The city of Katy recently issued mandatory water restrictions for Katy residents after David Kasper, city engineer, wrote a letter citing unprecedented well depletion and urging the city administrator take action on August 5, 2022.  The city administrator, Byron Hebert, urged Mayor William “Dusty” Thiele to take action. On August 5, the same day the city engineer contacted the city admin, the mayor declared that the city of Katy is hereby under Stage 3 severe drought conditions.

Stage 3 Severe Drought Restrictions

Some of the restrictions that affect your and your property are listed below.

  • No hosing or pressure washing hard surfaces
  • No window washing or cleaning exteriors
  • No washing vehicles with a hose
  • Do not allow water to runoff into gutters and storm drains.
  • Do not plant any new trees, flowers, shrubs, or other landscaping
  • No new pool plan permits will be accepted
  • If you installed a new pool you cannot fill it
  • Do not run or install new decorative fountains or other landscaping water features

According to the City of Katy violators will be fined and may have their water access shut off. They even provide an email address for you to report violators on their website, but we’re not sharing it here (remember to be neighborly).

Residents are restricted to landscape watering only two days a week between midnight to 8 a.m. and from 8 p.m. to 11:59 (with the exception of first year new tree and shrub plantings that can be watered up to two hours any day with a handheld hose or soaker).  The Mayor may order greater watering limitations if it is deemed necessary. The mayor has the authority to prohibit any new landscaping installation, and only new tree plantings under two years old can be watered.

During this drought, with limited watering, the health and lives of both mature trees and newly planted ones may be in jeopardy. No matter where you live, keep a close watch on the landscape watering rules for your area and learn what you can do to help your trees, both your young ones and your mature ones, survive the drought.

General Drought Care for Trees

There are a few simple things you can do to help your trees survive during the drought. Some general suggestions are:

  • Mulch properly around trees. Natural wood chip mulch is the best. Keep the mulch about 4 inches away from the trunk and at about 2-6 inches deep. This helps keep moisture in the ground, so the tree can survive on fewer watering days. It also protects the roots from suffering during extreme temperatures. Keep a watch on the mulch to be sure it is not interfering with rainfall or irrigation getting to the tree roots. When it rains there should be what looks like a moat around the trunk of the tree so that the mulch is about 6 inches away from touching the tree. The roots must have water. The mulch is of little use in preserving water if there is no water to preserve.
  • Have an arborist check soil conditions to see if the tree needs fertilizer. A good way to do this is to use a small screwdriver to push into the soil about 6-8 inches deep. If the soil is dry and crumbly, water on the next scheduled watering day and, as much as possible, give the tree a slow soak. If the soil feels damp, then skip the next watering day.
  • Schedule fall fertilization if needed. Fertilizer pulls water from the roots which then forces the tree to use its energy to promote growth, so watering some trees during a drought can do more harm than good. As the tree grows, it will need more water. Additionally, fertilizer needs ample water to fully distribute nutrients available throughout the tree.
  • Don’t prune the tree branches during a drought unless they pose a safety risk. Pruning forces trees to expend energy repairing the wounds sustained during pruning. This causes more stress to a tree already suffering from stress due to the drought.
  • Don’t dig under the tree canopy. This can damage the roots which will then reduce the ability and capacity of the roots to take in water.  This includes root barrier installations. Landscaping companies will happily continue to install root barriers during a drought, taking your money and potentially killing your trees. An ISA Certified Arborist will never put profit over the health of your trees. That’s why we’ve asked our customers who requested root barriers all summer to start scheduling them through the upcoming fall and winter.
  • Pest control. It is important to keep trees free from pests during this time. If the tree survives the drought, it will already be weakened and may not have the energy to fight off an invasion of pests. Check trees regularly for any signs of illness or infestation requiring treatment from a tree doctor.

Watering Mature Trees During a Drought

Mature trees are ones that were planted at least five years ago. When you use your limited water supply, keep in mind you want the water to get to the roots. This will not happen if you water close to the trunk. You should be watering under the trees canopy. Try to do a slow soak that will reach about 12-18 inches below the ground. If water restrictions prevent you from watering under the entire canopy, completely wet a small area instead of shallowly wetting the entire area.

Watering Young Trees During a Drought

Young trees are those planted less than five years ago. Their roots are located close to the trunk and since the trees are young, they are not as drought-resistant as more mature trees. Try to do a slow soak. A surface watering will just run off and not reach the roots. You may have to move the mulch away from the roots when you water so the water can soak through the ground and reach the roots.

Cody’s Tree Service Can Help You Help Your Trees Survive the Drought

At Cody’s Tree Service, Inc. we believe trees deserve professional care and maintenance. Owned by an ISA Certified Arborist, we value and honor the critical part trees play in the environment. Contact us for help in saving your trees during this drought or if you have any questions or concerns about your young or mature trees. We serve those in West Houston, Fulshear, Cypress, and Katy, Texas.

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