Help Trees Survive Drought

California is going on four dry years with no end to the drought in sight. With record low rain and snowpack levels to date, the state's soil is severely dry and affecting the natural landscape, including trees.
Trees growing in nature depend exclusively on rain and snow for survival. The moisture stored in the soil is now depleted because of the prolonged drought, and trees are stressed and in danger of dying or becoming susceptible to pests and diseases. Trees growing in urban forests and lawns may also be stressed and at risk due to unintentional mismanagement of watering. Lawn sprinklers will keep a tree alive, but it's not the best way to grow healthy tree roots. Trees need rain!

The City of Fountain Valley values trees and the numerous ways that they contribute to our community, including reducing erosion and runoff, providing shade, cleaning the air, providing habitats for wildlife, beautifying the environment and increasing property values. Therefore, the City is committed to helping our trees survive the drought and encourages residents and businesses to do so also.

The California Department of Water Resources has compiled the following ideas to help keep trees healthy with the amount of water available.
  • The key to saving water is to decide which plants are the most important and dedicate the limited water available to them first. Trees are decades-long investments and should get first priority. This is why you will see the City's water truck watering our arterial trees weekly. Trees are followed by shrubs and perennials it terms of priority. Turf and annual flowers should be the lowest watering priority.
  • Check trees for drought stress damage. Brown, crispy edges on leaves, visible wilting and dieback of branches are all signs of drought stress. Leaf drop is normal if the leaves show even color changes and are soft when they fall.
  • Determine soil moisture using a small shovel or large screwdriver. If the tool cannot be pushed in or the shovel pulls up dry, crumbly soil, the tree needs water. Recheck soil once or twice a month and water trees when necessary, as long as it adheres to current water conservation restrictions in your area.
  • To get moisture to the tree's roots, deep water the tree by laying a soaker hose in a ring around the tree below the edge of the tree's canopy and continue to spiral outward. If the tree is small, start the soaker hose closer to the trunk since its roots are still young and short in length. Let the hose run until the water soaks to a depth of 8-12 inches, but beware of runoff, especially on clay or compacted soils.