When dry weather continues for an extended period, landscape trees depend on homeowners for water. Many urban and landscape trees have been lost due to drought, so it’s important to take care of surviving trees and nurture replacement trees with proper watering. Many homeowners assume rain will provide enough water for trees. But your watering will make a huge difference in the health and survival of trees when they’re young or when the weather is dry.
How to Water Young Trees
Young trees should be watered regularly; every couple of weeks, and more often in dry weather, for at least two years after they are planted. In times of drought, when it hasn’t rained for a month or more, even large, mature trees will need watering. Newly planted trees and young trees haven’t yet grown a large network of roots. That’s why they can’t store much water and need to be watered often. They should be watered near the trunk, where the root ball is. It can take two or more growing seasons for a tree to become established — for roots to venture into the soil well beyond the planting hole. It’s vital to provide supplemental moisture in those early years.
Best Way to Water Established Trees
It’s a common misconception that a tree’s roots are a mirror image of the above ground canopy. In reality, an established tree’s roots usually extend well beyond the edge of the canopy, or drip line. Although some anchor roots may reach deep into the soil, most tree roots are concentrated in the upper 12″ to 18″ of soil. When watering established trees, provide a deep, soaking irrigation to the entire area beneath the tree canopy and extending several feet beyond the drip line. Ideally, you should moisten the soil to a depth of 10″ each time you water. To prevent rot, don’t apply water to the area directly around the trunk. The best way to water trees is slowly for a long time, so the roots have time to absorb the moisture from the soil as it soaks down. The roots that absorb the water aren’t deep. They spread out sideways and most are just a foot or so beneath the surface of the soil. On a mature tree, roots extend far in all directions, but it’s sufficient to concentrate on watering the area beneath the branches.
Types of Watering Methods
- Hose – Trees are better served by watering methods that apply water slowly, right at soil level. It may take several hours to properly water a single mature tree. One option is to turn the hose to a slow dribble and place it on the ground near the trunk. After half an hour, move it a couple of feet around the trunk. Keep moving the hose from place to place until it has dribbled for an hour, or even two hours for a large tree.
- Soaker Hose – Soaker hoses are an efficient way to water trees because they’re porous and release water slowly. Encircle a tree with a spiral of soaker hose and run it for an hour or more — as long as it takes for water to penetrate 6″ or 8″, using the screwdriver test. Let it go for an hour or more.
- Sprinkler – You can use a sprinkler, but turn it down so the water doesn’t splash on the leaves. The tree needs the water in the soil, where its roots are.
- Bucket – If a tree is too far from the hose, you can use a bucket as long as you use at least 10 gallons every time you water. Pour the water slowly on the area all around the trunk. Mulch will help hold the moisture in the soil. Spread it in an even layer about 3 to 4 inches deep as widely as possible around the trunk.
It is important to remember that too much water can kill a tree as easily as too little water. Over watering prevents tree roots from getting the oxygen they need to stay healthy. Make sure the root area is moist, but do not let the tree stand in water for more than a couple of hours before it soaks in. If you have heavy clay soil, mix some coarse compost into the soil, or raise the area to improve drainage.
Make your property the one people look forward to driving into with healthy trees. Turn to an experienced company that can make your site a must-see spot. Outer Image can provide commercial landscaping services, including tree care, plant installation, and maintenance.
Contact us (859-689-0076) for a free consultation!
About Outer Image Outdoor Services
Outer Image Outdoor Services provides residential and commercial landscaping services to the Northern Kentucky & Greater Cincinnati Area and has more than 20+ years of experience. We provide prompt and thorough service to our customers and treat them like neighbors!
>> Learn More