5 Tips for Getting Your Trees through the Drought

Trees Survive California Drought
From water shortages to brush fires, the evidence is clear that the drought afflicting California is serious business. Everywhere you look, you’ll find warnings to avoid wasting water and incentives for conservation and responsible use.

One of the best things that you can do for the earth – and your yard – during a drought is to carefully nurture your trees. According to Tree People, one of trees’ many benefits is that they help combat climate change, clean the air, and help cool the cities and yards that they give shade to. They can also help the ground retain water and refresh the water table after rains.

So how can you responsibly care for the trees in your yard, and give them a shot at getting through the drought?

1. Make sure mature trees get deep, slow watering. They’ll only need it once or twice a month, but deeply and slowly water these older trees with a simple soaker hose or drip system, toward the edge of the tree canopy.

2. Give younger trees more water. Less mature trees will need more water – try five gallons, two to four times per week. Create a small watering basic with a berm of dirt, and fill it.

3. Hop in the shower with a bucket. Buy a five-gallon bucket for every full bathroom in your house, and make it a rule: every time you hop in the shower, position the bucket to capture as much runoff as possible. Just make sure that soaps and shampoos are biodegradable!

4. Take it easy when pruning. Do not over-prune trees during drought – too much will stress your trees.

5. Three words: mulch, mulch, MULCH. The importance of mulch can’t be overstated. Just four to six inches of the stuff helps retain moisture, reducing water need and protecting your trees.

Follow these simple rules and your Trees will Survive the California Drought! If you need help, contact us!

Preparing your Trees for El Nino

Preparing Trees for El Nino

Forecasters everywhere have been predicting that 2015 will serve Californians an El Niño to remember. In fact, The Weather Channel recently forecasted that it could last well into the spring of 2016!

Everyone will need to prepare for the influx of rains in different ways – if you’ve got a creek, get those sandbags ready – and those with trees on their property also need to take special precautions. So grab a notebook and a pen, and take note of which of these checklist items are appropriate for the trees in your yard. Do everything you can do to prepare your trees for what could be the very, very rainy season ahead:

1. Clear Everything Near the Roof. If there are any branches overhanging your roof or touching it – get rid of them.

2. Prune the Big Ones. Big rains often come with big winds. Have large trees – like those giant pine trees in the front yard – structurally pruned to allow the wind to pass through them safely.

3. Clean them up. If you see any dead branches – or those that are on their way, remove them before they fall. Solidify young trees. Those saplings you picked up at the water conservation event this spring? They haven’t been in the ground long, so make sure they – or any younger trees – are well-staked to withstand the winds.

4. Make Sure They’re All Healthy. Inspect your trees’ health. Are there dead branches at the top? Decaying or soft roots at the base? Those could be signs that the trees’ health is in decline.

If you’re not sure how to assess any aspect of your trees’ health – or would rather entrust it to the experts, be sure and contact a certified arborist today. It’s always better to be glad you did, rather than wish you had!

Drought Tolerant Trees for the Bay Area

Whether you are planting trees in a new landscape or curious about the tree species on your property, you should consider if they are drought tolerant trees. We have compiled this information about a few of our favorite drought tolerant tree species that you may find in your Bay Area backyard!

Sargent Cypress (Cupressus sargentii)
This beautiful evergreen loves the sun accompanied with good drainage. It only needs water the first year. It will grow fast it’s first year (almost 10 feet!) in areas with more than 40″ annual precipitation. In areas where there is less rain, the tree will grow into a twisted version similar to the Arizona Cypress.

The Sargent Cypress has gray bark, with a silver-type foliage, and is very drought tolerant. Some say it looks like a cross between a Douglas Fir and the Deodar Cedar. Like many in its species family, reproduction is aided by wildfire, which causes the opening of the cones and exposure to bare mineral soil for seedling germination.

Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa)
Ponderosa Pines are Drought Tolerant TreesCommonly known as the blackjack or western yellow pine, this beautiful tree is great for large spaces. It can grow up to 50 feet tall!

This statuesque pine has a cinnamon-red bark, beautiful dark green foliage, and very long needles that grow in tufts of two to five.

These pines can make it through the hottest of days in the Bay Area. They can handle the heat, but don’t handle smog well. When planting a ponderosa pine, make sure to give it lots of mulch and just one or two waterings.

Pinyon Pine (Pinus monophylla)
You can find these drought tolerant trees widely distributed in the intermountain region of the west coast, all the way down to Mexico. These trees yield edible pinyon nuts. The wood, when burned, has a very distinctive fragrance.

The tree is short and rarely grows over 30 feet tall. Growth is extremely slow with this species, even trees with trunks of 4 to 6 inches may be over 100 years old. Don’t except more than 15 feet in a lifetime! This tree is great for small gardens and won’t need watering.

Silk Tassel (Garry elliptica)
Drought Tolerant Silk TasselThe Silk Tassel is a beautiful, flowering, ornamental plant that is widely used for landscaping purposes in the Bay Area. It is very low maintenance and typically found growing against walls, on the edges of garden water, or as a windbreak in the coastal areas.

This plant is drought tolerant, but also hardy to cold temperatures. However, it does display its most beautiful blooms in areas with at least 25″ of rainfall. The Silk Tassel loves the sun, the coast, and once in a while a bit of shade. If your property is not within a few miles from a body of water, only try planting this species if you have a pool or pond that receives mostly shade throughout the day.

Bishop Pine (Pinus muricata)
Also known as obispo, pricklecone, umbrella, or the Santa Cruz pine. It was originally called the obispo tree when discovered in San Luis Obispo. English translation of the name became “bishop.”

This drought tolerant coniferous evergreen can grow to a height of 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 1 meter. The shape is stunted and twisted when in coastal regions and grows on dry, rocky soil. It’s a great tree for a fence hedge, excellent by the coast or in rocky terrain. It needs lots of sun and only water it the first summer.

Cones occur in one to five clusters and the outward facing scales are thick, both features adaptive to minimize the attraction to squirrels and fire damage. The cones will stay closed for years until heat or fire causes them to open and release seeds.

California Lilacs (Ceanothus)
Absolutely the Bay Area’s most intensely fragrant and colorful shrubs. They are also an evergreen species and very tolerant to drought (some of the lilacs that adapt to cold weather are deciduous).

Flowers on lilac shrubs are white, greenish-white, blue, purple, or pink shades and produced in tiny blooms within a large dense cluster. Seeds of the lilac can lie dormant for hundreds of years.

Lilacs can be found on dry, sunny hillsides from coastal lands to open forest clearings. The myth that lilacs die quickly is mostly due to landscapers that employ summer watering, drip irrigation, and soil amendments to their lilacs. California lilacs don’t need any of this! They will live for 20 to 25 years (but be careful for deer, they love the lilac shrub!)

If you have any questions about drought tolerant trees, or have an unhealthy tree that needs an assessment, we would love to hear from you!