Make your landscape trees a priority during this record drought

landscape trees
Even strict drought restrictions allow watering of trees on residential and commercial properties. Courtesy of Helix Water District

Sixteenth in a series republished with permission from San Diego County Water Authoritythe website of.

As unprecedented drought continues to affect California and the San Diego area, homeowners can still balance the need for conserve water as efficiently as possible while preserving valuable landscaping, including trees.

Trees can be maintained while following California water guidelines. Trees are among the most valuable investments in the San Diego County landscape, including the landscaping of your own home.

No other landscape plant offers greater benefits for your landscape and the environment. Trees provide much-needed shade and cooling to increasingly hot neighborhoods and cities and are among nature’s most effective ways to remove the harmful carbon dioxide that fuels global warming.

When mature trees die due to lack of irrigation, they become a dangerous fire hazard. They are expensive to remove. Young replacement trees take many years to provide the benefits of mature trees.

So taking care of your trees during drought ensures a tremendous return on that investment.

Deep soaking maximizes tree irrigationnot

Even when not in times of acute drought, trees planted in a Mediterranean climate often need a little extra water. Mimic the way Mother Nature provides water for the most efficient irrigation.

Healthy tree roots reach three to four feet deep at the outer edge of a tree’s branches, where rain would naturally run off the leaves. This area at the edge of the tree canopy is called the drip line.

When it rains, Mother Nature’s rainfall is mostly steady, slow, and spread out. Follow this method for a slow, prolonged soak. Trees prefer infrequent deep watering.

In times of drought, a slow watering every two or three weeks for more established trees is sufficient. Avoid runoff with multiple cycles to allow water to soak in deeply. Water early in the morning to minimize evaporation.

Keep in mind that grass competes with your trees for water. Even if you want to keep some grass, it is a good idea to remove the grass immediately around your trees and replace it with water efficient landscaping.

Protect trees from climate change

Drought is a reality in the San Diego area as average temperatures rise. As the summer months get warmer, the soils dry out. Trees need to be watered deeply to feed their roots and keep them healthy.

San Diego forestry and landscaping professionals work with the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies to help protect the trees in our area while conserving water. Find more resources and learn more about

The San Diego County Water Authority offers programs, resources and incentives to improve water use efficiency for residential, commercial and agricultural users. For more resources on water use efficiency, go to

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