Garden Alert: Large trees are suffering due to drought measures

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treeWe’ve all have had to adapt to state imposed water restrictions this spring and summer. Many of us, myself included, have curtailed or cut-off the watering of lawns and other high-water-use landscapes to conserve water for use elsewhere in the household or for other, less thirsty areas in the landscape. As a result, some larger trees and shrubs in or around lawn areas are beginning to react adversely to the lack of water. This reaction will show up as burned leaf edges, discoloration of growth tips, or early fallcolor. These trees have adapted to receiving relatively frequent water in previous years and will need occasional deep watering to make it through the drought.

While lawn areas are relatively easy to replace with a drought tolerant landscape, fifteen to twenty foot tall trees (or taller) will not be replaceable.  If you do happen to lose an established tree to the drought, it may take upwards of ten to fifteen years for replacement trees to grow to the height and width of your current ones, requiring much more water over the years than the already established trees need. Losing a tall tree in a landscape will also change the microclimate in the garden. Plants that were growing in the shade of the tree will suffer or die when exposed to full sun. At the very least, if they adapt, those plants will need more water to thrive.

Deep root watering is one of the most efficient ways to water established landscape plants and trees. Generally speaking, two or three deep waterings during the summer and early fall is all it takes to keep an established tree healthy, even if it is not receiving the periphery watering it is used to. If you have dramatically changed your watering practices this year, I strongly recommend that you take some time to deep water some or all of your established trees. Properly run drip systems can accomplish this in some locations, but you may need to use a soaker hose (it should be left running for two or three hours), or try using King Green Deep-Watering Stakes, if your ground is soft enough to accommodate them. Read more about these stakes. >


Conservation is more about smart and efficient use of water than no-use. The

landscapes in our communities support a plethora of wildlife and are crucial to our ecosystems.

Thanks for choosing to garden with us.

Dave Stoner, President
Sloat Garden Center

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