How often to water mature trees
Watering trees - Sacramento Tree Foundation
Unlike grass and other plants, trees need deep and slow watering to develop strong root systems and thrive
Frequently asked questions
How often and how much should I water my tree? Expand
The amount of water your tree needs depends on your soil, tree type, and weather. Trees might need more frequent watering in hot and windy weather.
How do you know when it's time to water? Check the soil!
Use a screwdriver or soil probe to check the soil at least 6 inches below the surface near the drip line of your tree (the imaginary circle at the farthest reaches of the tree's branches). If the soil is hard, dry, and crumbly, add water with a slow soak. If the soil is wet and sticky, allow it to dry before adding more water.
Slowly apply water until the soil becomes moist 6 inches below the surface. Check every 10-20 minutes or to see if the water has reached this depth.
Take note of how long it takes to water your tree, and how long you can go in between watering for the soil to dry out, then schedule regular reminders to water your trees.
In general, young trees will need water 1-3 times per week for the first 3 years after planting. Established and mature trees will need water about once per month in dry months. Some types of native trees will not need summer water in non-drought years.
What are the watering restrictions and days where I live? Expand
When following water wise techniques below, trees are exempt from most watering restrictions and schedules because they are too valuable to lose. It's great to let your lawn turn gold, but keep your trees and our communities green. Check out this map to learn more about watering guidelines for your property.
Water wise techniques that are exempt from most watering restrictions/schedules:
- Drip irrigation
- Soaker hoses
- Hose-end sprinklers on a low setting
- Hand watering with a hose fitted with a shut-off nozzle
- Bucket watering
- Gray water (only use biodegradable soaps) and harvested rainwater
Typically, only overhead sprinklers and water waste/runoff are restricted.
How much does it cost to water mature trees? Expand
It only costs around $3 per month to water a mature tree. For the price of a coffee, trees clean our air, cool our homes, replenish groundwater, improve our health, and create livable and lovable neighborhoods. We need trees, and trees need water.
Other water wise tree tips Expand
Adding natural wood chip mulch around your tree will conserve moisture in the soil and provide a whole host of other benefits for your tree.
Do not use rocks, decomposed granite, weed block fabric, or artificial turf around trees' root zones — they will increase water runoff and trap heat in the soil.
Avoid using fertilizer unless you have identified a specific nutrient deficiency in your soil. Trees do not need fertilizer. Fertilizer encourages green leafy growth, which requires more water.
Wait until winter to prune your trees. Response growth that occurs after summer pruning will require more water.
Don't overwater trees! Roots need water, but they need oxygen too. Check soil moisture before watering, and water slowly to prevent wasteful runoff.
Reuse water whenever possible. Place a 5 gallon bucket in your shower while waiting for the water to warm up. Also consider harvesting rainwater or reusing gray water from your laundry as long as only biodegradable soaps are used.
How to water young trees
1-3 years after planting
For the first three years after planting, all trees need regular water to get established. Don't rely on lawn sprinklers — they do not soak soil deeply enough to encourage a healthy, deep root system for your tree.
The roots of young trees are located mostly near the trunk.
The easiest way to water young trees? Drill a small 1/8" hole near the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket. Place a piece of duct tape over the hole, fill the bucket with water, place it near the root ball, and remove the tape to allow water to slowly drain into the soil.
|1 yr||2-3 times/week||1 bucket|
|2 yrs||Once per week||2 buckets|
|3 yrs||Every other week||3 buckets|
You can also use a small soaker hose, drip tubing or emitters, or a hose sprinkler on a very low setting. Avoid spraying the trunk, and expand the watering zone outward as the tree grows.
These items are helpful to have on hand:
5 gallon bucket
Cordless drill with 1/8" bit
Hose or spigot nearby
How to water established trees
3+ years after planting
Don't rely on lawn sprinklers - they won't water deeply enough to reach tree roots. Instead, slowly soak the tree's drip line, the circular area under the farthest reaches of the branches, until water reaches 12-18 inches below the surface. Don't water close to the trunk.
You can use:
- A soaker hose
- A hose sprinkler on a low setting
- Drip tubing or emitters
If the root zone extends under hardscape or beyond your property, slowly soak as much of the root zone as possible.
Native trees like blue oaks, which have never received regular irrigation, may be harmed by adding extra water in the summer. Depending on rainfall, they may need supplemental water from fall through spring in dry years. Contact a certified arborist if you have questions about the health of your native or mature tree.
How Much Water Does My Tree Need Weekly?
Balance is important in all aspects of your life. Surprisingly enough, this includes tree care!
Watering the right amount is essential to keeping your trees strong and healthy. Both watering too much or too little can be harmful.
If the leaves are brown on the edges and are drooping or wilted, your tree may not be getting enough water. On the other hand, green leaves that easily break could mean you’re over-watering.
Just like leaves, roots need oxygen for respiration, the process of turning sugars into energy - think of breathing. Overly wet soil conditions suffocate roots, preventing them from obtaining oxygen. As a rule of thumb, deep and infrequent watering is optimal for most trees in most situations.
The exact amount of water your tree needs, however, depends on the time of year and the tree's age in the landscape. Read below to find out how to maintain the balance for all your trees!
How much should I water my young trees?
Young trees need more care and attention for the first 1-2 years. During their initial establishment period, trees focus energy and resources on growing their roots, which is why you’ll see little above ground growth. The magic is happening underground!
By providing the tree with enough water, you’re helping grow strong, substantial roots while also promoting stem and leaf growth.
On the other hand, if you don’t water your newly planted tree enough, your tree may develop minimal roots, suffer from canopy dieback and take longer to establish.
To set your new tree up for success, approximately 20 gallons of water per week is recommended. The easiest way to do this is to pour a 5-gallon bucket over the drip zone, the part of ground the canopy covers, four times.
Our preferred method for delivering water is with a soaker hose, running anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours at a time. This system slowly releases water, which may mitigate runoff and improve absorption. Note that it will take some experimentation to discern how much water per minute your hose releases.
How much should I water my mature trees?
The roots of a mature tree have already spread out, so they don't need as much attention! You can even plan to water mature trees as little as 1-2 times a month if they are well established.
Based on the amount of rain and heat levels in your region, this may vary. Watering more often when there is a drought is usually wise, but resist the urge to overcompensate.
To see if your tree needs water, poke a long screwdriver into the soil. If it’s hard to push in and there is no soil sticking to the shaft, water. If the screwdriver penetrates easily and has particles sticking to it when pulled out of the ground, the soil is still saturated.
Try deep root watering to water the tree less often while ensuring it gets the proper amount of water!
Learn more tree care tips from your local arborist.
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- Tree Watering
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Winter Watering for Evergreens: What You Need to Know
Once the ground is frozen, watering your evergreen isn’t necessary, but if you live in a warmer climate where the ground doesn’t freeze, you should water your evergreen in winter as often as it needs it. Proper watering can also help prevent winter burn on your evergreens.
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How to properly water trees and bushes in the garden
All plants in the garden need moisture. Fruit trees and shrubs are no exception in this regard. The only question is how to properly water these plants? Let's figure it out.
Young plants are watered first when planting. Further, the seedlings need moisture so that they take root faster, develop and prepare for the formation of fruits. A fertile garden also requires watering - to form a quality crop.
How much water does the garden need? It is very difficult to answer this question right away, since a lot depends on the weather, the condition of the soil, as well as the age and needs of the plant. Therefore, it is impossible to water all crops in the same way, as many gardeners do. How will be correct?
When is the first watering of horticultural crops?
Usually it is enough to water the trees in the garden 2-3 times during the summer season, and 3-4 times in dry weather. At the same time, specimens that have just been planted are recommended to be watered 2-3 times a month for better survival. The first watering is carried out at the end of May - the first half of June, depending on the crop.
First watering time
Strawberries, currants, gooseberries
Late May - early June
Plum, cherry plum, cherry, pear
First half of June
Before sap flow, before bud break
Irrigation rate for fruit trees
When irrigating trees , the water rate changes depending on the age of the crop:
- seedling - 30-50 liters of water;
- 3-5 year old trees - 50-80 l;
- 7-12 year olds - 120-150 liters;
- older - 30-50 liters per 1 sq. m of the trunk circle.
Under berry bushes it is necessary to pour 40-60 liters of water per 1 sq.m. Strawberries are watered at the rate of 20-30 liters per 1 sq.m (during the formation of the crop).
But it is important to understand that there are many conditions that should be taken into account when watering the garden. For example, it is necessary to take into account the composition of the soil on the site. On sandy soil, the number of irrigations should be increased, and the water rate should be reduced. At the same time, on a clay substrate, the irrigation rules change exactly the opposite. It is also worth paying attention to the landscape features of the backyard territory: if the water flows down the slope, the plants in the garden may not receive the amount of moisture they need.
Features of watering plants during the season
Apple and pear
These crops require heavy watering in May-July and moderate watering in August-September. If the summer is hot, water the apple tree and pear 3-4 times per season, and if it is also dry, 4-5 times.
Plum and cherry plum
Stone fruits are quite demanding on soil and air moisture. Most of all they need watering in spring and in the first half of summer. And plums, among other things, equally poorly tolerate both lack and excess moisture.
It is enough to water the grapes once a month, and if it rains, even less often. The main thing is not to water superficially, but so that water flows to the roots, for example, you can dig an irrigation tube into the ground. Grapes are not watered before flowering and during it.
Cherries should not be watered too often: water compacts the soil and displaces oxygen from it. Four waterings per season is enough: during the active growth of shoots at the end of June, during the ripening of berries in July (in dry weather) and at the end of the season (the last decade of September).
Gooseberry bushes should be watered under the root. You can make special grooves so that water does not spread over the surface, but goes directly to the roots. Water should penetrate to a depth of about 50 cm. Both plants need to be watered three times per season, especially during the formation of berries.
During fruiting and in dry summers, strawberries are watered more often, sometimes once every 7-10 days. If the soil around the bushes is dry and crumbles in your hands, it's time to water the strawberries.
Many gardeners make the mistake of watering their plants often but little by little. Such watering will not bring much benefit, since moisture does not reach the roots of horticultural crops, but remains in the upper layers of the soil. At the same time, the bulk of the roots of fruit trees is at a depth of 50-70 cm.
Basic garden watering methods
This type involves watering in the near-stem circles. To carry it out under the trees, you need to organize recesses with sides to get the so-called "bowl". The diameter of the near-stem circle should be equal to the diameter of the crown, so it can change every year.
Trees can also be watered in furrows. This method is suitable for a flat area where all the trees grow side by side. To do this, furrows up to 30 cm wide should be cut between the rows, into which water can be supplied when irrigated from a hose. After the water is absorbed, the furrows must be covered.
With this method of irrigation, not only the soil is moistened, but also the air around the plants, and sometimes the green mass. The main condition for such irrigation is a constant pressure of water, which does not flow in a continuous stream, but is sprayed in the form of an aqueous suspension. Sprinkling is good for sloping areas, because such irrigation does not erode the topsoil (the most fertile). But this is also a more costly method of irrigation, since for its implementation it is necessary to purchase special equipment.
In this method of irrigation, water is supplied through pipes laid in the ground directly to the roots of plants. At the same time, water consumption is reduced by 3 times, which is a significant plus. But subsoil irrigation also has a minus: laying pipes is a laborious and costly process. But when watering through pipes, it is not necessary to cut furrows and loosen the soil.
Proper watering of plants is the key to a rich harvest, so do not treat this activity with disdain. Each culture requires attention during care, including irrigation with water.
how much water trees need in a garden
As you know, moisture is the basis of nutrition for any plant. Young seedlings need timely watering in order to take root in a new place as quickly as possible, and for already fruit-bearing trees, proper watering is the key to a quality future harvest.
Read on to find out when and how to water trees, how much water they need depending on their age, what is the rate and frequency of watering.
By the way! All the basic principles and rules for watering apple trees and other fruit trees are the same.
- 1 How often and how much to water the trees
- 1.1 Type of soil
- 1.2 Age of wood
- 1.3 Weather conditions and season
- 2 How to water trees properly
It is important to understand that there are many conditions to consider when watering.
As a rule, the following factors (conditions) are distinguished, which directly determine how often to water and how much water to pour under apple trees and other fruit trees:
- type (composition) of soil;
- weather and time of year.
It's simple: if the soil is heavy, then it retains moisture better, if it is light, then water does not linger at all. Accordingly:
- On clay and chernozem soils - water 1-2 times a month in summer, no more than 1 time in spring and autumn.
- On sandy soils - 2-4 times a month in summer, and in spring and autumn - 1-2 times.
To saturate an earthen ball to the required depth (on average 40 cm), light sandy loamy soil needs about 1.5 times less water than heavy loam. This should also be taken into account!
As a rule, the watering rate depending on the age of the tree and is approximately 15-20 liters for 1 year ie:
However! Please note that stone fruits (cherries, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots) are less moisture-loving than pome trees (apples, pears) . At the same time, the frequency of irrigation remains unchanged, but the amount of water should be different (1.5-2 times).
For example, on the Internet you can find the following picture:
- 2-3 year old seedling - 30-60 liters;
Please note! It is especially important to monitor the humidity in the first year after planting, especially if it is done in the spring. You need to water often and little by little (every week or 10 days, 20-30 liters each). If you notice that the leaves have begun to fade, then urgently perform intensive watering.
- 4-5 year old tree - 60-100 liters;
- 6-7 fruit tree - 90-140 liters;
- 8-10 year old mature tree - 120-200 liters.
Tip! Very many gardeners believe that the main criterion for a plant to have enough water is moisture and moisture stagnation on the soil surface. In other words, if you are pouring, and the water is no longer leaving, this means that it is time to stop watering.
Trees are never additionally watered in early spring because during this period the ground is still wet after winter (snow melting). Therefore, the first spring watering is carried out only in April-May during budding (before flowering) - it is enough to water 1 time.
If the summer is very hot and dry (there is no precipitation at all, it is clear all the time), the air temperature rises to +30 degrees and above, then young trees planted recently , it is advisable to water 2 times a week. If the summer is cool, there are occasional rains , then once a week will be more than is enough.
Of course, mature and fruit-bearing trees do not need to be watered so often , maximum 2 times a month in case of extreme heat and 1 time in moderate summer.
By the way! Of course, everyone has heard about the autumn moisture-charging irrigation. However, not every summer resident knows at what time and how to perform it correctly. Therefore, we will talk about this important event in a separate paragraph.
- During budding (before flowering) - in spring (April-May).
- After flowering (in 2-3 weeks) - in summer (June).
- During fruiting (up to 2-3 weeks of ripening) - in summer (July-August).
- Autumn water-recharging watering after leaf fall (October-November).
Thus, most often during the summer season (from May to August), it is enough to water mature trees in the garden 3-4 times, and in dry weather - 4-5 times. And do not forget, if possible, to make water-charging watering, but already in late autumn.
It's simple: it is believed that wet soil freezes less and has a higher thermal conductivity , in other words, the heat from the lower layers of the soil will warm the roots of plants during the cold period.
What is the deadline?
- After leaf fall, on the eve of cold weather (still at a positive temperature).
When is winter watering especially necessary?
- If you have sandy soil and autumn does not indulge in frequent and heavy rains, and winters are not snowy.
Worth understanding! Of course, if the autumn is damp and cool, then you can completely do without moisture-charging irrigation.
How much water do you need?
- You need to soak the entire earthen ball in which the root system of the plant is located (about 30-50 cm deep), i.e. from 60 to 200 liters (for young and large old trees).
And after watering (for example, the next day), many gardeners also advise loosen the soil in the trunk circle, because loose earth freezes less.
Of course, if your plants are on a good layer of sod or lawn grass just grows, then nothing needs to be dug up .
Video: what is water charging irrigation and how to do it correctly
- You can determine that the earth ball is dry and the tree urgently needs watering as follows: dig a hole on a shovel bayonet (25 cm), take a handful of earth from the bottom, if it is dry, then immediately water it.
- As for the time of day, then it is ideal to water the trees in the early morning , it is possible in the evening, but during the day it is very undesirable, only if the weather is cloudy.
- For the convenience of watering and initial water retention, you need to make rollers according to the projection of the crown your tree is about 10 centimeters high.
The trunk circle must match the size of the projection of the crown of your tree.
In general, ideally you need to water along the crown projection, but this is not necessary. However, should not be poured under the barrel in any case .
If the soil is constantly wet, then the roots of the fruit tree may begin to rot from an excess of moisture.
- In other words, you need to follow the watering schedule . It is necessary to water rarely, but abundantly, in order to soak the entire root ball (up to 30-50 cm deep).
In case of sudden changes in humidity (sometimes too dry, sometimes too wet), young trees can throw off their leaves.
- Late spring or early autumn precipitation, especially summer rains in no case can replace the individual watering of the tree .