Tree watering is an essential part of tree care. Making sure your trees are properly watered is crucial to ensuring their health and longevity. But, when and how much should you water?
Unfortunately, there is no magic recipe for tree watering. Factors such as soil type, weather patterns and the age of trees all affect how much watering should be done. But, here are a few good rules of thumb to follow.
1. Water newly planted trees immediately.
This one probably sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s important to mention anyway.
2. Deep water trees in the first two growing seasons.
Young trees use up a lot of energy trying to establish their roots in the soil. So, as you can imagine, trees have a hard time dealing with drought and heat in its first couple years. Deep watering--which means keeping the soil moist to a depth that includes all roots--can help speed up root establishment.
3. For established trees, check soil moisture before watering.
Use a trowel to dig a few inches into the soil and touch it to see it’s moisture level. Generally, soil should be moist--not dry or drenched. If trees need watering, generally 30 seconds with a steady stream of water is adequate, or the ratio of 5 gallons per inch of trunk diameter is also used.
4. Don’t overwater.
Yes. You can overwater trees. Some symptoms of overwatering are yellow leaves (usually starting on lower branches), black or dark brown roots (symptoms of root rot), fungus or algae growing on the soil surface or surface roots, green leaves that are brittle, or the wilting of young shoots.
5. Use mulch.
Mulch not only adds a little curb appeal, it is also essential to retaining moisture and soil temperature. Check out the article “All You Need to Know About Mulch” from Fra-Dor, Inc. (a fellow Little Canada, MN business!)
6. Know your tree.
Different tree species have different watering requirements, so do a little research on your trees so you know best practices.
7. Water efficiently.
Water late at night when evaporation rates are at their lowest. Don’t use spray head sprinklers since much of the water can be lost to the wind. You could also great a basin around a tree by building a berm at the drip line to prevent runoff.
8. Keep up on watering.
A good rule of thumb is to water trees about once a week during the growing season. Weather conditions will dictate if you need to water more or less than this. Again, check the soil by digging down a few inches and checking its moisture.
Need more information? Check out these resources:
- Tree Watering 101
- My Minnesota Woods - Seasonal Care of Trees & Shrubs: Watering
- Arbor Day Foundation - Tree Watering
- Top 3 Rules for Tree Care
- 8 Steps for Planting a Tree