SAVING DROUGHT-STRESSED TREES

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By Miriam Raftery

 

 

August 21, 2015 (La Mesa) – “Although we have been asking to cut back on water, please do not let the trees dry,” Helix Water Board member Kathleen Coates Hedberg urges customers.  She provided a flyer with tips for how to water your trees within the district’s guidelines and keep them alive during the drought , such as  using soaker hoses that are exempt from level 2 drought restrictions.

Here are some benefits that trees provide--and tips for how to keep your shade or fruit trees healthy even in the drought:

  • Trees offer shade, reducing summer temperatures up to 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Shaded wall and roof surfaces can be up to 45 degrees cooler than unshaded surfaces. 
  • Trees along a southwest side of a building can cut air condition needs by 30%
  • Big trees can add up to 15 percent to a home’s value
  • Trees absorb carbon dioxide and put oxygen back into the air we breathe
  • California’s street trees catch 6.92 billion gallons of rain a year, reducing runoff and pollution
  • Shade trees reduce costs of resurfacing streets up to 60 percent
  • Crimes such as graffiti, vandalism and littering are lower in areas with trees and plants
  • Shoppers are more apt to spend money in business districts with tree canopies
  • Office space rentals are higher in buildings with high quality landscaping
  • A green environment encourages exercising and may boost its restorative effect

Watch for symptoms of drought-stressed trees that need water:

  • Wilted leaves
  • Yellow or brown leaves
  • Orange or brown needles

Tips for watering drought-stressed trees:

  • Soaker hoses are exempt from the 10-minutes a day limit under Level 2 watering restrictions.
  • Water slowly, half a gallon to a gallon an hour, using a soaker hose and move from tree to tree.
  • Water at the drip line, which is the outside edge of a tree’s canopy.
  • Spread a 3 or 4 inch layer of bark mulch at the drip line to hold and slowly release moisture into the soil.

Watering schedule:  A young tree needs water more frequently, as often as twice weekly in its first three months.  By the first year, weekly should be enough and for large, mature trees over three years old, every two to four weeks should be adequate, depending on the weather and soil conditions. 

For more details, see the Helix Water District’s “Save your trees!” flyer.