Water Starved Trees

alameda/zone 8August 6, 2011

I see so many trees whose leaves are turning brown. Will these trees survive when/if we get rain? Will it do any good to let the hose slowly drip on the huge oaks in my front yard? I would really hate to lose any of them. Nothing I can do about the brown looking trees on my property across the road from where I live, but I would really love to be able to help the ones in my yard. Thanks!


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Yes, there was an article in today's Ft. Worth Star-Telegram about laying soaker hoses around the drip line of your trees and watering deeply. Just using your sprinkler system isn't enough.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 9:25AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I water my trees by letting the water run all night at a fast drip........this allows to water to soak in and not run off or evaporate.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 9:33AM
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greybird(z7 TX)

If I were you, I would totally go with the drip/soaker, or slow running hose. They are going to take up the moisture through their feeder roots. It might not keep them looking optimal, but might mean the difference between life and death.

My oaks are used to drought, on a normal year do not get any irrigation in the summer other than what falls from the sky, which ain't much. They would get the burnt looking leaves and few acorns.
This year, I have been giving them about 30 minutes a week with a very slowly running hose. They are a dark green, plus covered with acorns.
My husband says something else is going on, that little tad of water wouldn't make that much difference. But I think he must be wrong.

We are all in real danger of losing our trees if this doesn't let up.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 9:42AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

It looks like fall here. The big oak trees in our neighborhood are starting to drop leaves.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 10:43AM
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There was just an article in the Dallas Morning News that also recommended a slow drip from a hose for 24 hours. It will encourage deep roots which help trees survive. A sprinkler results in shallow roots. It's one reason so many trees were lost in the ice storms last winter.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 10:50PM
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If they go nearly all brown, they may well not survive. My 15 young Monterey oaks need plenty of water and are on automation. A couple of them still need supplemental watering. The huge old oaks look okay so far, but I'm going to start providing a deep watering once a week, because the water table has dropped significantly (I have a pond in the bottom of an old gravel pit, so I can see when it drops a lot).

Live oaks and others have root system that spread but do not go deep. I have a couple of greywater discharges within the drip line of one big oak, and the septic field come close to the drip line of the other, which is what has probably kept them going so far, but I can't assume there's much root out at the edge of the circle.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 11:59PM
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I take advantage of the dog holes in the yard. Fill them several times in a day and let it soak in...keeps the dog cooler too. Magnolia really perked up after a couple of hours with my noodlehead sprinkler on low. The pecan tree in the back yard where my garden was at the edge of the branches really benefitted from soaker hose waterings of the garden. I'd let them soak deep...with out the restrictor disc...so the soaker hose got really wet.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 1:32AM
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There was a seminar a couple of weeks ago in Austin. The City arborist was talking about watering your large trees. Basically it was what everyone on this forum has been saying. Water for a couple of hours on a slow drip. Once every two weeks if I remember right. Irrigation system will not really help.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 10:42AM
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alameda/zone 8

I started with the soaker hoses on trees yesterday, doing the 24 hour drip. I love my old oaks and will do whatever to save them. I have 4 acres of woods across from my home and I have noticed a few big oaks with brown leaves. Does this mean they are dying or just stressed and with rain, will recover?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 11:01AM
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pkponder, I hadn't really noticed before, but now that you've mentioned it, I've been looking and see so many oaks that appear green, but with brown leaves in various places all over the trees. I hope it's just their way of coping and all the leaves won't turn brown.

I only have 4 oaks and I give them a good soaking every week. The grass is green around them, so I hope the roots are ok. I do the same with the pecan but it still looks pretty dry under it. I may set up a soaker hose around it and give it a slow drip all day tomorrow.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 6:53PM
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If the trees look healthy otherwise but have dead leaves on tips of twigs about 1/2" in diameter, it may be the cicadas.

The adult females make slits in the twigs to lay eggs and sometimes the twigs die from that point out.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 7:26PM
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Maybe I just do things the old fashioned way, but I bought a Ross deep root feeder/waterer and in the heat we've been having, all my trees and shrubs seem to be thriving well.It's pretty easy...... I hit each tree and shrub in 5 or 6 places around the drip line....doesn't take long......I'm up to once a week now. I just hate how it looks leaving the hose out in the middle of the yard for any length of time.....I'm OCD that way, though.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 5:12PM
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