The human body requires a set amount of water for optimal health, depending on a person’s size. Trees are no different, though many homeowners, businesses, and communities often struggle with how to properly water trees, especially during the summer months.
It’s easy to assume that an occasional rain shower or water run-off from a nearby sprinkler head is enough to properly water trees. But tree roots extend deep and wide into the ground, where surface water often evaporates before penetrating down to the roots.
In comparison, some individuals overwater trees believing they are actually aiding in their root development. However, overwatering practices can lead to root rot and suffocation, compromising the tree’s overall stability as the soil becomes oversaturated.
A guest post by John Lang on the Arbor Day Foundation’s website states, “During a summer afternoon, up to half of the water can be lost to evaporation. The best time to water is in the morning or evening, so the roots have a chance to absorb most of the water. Unfortunately, there’s no magic schedule for watering trees. How often you should water will depend on the size of your tree, soil conditions, and weather conditions. Newly planted trees require much more water than established ones.”
Checking the soil moisture weekly is the best way to determine if your tree needs water. Using a small shovel, dig down about two inches near the tree’s base, and if the soil is dry to the touch, the tree needs water. During drought conditions, you may have to check soil moisture more often.
As to how to properly water trees in the summer, mature trees require approximately 10 gallons of water for each inch of a tree’s diameter when the soil is dry.
Lang adds, “Deep watering allows the critical root zone to take up adequate moisture. When setting up a drip line, be sure it extends to the entire area beneath the tree’s canopy and to a depth of 10 inches if possible.”
Drip irrigation is the preferred method as it prevents valuable water from being lost to evaporation. This slow release allows the tree to absorb the water at its own pace.
For newly planted trees, it’s important to water daily for the first few weeks after planting, understanding that they are more fragile than mature trees, and require more attention, more often as the soil dries out.
Finally, mulching around trees is an inexpensive DIY solution for retaining moisture around trees as it prevents the soil from drying out too quickly during the summer heat. A thick layer (about two-four inches deep) is ideal.
For more information on proper tree watering this summer, give your local SavATree branch a call today!