Tree Watering Guide – Process, Best Time & Optimal Volume

This article provides information on how best to water trees with details on how to apply when to water and watering newly planted trees.

Do established trees require watering? They do. Here, you’ll also find out how to water such. Let’s get right into our discussion, shall we?

Tree Watering Tips

One of the most widely known tree maintenance practices is watering. While this activity may sound too familiar, it involves more than many think.

In other words, tree watering is much more than dumping water at the base of a tree and walking off. This maintenance procedure needs to be done right.

What Tools Do You Use for Tree Watering?

When it comes to tree watering, different tools can be used.

The tool(s) used will determine how the watering is done. In other words, different watering tools require varying approaches to watering.

The essential tools for this activity include a bucket, sprinkler, hose, and soaker.

  • Bucket

Even with an essential tool like a bucket, tree watering should be done systematically.

A bucket comes in handy when the tree you wish to water is far from the house. The water-filled bucket empties its content slowly into the area around the tree trunk.

To retain moisture in the soil, you can add some mulch.

However, this should be applied appropriately to allow even aeration of the soil. About 3 to 4 inches of mulch should be spread around the trunk.

This helps retain moisture while ensuring the tree gets enough supply.

So, how much water should be applied to the tree using this method? For young trees, a minimum of 10 gallons of water should suffice.

  • Sprinkler

When using a sprinkler for tree watering, it should be used as instructed. Thankfully this is a no-brainer, as you only need to target the area around the tree trunk.

For best results, ensure the rate of water coming out is regulated so that it comes out moderately. This gives the tree enough time to absorb the water.

  • Hose

When using a hose to water your tree, there’s no need to rush the process.

A great way to go about this watering method is by turning the water supply so it comes in a slow dribble. Now the hose should be placed on the ground near the trunk.

After some time (say 30 minutes), you’ll have to move the hose to another section of the area around the tree trunk and leave it for another 30 minutes.

This process should be repeated until the tree has been sufficiently watered. The entire process may take around an hour or two to complete.

  • Soaker Hose

The soaker hose is another watering tool that can be used for trees. These come with a porous section placed around the target area (at the base or around the tree).

As the water slowly drips out, it moistens the soil. The soaker hose must be left for a sufficient time until the soil is adequately soaked.

Newly Planted Tree Watering

Tree watering procedures differ based on the time of planting.

First, you need to understand that the root systems of newly planted trees aren’t fully developed. As a matter of fact, during the first several months of planting, the roots largely remain within the root ball.

Watering should be done around the initial root ball and the surrounding soil.

As the tree establishes its root systems beyond the root ball (mainly after some months), the watered area should be expanded. You’ll need to cover or flood the area under the canopy.

Watering should be done three times weekly to prevent the root ball from drying. Such watering won’t be needed when rains provide sufficient moisture.

However, watering will be required when there isn’t enough rainfall.

Established Tree Watering

Watering established trees follows a different approach compared to newly grown trees.

That is because the root systems are far spread out in search of moisture and nutrients. Understanding the reaches of these roots gives you an idea of how best to water these trees.

Once a tree is established, its roots extend way beyond the edge of its canopy.

Regarding root depth, some roots reach down to anchor the tree to the ground, while most are spread out. These roots are usually buried under 12” to 18” inches of soil.

Watering should be done so that the areas below its canopy are targeted. You’ll still need to water outward (several feet) beyond the canopy area.

For established trees, deep soaking irrigation is necessary. This will require significant amounts of water.

Avoid watering the area directly around the trunk. When confused, it’s best to consult an arborist to provide support tips on how to proceed with watering.

Knowing When to Water is Crucial

Not only is watering vital to a tree’s survival but knowing when to water is equally important. This will be difficult to determine through basic visual inspection.

You’ll need to ascertain the level of moisture in the soil. One of the easiest ways to do that is by using an essential tool such as a screwdriver.

By poking your eight-inch screwdriver into the soil, it should readily penetrate at least six inches into the ground if the soil is moist enough.

When it doesn’t (proving challenging to penetrate the earth), it’s a sign you need to water your tree.

Best Time of Day for Tree Watering

Tree watering should be done at specific day periods to make the process more efficient. It’s best to water your trees when it’s still cool.

In other words, you should avoid watering during the day’s hottest periods. The reason is simple; it helps with water conservation as less water is lost via evaporation.

How Much Water is enough?

During tree watering, it’s necessary to understand how much water the tree needs.

It’s essential to ensure you moisten the soil enough to a depth of at least 10”. This allows the root systems to absorb enough water up the tree.

Proper tree watering is essential to their moral development. We’ve discussed the different watering tools and how to use them, as well as water for trees at varying levels of maturity.

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