Drought care for our trees

By From page A6 | April 16, 2014

As you may know, the city of Davis has had the pleasure of being known as a Tree City USA for the past 36 years! Our beautiful urban forest provides a multitude of community and economic benefits, including improved water and air quality, reduced violence, increased health, reduced storm water infrastructure costs, pavement and road longevity, increased property values and lower cooling costs.

To continue benefiting from our local trees, we must ensure that they receive proper care and maintenance, even during times of drought. Although we have had some relief, we are expecting a long, hot summer. I commend community members for taking steps to reduce water use at this time, however, I hope you will continue to provide the trees in your area with the amount of water they need to preserve our urban forest.

Here are some basic instructions on properly caring for your trees:

Prepare your tree for the best possible water absorption by eliminating competitive grasses, weeds and ground cover within 12 inches of the trunk. In addition, a layer of mulch one finger length deep around the base of the tree can keep water from evaporating and can keep weeds from growing.

The amount of water a tree needs depends upon the tree’s age. For trees in their first year, deep-water two to three times per week for the first two months. Remember to water more frequently during hot weather. After this period, water twice a week to keep the soil moist (not wet) until the winter season.

Trees in their second year require weekly deep watering beginning in late spring through early fall. Those in their third year or older need monthly deep watering during the dry season.

A good technique for checking soil moisture is to poke an 8-inch screwdriver into the soil. It is time to water if the screwdriver cannot easily pass through at least 6 inches of the soil.

Since our urban forest plays such a vital role in our community, it is important that we make its care and maintenance a high priority!

Kathryn Dixon

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