When it comes to growing healthy lawn grass and great trees and shrubs, your best defence is a good offence. You must act before your landscape begins to naturally shut down and conserve its own moisture.
The Battlefords area averages about 13” of precipitation per year. It is a borderline desert climate. The minimal precipitation in conjunction with hot temperatures and sometimes relentless wind makes for very tough growing conditions.
Most of our landscape plants are not natural to the prairies and therefore require extra care. They need help, they need water.
The trees and grass in parks and yards in the Battlefords and area this spring are in a serious moisture deficit situation.
Trees are made up of approximately 60 per cent water. The amount of water content in a tree varies from species to species. If you don’t do anything else for your trees and shrubs, keeping the soil in the root zone moist by providing additional water is one of the best things you can do for them. If you don’t, Mother Nature will have the last word and you will be removing sick, infested or dead trees and shrubs from your landscape.
Where to water an established tree
The roots close to the trunk of a tree are structural and provide anchoring and stability. They keep the tree upright. These roots do not collect much water or nutrient from the soil.
Where you need to water is where the biological roots are. Those roots begin at about as far out as the branches reach and stretch beyond. These are the roots responsible for the majority of moisture and nutrient collection
Generally, the majority or tree roots are in the top 18” or half metre of soil. Add water to the soil slowly so that it doesn’t run off. Add enough so that the ground becomes moist to a depth of 6” or 15 cm or more.
Where to water a newly planted tree?
When you plant a new tree or shrub you want to water the whole root ball area to begin with and then as the season goes on, encourage the roots to spread beyond the root ball by keeping the soil moist just outside the original root ball area.
How many seasons do you need to provide moisture to establish a newly planted tree or shrub?
A minimum of two seasons. And likely much longer. Mother Nature gets the last word, and if she is throwing drought our way, like she is, there is no defined time. Woody trees and shrubs are at least 60 per cent water and they need additional watering to keep that moisture content to remain healthy.
It’s not OK to get out there and wet your pants but, you have to get out there and wet your plants.
Your lawn grass has an even higher water content and can have as much as 85 per cent water in its leaf blades. Watering your grass is critical to having a healthy lawn. More about this later.