Watering a tree frequently will help prevent hydraulic failure and contribute to a healthy long life

How To Water a Tree

Prevent unintended but improper watering, starvation, and hydraulic failure from killing your trees. Knowing how and when to water your trees will help them flourish and maintain steady growth.

fasttreeremovalatlanta.com gathered the following information about how much water your trees need, the best water delivery method, and the best time to water them.

How Much Water Does a Tree Need Daily

From the time your trees are planted through their maturity, moist, well-drained soil is needed to encourage vigorous growth. It is your tree’s age and size that help you determine the amount of water it needs. Consider the following:

Tree deep watering after planting provides needed moisture for roots to start establishing

Newly planted trees – After planting, your trees need consistent watering until their root systems grow and establish themselves. Root systems of newly planted trees, being bare-root, balled, or container-grown, are severely limited when planted and require more frequent waterings. The following watering intervals will help the tree adapt to its new location:

  1. Daily watering during the first two weeks after planting
  2. Every three days from three to twelve weeks
  3. Weekly deep waterings after twelve weeks

Deep waterings soak the ground to a depth of nine to twelve inches or more. Deep watering encourages deep root growth away from the tree, establishing a broad and sturdy root plate.

Note: Superficial or shallow watering, during a tree’s development, encourages roots to surface. Surface roots increase the risk of diseases and infestations successfully attacking the tree.

Tip: When topsoil is saturated, fast-flowing water will begin to “runoff,” taking nutrients with it. Slow down the flow of water to allow for deep soil penetration.

Established Trees – Measure the trunk diameter 4 to 6 inches above the ground. For every inch in trunk diameter, your tree requires 1 to 1.5 times that measurement in gallons of water per watering. For example:

  • 1-inch diameter requires 1 to 1.5 gallons per watering
  • 3-inch diameter requires 3 to 4.5 gallons per watering
  • 5-inch diameter requires 5 to 7.5 gallons per watering

Mature tree watering is determined on the trunk diameter

Note: The time it takes for a tree’s roots to establish themselves is coincidentally 1.5 times the trunk diameter (at the time of planting), in years.

Tip: Maintain a fresh 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the tree at all times. Mulch regulates soil temperature, helps soil retain moisture, and provides valuable nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.

Best Tree Watering Methods

Overhead sprinkler or spray systems help you cover large areas of your landscape. However, these systems are highly inefficient due to evaporation and sharply increase the potential spread of tree diseases. Consider the following watering methods:

Bucket Watering – Using a 5-gallon bucket, follow these steps:

  1. Use an empty, clean bucket
  2. Drill multiple 1/4 inch holes (at different heights) around the wall, and in the bottom of the bucket
  3. Fill the bucket with the amount of water needed for the tree
  4. Set the bucket near the tree trunk and let it drain
  5. Repeat the process or use multiple buckets as needed

The height and angle of the holes in the bucket wall will determine where and how quickly the exiting water goes.

Soaker Hoses – These hoses are a highly efficient way to water your trees. Soaker hoses are porous and slowly release water. All you need to do is loosely encircle your tree with the hose and let it run for an hour or as long as necessary for water to penetrate 8 to 12-inches.

Hose/Watering Bubbler – These devices are hose-end attachments that reduce the speed and reach of water, soaking into the soil rather than running off. Since bubblers only water one area at a time, you should move the bubbler around as needed.

Drip Irrigation – This method uses a perforated hose and is a low-pressure, low-volume watering system, delivering water to landscapes, gardens, and tree root plates through a drip, spray, or stream. Drip irrigation systems keep roots moist, but not soaked, using much less water than traditional hose watering.

Watch this video to see different tree watering methods.

Best Time to Water Trees

You can determine when to water your trees based on when they were planted. However, once they are established and reach maturity, they still need watering, as follows:

  • During drought conditions, provide enough deep waterings to keep the soil moist, in a wide band within and outside of the tree’s dripline
  • When the soil is dry (test soil by driving an 8-inch screwdriver into the ground, it will pass easily through moist soil)
  • When your tree droops or appears wilted (this may indicate an infection or infestation)
  • During winter months (when temperatures are above 40°F without snow coverage)
  • During summer months, avoid watering from 10am to 5pm. Water your trees, with better results, early in the morning or in the evening

Tip: Trees use much more water in the summer months than at other times of the year. During these months, your attention and watering frequencies should be increased.

If water restrictions are imposed on your region, water your trees before your lawn and garden (you can replace grass and plants much easier than trees).

Note: The water absorbed by tree roots is stored in the soil. Soil type, depth, composition, and condition greatly influence the amount of water the soil can store, and consequently, how often you may need to water your trees. Soils with heavier clay composition retain more water and need less frequent irrigation. Sandy soils retain little water in comparison and require more frequent irrigation.

Soil composition will determine how much moisture will be stored for roots to absorb

Read more about soil considerations for trees at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/tree-planting-soil-considerations-care-tips

Tree Watering

In this article, you discovered how much water trees need for vigorous growth, watering methods, and when they should be watered.

Knowing when to water your trees from planting throughout their maturity, helps them grow healthy and resistant to drought conditions.

When you rely on nature to provide water for your trees, you risk compromising your tree’s health and pave the way for disease and infestation to kill it.


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