Waterwise Wednesday: Smart Water for Trees

Lawns can go dormant in a dry spell, but trees and shrubs remain active during growing season. We’re in the dry part of summer now, with moderate drought conditions when surface water level declines and plant growth can be stunted so please continue to water trees and shrubs.

When you water, wet the entire root area of the tree and soak the soil approximately 12 inches deep. A 6-to-8 foot tree uses about 2 1/2 to 3 gallons of water once a week.

Soaker hoses, trickle or drip systems can feed the root zone with minimum surface wetting and water waste. Alternatively, a berm around the tree or shrub base may be filled with water for slow infiltration and percolation into the root zone.


Photo © Publicdomainphotos

Waterwise Wednesday: Water Cooling Tactics

Photo © Zhigong Zhang

Try these simple hacks that use minimal water to help keep cool.

1. Cold compress. Refrigerate damp washcloths or sponges then apply to pulse pulse points like wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles and/or behind your knees where blood vessels are close to the surface.

2. Ice Fan. Place a shallow bowl of ice in front of a fan. The breeze will pick up cold water from the ice’s surface as it melts, creating a cooling mist.

3. Wet Blanket. Dampen a sheet with cool water, wring well (or spin in the washer) and use it as a blanket. The evaporation keeps you cool through the night. Recommend using a dry towel under your body and/or waterproof mattress pad to avoid soaking the mattress.

4. Wet Curtain. Hang a damp sheet in front of an open window, or fan. The evaporation caused by the breeze on the sheet should cool the room.

Waterwise Wednesday: Tree Watering

Photo © Boris Ryaposov

Water newly planted trees. Recent high temperatures coupled with wind and low humidity make new trees more susceptible to stress.

1. Water trees slowly at the base of plants to give them a deep soak. Avoid frequent short waterings, like the lawn, which provide only shallow moisture.

2. Water in the morning to avoid evaporation and help the tree cope the heat of the sun throughout the day.

3. Soaker hoses or tree bags work well for the slow soak tree watering and a 3″ layer of can provide a new tree a buffer from heat, retain water, and avoid root competition with weeds.

Trees are valuable assets to our community. They help shade from heat, shield from cold, manage stormwater, prevent erosion and fight air, water, and noise pollution. So set them up for success with good watering now.

Waterwise Wednesday: National Rivers Month

North Platte River at Scottsbluff July 2019 by L. Sato

We celebrate U.S. rivers and their benefits throughout June.
– Like the Missouri River, the country’s longest at 2,500 miles
– the Mississippi River, the widest, 11 miles across at one point in Minnesota.
– and Nebraska’s 79,056 miles of river

One out of every three people gets their drinking water from a river or stream in the United States. And nationally we spend about $97 billion annually on river-related recreation and tourism.

Drinking water and recreation are two reasons to protect water quality by picking up after your pet, using fertilizers sparingly, and properly disposing of trash.

Waterwise Wednesday: LID Management

Lied Scottsbluff Public Library Bioswale, Scottsbluff, Nebraska September 2015
Photo by L. Sato

Low impact development (LID) or green infrastructure encourages rain to infiltrate where it falls, reducing opportunities for runoff to collect pollutants and reach nearby waters. LID tends to be more attractive, increase property values and provide more environmental benefits than traditional stormwater management methods.


The Lied Scottsbluff Library Bioswale routes roof runoff through the bioswale. The green space reduces runoff to the storm sewer, provides natural water treatment for runoff that overflows to the storm sewer, and creates an oasis for insects and pollinators (and the birds that feed on them).

Waterwise Wednesday: Lawn Watering

Photo © Dreamstime.com

Warmer weather brings on lawn watering. Follow these tips for efficient and effective watering.

1. Water early in the morning, before 10 AM to avoid wind and evaporation from higher temperatures.

2. In ground sprinkler systems are most effective. Pulsating or tractor sprinklers are recommended for manual watering – the heavier drops drift less.

3. Soak 6 inches of soil or do the screwdriver test to determine soil moisture. Push a long-blade screwdriver straight down into the lawn. There’s adequate moisture if the blade penetrates the soil easily depth of 6 inches. If it doesn’t water a bit more.

4. Water twice a week max so the grass develops a deep healthy root system.

5. Or let it go dormant. Grass goes dormant in hot weather, just like it does in the cold of winter. Periodic watering will keep the soil moist and protect roots without killing grass, just like a spring shower or winter snow.