How to Keep Your Trees Green During a Drought

Before you stop watering your trees during a drought, there are a few important facts you should know. If you have to choose between your lawn and your trees, choose the trees. A lawn takes only days to replace whereas a 10 year old tree takes 10 years to replace. The benefits of trees are many: they reduce topsoil erosion, water runoff, and protect city water sources. Lastly, trees help to keep our air clean and breathable. The benefits of keeping your trees healthy far outweigh the costs.

In times of little water, trees are particularly vulnerable to drought stress, which can destroy a tree by making it more vulnerable to disease, insect damage, and drying out.green trees in california's drought with sprinkler retrofit

Signs of a drought stressed tree include the following:

  • drooping leaves that remain that way for more than 24 hours
  • leaves that are curled, yellow, or otherwise discolored
  • new growth that is stunted when compared to normal

Drought stress can show itself immediately, or it can take up to two years to reveal itself. Once it has set in, drought stress causes irreversible damage that can destroy your tree, so be proactive and water your trees appropriately.

How Much Should I Be Watering?

Have our professionals install a low flow drip line at the base of your tree so that it can penetrate the roots. This reduces soil evaporation and ensures that your tree is getting water where it needs it most. The “dripline” of your tree is the circle formed by the outer edges of the tree’s branches. You should saturate the entire width of this area (plus a few inches beyond), and to a depth of 12 inches. As a general rule, you should water your tree three times per month during the months of April through September.

Note that asphalt drastically increases the temperature of an area, causing trees and plants to require 50% more water than those in traditional environments. Know if you have loosely packed soil or densely packed soil, since this effects how quickly water flows downward. Not sure what type of soil you have? Pick up a handful of buried dirt and see if it feels dry and crumbles easily. If so, you should water your tree until the soil maintains its shape more easily.