Keeping trees healthy during a drought

Santa Clara County is enduring a third consecutive year of drought and had the driest start to a year on record in 2022. These dry conditions are threatening our water supplies, especially if next winter is also dry. We must reduce our water use immediately to ensure we have enough safe, clean drinking water during this drought emergency.

To help meet our conservation goals, Valley Water’s Board of Directors unanimously approved an ordinance to enforce the restrictions on outdoor watering in Santa Clara County, which includes the potential for fines.

All property owners in Santa Clara County who receive potable water supplied or managed by Valley Water, either directly or indirectly by a water retailer, must NOT do any of the following:

  • Water ornamental lawns more than two days a week
  • Water any outdoor landscape between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Water in a manner that results in excessive runoff
  • Water outdoors during and within 48 hours of rain

However, it is important to remember that trees are a vital part of our community. They create the air we breathe, help protect water quality and create shady gathering places for humans and wildlife. They even add value to our homes by keeping them cooler in the summer and adding year-round curb appeal. All that trees ask for in return is a bit of water.

During this and future droughts, please remember to water your trees, even though other parts of your yard may go brown because of water conservation. Many trees growing in lawns have shallow roots due to typical lawn watering schedules. When irrigation is reduced or stopped altogether, trees can quickly become stressed or die. Most trees benefit from deep, infrequent watering provided by drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or a graywater system.  Apply a few inches of mulch to help retain moisture but be sure to keep it at least 6″ away from the trunk of the tree.

Plan to deep water your trees every one to two weeks in the summer months. Watering in the morning or evening is always better to allow the water to percolate into the root zone while temperatures are cooler. Larger trees may require far more water than small younger trees, but all trees prefer a long slow drink of at least 10-20 gallons on average per irrigation cycle. Drought-resistant trees, including many California natives, may need far less water during summer drought periods than other ornamental species. Consult your local arborist or nursery professional if you need advice about the trees in your landscape.

To learn about best practices for watering trees during times of drought, see the video below.

Even during times of drought, most trees need water to stay healthy.

For more information, visit:


  1. Please send this information to Fire Agencies and get a press release with it out. People don’t understand the need to water trees. As a former Fire Prevention Official I see Cities becoming subject to wildfires due to stressed and dying trees during improper conservation efforts.


  2. I appreciate you reminding us that trees play an essential role in our communities. My neighborhood has a lot of trees and plants. I’ll contact a tree care service to remove the area and care for the tree.


  3. Thank you for explaining how you should water so that there’s no excessive runoff. I’ve been wondering how to take proper care of our trees. We’ve never had any trees on our property before, so I’ll be sure to keep this in mind and look into more methods to properly care for it.


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