How Trees Can Help With a Waterwise Landscape

June 7, 2022 | | |

If you have a tree in Utah, you most likely know who James Batton is. If not, you should! We are super grateful to James for joining us in May, live in our Facebook Group to share his knowledge of trees and using them to create waterwise landscapes. 

If you missed the live, you can watch the video here, or keep reading for our main takeaways. 

But first, a little more about James:

James Batton, a locally famed arborist, started his horticultural journey at 19 working for Oregon State University at their horticultural and agriculture research facility. 

Over a career that has spanned 40 years, he has learned a great deal about the health, longevity, propagation, and care of plants. His experience as a certified arborist, estate gardener, and landscape contractor has provided him with first-hand knowledge as to where a plant will thrive as well as where it fits in a well-designed landscape. 

Simultaneously he has dedicated his time to volunteering as a teacher, instructor, guide, and advisor in settings amongst nature. He had a natural draw from childhood to the way all of nature, especially trees, reflect life lessons for us all and are continually used in ancient wisdom’s teaching.

With all of James’ knowledge, we knew he would be the perfect guest to answer some of the questions we have been receiving regarding trees and waterwise landscapes. 

Here are some of his main take-aways: 

How Trees Save Water

Trees provide shade. Shade brings down the temperature of your yard.  A landscape with more shade greatly reduces the amount of water you will need because plants within the shade of the tree don’t need as much water as those in the sun. Shady and sheltered areas dry out more slowly. 

A perfectly manicured, green, grassy lawn has been established as an ideal but the truth is, grass & turf are an expensive, time-consuming, high-maintenance ground cover. And they require a lot of water!

Once established, most trees will require much less water than a grassy lawn. Instead of running a sprinkler every day, trees will only require watering once a week or even every few weeks. 

Some of James’ favorite waterwise trees are conifers. Not only do they provide beautiful, year-round foliage, but they don’t require frequent waterings once they are established. 

While we are on the subject though, James shared some best practices for watering trees:

  1. Roots spread out laterally 360° around the tree. They tend to stay closer to the surface because they need oxygen. When watering an established tree make sure that you water all the way around the tree and out as far as the canopy reaches. 
  2. Don’t forget that trees need water in the winter too. Typically, established trees will need a deep soak once a month from November-March. One of the major issues James sees over the winter months with tree owners is the effects of Winter Drought Stress as people forget to water during those months. 
  3. Make sure you select the right tree & plant it in the best area for it. This brings us to his next big take-away. 

Do Your Research First

No two trees or shrubs are created equal. As James points out, we live in a desert and many of our trees are shipped in and are used to different climates and weather conditions. Will you and your yard be able to care for the tree in the way it will need?

One of the biggest mistakes James sees when it comes to tree planting is that the right tree is planted in the wrong place because it was:

  1. Planted too close to a structure, sidewalk, or driveway.
  2. Not planted in soil that is conducive to it thriving. 
  3. It’s not accessible to the amount of water that it will need.

When it comes to planting trees, planting depth is paramount. If it's too deep all the proper watering in the world won’t help the tree establish itself.  

For waterwise landscapes, you must select the right tree for your yard and know the best place to plant it. 

Every yard is unique so there isn’t a one size fits all option. Arborists like James Batton and the experts here at Glover Nursery are always happy to help you on your waterwise landscape journey. We are always here to answer your questions!

James releases new episodes of The James Batton Show on his Youtube Channel every Wednesday. The weekly videos address relevant and current information about all things trees and gardening. You can also get in touch with him about his services and classes on his website

Other useful links and resources:

Do I need a Landscape Design?

Top 7 Waterwise Perennials for Summer

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