Help Your Trees Survive The Drought

Here is an infographic that was sent to me today by the California Urban Forest Council. It has a lot of great information about how to care for you trees during this season of drought. Even as we choose to change our landscape to be more water efficient, it is imperative that we not neglect our trees!

Drought-infographic (1)

Here is a link to the California Urban Forest council for more information: http://www.caufc.org/Home%20Page

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Bee and Butterfly Friendly Plants

Bumble bee on pink flower

Bumble bee on pink flower

When choosing new plants to go into your landscape it is important that they not only be drought friendly, but bee friendly as well! Bees are at the cornerstone of our ecosystem as their pollination helps our crops thrive. Unfortunately with so many plants dying, the drought is hitting them the hardest. So we need to do our part to help them out, and there are some really easy and attractive ways to do it.

One website called Buzz About Bees says:

Believe it or not, there are many excellent drought plants out there, that are highly attractive to pollinators. Initially, many people who find themselves with a dry or drought garden, may believe their options will be limited and their gardens will be dull. However, drought landscapes and gardens do not have to be boring – they can be truly inspiring and striking. By combining different textures, forms and colours, the effect created can be visually stunning. Herbs, wildflowers and succulents especially, provide great options for gardeners wanting to attract bees to dry areas.

Succulents, such as sedums are great drought resistant plants. They are able to store water in their fleshy leaves and stems. Their compact heads ooze nectar during the late summer, and are loved by bees and other pollinating insects.

Many herbs can tolerate dry conditions. Try:

Lavender – lavender thrives in gritty, dry soils, and will buzz with bees in the summer.
Origanum, (Marjoram) – the culinary oregano can be enjoyed by both you and the bees!
Sage – both culinary and wild sages are not only good drought plants, they are also good bee plants too.
Thyme – low-growing thyme can also be grown on a green roof – although it may then be difficult for you to harvest some of it!
Rosemary – will provide valuable food for bees early in the year when other foraging opportunities are scarce.

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Cornflower

Many wildflowers are well adapted to tolerate dry conditions, and most prefer nutrient-low soils. Excellent drought plants that attract bees and other pollinators include:

Poppies
Bird’s foot trefoil
Cornflower
Candy tuft
Toadflax
Thistles
Bugle (Ajuga)
Achillea

Here is a website that features more drought-smartplants for bees,  and here is a link to the original article.  So remember our bees as you plan your garden and while you’re at it, butterflies and birds as well.

Taking Care of Trees During the Drought

294927196_d501c5cf97_zWhile “Brown is the New Green” becomes our state motto and more people opt to stop watering their lawns, how are we supposed to continue caring for our trees? Lawns are easily replaceable but trees are an important part of our ecosystem providing wildlife habitats, clean air, shade, food for us and for critters, and therefore need to be protected. So how do we do that without breaking the bank and keeping under water restrictions? Patrice Hanlon of the Mercury News has some great tips:

“Watering efficiently could mean changing overhead irrigation to drip, installing a soaker hose that can be circled around the drip line of the tree or manually watering using a hose at a low trickle, allowing the water to percolate into the soil. When watering, think deep and infrequent. If you aren’t sure, get a soil probe and pull out a soil core. If it’s dry and crumbly, then your tree needs water. Our clay soils, which everyone loves to hate, actually are very good at holding water. According to UC Davis’ California Center for Urban Horticulture, trees need to be irrigated to a depth of 3 feet. Go to http://ccuh.ucdavis.edu for additional information about managing landscapes during drought times.

“Healthy roots are the foundation of healthy trees. Look up at the canopy of the tree. That will give you an idea of how far the lateral feeder roots are traveling beyond the trunk. This helps in determining where to water and mulch. Lateral roots extending from the trunk are the most active and essential for bringing water and nutrients to the tree. In addition to feeder roots, a soil fungus called mycorrhiza attaches to the roots and helps to increase nutrient and water absorption.

“Urban and suburban environments cause added stress from soil compaction, root damage from digging or mowing, and nutrient deficiencies. Mulching improves the soil’s retention of water, reduces evaporation from the soil surface, and introduces a cadre of beneficial organisms that improve the overall health of your soil. Add 3 to 4 inches of mulch to the drip line of your tree, but be sure to leave an area about 2 inches from the trunk free of mulch. This will keep the area dry and allow you to notice if there are any problems at the base of the tree.

“Pruning and fertilizing during drought should be limited or eliminated. Do not fertilize your tree if it is already stressed unless you are using organic amendments. High-nitrogen or chemical fertilizers have salts in them that causes the roots to burn if there is not enough moisture in the soil. Pruning can encourage dormant buds to emerge and stimulate new growth. If you need to prune, do it conservatively by only removing what you need to, such as dead, crossing over and competing branches.”

Please also keep in mind that even if you are letting your lawn die, if you have trees nearby they most likely get a lot of their water from the grass. So pay attention to the soil near the tree to know when it’s thirsty!

Here is a link to the original article: http://www.mercurynews.com/home-garden/ci_27999236/care-trees-during-drought

A Lifestyle of Conservation

Throughout human history, the development of large civilizations was possible due to the direct access and possession of an abundance of fresh water.  However, as the world’s population continues to expand—by 4 billion in the last 50 years alone—our large civilizations are headed towards lengthy periods of water stress, scarcity, and finally crisis.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has predicted that by 2025, 1.9 billion people will be living in regions with absolute water scarcity, with a further two-thirds of the world’s population potentially living under stress conditions. Water stress, scarcity, and crisis are varying levels on the availability of fresh water within a region.  Scarcity denotes a distinct imbalance between the supply and demand of available water.

Though the eventual global solution potentially lies in discovering new methods of purification, conservation of current water supplies is the immediate key to maintaining our civilizations.  This begins on an individual level, using techniques and practices in our homes and gardens. In the coming posts we will cover specific methods such as xeriscaping, ecologically native plants, and even replacing water-costly lawns with sustainable kitchen gardens.vegetable-garden-133441298497619Nzh

Making conservation a part of your very lifestyle is crucial to the long-term preservation of our water supply.  One person simply being mindful of their water consumption may not have an immediate impact, but one billion people sharing a mindset, a lifestyle of conservation could make all the difference.