Currently, almost 75 percent of California's land area is in the midst of a moderate drought. Nearly 15 percent of the state is experiencing severe drought conditions. If you have trees on your property in California, you can help them survive the dry conditions by watering your trees throughout the winter months. Here are three reasons why watering your trees in winter is important.
1. Saves Trees
According to KPCC, in a normal year, around a million trees die in the state of California. In 2017, that number soared to 27 million dead trees in the state. Drought combined with high temperatures caused the massive tree die-off.
When the temperature goes up, water in the soil evaporates. Less moisture is available to sustain plants, including trees. The stresses caused by drought and hotter temperatures can kill trees directly, especially if the trees are young or not drought-tolerant.
Watering your trees with slow drip irrigation is a great way to put moisture back in the soil for your trees. Water the area under tree canopies (or around the drip lines at the edges of the tree canopies for mature trees) to at least a depth of four inches.
You encourage deep roots by watering your trees deeply. Strong, deep roots hold trees to the soil and have an easier time drawing in nutrients to feed the trees.
2. Reduces Pest Issues
Drought conditions weaken trees and make them more susceptible to lethal insect pests. Tree pests including, emerald ash borers and bark beetles, have killed millions of drought-stressed trees in California, according to the Pacific Southwest Research Station.
Tree pests like bark beetles invade trees that are diseased or weakened, exploit and kill the trees, and lay eggs full of new beetle larvae. Nearby trees are soon infested, and the cycle repeats.
To keep your trees strong and resistant to pests like bark beetles, follow a winter watering schedule. Water your young trees once or twice a week. Water older trees once every other week.
There's no need to fertilize your trees when you water them during the winter months. Many trees are dormant during the cold season, so they don't need the extra nutrients. Fertilization of non-dormant trees in winter encourages new growth, but remember that tender new growth is more susceptible to temperature fluctuations in colder seasons.
3. Lowers Fire Risks
Drought-stricken and beetle-ravaged trees are more likely to perish and pose a future fire hazard. If you live in a fire-prone area, watering your trees over the winter can keep your trees from going up in flames.
When trees are extremely stressed by drought or pests, areas of the trees may die back. Sparks can ignite dry leaves and branches on the dead areas of trees.
Under mature trees, grass may die off due to the heavy water needs of the trees. The dry grass under drought-affected trees can catch on fire quickly from a windblown ember or spark.
If the soil under your trees is dry and crumbly at a four-inch depth, and the grass is dead, remove the grass and weeds around the trunk of the tree. Make a bare-earth circle around the tree that is at least fourfeet in all directions from the trunk, according to the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Aerate the soil around the bases of the trees, but be careful not to damage any roots close to the soil. Use mulch to cover the bare soil and decrease evaporation of moisture from the dirt around your trees.
When you have a hazardous dead or dying tree on your property, contact Community Tree Service, Inc., for help. We perform safe, professional tree removal in the Watsonville, CA, area.