Weathering winter drought – watering required

Commercial & Residential Landscapes Affected by Winter Drought

In much of Northern Nevada, we’re experiencing a serious dry spell. Warm winters without snow appeal to people, but cause winter drought. Specifically, the lack of soil moisture and atmospheric humidity can damage plant root systems unless they receive supplemental water. Truckee Meadows residents are in for a shock if watering doesn’t take place in the next few days.

 
Washoe County Parks has issued an emergency watering rule for all turf areas. Take this as a warning… let’s get our landscapes watered this month!

KTVN Channel 2 Interview

Do you remember last year’s dry December and January?


Affected plants may appear normal and resume growth in the spring, only to weaken or die in late spring or early summer because the amount of new growth produced is greater than the weakened root system can support. Lawn grasses also are prone to winter damage. Newly established lawns, whether they are started with seed or sod, are especially susceptible to damage in dry weather. Pay particular attention to turf on south exposures.

If you have any questions or comments about how to ensure the survival of your landscape plants, shrubs and trees, give us a call at (775) 857-4333 and ask for Tim, our irrigation landscape specialist.

woodlandvillageTrees and shrubs at risk from dry winters include recent transplants, evergreens and shallow rooted species such as lindens, birches, and Norway and silver maples. Evergreen shrubs, particularly those growing near a house, may suffer root system damage during dry spells.

Water during winter only when air temp is above freezing.In the future, you should plan on watering plants when the leaves start to fall in the autumn. This will send them into winter with adequate soil moisture. For recent transplants, a soil needle or deep-root-feeder can be used on low water pressure for one minute at each site to water the root ball and surrounding soil.

Water during winter only when air temperature is above freezing. Apply water early in the day, so it will have time to soak in before nighttime freezing. If water stands around the base of a tree, it can freeze and damage the bark.

In most years, one or two winter waterings will be enough to keep plants from suffering winter damage.

Special thanks goes out to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Landscape for information on this article.

Top 10 Man-made Tree Killers

Signature’s arborists have a “Top 10 List” of what kills trees. Turn the list around – and it becomes a list of what not to do – and what not to allow – if you want your trees to live.

IMG_3679
Hold her down captain!

 

1) Soil compaction & root damage
2) Topping & harmful cuts
3) Over-thinning & canopy elevations
4) Over-watering
5) Neighborhood tree removals
6) Planting too deep
7) Wrong tree/wrong place
8) Cambial injuries to the trunk
9) Poor cabling & damage repair
10) Over fertilizing or treating

Drought parches West; 11 states declared disaster areas

Map of western US drought areas

Map of western US drought areas

(RGJ.COM) – Federal officials have designated portions of 11 western and central states as primary natural disaster areas because of a drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement Wednesday includes counties in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma and California.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that he sympathizes with farmers and ranchers who are dealing with the lack of rain and snow, and assured them that the USDA will stand by them.

The designation means eligible farmers can qualify for low-interest emergency loans from the Agriculture Department.

Counties adjacent to those that are affected also are eligible for assistance.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website that tracks drought, reports that while storms have dumped rain and snow in the East, droughts are persisting or intensifying in the West.

The worst states for drought are California, Oregon and Nevada, the monitor reported. More than 62% of the state of California is now in “extreme” drought, the state’s highest percentage since the Drought Monitor began in Jan. 2000.

Extreme drought is the second-worst category of drought.

The entire state of Oregon is now completely in a drought, while the state of Nevada is just under 97%.

The monitor added that mountain snowpacks in the Sierra Nevada range continued to dwindle, with snow water equivalent averaging between 10% and 30% of normal.

Contributing; Doyle Rice, USA TODAY

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read the original story: Drought parches West; 11 states declared disaster areas

via Drought parches West; 11 states declared disaster areas | Reno Gazette-Journal | rgj.com.

Long-term Reno forecast: Below average precipitation, above average temperatures

The federal government’s long-term forecast indicates little relief could be at hand for worsening drought conditions across the Reno-Tahoe region.

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center is calling for the likelihood of below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures in February, March and April. The 90-day forecast was released today.

via Long-term Reno forecast: Below average precipitation, above average temperatures | Reno Gazette-Journal | rgj.com.

Drought prompts natural disaster declaration for Washoe County

Western Nevada Drought

Western Nevada Drought. RGJ.com map

Nine Nevada counties as primary natural disaster areas because of a drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement Wednesday includes Washoe, Clark, Lyon, Nye, Churchill, Lander, Mineral, Pershing, and Humboldt counties.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that he sympathizes with farmers and ranchers who are dealing with the lack of rain and snow, and assured them that the USDA will stand by them.

The designation means eligible farmers can qualify for low-interest emergency loans from the agriculture department.

Counties adjacent to the nine in Nevada are also eligible for assistance. Those include Douglas, Esmeralda, Lincoln, White Pine, Elko, Eureka, Storey and Carson City.

It also includes Mohave County, Ariz., Owyhee County, Idaho, eight counties in California and three in Oregon.

Article excerpt from RGJ.com

 


Salt & Ice-Melt Can Damage Your Property

One of the most frequently asked questions our crews will get during the winter is whether or not ice melt will hurt my yard?

Glad you asked! As the freezing and thawing of snow over sidewalks occurs, please keep in mind ice melt will indeed cause damage lawns and other sensitive plants if it’s not properly installed. To prevent long term injury, sidewalks and driveways should be cleared and snow tossed back far enough so when it melts, it does not melt over the top of the concrete and then freeze again the next night. This will prevent reapplication of salt to the same areas over and over and put less salt filled runoff into the yard right off the concrete surfaces.

Keep in mind salt is toxic to plants when it dissolves in water. Rock salt absorbs the water that would normally be used by roots. Roots dehydrate and plants are stressed. Salt reduces the cold hardiness of plants, making them even more susceptible to frost damage. 

Here are a few tips to keep your plants safe and your sidewalks and driveways clear:

  • Don’t over-salt! Follow label directions precisely.
  • Avoid using rock salt in extreme cold. Salt is most effective at temperatures just below the freezing point. 
  • De-icing agents with calcium-chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate, are salt-free and should be used in extreme cold.
  • Also, in extreme cold, sprinkle water lightly over the surface before you apply the ice melt for better results.
  • Erect barriers with plastic fencing, burlap or snow fencing to protect sensitive plants.
  • For plants that do get sprayed by salt, use a broom and lightly brush salt off of the plants. You may not see the damage to plants and trees by salt or ice melt until spring.
  • Shovel ice and snow as soon as possible, and try to keep sidewalks and paths clear to avoid re-applying.

 

Truckee River Flows at Risk for Summer

There are growing concerns we’re heading toward a major water shortage. We’re halfway through the month of January and parts of our region have only received 5% of the precipitation that usually falls in this month. December was also dry with a little over 20% of average rainfall.

Water experts say the Truckee is already at a reduced flow and it will get worse as our reservoirs dry up.

Truckee River Flows at Risk for Summer.

Get to the root of it – watering trees in winter

Watering your tree within entire root area

Watering your tree within entire root area. Click for larger image

These ecologists describe root activity as periodic, with maximum growth in early summer – especially in deciduous species – and pulses of additional growth occurring occasionally in early fall. And complicating things further, they indicate that not all roots grow at the same time. Even within a single tree, some roots may be active while others are not. However, by all accounts, tree roots in our region are thought to spend the winter in a condition of dormancy. This means they are not dead but rather they overwinter in a resting phase with essential life processes continuing at a minimal rate. Full-on root growth resumes in spring, shortly after soils become free of frost, usually sometime before bud break.

But unlike the aboveground parts of most trees that pass the winter in a prolonged dormancy – marked by unbroken inactivity until spring – tree roots seem to maintain a readiness to grow independent of the aboveground parts of the tree. That is, roots remain mostly inactive but can and do function and grow during winter months whenever soil temperatures are favorable, even if the air aboveground is brutally cold. While roots tend to freeze and die at soil temperatures below 20°F, minimum temperatures for root growth are thought to be between 32 and 41°F. So, if soil temperatures warm to or stay above this minimum, winter roots can break dormancy and become active.

Control and Prevention

The most effective way to reduce the possibility of root injury and disease is to keep the tree healthy and vigorous. A healthy root environment consists of adequate growing space for the root system, well-conditioned soil 16 inches to 24 inches deep, and sufficient water and oxygen. To check the water and soil condition of the root environment, dig a hole outside the dripline of the tree and determine if the soil is dry, wet or compacted. If you can’t get the shovel in the ground, the soil is dry. Soil moisture is adequate if the soil can be madeinto a ball with little pressure. Long, deep watering over the entire root system with time for the soil to dry between watering is better for trees than frequent light watering. Watering once a month during a long, dry winter also is helpful.

Avoid any practice that injures the roots. This includes: soil compaction, soil depth changes, mechanical injury, and improper watering and fertilization techniques. However, if these practices cannot be avoided, try to minimize damage.

Learn more about the health of your trees by calling a Signature ISA Arborist - (775) 857-4333 

To minimize soil compaction, remove compacted soil and replace it with noncompacted soil. Provide adequate drainage before planting. Use 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch (peat moss, wood chips, tree bark) around the base of a tree to improve soil aeration and water availability. Adding new mulch every three years or so will be needed as the mulch decays and improves the soil structure.

Avoid fertilization damage by applying nitrogen fertilizer to established trees immediately after spring leaf expansion, not in the late summer and fall.

 

 

Water Conservation Tips for HOA’s and Large Commercial Properties

The challenge of watering Homeowners Associations (HOAs) and other large commercial properties during a drought can be greatly reduced by using proven maintenance practices, integrating irrigation technology designed to water more efficiently and incorporating Xeriscape principles.

 

Following are practical tips provided by Signature’s landscape experts to help large properties keep landscapes healthy while using less water.

Tip #1: Determine the best water plan

drip-hoaIn communities where mandatory water restrictions have been enacted, large properties are typically faced with two irrigation options: watering on assigned days or participating in a designated water budget program. Because many commercial properties with large landscapes need more flexibility to deliver water to all their irrigation zones, property managers may elect to use a water budget. Water budgets determine a certain number of inches per year, gallons per square foot, or percentage reduction of water use based on evapotranspiration (ET). If using a water budget, the property can normally be watered any day of the week, but is limited to a prescribed amount of water. Irrigation professionals can help develop a program that is best for the property.

Tip #2: Perform proper irrigation maintenance

Improving irrigation system efficiency is one of the best ways to save water and money not only in a drought year, but every year. At system start-up and throughout the watering season, the system should be checked for leaks and broken heads and repaired promptly. Heads should be straight and not obstructed by tall grasses or plants.
Spray heads that mist or fog are indicators that the water pressure is too high and wasting water. Installing pressure-regulating devices will save water and help apply water directly to the plants.
Replacing mismatched nozzles and installing higher efficiency nozzles also save water. Many water providers offer rebates on high-efficiency nozzles, so be sure to check rebate qualifications online or ask your landscape contractor. Drip irrigation is recommended for watering trees, shrubs and flower gardens.
Drip irrigation systems are water efficient because they are not as susceptible to water loss due to evaporation, wind or surface runoff.

Tip #3: Incorporate water-saving technology

etsystemSmart controllers, also known as evapotranspiration (ET) controllers, measure soil type and characteristics, precipitation rates, plant water requirements, and weather to deliver only the amount of water needed. Controller types, features and costs vary, and some brands allow the entire system to be maintained remotely via the Internet.
Another important and inexpensive technology is a rain sensor, which prevents the irrigation system from watering during a rainstorm. Many water utilities offer rebates on water-saving technologies.

Tip #4:  Xeriscape

Xeriscape is more than a garden style or type of plant. It is a comprehensive approach to landscaping that combines seven landscaping principles to conserve water. The process includes proper design, soil prep, appropriate plant selection, water efficient irrigation, practical turf areas, mulches and appropriate maintenance. Converting all or part of an existing property to Xeriscape is another way to save water.

Tip #5: Schedule watering based on site conditions

Several factors must be considered when setting watering schedules on large properties, including soil, slope, plant types, exposures and existing irrigation technology. To adequately determine frequency and duration of watering, water application rates, soil characteristics, plant needs, weather variation and the capabilities of your irrigation technology must also be considered. For example in May, the controller might be scheduled to apply only 50 percent of the peak water budget that would be applied during the heat of July.
The amount of water applied at any one time should not exceed the infiltration rate of the soil or water will run off. Newer controllers allow for multiple start times so that the cycle- and-soak method can be utilized for better infiltration.

Tip #6: Hire a Pro

Not all landscape contractors are irrigation efficiency experts. When interviewing contractors, ask for water-saving successes from their work on similar-sized properties.
It is important to select a contractor who understands the principles of water management and also has the expertise to operate new technology. Providing the contractor the property’s water bill will help him better assess how to employ water saving measures.

 

greencoThis fact sheet is part of the Green Industries of Colorado (GreenCO) education series. GreenCO is an alliance of seven trade associations representing all facets of horticulture and landscape industries. This educational material is courtesy of GreenCO and made possible through a Water Efficiency Program Grant from the Colorado Water
Conservation Board (CWCB).

Wolf Pack’s Brian Polian lights the Humane Society Tree

It’s official, the Nevada Humane Society’s Lights of Love Tree Lighting ceremony went off without a hitch on Saturday night!

Signature Landscapes’ holiday light division, Christmas Decor was proud to sponsor the inaugural event. Dozens of folks enjoyed live music from the Suzuki Music Association of Reno/Tahoe and tasty hot cider as they waited for the official countdown to the tree lighting.

UNR Wolf Pack Coach Brian Polian and his son were on hand to ‘flip the switch’ of the 16′ tree atop the Humane Society roof. It was a wonderful moment when the tree was lit. Guests were even able to mingle with Wolfie, the Wolf Pack mascot, who graciously mugged it up for the cameras!

Signature Landscapes has been lighting up the Nevada Humane Society for years as part of it’s seasonal sponsorship of the program. Helping pets find warm homes is wonderful thing that impacts families for years and years.

Visit the Humane Society to learn more about their Lights of Love program and have a very Merry Christmas!


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