UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County

Posts Tagged: irrigation

Applications of Organic Mulch Result in Enhanced Tree Growth and Water Savings

I hope all of you and your loved ones are staying well and healthy as the pandemic continues.  Involving yourself in outdoor activities is not only a great way to escape 'cabin fever' and improve your physical health but it is also good for you psychologically, as well.   

A silver lining for me over the past few months has been the opportunity to summarize results of some research studies including an update from a mulch trial that I'll report on virtually rather than live at the American Society for Horticultural Science conference (that was to be held in Orlando). I thought you might be interested in the results.

The objective of the research project was to measure the impacts of organic mulch treatments on the growth and health of four species of low maintenance, drought-tolerant landscape trees under deficit irrigation. Species selected were Parkinsonia x ‘Desert Museum' (it's thornless!); Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba' (Desert Willow) (beautiful magenta flowers!), Pistacia ‘Red Push' (hybrid from P. atlantica and P. integerrima with brilliant orange fall foliage), and Prosopis glandulosa ‘Maverick' (thornless). Trees were planted in a randomized complete block experimental design in at the Chino Basin Water Conservation District (CBWCD) in Montclair in October, 2016. Half of the trees received 4” of organic mulch and half did not. Trees were transplanted from 15-gallon containers and irrigated with recycled water at 80 percent of reference evapotranspiration (ETo) the first 12 months.

Irrigation was reduced to 50% ETo in November, 2017 which was maintained until May 2020, when irrigation ceased. While the study continues through October 2020, there are some interesting early results.  Organic mulch applications enhanced growth with no loss in quality in the Pistacia, Prosopis glandulosa, and Chilopsis linearis trees while growth was actually better in the Parkinsonia trees that did not receive mulch. This may be due to the fact that its trunk and branches actively photosynthesize as well as its leaves. Parkinsonia leaves also feature sunken guard cells, providing another form of drought avoidance. Furthermore, they develop deep root systems and may not need the added benefit of reduced soil evaporation in the top few inches of soil provided by the mulch. While all of the species selected have wonderful attributes, the Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum' has all the best traits of its palo verde heritage including having no thorns and a continues bloom throughout summer.

A huge thanks to our UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener team (led by Irene) who take data quarterly on the trees, recording trunk circumference at 6" and 3'. This is another great example of the breadth and depth of the contributions of our wonderful volunteers!

The four species of landscape trees in this study are part of a larger study at University of California, Riverside to determine the ability of 12 species of landscape trees to mitigate impacts of climate change. While I'll be long retired, growth and health data of all species will continue to be evaluated through at least 2035. The study at CBWCD provided the opportunity for a mulch/no mulch treatment for four of the most promising species which was space-limited at UCR.

Below are plot photos from October 2016 (right after planting), July 2020 (no irrigation for 3 months), a mature 'Desert Museum' tree in prolific bloom (photo credit to Dr. Bob Perry, Emeritus Professor, Cal Poly Pomona), and a mature Chilopsis linearis 'Bubba' from our UCR plot.  

 

Plot overview (2020)

Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba' (Desert Willow)

Save the date We will be hosting a virtual UCR Field Day on September 3, 2020 featuring our drought-tolerant landscape plots at UC Riverside that was to be held live last May.  More information is forthcoming but it will provide at least four hours of continuing education hours and a chance for you to ask questions of Dr's  Amir Haghverdi, Don Merhaut and myself.

Have a wonderful August in your garden!

Janet

Posted on Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 1:06 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

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

Save Trees during Drought with New Tree Ring Irrigation Contraption (TRIC)

From a majestic oak, giant sequoias or a swaying palm there is nothing quite as beautiful in this world than a tree. They can provide us with shade, fruit, flowers and most importantly are the “lungs of planet”.  While we have enjoyed some wet weather over the last week, California is still suffering from extreme drought conditions.

Prioritizing Trees for Landscape Water Use

Many residents have been encouraged to reduce water use by turning off their outdoor watering systems, but this may be causing stress to established trees that are becoming increasingly thirsty for water.

In most traditional residential landscapes trees are surrounded by turfgrass. Turfgrass surrounded trees take advantage of the frequent and shallow watering schedule, typically set to help the lawn flourish. When residents eliminate or reduce water for lawns, trees cannot easily adapt to the new water shortage.

“Mature fruit trees and landscape trees are worth saving! Recognizing early signs of drought stress is important because irreversible damage can occur that no amount of watering will correct.” said Janet Hartin, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in a recent article, Save Water, But Also Save Trees During a Drought.

Replacing small plants, lawns and shrubs is easy compared to a large tree which takes years to become established. Saving mature trees during a drought should be a top priority in your landscape water use allocation.

“Two seasons without enough water can result in severe drought stress and even kill a tree,” warned Hartin. “Also, drought-stressed trees are more prone to damage from diseases and insects than non-stressed trees.”

Understanding how to water a tree effectively is important to avoid water waste and to ensure that the tree is receiving the correct amount of water for its survival.

One key factor to successfully watering a tree is understanding what soil type is present. Understanding soil types is an important factor in determining how much water is stored in the ground. For example, sandy soils dry out quickly while clay soils retain more water. Contact your local UC Master Gardener Program to learn how to determine your soil type.   


Figure 1 - Graphic adapted from Harris et al. 2004
Another important factor is understanding tree anatomy for watering (see Figure 1). The tree roots of a mature tree are found in the top three feet of soil and extend outside of the tree's canopy. This outside area of the tree roots is the most active absorption area.

Tree Ring Irrigation Contraption (TRIC)

Recently the Calif. Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) at UC Davis, UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) and Ewing Irrigation devised a unique watering system called the Tree Ring Irrigation Contraption (TRIC).   Using previous data from Netafim drip tube tables and from the Irrigation Association Landscape Irrigation Auditor manual, the partners envisioned a possible solution to mitigating drought conditions and the effect on landscape trees.  The TRIC is an inexpensive kit that homeowners can put together for around $100 for one large tree.  

The TRIC could enable homeowners to adequately water trees to a depth of three feet with confidence, by using the recommended parts and using the TRIC calculator with accurate information. Aside from a recommended parts list, there is a “plug-in” calculator created by Dr. Loren Oki, UC ANR Associate Specialist in Cooperative Extension Landscape Horticulture for UC Davis & UC ANR. The TRIC calculator helps determine the run-time needed for the device.

Learn more by visiting:

Posted on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 8:52 AM
Tags: CCUH (1), Drought (3), Irrigation (2), Trees (3), TRIC (1)

Free Irrigation Class for Landscapers in Riverside, California (one in Spanish and one in English at the same time - bring the whole crew!)

FREE!!!!   FREE!!!  FREE!!!!

Three Hour Irrigation/Landscape Management Class in English and in Spanish

Co-sponsored by University of California, Ewing, and CA Dept. of Pesticide Regulation

2.5 PCA/QAL/QAC Hours Available

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Irrigation and Fertilization Management to Conserve Water

and Keep our Waterways Clean

Location: Western Municipal Water District (WMWD), 14205 Meridian Parkway, Riverside, CA 92518

Date and Time: May 22, 2014 from 2:30-5:30 pm

  

Space is Limited!!!  Sign up today and bring the whole crew!

 Register today by contacting Meredith Odom at: 951-741-0443 modom@wbaconsulting.com

(Include all attendees' names and meeting location in the subject line.  Include employer name and phone number in the email please)

Free Irrigation Management Classes for Spanish-speaking landscapers in L.A (May 19) and Riverside (May 22) 2014

FREE ONE-DAY IRRIGATION/FERTILIZATION/IPM CLASSES FOR

SPANISH AND ENGLISH SPEAKING LANDSCAPERS

Certificates of Completion Handed out at End of Class!

Sponsored by University of California, Ewing, Rain Bird, and the CA Dept of Pesticide Regulations

May 19 (LA County Arboretum):  8:30- 4pm (free lunch): 301 North Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, CA

May 22 (Western Municipal Water District): 2:30-5:30pm (this location only both English and Spanish): 14205 Meridian Parkway, Riverside, CA

Both classes approved for CA Dept. of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) PCA/QAL/QAC Hours! (4.5 hours for LA Arboretum class and 2.5 hours for Riverside class)

Certificates of completion will be distributed at the end of each class

Register today!  Seating is Limited! Email Meredith at modom@wbaconsulting.com or phone in your registration to Meredith at 951.741.0443.  Let her know if you will be attending the LA Arboretum or Riverside location and how many of your crew will be attending.

 

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