Mature Tree Care & Reduced Water Use

Maintaining Tree Health During a Drought

Due to several years of below average rainfall, water users across San Diego county are being asked to reduce their water use by as much as 10% or more. Many tree owners worry that their big, beautiful, mature trees will suffer, knowing that they have grown up being dependent upon landscape water for survival. However, the Tree Barber has some recommendations for how to keep your trees looking healthy and strong.

The Importance of Mature Trees

From economic values to air quality, trees provide an important resource to everyone. They provide social benefits, help conserve energy, and provide shade and beauty to those around them. However, if a mature tree dies, they are also extremely expensive to remove, and replacement of a mature tree can take decades.

Water Shortage is a Slippery Slope

Water is the single most limiting resource for tree survival and growth. When it is mature, a tree needs between 50 and a few hundred gallons of water on a summer day. The moment a tree stops getting enough water, its health starts to decline rapidly. First, the feeder roots begin to die off, causing the leaves to wilt, yellow, shrivel and drop off the canopy. As the canopy becomes sparse, pests and diseases become opportunistic, secondary concerns. When a tree’s Permanent Wilting Point (PWP) is reached, there is no possible hope of recovery. Without enough water, a mortality spiral begins which takes a tree from healthy to declining to death in a very short period of time.

What Can You Do To Help Your Trees?

  • Perform proper pruning- Do not over-thin; be sure there is an objective before pruning
  • Apply mulch- A 3-4 inch thick layer of mulch can save 20-30 gallons of water per day per 1000 square feet
  • Provide Water- Water trees deeply and slowly, within the drip like of the tree, 10 gallons each diameter inch of tree, approximately once per month in winter (if no rain), twice per month in summer – you may need to reallocate water from other areas of the landscape
  • Do not cut roots- This will reduce a tree’s ability to take up water
  • Avoid soil compaction- Roots are easily damaged and lost by even minor compaction
  • Minimize construction near trees- Damage and trauma to a tree or its immediate surrounding area can cause stress and decline

If you still have questions about the best way to care for your mature trees, your North County San Diego arborist, Tree Barber is here to help. To speak with our Certified Arborist, call (760) 745-7871 or (858) 485-0663 today!