Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Monday, July 4, 2011

What can we do to save the trees?

Driving into Tomball this morning for our regular Monday breakfast date, I couldn't help noticing that the trees along the way are looking so much worse than they did even a week or ten days ago. They are dying everywhere. It is heartbreaking.

I remember several years ago - don't recall the exact year - we were on a road trip around this time of year when we were in another extended drought, and all along our route we kept seeing individual trees that had died. But this time it's not just isolated individuals, it is clumps, stands of trees that are dying.

Even my non-gardening husband, who generally pays no attention to the garden except for the vegetables and fruits that come from it, has become concerned about our own trees.

We moved here 23 years ago in the summer. The large lot on which our house sat was bare except for a couple of magnolia trees that the former owners had planted and a couple of struggling fruit trees that succumbed within our first years here. Our lot was hot, sunbaked, and brown. We wanted it to be green and shady and inviting, and so the first winter that we were here, we planted several trees - too many, if the truth be told. There were live oaks, red oaks and Mexican sycamores. After more than twenty years of growth, those trees are giants now and most of our yard is green and shady and several degrees cooler than the sunny parts.

The trees are important to us. They grew up with our children. They are part of our family history. They've been through ice storms, droughts, and hurricanes with us. I'll never forget the sound of their groaning through the night when Ike came through almost three years ago. They groaned and bent as the winds tortured them that night, but they did not break. Hubby has now vowed that they must be saved regardless of the cost! That is a strong statement coming from him, especially in view of the fact that we just got our water bill for last month and it was more than twice as much as it had ever been before. (Please don't ask me how much that is - my fingers can't even bear to type the numbers!)

I had not even tried to water the big trees during this long drought. They are so huge and drink so much, how could I possibly give them what they need? But last week I watered my old friends. I know it wasn't as much as they needed, but two grown magnolia trees in my neighbors' yards have already died. I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to do what I could, no matter how inadequate it might be.

I will continue to water them once a week, as much and as long as I can, while this drought drags on. It may mean that I have to cut back on watering elsewhere in the yard, but we all have our priorities, and, looking about my neighborhood as trees turn brown, I realize that, for me, my trees are priority number one.


  1. I know how you feel. Our trees are family.

    We're doing several things for the trees--you've probably already done some of this. We've composted well and mulched over--not too much, just enough to protect the compost. For large trees, you can make a portable drip irrigation loop. Not hard to do & drip is allowed every day here. Email me if you'd like detail: kathleen.scott.tx(at)gmail.com. For small trees, we've drilled kitty litter buckets (3 1/2 gallons each) with a few tiny holes and set them around the trees for a deep watering--4 buckets filled 4 times. Because the water drips directly into the soil, it's allowed any day, but we still try to do it early & late in the day to avoid evaporation.

    This is the first time in my life I've hoped for a hurricane.

  2. Those are excellent suggestions, Kathleen, and I have already implemented most of them. I haven't done the kitty litter buckets thing since our litter comes in boxes, but I may find a reasonable substitute to use.

    At least a tropical storm or tropical depression full of rain would be most welcome right about now.

  3. Trees,haa trees do almost everything for us but we
    do nothing for them except cutting and destroying