PJ Bremier’s Fine Living: Help your trees survive the drought

In this article from the Marin Independent Journal, Nick Crawford, sales arborist for Davey's San Francisco office, gives readers tips for keeping their trees healthy during drought. 

Posted: June 5, 2015

By PJ Bremier 

Wondering how your trees will survive the drought? Nicholas Crawford, a board-certified master arborist for the Davey Tree Expert Co. whose territory includes Marin County offers some timely tips:

• Know your tree. Crawford divides trees into three categories: those with high, moderate or low water requirements.

Redwoods fall into the high water use category; citrus, maples, broadleaf evergreens and gingkoes are in the moderate range, and low water users include eucalyptus, pines and native oaks.

Even so, low-water use trees need water. “They can survive drought conditions, but we had an unseasonably warm winter and that combination is stressing out native oaks,” he says. And, when a tree is stressed, it’s wide open for fatal pests or diseases.

In general, for the health of the tree, low water-using ones should be slowly deep-watered once every three months when it’s hot, and dry and moderate ones should be watered once a month.

A recommendation for high water users, such as a redwood tree, he says, “is a tough one because they could use so much water. They’re used to much wetter environments.”

• Location, location, location. “It’s hard to give a general answer on how much water any tree needs,” he says. “An arborist can take a look at the whole landscape to help you figure that out.”

For example, you can have multiple microclimates within your garden or a tree could be planted next to asphalt causing it to bake in the sun or it could be in a protected location on the north side.

• Water ways. “People I talk to are really trying to do whatever they can,” he says. “They shower with a bucket and pour it on a tree. A bucket of water may be fine for container plants, but it’s negligible for a tree.”

First thing, Crawford says, is “water trees in the morning to minimize evaporation.” Then, water slowly, so there is less run-off.

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