We investigated seasonal water use, growth and acceptable root-zone water depletion levels to develop tools for the more precise irrigation of two Southeast U.S. landscape species in a monsoonal climate—Magnolia grandiflora
and Viburnum odoratissimum
. The study was conducted under a rainout shelter consisting of two concurrent studies. One, weighing lysimeter readings of quantified water use (ETA
) at different levels of irrigation frequency that dried the root zone to different allowable depletion levels (ADL). Two, planting the same species and sizes inground and irrigating them to the same ADLs to assess the effect of root-zone water depletion on growth. The projected crown area (PCA) and crown volume were concurrently measured every three weeks in both studies as well as reference evapotranspiration (ETo). Plant factor values were calculated from the ratio of ETA
(normalized to depth units by PCA) to ETo. The two species had different tolerances for irrigation frequency depending on the season: peak magnolia canopy growth was mid-spring to mid-summer, while peak viburnum canopy growth was summer. Canopy growth for both species was most sensitive to greater ADL-water stress during the peak growth stages of both species. For urban landscape irrigation, these data suggest that 60–75% of available water in magnolia and viburnum root zones can be depleted before irrigation and that they can be irrigated at a plant factor (PF) value of 0.6 of ETo. For landscape situations with high expectations, such as during establishment and especially during peak growth, a wetter water budget that minimizes water stress would be more appropriate: 30–45% ADL and PF values of 0.7–0.8. The results of this study are aimed at water managers and landscape architects and designers in a humid climate who need to account for water demand in planning scenarios.
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