The Essential Guide to Watering Trees

Reading time: 6 minutes

No matter where you live, trees are a hugely important part of ecosystems across the planet, providing shade and oxygen and adding character to yards and gardens. Proper tree care is essential to ensure their longevity, including watering them according to their needs.

Let’s look closer at the importance of tree watering, information on optimal timing, and some helpful tips and techniques.

Why Is Tree Watering So Important?

A tree accesses water from the ground through its roots and evaporates it through its leaves. Almost all processes that keep plants and trees alive rely on water to function properly and effectively. These are things like photosynthesis and respiration.

As an essential for all living organisms, water given adequately and consistently will ensure the survival of a tree, as well as:

  • Promote growth – For leaves to convert sunlight into energy, they need water. Enough water means trees can grow and develop strong, sturdy trunks and branches.
  • Improve nutrient uptake – Water acts as a mode of transport for all the nutrients in the soil and is integral in helping trees absorb the nutrients that help them grow and stay strong.
  • Enhance resilience – A hydrated tree is a tree that’s equipped to deal with pests, diseases, and extreme weather.
Sprinkler watering lawn and a tree

When to Water Trees

In terms of which time of day is best to water your trees, the quick answer is ‘whenever is best for you and your schedule’ but if you can, the late afternoon or early evening is excellent because evaporation will be less likely, and more of the water will be soaked up.

If you have a newly-planted tree, there are some best practices you can follow to help it achieve greatness:

  1. Water regularly after planting new trees so they can establish sound root systems. Water them deeply at least once a week for their first growing season, particularly if you live in a hot and dry climate.
  2. Spring – trees will usually begin to exit their dormant period at this time, and paired with rising temperatures, you’ll need to provide them with extra hydration to prepare for the coming hot summer months.
  3. Summer – like humans, trees need more water in summer to stay hydrated. Water trees in the mornings or evenings when the temperature is cooler, and the sun is not so strong.
  4. Fall – continue watering your trees until the ground freezes, and this will give your trees enough hydration before they enter into their dormant period.

Of course, if you live in a particularly rain-heavy place, or have experienced heavy rainfall recently, adjust your watering accordingly. Keep an eye out for signs of overwatering, which can include:

  • Wilting or discoloured leaves.
  • Moss or fungus on the tree.
  • Slow or no drainage of water in the soil around the tree.
  • Leaves that are easily broken.
  • Withered or discoloured new growth.

Here are the signs your tree is thirsty, too:

  • Curled or wilted leaves.
  • Undersized leaves.
  • The ground around the soil is dry.

Don’t forget, you can always contact us here at Green Drop to schedule a consultation with one of our expert arborists.

A young boy watering trees with a hose

Types of Tree Watering

Want to give your trees that little bit of extra moisture and hydration? Deep root watering is a great option. It involves water injected beneath the soil directly into the root zone. It uses less water than traditional watering, which can be helpful in areas with water restrictions. It can also be an effective way for nutrients to be fed directly into a tree’s roots.

Similarly, deep-root tree fertilization is an excellent treatment option for trees struggling or experiencing health problems. An arborist will inject the fertilizer under the ground between 6-12 inches, straight to the roots. It’s especially effective if you live in an area where the soil lacks nutrients.

Our RootBoost fertilizer treatment ensures that your trees look beautiful year-round. We’ve combined 20 years of experience and IPM (Integrated Pest Management) techniques to give scientifically backed treatments that ensure maximum effectiveness.

How to Water Trees

If you decide to WIY (Water It Yourself), you can use a soaker hose designed for watering trees and plants. Simply lay the hose in a circle under or beneath the drip line (directly under the outer circumference of the tree’s branches). If you don’t have one of these specialized hoses, don’t worry. You can still use your standard garden hose or sprinkler, but it may be less effective underground.

Make sure to give it a good soak, as providing inadequate water will result in the deeper roots becoming starved. We recommend deep waters with less frequency and light waters more regularly.

Alternatively, you can water your trees through drip irrigation. This works by utilizing a network of tubes and hoses with small holes placed at the base of a tree to provide a steady water supply. This is an excellent technique if your focus is to lessen water loss because of runoff or evaporation.

Soil Conditions: the Good, the Bad and the Ideal

For the average tree to be happy, it requires soil that’s well-aerated, uncompacted, and moist soil to allow its roots to grab all those essential nutrients. The ideal soil will also mean tree roots have an easier time soaking up water.

It’s important to remember that overwatering can be bad for your soil and, in turn, bad for your trees. Waterlogging soil can mean the air supply is cut off to a tree’s roots and the microorganisms that live within healthy soil. It can even lead to root rot and other diseases.

If you’re struggling with a sad soil situation, mulch and compost are quick, easy ways to improve any issues. Layer them on and the organic matter will not only infuse into the soil but stave off grasses, weeds and other plants that might hunt for extra nutrients.

And don’t forget, you can reach out to the team here at Green Drop for a free consultation on soil management.

4-way soul analyzer in a grass

Top Tips for Watering Your Trees

Take these top tips into your yard and give your trees the drink they deserve!

  • Every species of tree will require different amounts and types of watering. One of our certified arborists can give you the correct information.
  • For mature trees, don’t water directly at the base of the trunk. Instead, soak the soil around the outer third of the tree's canopy and about a metre past the tree's drip line.
  • If your tree is surrounded by lawn, it will need extra water because the yard will try and take it all.
  • Evergreen trees are more susceptible to dry weather because they lose moisture through needles. Ensure to water them well before winter and when the ground thaws in spring to avoid evergreen browning.

Tree Watering Advice from the Professionals

Distinguishing differences between over and under-watering your trees can be difficult because the signs and symptoms are similar. Learning techniques and tips give you the tools to improve your trees. But contact our expert team if you can’t figure out what’s causing your trees' health problems. Our ISA-certified arborists are ready to help you. Fill out our form for a free consultation today.

Still on the fence? You can check out the tree care services we offer. Our tree health care specialists work hard to get your trees feeling and looking their best safely and efficiently.

Schedule Your Free Tree Care Assessment