Ask an Arborist: How Often Should I Water My Trees?

Ask an Arborist: How Often Should I Water My Trees?

At Maple Hill Tree Services, we plant and care for many trees, and some of the most frequently asked questions are how much and how often should I water my trees?

It is important to consider all of the above when determining how much and how often to water your trees- especially young trees. It really comes down to what is most convenient for you and your lifestyle. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your trees are receiving the necessary water to survive by whichever method is most convenient and consistent.

Too much water is just as bad as no water

Overwatering is a common cause of new tree mortality. Some people just love them to death. Trees don’t need to be watered every day.

How to water your trees

For newly planted trees, you only need to water the immediate root zone which is relatively small at first. Typically, this would be the mulched area around the tree.

It is also important to maximize water uptake by watering over a longer period of time. If you are going to water the tree with 5 gallons of water, it is much better to do this slowly for over an hour rather than dumping an entire bucket on the tree at once. If you water too quickly, you will disturb the mulch bed and most of the water will be lost to run-off.

For established trees, leaving your irrigation system on longer or setting up a sprinkler on the root zone is the easiest way. Early in the morning is the best time to water to reduce water loss to evaporation.

How much water

A good starting point is 1 gallon of water per centimeter of trunk diameter. Basically, the bigger the tree, the more water it needs. It is important to consider all the points above as well. If the tree is in a shaded area, maybe start with half a gallon.

For established trees, it will depend on the size of the tree. Just be sure the ground gets saturated but not swampy.

How often to water

Once or twice a week is a good rule to follow.

A newly planted tree does benefit from more frequent watering during the first one-two weeks where daily or every other day watering is helpful. After that, weekly watering is sufficient. In the hot summer months and in times of drought, watering twice per week is acceptable and encouraged.

Established trees should only be watered during times of drought or if they are showing signs of stress.

Every tree and every site is going to be slightly different, but the moral of this story is that watering trees, new or old, is very important. All trees need water. One of the best indicators is the tree itself, so make sure to keep an eye on it.

If you are unsure, please feel free to contact us for a consultation!