|Our southern soils foster root growth during the winter, giving newly planted trees and shrubs the opportunity to develop an extended root system before the heat and drought of summer return. |
The past two years was definitely a drought period for the record books. From September 2007 through August 2009, the recorded rainfall was less than for any similar period since recordkeeping began in the late 19th century.
Many trees and shrubs could not withstand such conditions. Most notable were evergreen shrubs, such as wax leaf ligustrum and dwarf yaupon, and trees such as magnolia and hackberry. If you experienced the misfortune of losing a tree or shrub, then this winter is a wonderful opportunity to replant with long term success in mind.
Why plant during the winter? Our southern soils foster root growth during the winter, giving newly planted trees and shrubs the opportunity to develop an extended root system before the heat and drought of summer return. Also important is the fact that a lot less water is required to establish these plants during the winter. Depending on plant size, you would have to water only two to three months instead of four to six months.
Long term success also depends on placement. Too often new plants are placed right next to the house, sidewalk, or driveway. Shrubs should be planted no closer to these areas than their width at maturity. Plant small trees like redbuds no closer than ten feet from the house, and large trees no closer than 15 feet.
Lastly, and most importantly, long term success depends on plant choice. Native species should always be your first choice. Our plant list contains native species that are drought tolerant and adaptable to most San Antonio landscapes.
Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System.