, Governor Jerry Brown officially declared that the state was in a drought and asked the public to cut their water use by 25%. So, while it is easy to take shorter showers and run the dishwasher when it is completely full, but how do you keep your trees healthy while conserving water during this hard time? We have a few tips for you.
Tips on how to conserve water while keeping trees healthy:
- Deep watering once every two to three weeks. A deep root feeder that attaches to a hose will cost you about $20 to $40.
- Updated your landscape watering system from standard spray heads to low flow bubble heads, or micro spray systems for trees and shrubs.
- Inspect system for leaks and breaks. Repair existing irrigation system, fix leaks annually to clear emitters and ensure proper operation.
- Invest in Mulch. Mulching is one of the easiest ways to save water and promote healthy root systems. Proper mulching will significantly reduce water evaporation to maximize water conservation in hot weather and further increases storm water retention.
- During severe drought, water only enough to sustain the tree rather than providing excess water to promote growth.
- Always, check with your city or local water company for possible restrictions on watering methods and frequency. Pass up watering during the hottest part of the day — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m
Keeping our urban and rural forests healthy is important to ensuring a stable water supply. Forest soils soak up and retain rainwater, which is released back into our ground water supply – even during periods of very little precipitation. Tree roots also act as filters and absorb contaminants which would otherwise enter our water systems. Taking care of your trees improves our natural infrastructure and water cycle – so please do your part during this prolonged drought.