Watering trees

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Tree Species — Some tree species are more drought tolerant than others. Soil — Clay soils typically hold moisture, while sandy soils dry out quickly. Knowing your soil type can help you to adjust how often you provide water for a tree.

What is Deep Root Watering of a Tree?

Trees will need water more often during a hot, windy, dry period than during a cool, rainy time. Site Specific Conditions — Shade or full sun? Mulched bed or an open lawn? Tools A garden hose is an essential tool for watering trees by hand.


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An irrigation bag can be used with your garden hose to mimic drip irrigation. Place it around the base of the tree and fill with water, which will drain out slowly to maximize absorption by tree roots. These are mainly beneficial for newly planted trees since most of their roots are still near the trunk see "Where to Water".

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For established trees, five gallon buckets with small holes drilled in the bottom can be placed at the appropriate watering location to mimic the same effect. To do this, dig down a couple of inches in the soil. If the soil is soggy, definitely wait--there may be a drainage problem or too much water has already been applied. If at least an inch of rain has fallen in a given week, watering is likely not necessary.

The early morning hours are usually the best time to water, since trees are losing water at a lower rate and overall less evaporation is occurring than later in the day. These trees had limited root systems that were disturbed at planting time and are working hard to establish roots in the soil around them.

They need water immediately after planting and anytime soil begins to dry out until establishment a couple of years after planting. Generally speaking, newly planted trees in Edmond need water about once a week during the growing season and once every other week during the winter months. This may be used as a guideline, but we recommend checking your soil moisture to confirm. Newly established trees have been in the ground for a few years now, but they may still struggle during the really hot, dry times of year since they are still expanding their root systems.

Mature trees are the more established trees in your yard that have been there for several years already.

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How and When To Water a Landscape Tree

More often than not, mature trees can make do without supplemental water from us. A few instances when a mature tree might need a little extra water include times of extreme drought, following damage from a disturbance such as construction activities especially when roots are impacted , and compromised condition due to impacts of disease or pests. Mature trees can also become stressed by too frequent watering.

Take a long enough break between irrigation cycles to allow the free water to be absorbed. If in doubt, probe or dig to make sure that the soil isn't soggy below the surface. How much water does my tree need? Tree irrigation needs change over time.


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  • The amount of irrigation your tree will need can be affected by:. Tree age - A newly planted tree will need more frequent irrigation than an established tree because its root system is more limited. Root damage - An established tree that suffers root loss or damage for instance, due to trenching within the root zone may need additional irrigation until new roots grow to replace those that are destroyed.

    Time of the year - The need for irrigation is greatest in mid to late summer, when temperatures are the highest and most of the moisture stored in the soil over the winter has been depleted. Weather conditions - In drought years, soil moisture is used up earlier in the season, so the period of peak water need is longer. Some trees that do not normally need irrigation may benefit from irrigation in drought years. In very wet years, irrigation may not be needed until early summer or later.

    Soil conditions - Water used by trees is stored in the soil. Soil type, depth, and condition influence how much water can be stored in the soil, and consequently how often you may need to water. Soils that have more clay hold more water and can be irrigated less frequently. Sandy soils hold relatively little water and need more frequent irrigation. Species - Some tree species require no additional irrigation once established, whereas others will do poorly without consistent irrigation throughout the summer. How to water your tree Download a printer friendly Adobe Acrobat PDF version of this document Where to irrigate The best place to apply water differs for newly planted and established trees.

    Watering Established Trees

    Established trees: Don't irrigate the area directly adjacent to the trunk - this can increase the risk of disease. Roots extend far beyond the edge of canopy or drip line. Water in the outer half of the area under the canopy and beyond the edge of the canopy.