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Landscape Tree Irrigation to Maximize Tree Health, Benefits, and Beauty

Most trees in California need supplemental irrigation above and beyond what Mother Nature supplies naturally. Even drought-resistant species need regular watering through their first growing season due to their shallow roots. Once trees become established, it's important to water less often but more deeply to encourage deep rooting and structural balance above and below ground. Both under and overwatering can lead to unhealthy trees and even death if the situation is not corrected. Trees receiving too little or too much water exhibit similar symptoms since, in both cases, water is not available to the plant. Trees initially wilt, grow slowly, and develop yellow leaves. Over time, growth stops and leaves become brown and drop. Overwatered trees often develop lower crown and root rot from one or more disease-forming pathogens.

Knowing what type of soil you have (soil texture) is as important as knowing the water needs of your trees. Use the ‘feel test' (pictured below) to find out how much water your soil holds and how often to water. Heavier clay-based soils hold water longer and drain more slowly than sandier soils that need to be watered more often for shorter periods of time.

do a feel test of your soil to help you know when to water

Trees should not be watered on the same irrigation system used for lawns and groundcovers. Soaker hoses and drip systems allow trees to be watered less often but for longer periods of time than your lawn or groundcover. Avoid applying water too close to the trunk. Instead water half-way between the trunk and the dripline of the tree and outward. If you use a garden hose, apply the water on the lowest volume possible slowly, moving the hose every few hours to each of four quadrants around the tree. 

Applying a 3-4 inch layer of mulch around the tree can reduce soil evaporation.  Use only non-flammable mulches in fire-prone areas within five feet from the house and non-contiguous for the first 30' away from the house. In all cases keep mulch a few inches away from tree trunks to keep the trunks dry.

Tip: Before planting a tree, make sure there is adequate drainage. Dig a hole where you want to plant it (the same depth of the pot, which is about one foot) and fill the hole with water. Let it completely drain and refill it. Measure the time it takes to drain one inch using a ruler. If it does not drain more than one inch an hour it is not a good location for your tree. Avoid adding compost or soil amendments to try to correct the problem since tree roots will likely grow in circles, staying within the confines of the amended hole rather than growing outward the confines of the amended hole rather than growing outward.

do a quick drainage test before planting a tree
Posted on Saturday, April 25, 2020 at 1:52 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Volunteer Appreciation

  This week we are celebrating National Volunteer Week by highlighting the volunteers and partners who are a vital part to the success of UCCE programs. On February 24, 2020 UCCE San Bernardino hosted an appreciation dinner to recognize the invaluable volunteers and partners.

  The celebration started with a welcome by County Directors Janet Hartin and Chris McDonald followed by dinner and finally the recognition. Honorees received a certificate of appreciation from UCCE and​ Board of Supervisor Chairman Curt Hagman. Seven San Bernardino County departments were recognized for their valuable partnerships needed to implement programs. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program recognized teachers, school administrators, and parent liaisons who are key in reaching families to provide them with education to live healthier lives. The Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver Programs recognized their indispensable volunteers who are the heartbeat of the program and provide outreach to the community. 4-H recognized leaders who are empowering today's youth to be leaders of tomorrow. To top off the dinner, the Master Gardener Coordinator, Maggie O'Neill, made a delicious cake decorated to represent all programs.

 

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Posted on Friday, April 24, 2020 at 2:23 PM

Happy 50th Earth Day!

digger bee on manzanita flowers

One day, about two years ago, I spent an afternoon in a grove of apple trees, looking at bees. The trees on Lake Arrowhead's Orchard Bay, I learned, pre-date the existence of the lake, which was born in 1915 with the damming of Little Bear Creek (a...

Posted on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 1:03 PM

Coordinator's Corner: Kiddos in the Garden, it's a wonderful thing to see!

Maggies kids 5

  Hello Spring!  I am so glad you are here!  I love the quiet of the winter, and the rain is something that is so needed.  In the winter the deciduous fruit trees and roses rest.  The birds hunker down for warmth in our...

UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Spotlight: Vikki Gerdes - A Master Gardener Dedicated to Water Wise Gardening

Vikki's Water-Wise Moonlight Garden

I recently spent a delightful morning with UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) San Bernardino County Master Gardener Vikki Gerdes, chatting in her light-filled kitchen over coffee and cookies about why she loves gardening and the UCCE Master Gardener...

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