04 Aug Proper Tree Watering
As you’re thinking about your fall or summer tree care needs, are you wondering what your tree watering routine should be?
If so, you’re not alone. Many of our Dallas area clients like you contact us because they aren’t sure if they’re watering their trees too much, too little, or if they need to water them at all. Here’s an explanation about proper tree watering so you can make watering your trees an important part of your regular tree maintenance routine.
Rain Water from Dallas Storms Isn’t Enough for Proper Tree Watering
Some of our Dallas area homeowners and property managers think that since we get rain in our area, that tree watering isn’t needed. This isn’t true. You need to be watering your trees on a regular basis in order to ensure they are properly hydrated and will grow strong and healthy for years to come.
How Much You Need to Water Your Trees
Each tree species that grow in North Texas is unique and, as such, has unique watering needs. Additionally, different trees have different watering needs dependent on their age, the time of the year, the soil they’re planted in, and the type of weather we’re currently experiencing. You can contact us at 817-533-8438 to discuss which types of trees you have to get a custom tree care schedule for tree watering.
Here is a recommended tree watering schedule for trees that are both newly planted and established.
- Watering Newly Planted Trees
Newly planted trees need to be kept consistently moist. This is due to the fact that for the first several months after a new tree is planted, its roots are still within the original root ball. In order for the root ball to expand and the tree’s roots to grow within its planted area, new trees need plenty of water. As a general rule of thumb, you should keep the base of a new tree constantly moist.
After several months, your newly planted tree will begin to spread its roots. Once this occurs, you need to expand your tree watering routine to cover the entire area underneath the tree’s canopy. You may need to practice this tree care schedule for two to three growing seasons until your new tree is established. In the meantime, keep your new tree constantly moist, and make sure you never forget to water it when it’s hot or dry outside or else your new tree may not grow and thrive.
- Watering Established Trees
While established trees still can’t exist on rainwater alone, they need less watering than newly planted trees. For your established trees, your tree watering routine should be one that ensures you’re deeply soaking and irrigating the entire area under the tree canopy – not just around the tree’s trunk or visible roots. Ideally, you should water depth of 10” underneath the entire tree’s canopy and extending several feet beyond its drip line.
There’s an important tree maintenance tip to keep in mind for proper tree watering of established trees, however. You should never soak the area of the tree directly encircling its trunk. Doing so may cause the tree to rot.
When is Tree Watering Needed for Established Trees?
As ISA-Certified Arborists, we have a trick to know when an established tree needs watering. First, get a long screwdriver and a tape measure. Push the screwdriver into the soil surrounding the tree. It may easily go into the moist surface soil, but get harder to push in once you reach the dryer soil below.
If the screwdriver won’t push into your established tree’s soil at least 6”, your tree needs to be watered.
For the fall and winter season, you may want to reduce your watering quite a bit. A good rule of thumb is to reduce your watering to 25% what you would in the summer season. For example, if you are watering 40 gallons per week in the summer, then you can water only 10 gallons per week in the fall & winter.
If it is rainy season, then you may want to stop watering all together, depending on your local weather. Trees and climates can vary, so it never hurts to consult with an ISA Certified Arborist to get advice on the best schedule for your trees.
The Best Way To Water Established Trees as Part of Your Tree Care Schedule
You may think that overhead sprinklers are the best way to water your established trees. Unfortunately, they’re not.
Overhead sprinklers are known to Arborists like us to be very inefficient. In fact, about half of the water they let out is evaporated before it ever reaches the soil around your tree.
Instead, proper tree watering requires you to patiently water your established trees slowly and directly at the soil level. Depending on the size of your tree, this could take hours to complete.
If you’re a homeowner use a soaker hose to water your established trees. This is because soak hoses let water out slowly, which is exactly the way your trees need to be watered.
To use a soaker hose for tree watering, encircle the tree with it. Run the hose for at least an hour, and then do the screwdriver test we mentioned above to see if you can place a screwdriver at least 6” into the tree’s soil. If not, keep watering until your tree passes the screwdriver test.
Alternative Tree Watering Devices
If you have several trees on your property to water – such as if you manage the commercial or public property – you can water your established trees with either a pressure regulator or a landscape sprinkler system. You can also use a bubbler or a drip irrigation system.
Whatever method you use to water your trees, you should never perform tree watering during the hottest part of the day, which is typically between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm. Instead, water your trees in the early morning and the evening.
We’re Here to Help You With Your Tree Maintenance Needs
As your ISA-Certified Arborist and your partners in maintaining your property’s trees and other landscape, we want you to know that you can always reach out to us with questions. While tree watering is a tree maintenance task you’ll need to perform on your own, we’re always available to share our knowledge about specific species, seasons, or ages of trees to help you create the best tree care schedule possible.
We’re also here to take care of other summer tree care needs, including tree nutrition and emergency tree trimming in the event you have broken or diseased limbs that are posing a danger to the people or structures on your property.
Whenever you need our help, we’re only a phone call away. Simply call us at 817-533-8438 and we’ll be here to answer your questions.
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Healthy trees, healthy lives.