Trees and Water Conservation

The urban forest contributes to water conservation in a variety of ways, from improved water quality to reduced runoff.

Trees manage rain water in storm events by:

  • intercepting rainfall in the foliage, which prevents water runoff
  • absorbing and filtering water that infiltrates into the soil
  • holding stream banks in place with their roots

Trees improve water quality by:

  • reducing soil erosion, which prevents sediment from entering storm drains and streams
  • trapping debris and contaminants in the decaying organic matter that is present in the root zone when water percolates through, below the soil surface
  • absorbing contaminants from sub surface water or helping to break them down

Drought tolerance aids water conservation.

  • Drought tolerant plants require less water, resulting in less frequent irrigation and associated costs
  • Drought tolerant trees do not need irrigation once they become established
  • Drought tolerant plants are less likely to experience stress during the hot Oklahoma summers, improving survival rates and removing the need for continuous watering of replacement plants.

Maximize the water conservation benefits of trees and landscaping.

  • Plant the right tree in the right place. Select a tree suited to the site conditions and growing space, without conflicts from utilities, paved surfaces or buildings.
  • Plant drought tolerant species with low water needs.
  • Plant trees in your yard, and retain trees on slopes and near waterways to contribute to improved water quality.
  • Apply a 3-4” layer of mulch under the drip line of trees and throughout landscape beds to retain soil moisture and reduce watering needs.