UC Davis CA&ES

Photo by Diana Jahns

Ornamental Tree and Shrub Management During Drought

Ornamental Trees

Most homeowners wisely choose to use whatever water is available to save their mature landscape ornamentals and fruit trees.  Irrigations several weeks apart in spring and summer will often keep these valued plants alive through summer.  Using a garden hose, irrigate for long enough to wet the soil to the depth of the root zone.  Consult with your local Master Gardener, garden center or landscape professional for more detailed advice for root zone depth.  Sandy soils may require more frequent irrigation, since they do not retain water as well as other soil types.  Although mature trees can often survive one season with only one or two deep waterings during the spring and summer, two seasons without enough water can result in severe drought stress and even death.  Drought-stressed trees can be more prone to damage from diseases and insects.


Most established shrubs can survive long periods of dry soil. Thorough spring watering and one or two thorough waterings in the summer keeps most well-established shrubs alive for at least one season.

Other plant types


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