El Nino, Trees and Drought

treeAs a little boy, my earliest memories include climbing big trees and even building a tree house!  Nothing is more fun and adventurous than climbing or picnicking under a big tree.  Aside form the fun aspects, trees trap bad air and in return, give us fresh air.  Trees are also a source of food by giving us fruit.  Their leaves can be composted, which is the best soil for growing veggies.  All that is now changing.  The landscape of Southern California is changing…due to drought.
As one drives through Southern California, a crisis is emerging and this is not the kind of crisis accompanied by a loud explosion.  The crisis is real and we must take action…NOW!
California is experiencing its fifth year of mega-drought.  A prolonged drought inhibits a trees ability to uptake water and nutrients.  Our trees are starving.  The result is weak trees.  Weak trees are more likely to fall.  They are more likely to drop branches and be consumed by bugs.tree
As I drive Southern California neighborhoods, I see many people have stopped water their lawns due to the escalating costs of water.  A sad result of this is trees not getting watered.  Trees are dying.  Grass is easy to replant and only takes a couple of weeks to reestablish.
Some trees live to be hundreds of years old.  Some of these old giants are dying.  Trees weakened by drought are more likely to fall in a windstorm.
The news has been warning us about a upcoming “El Nino” which, if it happens, will bring with it a two-edged sword.  We could sure use the rain.  We really need it.  But can lots of rain can bring problems.  First of all, lots of rain will soften the soil.  Lots of rain IS ALWAYS accompanied by huge wind storms.  Soft soil and wind are not a good combination for large trees.  These are what topple the centuries old giants.
Last week, several news channels reported on a drought weakened tree that fell and crush a house near a high school. The block was closed, due to fear the other half of the tree might fall.   On closer inspection, one could see the roots on this giant pine tree had been cut, in order to replace the sidewalk and the street.  A tree needs its roots and water to keep healthy.  Many city trees are incredibly challenged in this regard.
tree2Many homeowners have their trees trimmed and they think they are getting a better deal if more green is cut and hauled away.  This is incredibly damaging to a tree.  This past summer was the hottest on record.  This puts huge stress on a tree.  Just like people, trees buckle under stress.  Our city trees have been bombarded by stress like never before and has resulted in VERY weak trees which are prone to fall during a wind storm.
I don’t think it’s too late to save our trees.  I think we still have time to do something, but we must act quickly.  Here is what we can do to strengthen our trees for what may prove to be the biggest El Nino of record.
1.  Water the root zone of your tree.  If your grass is going to die, it’s OK, since it takes a couple of weeks to reestablish new grass.  Trees need water for nutrient uptake. The best way to water a tree is by putting a hose on a slow drip for several hours.  This ensures the tree gets water to the lower roots zones.  If a hose is not available to leave above ground, drill several small holes in a trash can and fill it to the top with water, and let it slowly penetrate to through the ground.
2.  Apply a mulch ring around your tree.  This prevents water from quickly evaporating, prevents weeds and feeds the soil . It also looks beautiful.
3.  If your tree has not been trimmed in a long while, make sure to get it trimmed, as this will assist in keeping your tree standing.  An untrimmed tree gives wind something to grab onto and possibly pull down.
4.  DO NOT overly trim your tree or top your tree.  Doing so weakens the branch structure of your tree and could result in tree failure
5.  Contact a certified arborist if you are not sure of what to do.  Make sure your tree service is licensed, insured and carries workers comp  insurance.
Sustainability is living today without borrowing from tomorrow.  The decisions we make now will impact the environment for future generations to come.  Lets leave a legacy that future generations can be proud of

Landscape Design and Installation of Low Water Use native Garden, Waterfalls and Ponds.
Installation of Drip Irrigation and Rainwater Harvesting Systems.

EnviroscapeLA is located in the the Los Angeles South Bay area and offers landscaping services in Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Gardena,  Hermosa Beach, Palos Verdes, Hawthorne, and El Segundo.

Mike Garcia,
Landscape Design Contractor  & Certified Pond Builder
Founder of Enviroscape LA  Landscaping

Phone: (310) 374-1199
Email : mike@enviroscapela.com
Manhattan Beach, South Bay, California