Summer is a time when a lot of plants and trees are putting forth new growth and even providing fruit. However, the hot summer weather and increased growth means that plants also have an increased need for water. As much of California is still experiencing drought, and the drought conditions are being felt in local areas such as Walnut Creek, Concord, Berkeley and Pleasant Hill, it’s important for homeowners and gardeners to be aware of how to prepare their trees and gardens for the drought, while also conserving water and using a more environmentally sustainable approach. Here we look at some tips for plant and tree care to conserve water and maximize your garden’s health in summer.
Water the Right Amount
If you are under-watering or over-watering your garden, you not only pose the risk of damaging your plants, you may also simply be wasting water and doing more work than you need to. With proper tree identification from an experienced tree specialist, you can establish exactly how frequently you should be watering your plants and trees for their optimal health. Once this schedule has been established, stick to a routine of watering your plants only when they need it.
Observe Your Plants and Trees
One of the ways you can establish how often your plants need watering is by observing your plants and trees for signs of water loss such as dryness and wilting. Plants with larger leaves lose water more quickly than plants with smaller leaves, so use large-leaved plants in your garden as an indicator for when you should water.
Trees that aren’t watered adequately can drop more leaves and branches than necessary, which in extreme cases can require cabling and bracing. If you’re not sure how often your tree should be watered, consult a tree doctor for specialized advice.
If you’re wondering exactly how to water trees in order to conserve water, deep watering is the method for you. Deep watering is a technique that helps essential hydration for plants reach deep into the roots up to 8-12 inches below the ground, rather than just wetting the surface. This is particularly important in summer, as huge water losses due to evaporation can occur in hot weather. It’s better to water plants and trees more heavily on less days of the week than watering just a little bit every day.
Deep watering also helps tree and plant roots reach deeper into the soil for greater stability and strength, and avoids wetting the leaves of the trees and shrubs which can give rise to fungal disease.
Once you have thoroughly watered your tree and plant roots it’s important to cover the root area in mulch in order to limit evaporative water losses and protect tree roots from the heat. Mulch can be provided by your local tree specialist to act as an insulating cover that conserves water in the soil and also helps to optimize soil health, which is essential in drought conditions.
Drought Resistant Plants
One of the best ways to conserve water in your garden is to plant drought resistant plants and shrubs which are tolerant of low water conditions and more suited to the native environment. Of course, pruning trees can reduce their water usage, but it can also lead to the tree dying or failing to grow.
If you want to make you garden more drought tolerant, consult with a qualified arborist to choose plants that both help to conserve precious water and fit into your landscape.
With these tips you can conserve water in the garden and create a beautiful landscape that flourishes even in drought conditions.