• Trees line a neighborhood with houses.

    Prioritize Your Trees

    Even if a municipality imposes watering restrictions, you'll likely be able to properly water trees. Remember, trees are an investment. It will take more water, time, and money to replace a mature tree lost to drought than to keep alive.
  • A person using a screwdriver to poke a hold to check soil.

    Check Your Soil

    Check soil moisture to see if it's time to water. The easiest way is to use a long screwdriver and poke the soil. It will pass easily into moist soil, but be difficult to push into dry soil. If you can't poke it in at least 6", it's time to water.
  • Young trees

    Young Trees

    Young trees (0-3 yrs) need 5 gallons of water 2 -4 times per week. Create a small watering basin with a berm of dirt. Drill a small hole in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket, place it near the tree, fill it with water, and let it slowly drain. If soil drains slowly, knock down berm in winter.
  • Established trees in front of a home.

    Established Trees

    For established trees (3+ yrs), slowly soak the root zone under the canopy until water soaks 12-18 inches below the surface. Do not water close to the trunk. Use a soaker hose, a sprinkler hose attachment on a low setting, or other watering systems.
  • Mulch surrounds a tree where there is a shovel in the ground.

    Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!

    4-6 inches of mulch or leaf litter improves vigor and helps retain moisture, reducing water needs and protecting your trees. Keep mulch from trunks and stems. Mulch also does not compete for water (like lawns) or radiate heat (like rocks).
  • A tree with branches in front of a home's window.

    Limit Pruning and Fertilizer

    Avoid pruning or fertilizing trees during dry seasons. Lack of water and too much pruning both stress your tress. Fertilizer encourages leafy growth, which requires more water.
  • A person soaks a tree with a garden hose.

    Soak Slowly to Avoid Run-Off

    Watering faster than soil can soak it in leads to runoff and waste. Long, slow soaks allows water to go deeper. Place watering system above the trees if on a slope so water flows and soaks around the tree (but not close to the trunk). Use a hose timer so you don't leave the hose on.
California poppies grow at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Gardens in Fair Oaks, California, within Sacramento County.

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