How to water a tree deeply

Watering established trees and shrubs

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Quick facts

  • Water established trees and shrubs with overhead sprinklers.
  • Apply a deep watering over the entire root zone area until the top 6 to 9 inches of soil are moist.
  • Avoid light watering as this promotes shallow root systems that are susceptible to summer heat and drought stress.
  • Water early in the morning to minimize water loss due to evaporation and wind drift.
  • Mulching around the base of trees and shrubs helps them take in water and stay healthy.

During periods of consistent rainfall, a well-sited and well-established tree or shrub will need little additional water. But during long periods without rainfall, established trees and shrubs can suffer or die without timely irrigation.

During periods of drought, you may need to water your trees and shrubs more often to ensure the health and survival of these long-lived plants.

How woody plants use water


How, when and how much to water

Figuring out how far a tree's roots spread helps to determine the area you need to water and how much water is needed for an individual tree.  


Trunk diameter and circumference for estimating root spread of trees

Trunk diameter Circumference of tree Root spread diameter
2 inches 6-7 inches 12-14 feet
4 inches 12-13 inches 20-22 feet
6 inches 18-19 inches 26-28 feet
8 inches 25-26 inches 28-30 feet
10 inches 31-32 inches 30-32 feet
12 inches 37-38 inches 32-34 feet
14 inches 44-45 inches 32-34 feet
>16 inches >50-51 inches 34-36 feet


Mulching trees and shrubs maximizes water uptake and tree health.

When trees and shrubs are grown in turf, competition for nutrients, water and space occurs below ground between turf roots and woody plant roots. Turf wins because its dense fibrous root system prevents woody plants from producing water-absorbing roots in the top few inches of soil. As a result, woody plants grow more slowly in turf areas than in mulched or bare soil areas.


Reviewed in 2018

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What is Slow Watering of a Tree?

Everyone is extra thirsty in the summer. You, your pets, and even your trees!

Yes, during long, hot summer days, your trees also need a nice, cool drink of water.

While there are many watering methods, our scientists at the Davey Institute know the best way to water trees.

Drum roll, please… The slow watering method is one of the best ways to keep trees hydrated during dry spells and prolonged drought. Read below to learn more about this approach and how it helps your trees.

What Is The Slow Watering Method?

There is much more to your trees than what you see above the ground, which is the beauty of this watering method. This technique delivers water right to where trees need it the most – their roots!

Slow watering delivers water 6-12 inches into the ground - instead of just wetting the surface. It prevents runoff of water across the surface of the ground too.

Why Is This The Best Way To Water Trees?

When you water too quickly on the ground’s surface, much of the water evaporates or runs-off before reaching the roots. So, you need to water more often and with more volume to make up for the waste. This fast, frequent watering also produces a shallow root system. During dry periods and drought, trees with shallow roots struggle to intake enough water from the top of the soil, which dries out first, and are unable to reach the water in deeper soil.

Slow watering solves these problems. You use less water and develops a deeper root system while ensuring water efficiently reaches the tree roots.

Slow watering can be accomplished with a slow release watering bag for small trees or a drip (soaker) hose for larger trees. Deep Root watering is a process of injecting water below the soil surface directly into the root zone.

If you’re watering trees in drought conditions or in an area with water restrictions, such as California, you’ll be grateful this technique uses less water. Plus, slow watering is the way to go if you want to reduce your expensive water bill.

Why Are There Yellow Leaves On Trees In Summer?



  • Tree Watering
  • Leaf Problems
  • Leaf Disease
  • Plant Health Care

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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

Apple tree

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, currant

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

Surface watering

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.

Subsurface irrigation

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 to water fruit trees in autumn - the secrets of water recharge irrigation

Trees spend most of their water during the period when shoots are actively growing and fruits are ripening. Should you water your garden in the fall? Let's figure it out together.

In autumn, the garden also needs watering - this will help the trees survive the frost. So do not rush to hide buckets and watering cans: until severe frosts come, they will still be useful to you.

Why water trees in autumn

Trees are watered to saturate them with moisture that evaporates from the surface of leaves and branches. In winter, despite frosts, the process of evaporation of moisture continues, although this happens much more slowly. Therefore, trees that did not absorb enough liquid before wintering, in the cold season, under the influence of low temperatures, begin to "dry out". To prevent this from happening, the plants need to be well watered until stable frosts have set in.

In addition, well-drained soil conducts heat better and thus protects tree roots from frostbite.

How to determine if fruit trees need to be watered in autumn

It is believed that if there are frequent and heavy rains in autumn, additional moisture is not necessary. However, it is also important to consider what the summer was like. If it was dry and arid, the autumn rains would not be enough.

There is a better way to check if a garden needs autumn watering. To determine the degree of soil moisture, you need to dig a hole 30-50 cm deep in the garden between the trees and take a handful of earth from there. If it is easy to form a dense ball out of it, you do not need to water the garden. If the earth does not crumple, but crumbles in your hands, the garden needs watering.

A more accurate answer can be obtained by placing a clod of earth removed from the pit on a sheet of newspaper or paper napkin.

  • If the soil leaves a wet trail, the garden does not need to be watered.
  • If the lump is dense and wet, but leaves no trace on the paper, you still need to water the trees, but you should reduce the amount of water by 1/3.
  • If the clod of earth is dry and crumbles, the trees need full watering.

Rules for winter watering trees

When watering the garden, moisten the soil abundantly. Watering in small doses weakens the plants. Mature trees must be watered so that moisture penetrates the ground to a depth of 1-1.5 m. The minimum threshold is 0.6-0.7 m.

A young tree planted this year or the previous year usually requires about 40 liters (4 buckets) of water. Older trees (10-15 years old) require from 50 to 70 liters of water, and for adults - up to 100 liters of water.

When watering in autumn, it is important not to overdo it and not overwater the trees. Too much water can force the air out of the soil, often resulting in the death of roots in plants.

When irrigating in autumn, you should also take into account the characteristics of the soil on the site. Areas with poor drainage and high groundwater should be watered very carefully. In this case, it is recommended to moisten the soil to a depth of 100 cm.

What is water recharge watering of trees? This procedure is especially important for regions where autumn is usually dry and the soil often dries up.

Winter water recharge irrigation provides not only sufficient moisture, but also creates the best conditions for trees to endure low temperatures well. In addition, moist soil is less prone to freezing than dry soil.

This type of irrigation is essential for fruit trees and coniferous crops. It is desirable to water all trees on a sunny day.

When to water fruit trees in autumn

Water-charging watering is carried out after mass leaf fall. At this time, the air temperature drops so much that the roots of the trees cease to consume moisture in large quantities. If you water before the start of leaf fall, you can provoke the growth of shoots - especially for young trees. In this case, the plants will not winter well and will not be able to give a good harvest next year.

Usually the garden is watered in October-November (depending on the region). Therefore, it is best to focus on fallen leaves and air temperature: it should be within 2-3 ° C.

Ways to Water Trees in the Fall

There are many ways to water your garden crops: bucket, hose, sprinkler or drip irrigation.

Buckets and hoses

When watering from a bucket, it is more convenient to count the amount of water that you put under the tree. But if the plant is large and requires abundant watering, and also if you have a large garden, you can’t run into each tree with buckets. Therefore, it is much easier to put a hose under the crop. And if you dig irrigation canals, you can even organize irrigation in such a way that water flows to several trees at once.

How to calculate the amount of water when watering with a hose? You need to put the hose in a 10-liter bucket and note how long it takes to fill with water. Knowing this, you can calculate the amount of time during which you need to water each specific tree.

These irrigation methods are only suitable for flat areas where water will not run down the slope from the trees.

Sprinkler irrigation

If the home garden has a slope, it is better to irrigate by sprinkling. So moisture will be absorbed into the soil more evenly. But take note that sprinkling increases the humidity around the trees, which is not always good, as it can lead to the development of various diseases.

Drip irrigation

This method is suitable for any area and is considered the best. In order not to buy a special irrigation system, you can water the trees in this way using hoses pierced in different places. They need to be connected to the water supply or connected to the main hose and laid in a ring along the edge of the trunk circle.

The width of the moistened area under the tree should be equal to the diameter of the crown.

Learn more