Heat Wave Watering Alert!
Keep your Trees Alive with Water
Santa Clara County is projected to have temperatures in the high 90's the rest of this week. It's important to keep your newly planted trees watered during this time because they are more susceptible to withering than mature trees.
The best time to water is in the early morning before the heat sets in, but water as soon as possible if the leaves on your tree begin wilting. New trees need about 10-15 gallons of water. Check each day to see if the soil is still moist and if it is, you don't have to water at that time.
Applying mulch, such as wood chips, is an excellent way to protect your trees from heat waves. Mulch insulates the soil and keeps the ground temperature from rising too high. Without this layer of protection, especially during a heat wave, the high soil temperatures can kill the roots.
- Mulching Tips: Lay a thick, 4-6 inch layer around your tree, beginning an inch away from the trunk. Ideally, this should extend to the edge of the canopy for maximum benefit.
Prioritize your plants!
1) Trees less than 3 years old should be the first priority. They are more susceptible to heat stress than mature trees, but they are also a long term investment and you don't want to have to start over from scratch.
2) Any other newly planted landscape. Many people are planting drought-tolerant landscapes to do their part in conserving water. However, newly planted plants whether they are drought-tolerant or not, are still vulnerable to heat waves. Helping them get through this heat wave, will let them help you get through the drought!
3) Established Trees. Mature trees are much less likely to experience heat stress due to their more extensive root systems. However, with the drought extending into it's fourth year, it's not a bad idea to give them a good soaking about once a month.
4) Potted plants. Make sure to move your potted plants to a shady area and water them thoroughly. Potting soil will shrink when dry so double check to make sure the water is penetrating the soil and not just trickling down the side of the container.
5) What not to water: Lawns! Lawns should not be a priority because they can easily grow back and they provide far fewer benefits than trees. They are alsoextremely water intensive.
Save your trees during these hot California days, REMEMBER TO WATER!
Converting your lawn to a drought-tolerant landscape is a great way to reduce water usage and still maintain your home's curb appeal. You can achieve an 50-80% reduction in landscape water use, and currently qualify for a $2 per sq. ft. rebate from the Santa Clara Valley Water District <link to http://www.valleywater.org/Programs/LandscapeRebateProgram.aspx>.
The best part, you don't have to rent a sod cutter to remove your lawn and haul it away. We have an economic and eco-friendly alternative using cardboard, compost, and woodchips. It’s immediately attractive, and because you’re not actually removing the lawn, the decomposed organic material will provide additional nutrients for your new landscape.
You may have heard, but OCF is partnering with the City of San Jose and the Municipal Water Company to provide a conversion service <link to ourcityforest.org/lawnbusters> for residents. Contact the City for more info about the pilot program.
In the mean time, here are 12 easy steps to Do It Yourself and take advantage of the lawn-conversion rebate:
1. Contact the water district <link to http://www.valleywater.org/Programs/WaterWiseHouseCallRequest.aspx> and schedule a pre-inspection. They will come out, measure your lawn, and give you an eligible square footage value for your rebate.
2. Submit a landscape plan and plant list to the water district. This is where many folks choose to hire a landscape designer, but you can also come to the Our City Forest Community Nursery <link to nursery page>, and they can help you create a simple plan. The water district has a list of qualifying plants <link to http://www.valleywater.org/uploadedFiles/Programs/WaterConservation/Landscaping/PLANT%20LIST%20WITH%20COVER2013.pdf?n=4444>, many of which can also be obtained at the OCF Nursery (Address: 1000 Spring St., San Jose).
After you submit your plan, the water district will take a few weeks to approve it. Once you get approval, you can buy the plants.
Now for the fun part!
3. Dig a shallow trench along the lawn perimeter wherever it meets the sidewalk, driveway or landscape edging. The trench only needs to be 4" deep and 6" wide. Pile the backfill from the trench onto the lawn and use it to create raised mounds.
4. Gather large pieces of cardboard from furniture stores and neighbors. Begin by layering the cardboard over the lawn so it slightly overlaps. Where you trenched, tuck in the cardboard to keep the grass from growing out on the edges, and bury with compost.
5. Spread a 2" layer of compost over the cardboard. You may need 5 cu yards or more (for an average sized lawn). You can get compost delivered right to your door from a landscape supply company. Our partners at Zanker <link to loseyourlawnnow.com> always help us out with this and step 6.
6. Call a tree care company and get them to deliver a truckload of woodchips. They are happy to do so and typically do it for free (they otherwise have to pay the landfill to dump it). You will need enough woodchips for a 3-4" layer. That can be a lot of woodchips.
To calculate how much woodchips and compost you need, take the square footage of your lawn and multiply it by the height you want (in feet) then divide by 27.
Length x Width x Height (in feet) / 27 = Cu yards
For example, if your yard is 30 x 20 and you want 4" of wood chips, then the formula is 30 x 20 x .33 /27 = 7.3 Cubic Yards of wood chips. Truckloads of woodchips are usually about 10 cu yards.
7. Wet everything down.
8. Lay out your plants according to your plan. To plant, poke a hole in the cardboard with a shovel or trowel. The best way to do this is to poke an "X" and fold down the cardboard in the hole. You want to plant slightly above the compost layer (top of the rootball should be 1/2" above compost layer) and create a small basin of woodchips/mulch around the plant. The plant should not be buried in the woodchips or mulch. Keep it 4" away from the plant.
9. You can install drip irrigation as well right over the mulch, then bury the lines a little bit, or just handwater. Often times you can convert your old sprinkler heads to drip. If you have high pressure (over 60psi), then you will need to install a pressure regulator.
10. Water it in. Everything will settle over time. Usually the new landscape should be watered 2 times a week in the first year. The following year, it is considered established and will only need water once a month. Some natives won’t need any supplemental water after establishment. The thick layer of woodchips retains soil moisture.
11. Schedule a post-inspection with the Water District for rebate approval. They will confirm 50% of the plants are from the agreed plant list (Step 2), and 50% of the previous lawn area is now covered with plants from the approved list. Installing, impermeable hardscape like concrete walkways will reduce your eligible rebate amount.
12. Sit back, relax, and wait for your rebate check to arrive. It may take 4-6 weeks. You may get a few stray sprigs of grass poking up, and this a good time to remove them.
Take the check to the bank and brag to your neighbors. You just did your part in saving water and inspired others to do the same. Good job!!!
Why our forest friends deserve the little water we’ve got.
If trees could wish, what would they wish for...
About a month ago, Our City Forest hosted a graduation for the class of super volunteers, the Tree Amigos. This mix of students, concerned residents, fans of trees and overall wonderful people took a month long course challenging their brains and arm muscles. They are now armed with the knowledge, the skills, and the passion to go out in our community and make a difference. We're beyond proud to graduate these new keepers of the Urban Forest.
Each month, the OCF AmeriCorps members feature a Tree of the Month. It gives us a chance to learn about the benefits and features of the trees that make up our urban forest in Silicon Valley. Most species are native to our area and available at our Community Nursery. For February, we've highlighted the Magnolia.
This month, the nursery is hard at work replanting 900 bare root trees. These trees will be cared for at the nursery until they are picked up and planted across San Jose's urban forest. Bare Root weeks at the nursery are crucial to our inventory and also our tree plantings for years to come, they may be the most impactful project the nursery has all year long.
Although we may be in a drought, the importance of watering your tree properly will shape our urban forest for years to come. It is important to be diligent about regular watering, especially in the first year. Here are some tips.
Our first annual Holiday Rent-A-Tree program went quite well during December 2014. Over 100 Living Holiday Trees went out into the community. This means there were 100+ trees that were not thrown to the curb after the season ends. It also means 100+ trees were not supporting the production of plastic in China. I believe the most valuable thing that stemmed from the Rent-A-Tree program is the amount of funding raised to support the continuing cultivation of plants and tree stewards at the OCF Nursery. So a big thanks to all of our participants!