Our Weekly Watering Recommendations
The heatwave and drought conditions continue in College Station, Bryan, and NW Houston. If you’re able to water, we recommend 3 sessions a week at around .5 inches of water per session, to provide a total of 1.5 inches of water per week. If watering only twice per week, try aiming for closer to .75 inches per session.
We understand many areas are under current watering restrictions. Do your best to water as much as you can while following restriction guidelines, and practice smart, efficient watering. The goal is to keep the root zone alive until better weather conditions return. Check out last week’s blog if you missed info on Stress Helper applications. If you have any concerns about your lawn, contact our team! Continuing reading for updates from our horticulture team and watering recommendations for Texas trees and shrubs.
An Update from the Horticulture Manager
This week is going to be awesome! I would like to introduce Jake Wightman! He comes from Pennsylvania with a degree in Horticulture from the excellent college of North Carolina State University. Jake has been with me since the beginning, and he and I built the horticulture side of Aggieland Green together. If you are emailing me, or talking to me on the phone, you are talking to Jake as well. We are in lockstep with the program, and he is a wizard when it comes to Horticulture. I couldn’t have asked for a better coworker and friend. Be prepared to be amazed- this guy is an untapped resource of knowledge and, in my opinion, the best of Brazos County! Thank you, Jake, for all you bring to the table. I could not have been as successful without you, and you have taught me so much! And we’ve had some great laughs on the way!
Michael “Zube” Zubillaga (Sue-Bee-Yaga)
Horticulture Manager, Aggieland Green
Jake’s Take on Texas Weather Conditions
It’s not new news that it has been HOT in our area of Texas lately. In fact, Texas has never been this hot in back-to-back years (KBTX). On top of all this heat, we’re experiencing yet another period of extended drought (US Drought Monitor), which brings a heap of watering restrictions in subdivisions across central Texas and the greater Houston area. While we all sweat through it and try to cool off in our air-conditioned homes, our trees and shrubs are stuck out in the hot and heavy oven that is becoming the norm each summer.
What can we do as homeowners to extend the lives of our plants despite the extreme weather conditions?
Watering Trees and Shrubs During an Extreme Texas Summer
If you’re one of the lucky few who has not had your outdoor irrigation restricted by the utility’s provider, then watering the trees and shrubs on your property will be easier for you than for those who have been restricted.
Texas Agrilife Extension recommends giving large trees and shrubs enough water to penetrate 8-10 inches deep into the ground (Agrilife). This is most efficiently achieved via drip irrigation systems, but soaker hoses can accomplish the same result. It is important that the water is given along the dripline of the trees and shrubs, rather than right at the root crown. Watering immediately next to the trunk or root crown can lead to fungal development, which can kill your trees and shrubs. Watering enough to penetrate 8-10 inches will take longer the larger the plant. Something like a holly bush may only take 15-20 minutes to water fully, while a large live oak or elm may take several hours. If you’ve had us come out and provide deep-root watering services on your property, you may have noticed that the larger trees took us longer to water- an hour or two in some cases. I encourage you to audit your irrigation system and make some changes. If you take anything away from this, it would be that infrequent, deep watering is the correct way to manage watering your trees and shrubs as opposed to frequent, shallow watering.
Check on Your Irrigation Systems
Another part of your sprinkler audit should involve becoming familiar with the zones in your irrigation system. A decent amount of in-ground irrigation systems have watering zones overlap, and some accidentally exclude key areas of the landscape. Run your cycle while you’re around to survey the areas receiving water, and the areas being missed. You might be surprised by what you notice. One important thing to look for throughout your tree and shrub landscape is plants receiving direct jets of water from pop-up sprinklers. Directly wetting the leaves of your shrubs can lead to fungal development and roast the foliage on your shrub (University of Wisconsin). Not to mention, College Station city water has a high amount of salt in it. This can also burn the foliage on your trees and shrubs when directly watered.
The Best Time for Watering
A final thought on tree and shrub irrigation: make sure your cycle runs well before or after the peak heat of the day. I typically recommend that folks start their water cycle no earlier than 5 a.m. and have it finish before 9 a.m. This allows enough time for the water to set in and become absorbed by the soil before the day’s heat starts to cook the landscape. Otherwise, you risk assigning a fate to your plants akin to microwaving a bowl of lettuce.
At the End of the Day…
I’d like to close this out by saying this: Texas has NEVER been this hot for this long in back-to-back years. Some of you may have plants that have withstood Texas summers for years and years without wavering. Yet somehow, they’ve started to decline. Don’t panic! There are ways to adapt your plants to the new environmental norm, and it all starts with cultural practices like watering. Aggieland Green’s team of tree, shrub, and lawn technicians will be there along the way to offer help and advice so you’re not alone!
Further Drought Reading
Please consider browsing these extension articles about drought management in your landscapes!