Incidentally, the Silicon Valley has seen some pretty significant storms (flawless segue). We’ve been flooded with calls about downed trees, bent trees and broken support stakes. Our inboxes doth overflow with cries for help from concerned residents. With this in mind here’s what you need to know to manage tree risk.
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Hello internet! We’re taking a breather from botany this week and focusing on the practical. Today is January 29, 2016 and I bet you know what that means. No, not National Corn Chip Day, this blog is proudly independent of the corn chip cartels that seek to dominate this great nation. No, right now we’re at the height of the tree pruning season!
When we talk to people about plants, they often use “drought tolerant” and “native” interchangeably. (Sometimes we do it too) So why differentiate between them? Isn't drought tolerant enough? Everybody understands the “drought tolerant” part but what’s often overlooked is “native”.
We here at Our City Forest love talking to local residents, neighbors and random passers-by when we’re serving the communities of the Silicon Valley. We get asked a lot of questions about who we are and what we do. In general these interactions are friendly but sometimes, when the hoses are running and the water buckets are filling we get asked:
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!
Why our forest friends deserve the little water we’ve got.
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.