Water the grass less -- but don't forget the trees

Jacaranda in Mar Vista.

Drought gardener and blogger Emily Green is glad that people with yards are trying to be smarter about their water use. It's the unintended consequence that is nagging at her. As homeowners in the Los Angeles area stop watering their lawns so much, they are also depriving trees of the deep watering they need. LANG columnist Larry Wilson talked to Green about the problem in her garden in Altadena.

Tearing out the turf and setting that fancy irrigation system to trickle could play a part in destroying our region’s fabulous canopy of trees. That high greenery keeps us cool, produces vast amounts of oxygen, shades our homes and our cars, dampens the crash-bang sounds of the city and fills the air with bird song, not to mention providing nesting spots for said birds.

Green is far more aware than me and thee that the way most of us water our trees is not optimal. Mostly, they get irrigated only because we typically drench everything else and the residue flows over to the big guys from the lawn. We should be deep-watering them instead. But they’ll take what they can get.

“We set up our yards and irrigation systems for the lawn, and the overwatering we did was enough to get to the trees,” Green said last week while sitting in her own garden high in the Altadena foothills. “But the way we water now, we just penetrate the very top, the crust — less than an inch — you are watering the weeds while killing the high-value parts of our yards: the trees.”

Green says that as far as saving those trees, our current watering habits put them on a “treadmill to nowhere.”

So remember to deep-water your trees. But please, don't water the palm weeds.

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