Caring for Our Valuable Trees During the Drought

With Sacramento County’s beautiful and abundant trees, it’s a good time to review how to preserve them during the ongoing dry weather and water restrictions.

“Trees not only help keep our air clean, they add to the quality of life in neighborhoods and increase property values,” said County Executive Bradley J. Hudson. “Taking steps to insure that trees remain healthy during these hot summer months will reap long-lasting benefits.”

1. Prioritize your landscape into three categories.

• High priority/must save items include valuable trees and shrubs.

• Moderate priority/try to save items includes certain perennials, newer shrubs that can be replaced and low-water use and native plants that will require little water once established.

 Low priority landscaping includes annuals and lawns which can often bounce back in the fall when we get cooler and wetter weather.

2. Understand the drought watering restrictions required by your water supplier. 

• To find your water supplier go to and click “Find Your Water Provider”

3. Adjust your irrigation system to comply with allowable watering days and times.

• If your irrigation system has separate zones or stations for your lawn and for your trees/shrubs, adjust each zone in accordance to what is allowed by your water supplier.  Some water suppliers may allow more watering days for trees and shrubs.

• If your trees, shrubs and lawn are watered on a shared irrigation system then adjust your watering to comply with allowable watering days and times for lawns.

• If your trees/shrub show signs of distress then use additional hand watering to occasionally provide them a little more water.

Follow these recommendations from the Sacramento Tree Foundation to help you determine when your trees need a little more water.  According to the Sacramento Tree Foundation, it’s important to check the soil about 6 inches below the surface around the tree. If the soil feels dry, water the tree deeply. If the soil feels sticky, allow it to dry for several days.

It’s best to water the soil around the tree deeply, by running a small trickle of water near the trunk and allow the water to slowly drip into the soil for 1-2 hours.  Remember that sprinklers leave water on the surface and do not deeply water the tree’s roots.

Mulching is important because it helps the soil retrain water and protects the tree roots; mulch in a four-foot diameter around your tree, four inches away from the trunk and six inches thick.

Trees require different levels of care depending on their age. Young trees require more water than maturing and mature trees.  Young trees must receive regular water to their root ball for their first three years to establish strong root systems, while mature trees, fifteen years or older, may vary in water needs depending on the species.  Learn more about how to make your landscape water efficient in the Rules of Thumb for Water Wise Gardening booklet.

Contact Info:
Chris Andis,  Sacramento County Communication and Media Office,916-874-2691

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