During drought conditions extra steps can be taken to care for both young and mature trees. Below you will find a variety of tips and recommendations from Save Our Water to provide tree care during the drought.
Check Your Soil
Check soil moisture to see if it's time to water. The easiest way is to use a long screwdriver and poke the soil. It will pass easily into moist soil, but be difficult to push into dry soil. If you can't poke it in at least 6", it's time to water.
Young trees (0-3 yrs) need 5 gallons of water 2 -4 times per week. Create a small watering basin with a berm of dirt. Drill a small hole in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket, place it near the tree, fill it with water, and let it slowly drain. If soil drains slowly, knock down berm in winter.
For established trees (3+ yrs), slowly soak the root zone under the canopy until water soaks 12-18 inches below the surface. Do not water close to the trunk. Use a soaker hose, a sprinkler hose attachment on a low setting, or other watering systems.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!
4-6 inches of mulch or leaf litter improves vigor and helps retain moisture, reducing water needs and protecting your trees. Keep mulch from trunks and stems. Mulch also does not compete for water (like lawns) or radiate heat (like rocks).
Limit Pruning and Fertilizer
Avoid pruning or fertilizing trees during dry seasons. Lack of water and too much pruning both stress your tress. Fertilizer encourages leafy growth, which requires more water.
Soak Slowly to Avoid Run-Off
Watering faster than soil can soak it in leads to runoff and waste. Long, slow soaks allows water to go deeper. Place watering system above the trees if on a slope so water flows and soaks around the tree (but not close to the trunk). Use a hose timer so you don't leave the hose on.