Tree Watering Tips

Monday, July 23, 2012 by

Homeowners are urged to continue watering trees and shrubs due to continued dry soil conditions and a rain shortage. It is important to know that trees and shrubs will benefit from continued watering even trees and shrubs that have lacked sufficient watering throughout the summer.

Here are some drought-readiness tips from The Morton Arboretum:

  • Focus watering efforts on trees and shrubs not grass. Grass goes dormant and will turn green again when water is available. Trees can die without water.
  • Depending on air temperatures, trees and shrubs need at least 1 inch of water applied every week to 10 days to cope with lack of rain. Larger, established trees have a wide-spreading root system and need not be watered as frequently, perhaps every 2 to 3 weeks. Let the top few inches of soil dry out between waterings to avoid saturation and to allow roots and soil organisms to breathe.
  • Water slowly and deeply so water percolates down into the soil, electing one or two deep waterings as opposed to several light ones.
  • Use soaker hoses and drip irrigation — effective watering tools because they discharge even streams of slow, trickling water directly to the root zone beneath trees and shrubs. When combined with a 3 or 4-inch layer of organic mulch, plants can use nearly all of the water that’s provided with little evaporation loss.
  • When watering small trees, let a hose run slowly at its base until the ground is moist. For large trees, let the hose run at various points around the tree’s drip line the imaginary line on the ground that encircles a tree’s extended branches.
  • Water shrubs at the plant base and under the spread of branches until soil is moistened to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.
  • When using a sprinkler system, place a container nearby to measure when you have distributed 1 inch of water to the soil.
  • Prioritize watering, caring for newly transplanted trees and shrubs first, then those that have been in the ground from 2 to 5 years and have under-developed root systems. Next, water ‘œspecimen’ trees or important trees, then all other plants.
  • Water strategically. Plants absorb more water in the early morning, before the warming sun can cause evaporation.
  • Avoid using fertilizer during drought conditions. Fertilizer salts can cause root injury when soil moisture is limited.

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