Your trees need you during drought conditions. Help the trees stand tall when it's dry with these tips.
Prioritize Your Landscape Water Regimen
If you want to keep trees healthy during a drought, you must have access to enough water to meet their needs. Young trees and thirsty trees do not last when they're suddenly cut off from water. When water is abundant - and if your local rules allow it - store some surface water for your trees.
If you have a deep, year-round pond or lake on your property, rig up a pump system. Of course, be sure you're allowed to pump the water where you live. If you can't store water and have no pond, well, or another water source, decide which trees you will water in a severe drought. Do you have a special lemon tree or birch tree you don't want to lose? Focus on your favorites when it comes to watering during outdoor bans and restrictions. Remove your lawn around the trees to eliminate competition for water from the turf.
Some trees that need extra help during prolonged drought include:
- Maple trees
- Fruit trees
- Magnolias and other flowering trees
Your redwoods also need help during drought, even though they are some of California's most ubiquitous native trees. Many redwoods are more native to humid coastal conditions, so they're vulnerable during a severe drought.
Use the Four-Inch Rule
Trees need water when the soil under the tree's outermost leaves is dry to the touch. Reach down and poke a finger or spade into the soil to check the soil to a depth of at least four inches. If the soil feels chalky or sandy, it's time to water. If you're not sure how to tell when the soil is dry, purchase a moisture sensor for the garden.
When possible, install drip irrigation systems under the tree's outermost leaves. Drip irrigation systems are low-flow systems that don't spray the trunks, limbs, and leaves of your trees the way sprinklers do. They slowly allow water to trickle down into the soil to encourage deep roots.
Whether you use a sprinkler or a drip irrigation system, soak the soil under the tree to a depth of at least four inches. The super-soaked soil will slowly filter water down to the roots below. Use mulch to reduce evaporation of water under the canopies of trees, but don't allow mulch any closer than four inches from the trunk.
Understand the Drip Line
To understand how wide the roots of trees spread, you must visualize the tree upside down under the soil. The growth of branches in the canopy up above you mirrors the growth of roots below your feet. When you stand at the edge of the outermost branch tips of your tree, you're standing over the tree's outermost roots.
This area is called the tree's drip line. You'll notice when it rains that the tree sheds water along this outside edge down to the ground below. Water drips down from the leaves and needles of trees in this manner so that the extensive roots under the tree receive plenty of moisture. Under the drip line, roots are one to two feet below the soil.
Research Water Needs for Your Trees
Take the time to research the water needs of your trees. Water needs vary according to:
- Age of tree
- Species of tree
- Warm or cool season
- Size of tree
- Rain amounts
Research the water needs for your trees to help you prioritize watering. If trees are lost during the drought, have them removed promptly so that there's no extra fuel for a fire on your property. Replace lost trees with varieties that are drought tolerant choices for your location.
Contact AAA Tree Service to schedule tree removal of dead and diseased trees. We also trim and care for healthy trees, and we're available for emergency tree work when you need us.