|Trees are vital to a healthy ecosystem. They provide shade and cool our communities, improve air and water quality, and create diverse wildlife habitats. Mature trees save more water than they use. As we experience more heat and drought conditions, it’s imperative to take care of our trees—both deciduous and fruit-bearing.
Look for signs of stress. Look for drooping or curling leaves, fading leaf color, premature leaf drop, leaves that are smaller than normal, and upper branches dying.
Water mature trees deeply and slowly, but only once a month to a depth of about 18 inches. Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses (at least 1 foot away from the trunk). Sprinklers should be avoided.
Water young trees more frequently, 1–2 times per week, using 15–20 gallons. Create a watering basin around the tree using the outer edge of the canopy as the perimeter. Pour water slowly from a bucket. Capture shower warm-up water in the bucket or use rainwater captured in a cistern to conserve.
Mulch is the water-saving champion in the garden. Apply a 3–5 inch layer beneath your trees out as far as the edge of the canopy. This will help retain moisture in the soil. Keep mulch several inches away from the base of the trunk, to prevent rot.
Prune when necessary. Fruit trees, in particular, have specific pruning needs. Check out this upcoming pruning class on August 5 by Alameda Backyard Growers to sharpen your skills.