Watering Trees the EarthKind Way
Updated: Mar 1, 2021
Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
Between 40 and 60 % of our total water supply is used in landscape irrigation. By incorporating new principles in your yard you can help preserve our most precious natural resource, water.
For grass, plan the lowest water use turf grass for our area. Reduce size of your grass area by installing patios, decks, shrub beds and ground covers. Also consider the ease watering and mowing – odd shaped areas are difficult to water and mow.
Texas has an abundance of plants which are naturally adapted to the state. Most have lower water requirements, less pests and require less fertilizer. Combining native and well adapted non natives is the key.
This can also reduce maintenance by 50% through less mowing, once a year mulching, elimination of weak plants and better watering techniques.
For lawns apply water infrequently but thoroughly. At the first sign of wilting of your turf you have 24 to 48 hours before injury. Apply 1” of water as quickly as possible.
Water trees infrequently but thoroughly. Most trees and shrubs benefit from once a month thorough watering during the growing season. Remember that normal lawn watering is not a substitute for watering your trees and shrubs. The root system of a tree or shrub is located in the top 12” of the soil and in the drip line of the plant. The drip line is that area directly below the outermost reaches of the branches. This is where you apply water and fertilizer just inside and beyond the dripline, not at the trunk. Just lay a slowly flowing hose along the drip line. As each area becomes saturated to a depth of 8” to 10”, simply move the hose to the next area. For large trees this may take several hours. The goal is to give each tree a sufficient amount of water without waste.
Water between late evening and mid-morning to have less evaporation. Drip irrigation, like a hose, is also efficient and both require little maintenance. Drip slowly applies water to soil since water flows under low pressure through emitters or bubblers and has little run off.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.