Let’s face it. Central Texas has HOT summers. There is no denying it. It is stressful for us, and it is stressful for our plants.
If you have planted a shrub or a tree in the last two years, and you begin to see yellow or brown leaves in the summer, it is time to evaluate your watering program. Immediately.
There are a few things to be aware of that happen in Central Texas summers that will help you make decisions on managing water in your landscape.
FIRST: If the temperatures are predicted to go over 100°F, DO NOT WAIT to increase the frequency of your watering until you see damage. Once roots are lost to drought conditions, it takes them a while to regenerate, and sometimes, if they have gone too dry for too long, they won’t! Watch the FORECAST!
SECOND: Central Texas has a lot of WINDY DAYS in the summer. Wind removes moisture from leaves, and if the roots do not have access to water to replace the moisture loss in the leaves, the leaves TURN BROWN. If windy days are predicted, water BEFORE the windy day. Waiting until the damage is done is counterproductive. Watch the FORECAST!
THIRD: The first year after planting, we water the planting hole and six to twelve inches beyond it. AFTER the first year, THE ROOTS ARE NO LONGER NEXT TO THE TRUNK of the plant or tree! If you have done your job well, the roots will continue to grow OUT FROM THE TREE. Roots should be watered AT LEAST out to the drip line, and sometimes even BEYOND. Increase your watering diameter annually until you are watering at least one times the height of the tree out from the tree. If you have a 20 foot tall tree, watering should take place within a circle drawn 20 feet OUT FROM THE TREE. This is important!
FOURTH: The majority of the “feeder roots” are in the top one to two feet of the soil. This means that when you water, you must WATER DEEPLY! It might take two inches of water to DEEP WATER a tree. Use a small sprinkler with low pressure so that large drops hit the soil and do not evaporate. Place a straight-sided container in a couple of places to measure how long to run the sprinkler to get two inches of water in the container. Move the sprinkler around until the entire area under the canopy has been watered.
Here are our guidelines for watering trees the first year after planting:
Here are our guidelines for watering trees AFTER the first year: