Are Your Trees Thirsty?
February 25, 2016
While we welcomed the soaking rain we received this past week, the consistently warm and dry winter weather has still left our trees thirsty. It’s easy to forget about trees that lose their leaves for the winter. It seems like they don’t need much help. Even though they don’t look very active, your dormant trees are still putting on new root growth to prepare for the following growing season. If you didn’t water your trees at all this winter, you’ll want to get them back on a regular watering schedule this month before the weather heats up.
How & How Often?
Landscapes, lawns and trees each do best with the equivalent of one-inch of rainfall each week. We all know that’s probably not going to happen in Texas. That’s where you and your irrigation system need to step in and make up the difference. In winter, when temperatures are cool, we often benefit from additional rainfall. Under those conditions, you can typically get away with giving your landscape and trees supplemental water once or twice per month. But in very dry winters, you’ll have to step up your watering game.
No matter the time of year, it is always better to water your trees deeply and infrequently, rather than shallow and often. The goal is to allow enough water to saturate the root zone of the tree, rather than just wetting the surface of the soil with a short watering.
Too often, automated sprinklers systems are run too frequently, but not for long enough. Frequent, shallow waterings can result in weakened root systems and fungal diseases. You’ll also lose a lot of that water to evaporation and potentially runoff. Using a drip irrigation system to water trees is the most efficient and effective way for water to provide enough water without excess runoff or evaporation. Trees that are properly watered through the year are less susceptible to pests and disease.
Signs you should start watering your trees and the landscape.
If you notice trees and shrubs breaking dormancy by flowering or budding, you know it’s time to start watering them regularly. All of these functions require consistent moisture. As spring progresses, plants will begin taking up moisture and nutrients much more rapidly. Preventing stress by watering properly at the beginning of the growing season will help your plants remain strong during the rest of the year, especially as we head into another year of potential drought.
Be sure to check your city’s watering restriction ordinance so that you stay in compliance with water conservation efforts.