The Tree Doctor is in! While this is usually not a time to think about watering your trees here in the Midwest, we have had unusually warm and dry weather this season. It is easy to forget your trees in this case. Just like humans, water is the life blood of trees. Proper Tree Watering is essential for the health of your trees and shrubs. A drought-stressed tree will succumb to insect and disease issues more so than a tree that has the proper amount of water it needs to survive. So lets address the proper way and how often to water your trees to keep them healthy.

The most common misconception in watering trees is thinking that if you run your sprinkler system 3-5 times a week, the trees should be just fine. FALSE! When you water your lawn with sprinklers, it is only enough for the lawn. Running a sprinkler for 15-20 minutes which might be enough to get the soil moist at a depth of 2-3 inches, if you’re lucky and its not very warm. For trees to benefit from watering, the depth for soil moisture must be 4-12 at a minimum. It is very hard to achieve that with sprinklers.

Proper Tree Watering

  • The best method to water trees is using a soil probe attached to a garden hose. Push it into the soil, below the grass, to a depth of approximately 6. If you don’t have a soil probe, you can just lay your hose out with no attachment and turn it on 1/4 turn, similar to the picture below.
  • For YOUNG TREES, less than two years in the ground, watering once or twice a week at approximately 25 gallons is needed for them to get established. For best results, focus on watering the outer half of the root ball and the soil around it. The roots will want to extend beyond the root ball and farther into the soil. The most common mistake I see with watering young trees is putting the hose right at the base of the trunk. This is a very bad practice. Roots will be most active where there is water. You want the roots to grow away from your trunk, not up and around it.
  • For ESTABLISHED TREES, at least once a month is a good practice if we have not had enough moisture from Mother Nature. Place the soil probe or hose at the drip-line, or the outer reach of the branches. A good rule for how much water is 10 gallons per inch of trunk diameter inch at a minimum. So if you have a 10 diameter tree, 100 gallons per watering. You could time how long it takes to fill a five gallon bucket with your hose to get a figure on how long to let the hose run. If it takes one minuet to fill the bucket, then you would need to water for twenty minutes. Divide that by four areas around the drip-line of the tree, and you would water at least 5 minutes per area.

Too much water is also bad for your trees. There is oxygen in the soil. Too much water will eliminate that oxygen that the roots need. After a long period of rain or watering, it will take our soil a few days to drain. Just remember, trees need a good deep soaking for best results. If you are watering once a week, or once a month in long dry periods it will be hard to over water your trees.

If you follow the proper tree watering steps in caring for your trees it will improve long term health and you will be able to enjoy them for many years to come. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need further assistance. You can reach the Tree Doctor at (913)341-6100 or ONLINE.


Proper Tree Watering