Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Caring for trees and landscapes in times of drought

Roger Boddaert

Special to the Village News

We are entering new times of caring for the landscapes surrounding the homes that give us such pleasure, shade and aesthetic enjoyment, and much more to our daily lives. The climate blanket that surrounds the globe is changing daily. We need to take measures to provide protection and care for our gardens in this unprecedented drought cycle that we are all enveloped in and understand we are all in the same boat.

I have been working outside in landscapes for over six decades and I have seen this coming, for the times are changing and blowing in the wind. The weather data that we see on the television or from our phones tell us that new records are being set in temperatures, storms, tornados, floods, wildfires and weather phenomena that we have never seen before.

Our homes are the castles that we have worked hard to maintain, enhance and call "home sweet home." But with the lack of average rainfall and the warmer winters, plus the lower snowpack in the Northern California mountains, a new challenge awaits us all to sustain the landscape surrounding our homes.

We must understand that the dry cycle conditions are not new, but the value of the landscapes surrounding our homes increases each year as it matures and develops

The trees that surround us daily play such a key role in cooling our homes, helping in erosion control, creating habitat for wildlife, and bringing us beauty and joy.

So, let's all pull up our bootstraps and understand what we can do now, for the future, and moving forward for our gardens, our trees, and the earth right now.

Here is a program that you all can employ daily in the overall preservation of your landscapes and Mother Earth.

Water is a precious and finite commodity, and there is just so much to drink, water our crops, flush our toilets, wash our clothes and dishes and drink.

So how can we protect the surrounding trees, shrubs, and gardens to preserve, protect and be more water-efficient around the world, you ask?

Yep, it's doable, but we must rethink the days of old and adopt new solutions outside of the box with that precious blue liquid called water, and you can do it right now before the hot summer months ahead of us.

Here are some essential conservation tips for your trees, landscape and water bill, during drought conditions:

· Reducing each sprinkle cycle by at least two minutes saves 80 gallons of water per day, assuming you have five irrigation stations watering three times weekly; you might have to adjust accordingly per the number of stations in your irrigation system.

· By reducing your watering times by two minutes across the board, you can achieve an instant water saving of 20% for every time you water, depending on your system, which will vary.

· Please turn on your sprinkler system, and flush it out to ensure the water delivery goes where it should. Sometimes small grits of sand or tiny bugs can get into the sprinkler heads and stop the flow.

· Perhaps it's an old system and needs upgrading and more water-conserving heads. Check with a water specialist who can review the design and possibly upgrade it to be more water effective.

· As you limit landscape watering, take steps to protect trees. Trees offer many benefits to people and wildlife and are an investment from one generation to the next generation.

· Lawns can turn golden and eventually recover. Trees, however, can be lost forever after years of growth.

· Dump the lawn and redesign the landscape to be drought-tolerant, for it can be handsome and save water and money.

· Trees can be watered via "soaker hoses" and slowly saturate the soil around the root system.

· Young trees or newly planted trees require 10-15 gallons of water per week.

· For newly planted trees, it is vital to monitor the watering system to get young trees established in the first three years of their lives.

Here are some tools to use in the caring for your trees, the landscapes, potted plants, and the planters about your homes

· Tensiometers are tools with a long probe to place deep into the soil area to register the moisture content. The gauge will show moist, damp, or dry, and this takes the guesswork out of knowing your soil's moisture so that you can water more efficiently.

· Soil probe: This is a metal rod that you plunge deep into the soil, and it pulls up a soil sample to see the soil strata and moisture content in that sample. I use it a lot in my landscape evaluations which can tell me about the soil makeup and water penetration.

· Alligator bags: These are vinyl bags that you fill with water and place near trees with small holes at the base, and it slowly releases the water to drip around the root ball of the trees. We use them in some of the downtown Fallbrook trees to establish them in the beginning years.

· Mulch, mulch, mulch: Mulching can save water by retaining soil moisture, cutting down on weeds, building mycorrhizae (beneficial microbes), and being a handsome layer on the ground.

· Don't over prune: I see way too many trees over pruned, and this can let too much hot sunlight into the canopy of trees, which can lead to interior sunburning of the trunks, limbs, and branches of the trees.

Trees can go into a water stress mode with the lack of water, and here are a few symptoms to look out for:

Wilted foliage, a sparse canopy, leaf scorch, curled leaves, yellowing of leaves, leaf drop, and premature fall coloration, to mention a few.

To become attentive, take a walk around your garden and see what you can do, for you are the captain of your ship and the caretaker around your home.

"We are like trees, for we must create new leaves in order to grow."

Roger Boddaert, The Tree Man of Fallbrook, can help your trees in these changing times: he can be reached at 760-728-4297.


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