When I saw this in the Serai Bandipur I was thrilled, cause this is what I do in my little farm in Hoskote. Put a lot of dry leaves, coconut husks or just cut branches around the roots of the trees to keep the moisture from evaporating too fast.
In The Serai they put a 'crust' of pine needles around the roots to prevent the evaporation! Look at the pic! There they desperately need measures like these as water is a scarce commodity.
We can even do it in the city. Put a lot of dried leaves in your pots to prevent the evaporation and it will help our thirsty plants manage through the dry season.