We often concentrate our watering efforts on our lawns, forgetting about our trees, when water restrictions limit our watering of the landscape. To prevent decline of these giants in the landscape, we need to remember to water them properly.
Where: Set water hoses or applicators around the outside edge of the tree crown just beneath the foliage. Be sure the water soaks in well. Use 2 to 4 inches of mulch and slow water application rates on slopes where run-off may waste water. Trees will take up a good share of the water even if surrounded by grass. You should never spray the foliage of trees when watering. Water droplets on tree leaves can lead to pest problems.
When: The best time to water is from 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. Watering at night allows less evaporative loss of water, so more water moves into the tree.
How Much: Depending upon soil texture, daily temperatures and rainfall amounts, 1 to 3 inches of water per week should keep a tree growing. Five gallons per square yard is about 1 inch of water.
How Often: Trees should be watered every week during the growing season if there is no rainfall. A few heavy waterings are much better than many light, shallow waterings. Light watering encourages shallow rooting that can lead to more severe drought damage.
Other Things: Most of the tree roots are in the upper one foot of soil, so watering that area as opposed to deep watering below two feet is ideal. Xeriscaping, or developing water-efficient landscapes, is becoming more important. Trees are critical parts of our landscapes. To help you combat the drought, consider purchasing a color Xeriscape Booklet ($1.00) at the Extension Service Office. It is full of drought busting ideas.