A study was conducted to explore how surface materials, including pine bark mulch, bare soil, and turfgrass, affect water use of diverse cultivars (dwarf weeping, dwarf upright, standard weeping, and standard upright) of crape myrtle
(Lagerstroemia indicaL.). Daily water use was measured gravimetrically, and instantaneous rates of sap flow were measured using heat balance stem flow gauges. Plants of all cultivars surrounded by the mulched surface lost 0.63 to 1.25 kgm-2day-1 more water than plants on the soil surface and 0.83 to 1.09 kgm-2day-1 more than plants surrounded by turf. The surface temperature of the mulch was higher than that of the other surfaces, resulting in greater fluxes of longwave radiation from the surface. Because of the greater energy load, plants on the mulched surface had higher leaf temperatures and higher leaf-air vapor pressure deficits (VPD) throughout the day. Plants on the mulched area also had higher stomata1 conductances during most of the day compared with those on bare soil and turfgrass surfaces.