As Santa Clara County endures the third year of drought, Valley Water is asking all our communities to do their part and reduce water use. While one of the easiest ways to do this is by reducing your outdoor watering, everyone should keep watering their trees.
Trees are a vital part of our community. They create the air we breathe, help protect water quality and create shady gathering places for humans and wildlife. Trees provide long-term benefits and curb appeal to our neighborhoods as well if they receive adequate care.
Due to typical lawn watering schedules, many trees growing on lawns have shallow roots. Although letting your lawn go brown is encouraged, trees can quickly become stressed or die when irrigation is reduced or stopped altogether.
To help keep trees healthy, we recommend deep, infrequent watering of at least 10-20 gallons every one to two weeks in the summer. This can be provided by drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or a graywater system. Apply a few inches of mulch to help retain soil moisture but keep it at least 6 inches away from the tree trunk.
Watering in the morning or evening is always better to allow the water to percolate into the root zone while temperatures are cooler.
Larger trees may require far more water than small younger trees, but all trees prefer a long slow drink of at least 10 to 20 gallons on average per irrigation cycle.
Drought-resistant trees, including many California natives, may need far less water during summer drought periods than other species. If you need advice about the trees in your landscape consult your local arborist or nursery professional.
Because of the severity of the drought, my fellow board members and I unanimously approved an ordinance in May 2022 to enforce the restrictions on outdoor watering in Santa Clara County, which includes the potential for fines.
All property owners in Santa Clara County who receive potable water supplied or managed by Valley Water, either directly or indirectly by a water retailer, must NOT do any of the following:
- Water ornamental lawns more than two days a week
- Water any outdoor landscape between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
- Water in a manner that results in excessive runoff
- Water outdoors during and within 48 hours of rain
In June 2022, the State of California banned the watering of decorative lawns by commercial, industrial and institutional properties, including homeowners’ associations.
We are asking everyone in our communities to say yes to saving water. We owe it to our kids, family and community not to waste water.
For more information about caring for your trees during a drought, please visit southbaygreengardens.org/tree-care.
Details on Valley Water’s robust conservation rebates and programs are also available online.
Barbara Keegan is a Valley Water board member, [email protected]