Landscaping During a Drought

Prepare your landscape for the dry summer

Turf can significantly cool down your house but many people are looking to get rid of all their grass altogether.

KOLOlogoIf you plan on living on your property for another five or ten years, you can take it out and create a beautiful landscape with a third of the turf and probably using 1/10th of the water you’re using now.

But before you fork out thousands of dollars, there are cheaper alternatives, like changing your sprinkler nozzles. You’ll save 20-30% on your water bill right off the bat.

Click to view the full KOLO 8 News Now story from Catherine Van.

 

KOLO TV provides some smart tips on what homeowners can do in the area to prepare for drought.

  • Aerate your turf in Spring as well as in the Fall
  • Walk your irrigation system and check for leaks
  • Swap out older inefficient nozzles for water-smart nozzles (for your turf irrigation)
  • Whenever possible, move to DRIP irrigation to water trees and shrubs
  • Program your clock for the seasons – spring, summer, HOT summer, fall then winterize properly
  • Have a licensed Irrigation Technician set up your system each spring

If you have thoughts or concerns on how best to prepare a watering program for your landscape this spring, call Tim at Signature to receive a free consultation on steps to take.

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Winter Drought Tree Watering

Supplemental Tree Watering

Winter watering is essential to maintain healthy trees in Northern Nevada and California. Your trees and shrubs need a good drink this winter! 


Signature Landscapes offers a Deep Root Watering service that ensures moisture is placed in and around the critical root system.

Let us help you water your trees & shrubs: Contact our Tree Care team at (775) 857-4333

Why water trees in the winter?

driplinegraphic-LargeWe’ll often find ourselves experiencing periods of little or no precipitation during winter months. The impact of this to newly planted trees, trees in construction areas, and trees already under stress from previous storm or insect damage can be overwhelming. This will often result in tree death. With the cost of removing and planting trees rising every day, it becomes increasingly important to properly care for the trees that are already in your landscape.

On average, it takes up to 12″ of snow to equal just 1″ of actual moisture.

Businesses, property managers and homeowners should evaluate their ability to water their trees, shrubs and turf areas, and don’t be fooled when it snows. Dry winter conditions result in serious damage to newly planted landscapes as well as mature and established trees. Damage to vegetation includes, but is not limited to:

  • Desiccation and dieback to fibrous (nutrient absorbing) root tissue
  • Undersized leaves in the spring
  • Needle browning and premature needle drop in evergreen trees
  • Increased susceptibility to insect attack

Download PDF – Managing Drought Guideook

Inadequate water (drought stress) is probably the most significant cause of plant problems in the Truckee Meadows. Due to the semi-arid conditions in which we live, irrigation systems, designed to satisfy the watering needs of our lawn, do not water deeply enough to accommodate the needs of our trees. Trees require deeper, longer, less frequent watering.

Rule of thumb: Water all established trees and shrubs deeply every four weeks when conditions are dry and mild. This is especially true in the fall and winter. Use of a soil probe or soaker hose is a good way to deeply water your trees. A sprinkler can also be used if allowed to run long enough to thoroughly moisten the top 12 inches.

To test if your trees need water, dig down two inches deep and form a ball in your hand. If the soil remains clumped together, your tree does not need water, otherwise water deeply.

Turf & trees have different water needs

Trees and turf often share space in home landscapes, but they have different water needs. Understanding this can help conserve water and save money.

A tree is a thirty-year investment that can easily add up to $5,000 to a property’s value!


Tree suffering from overwatering

Tree suffering from overwatering

Bluegrass turf requires about 1inch of moisture per week during the spring and fall and about 1 1/2 inches in summer, depending on temperatures and winds.

Water should be applied once or twice a week on heavier soils in spring and fall, and potentially two to three times during the heat of the summer. For lighter, sandy soils watering may be needed more often.

This frequent irrigation is good for the turf, but not so for the trees that live within the turf.

This frequent, shallow watering encourages trees living within the turfgrass to develop shallow roots. When periods of drought occur, these trees do not have a deep root system that would allow them to pull water from deeper in the soil profile and that’s when we see them become drought stressed.

One other problem that trees encounter while living in the over-irrigated turfgrass environment is that daily watering of turf also prevents the soil from drying out, this also is harmful to trees.

Tree roots need oxygen to develop correctly. Soil that is constantly saturated with water will prevent oxygen from being present in the soil. This will prevent proper root growth and this will lead to drought like symptoms.

Furthermore, trees planted in irrigated turf must try to compete with turf to capture moisture and nutrients within that top 12 inches of soil. Inevitably the turf will win every time.

Homeowners will find it more practical to meet the differing needs of trees and turf if they group trees within large mulched beds. Trees would prefer to be watered deeply and less frequently than lawns. They should be given 1 to 2 inches per application.

Healthy grouping of trees on a separate drip line

Healthy grouping of trees on a separate drip line

We encourage watering trees deeply and infrequently to encourage them to develop a deeper rooting system, which makes them structurally stronger and more resilient to years of drought because they can capture water deeper in the soil profile.

A typical tree has most of its water-absorbing roots in the top 12 to 24 inches of soil. Those roots also expand out more than one and a half times further than the drip line of the tree. These massive root systems allow trees to draw moisture from a larger area.

The objective to watering trees should be to irrigate to the depth of the root zone and provide adequate water to the area under the drip line and beyond.

Trees would prefer to receive moisture every seven to 10 days, possibly even 14 days, depending on species. The best way to know if a tree needs to be watered is to insert a soil probe or a 12-inch-long flat-head screwdriver into the ground. If it goes in easily there is no need to water; if it is difficult to insert into the ground, it is time to apply some moisture.

It’s also important not to apply too much water or fertilizer around the trees near the end of the growing season, prior to first frost. That would stimulate tender new growth that could be damaged by the freeze. However, after the leaves have dropped, if winter is dry, water should be added once a month.

Other factors to consider when trying to figure out a watering routine and amount to apply are:

  • Soil: Heavy soils require more water less often. Sandy soils require more applications, but in smaller amounts
  • Location in the landscape: Trees placed on south and west sides of buildings and homes require more frequent watering than trees on the north and east
  • Time of year: Trees need to be irrigated less often in the spring and fall, because temperatures are lower and less evaporation is occurring
  • Species of tree: Some trees species require more water than others

Knowing trees’ water requirements is more than a good way to conserve water; during a drought, it might be the key to saving valuable trees. If water restrictions are enacted, homeowners should give trees higher priority than turf.

 

Special thanks to Amy Seiler and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for information on this article.

Dry soil is a winter problem

This weekend marks the midpoint between three weeks of almost spring-like weather throughout much of Northern Nevada. This weekend could also be a critical time to water plants as warm temps and minimal precipitation has created dry soil conditions that can impact ongoing plant health.

Consider that it takes +/-10 inches of snowfall, depending on the moisture content, to equal 1 inch of moisture. Most winters, we do not receive the snowfall to give plants the moisture they need to sustain themselves.

Adding supplemental water during the winter keeps roots from drying out and that is one of the most important protective steps we can take in terms of winter plant care. And it’s not just about the winter. When we keep plants adequately watered during the dormant season, they enter the spring as healthier plants – ready to jump into their spring growth spurt. And that, in turn, makes plants better prepared for the hot days of summer.

In other words, winter watering pays off all year long.

About winter watering:

  • Anytime daytime temps are above freezing and the soil is not frozen, plants can be watered.
  • This weekend is prime time to check soil moisture around plants.
  • If soil is dry to about a 3-inch depth, then supplemental water is needed.
  • While daytime temps are still above freezing, assuming the soil in your area is not frozen, right now is a critical time to water trees, perennials and also turf.
Winter Drought Effect on Conifer

Evergreen trees are highly susceptible to winter drought

Even though lawns appear dormant, they still need supplemental water – especially the areas with a lot of sun exposure. Pay special attention to slopes and south or west facing areas. These areas will dry out first and when they are dry, they will also be very susceptible to mite damage. Fortunately, the best cure for turf mites is a good drink of water. Use a garden hose with the sprinkler attached and apply sufficient moisture so that the water soaks deeply into the soil.

Water trees with a deep root watering device attached to the hose so that water gets deep into the soil where roots live. Place the device into the soil at about 18 inch intervals around the tree. Move around the tree in a circle that corresponds to the area on the ground where the branches end. Use the same device to water shrubs.

This weekend, when you’re checking and watering your plants, remember that plant life is a cycle throughout all the seasons. Everything we do to maintain our plants now will pay it forward to have healthier plants down the road.

Water & Managing Drought

Quick Facts about Watering During A Dry Winter

  • Water trees, shrubs, lawns, and perennials during prolonged dry fall and winter periods to prevent root damage that affects the health of the entire plant.
  • Water only when air and soil temperatures are above 40 degrees F with no snow cover.
  • Established large trees have a root spread equal to or greater than the height of the tree. Apply water to the most critical part of the root zone within the dripline.

Signature PDF Guideook – Managing Drought

Dry air, low precipitation, little soil moisture, and fluctuating temperatures are characteristics of fall and winter in our area. Often there is little or no snow cover to provide soil moisture from October through March. Trees, shrubs, perennials and lawns under these conditions may be damaged if they do not receive supplemental water.

The result of long, dry periods during fall and winter is injury or death to parts of plant root systems.

Affected plants may appear perfectly normal and resume growth in the spring using stored food energy. Plants may be weakened and all or parts may die in late spring or summer when temperatures rise. Weakened plants also may be subject to insect and disease problems.

DROUGHT GUIDELINE: Download PDF for managing large landscapes during drought

Plants Sensitive to Drought Injury

Woody plants with shallow root systems require supplemental watering during extended dry fall and winter periods. These include European white and paper birches; Norway, silver, red, Rocky Mountain and hybrid maples; lindens, alders, hornbeams, dogwoods, willows, and mountain ashes. Evergreen plants that benefit include spruce, fir, arborvitae, yew, Oregon grape-holly, boxwood, and Manhattan euonymus. Woody plants also benefit from mulch to conserve soil moisture.

Herbaceous perennials and ground covers in exposed sites are more subject to winter freezing and thawing. This opens cracks in soil that expose roots to cold and drying. Winter watering combined with mulching can prevent this damage.

Lawns also are prone to winter damage too! Newly established lawns, whether seeded or sodded, are especially susceptible. Susceptibility increases for lawns with south or west exposures.

Watering Guidelines
Water only when air temperatures are above 40 degrees F. Apply water at mid-day so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night. A solid layer (persisting for more than a month) of ice on lawns can cause suffocation or result in matting of the grass.

Plants receiving reflected heat from buildings, walls and fences are more subject to damage. The low angle of winter sun makes this more likely on south or west exposures. Windy sites result in faster drying of sod and plants and require additional water. Lawns in warm exposures are prone to late winter mite damage. Water is the best treatment to prevent turf injury (see fact sheet 5.505, Clover and Other Mites of Turfgrass.)

Monitor weather conditions and water during extended dry periods without snow cover – one to two times per month.

Newly Planted vs. Established Plants
Newly planted trees are most susceptible to winter drought injury. Trees generally take one year to establish for each inch of trunk diameter. For example, a two inch diameter (caliper) tree takes a minimum of two years to establish under normal conditions.

Trees obtain water best when it is allowed to soak into the soil slowly to a depth of 12 inches. Methods of watering trees include: sprinklers, deep-root fork or needle, soaker hose or soft spray wand. Apply water to many locations under the dripline and beyond if possible. If using a deep-root fork or needle, insert no deeper than 8 inches into the soil. As a general survival rule, apply 10 gallons of water for each diameter inch of the tree. For example, a two-inch diameter tree needs 20 gallons per watering. Use a ruler to measure your tree’s diameter at 6″ above ground level.

Newly planted shrubs require more water than established shrubs that have been planted for at least one year. The following recommendations assume shrubs are mulched to retain moisture. In dry winters, all shrubs benefit from winter watering from October through March. Apply 5 gallons two times per month for a newly planted shrub. Small established shrubs (less than 3 feet tall) should receive 5 gallons monthly. Large established shrubs (more than 6 feet) require 18 gallons on a monthly basis. Decrease amounts to account for precipitation. Water within the dripline of the shrub and around the base.

Herbaceous perennial establishment periods vary. Bare root plants require longer to establish than container plants. Perennials transplanted late in the fall will not establish as quickly as those planted in spring. Winter watering is advisable with late planted perennials, bare root plants, and perennials located in windy or southwest exposures.

 

 

Thanks to the Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colorado counties cooperating.CSU Extension programs are available to all without discrimination. No endorsement of products mentioned is intended nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.

by J.E. Klett,  Colorado State University Extension horticulture specialist and professor, horticulture and landscape architecture; and R. Cox, Extension horticulture agent, Arapahoe County. 1/04. Revised 3/13.

 

Winter drought will take a toll on your landscape

A winter watering program will save your trees & shrubs

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, if the snow levels continue at this rate, it will be the driest four-year period since 1990-92. Warm winters without snow appeal to people, but cause harmful winter drought. Specifically, the lack of soil moisture and atmospheric humidity can damage tree and plant root systems unless they receive supplemental water on a regular basis. This can trigger a cascade of effects on overall tree and overall landscape health. By reducing a plant’s ability to take up water and nutrients, particularly during spring bud break, winter root damage limits subsequent stem and branch growth in summer. In turn, this can contribute to tree mortality and may even explain pockets of dead trees.

You see, trees may look inactive going into winter but the fact is they continue to regulate their metabolism and only slow down some physiological activities. This decrease in photosynthesis and transpiration begins a tree’s dormant phase. Trees still continue to slowly grow roots, respire and take in water and nutrients.

help-trees-survive-the-drought

A simple & visual guide to watering your trees during the winter drought

Why this matters now

Your tree & plant roots suffer from weeks of zero moisture.

Weaker trees and plants are more susceptible to outside pests and disease.

Plants will put energy into rebuilding the damaged root structures before flourishing in the springtime.

 

Contact Christina, your Customer Service Diva today to set up a winter watering program to ensure the health and vitality of your landscape investment this year.

Call: (775) 857-4333
Email: info@siglands.com

 

Learn more about our winter drought conditions from the media:

  • KTVN Channel 2 News: http://www.ktvn.com/story/24360015/drought-continues-into-new-year
  • KTVN Channel 2 News: http://www.ktvn.com/story/24420480/federal-water-master-says-drought-taking-its-toll-on-rivers-and-streams
  • RGJ.com: http://www.rgj.com/article/20140113/NEWS1801/301130022/Waiting-more-white-stuff-Snow-still-rare-resorts-retailers-challenging-season

 

How dry weather damages your landscape

According to NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the Northern Nevada area is experiencing extremely low precipitation, so you’ll want to put some time into watering your trees and shrubs as soon as possible.

Businesses and homeowners should evaluate their ability to water their trees, shrubs and turf areas, and don’t be fooled when it snows (please let it be soon!). Dry winter conditions result in serious damage to newly planted landscapes as well as mature and established trees. You and your plants will be glad you did.

Damage to vegetation includes, but is not limited to:

  • Increased susceptibility to insect attack
  • Undersized leaves in the spring
  • Needle browning and pre-mature needle drop in evergreen trees
  • Desiccation and dieback to fibrous(nutrient absorbing) root tissue

These are all very serious issues when you’re expecting your landscape to come back vibrant and healthy in the spring. The frequency of supplemental watering should be based on the ongoing conditions, so monitoring soil moisture should be done often throughout the winter. Winter watering is a task that is often ignored during the holidays as everyone’s life becomes hectic.

Fortunately, Signature Landscapes can take this burden off your shoulders. Give us a call today so we can help you all winter long. Just give us a buzz at(775) 827-5296 and we’ll get you started.

KTVN Channel 2 Interview

Here’s our own Steve Fine on KTVN Channel 2 talking about some of the issues with a dry drought – winter or summer


Your Trees Need Water in the Winter

Winter watering is important to our region’s community forest. When sprinklers are turned off, most plants and lawns hibernate, but your trees still need care. Remember that winter in the Truckee Meadows is often characterized by dry air, dry soil and significant temperature swings – all of which can stress your trees. The need for winter watering may not be obvious, but trees need water during dry spells. To help keep your trees healthy, follow these winter watering tips:

  • Water your trees every two to four weeks if there is no significant rain or snow. A healthy, sufficiently watered tree can withstand strong winds and freezing temperatures far better than one that is dry and stressed.
  • Apply water when temperatures are above 40 degrees and early enough in the day that the water will not freeze overnight.
  • Avoid spraying water on the trunks, as it increases the risk of frost injuries.

Be sure to disconnect and drain your hoses once you’re done watering too!

This is an excerpt from the TMWA January Newsletter.

Link to TMWA’s newsletter…

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.

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.

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