The warm and sunny weather we have had this week is a precursor of the hot, dry summer we can expect ahead. In an average year, Seattle’s monthly rainfall is five or six inches in December and January but less than an inch in July and August.
Watering your trees, shrubs and other plants in the dry months is an investment in the landscape. Invest in watering, and it will pay many dividends, from beauty and function to home value.
Landscaping adds value
Studies have shown that a mature, attractive landscape is an asset to a home’s value. Beautiful trees, shrubs, flowers and lawn add color, life and movement to a home.
Well-designed landscaping enhances a home’s architecture and shows off its features. It can add tens of thousands of dollars to a home’s value.
Landscaping adds greatly to “curb appeal.” This first look will make you want to see more or drive off quickly before you are seen. In a competitive market, curb appeal will likely help the home sell more quickly and at a higher price.
Water is a necessary maintenance cost
Paying to water our landscapes is like paying for maintenance for our cars. Cars need tuneups, new tires, fuel, insurance and other regular maintenance. All this is a cost for having the vehicle.
Water is a very inexpensive “maintenance” cost for our landscape. The cost of keeping plants alive and well is much less than the cost of replacing them.
Cost of water
We often hear that people do not water their plants because of the cost of the water. But really, we only have to concentrate on watering three or four months out of the year.
If we had to pay the true cost of getting beautiful, clean and clear water to our homes, we might never wash our clothes, take a shower or clean our cars again. If we paid the same price for water out of the faucet that we pay for bottled water at the store, we would hoard water like gold. The fact is the water we receive from our water providers is as good as any water from a bottle, and it is cheap.
Here is an example of how inexpensive our water truly is.
Woodinville Water District residential rates
- Fixed charge is $20.90/month. This includes the first 1,498 gallons of water, or about 1.5 cents per gallon.
- Winter rates for additional water are $4.83 for 748 gallons, or about 6 cents per gallon.
- Summer rates for additional water are $6.04 for 748 gallons, or about 8 cents per gallon.
Compare to cost of other commodities
- Gasoline: $3.00 per gallon or more.
- Bottled water: Perhaps $1.00 for a 12 oz bottle, or about $10.66 per gallon.
- Coffee from a coffee shop: Perhaps $3-4 per cup, or as much as $32-42 per gallon.
Watering trees is cheaper than replacing them
Trees are amazing! They:
- Add security and screening to the landscape
- Furnish shade on hot days, helping to keep the house cool
- Provide shelter and food for birds and wildlife
- Retain water to reduce flooding and stormwater runoff
- Clean the air of toxins
- Add beauty to the landscape and neighborhood
- And more
In the urban environment trees are often given small areas to grow, such as parking strips. Their planting area may not provide much space for a root system. So the trees are depending on us to help them by giving them the water they need to grow and thrive.
You will be amazed how much it costs for a tree company to remove a big dead tree from a landscape. It could be as much as $500, $1,000 or more, depending on the size of the tree and ease of access.
Then we have to buy a new tree and pay for labor to install it. The new tree we bought and installed will need lots of water for the first two or three years so it can establish deep roots.
Then we will have to wait 10, 20, 30 years or more for it to grow into a mature plant with height and stature. And we will have to do all this because we wanted to save a few dollars on our water bill?
So what costs less: paying a small amount of money to keep your plants alive and thriving OR removing, replacing and paying for lots of water for two years until the plant is established? Seems like a no brainer.
What to do? Water!
The easy answer is that we usually must water in our dry months, even if we think our trees and shrubs are ok. They may look fine right now, but the following year is when the damage will show.
During times with no water, plants may not show any signs of struggle. But there is a difference between surviving and thriving. Sometimes the difference is just a little water during dry times.
In the summer months, the temperatures are perfect and the day length is perfect for growing plants. At this point in the season, the only limiting factor for any plant is water.
So as long as they receive water, plants should grow well. If your plants are not doing well, 99 times out of 100 the reason has to do with not watering enough.
Water is an investment in the garden. It is like a savings account. If you save money regularly, you will get a great end result. Likewise, invest in watering, and it will pay off in a landscape that will survive and thrive for many years.
More info on watering
- Read our recent blog post about why plants need water to survive and thrive.
- Check out our YouTube watering playlist for tips on how to water.
- Watch for future blog posts on how much, when and how long to water.