Watering Your Trees During the Summer

wateringtreesIt’s summer in Texas. That means heat, heat and more heat. How do you keep your trees healthy during this time of intense heat? Luckily, we’re not under drought conditions like in previous summers. With the healthy amount of rain we had this spring, our watering restrictions are better than they have been. Regardless, it’s still important to monitor your watering schedule and methods for watering your trees.

Trees should be watered regularly and correctly to ensure their lasting health.  Newly planted trees need water the most. Without enough water, they can experience slowed root and shoot growth. This can cause the tree to become stunted in its height. Once stunting occurs, it’s difficult for a tree to make up for the lost growth. Newly planted trees should be watered once a week. Weekly watering should continue not only through the summer but also into the fall. You want to do this until the tree is well established in the landscape.

So, what are some water guidelines you should follow?

Keep your soil moist but not soaked. Too much water, especially in a heavy clay soil, can damage a tree. How? It eliminates air from the soil and suffocates the roots. You don’t want your soil to remain saturated constantly. It needs to dry out between watering sessions. The mulch around the tree can help you determine when to water. If the soil below the surface of the mulch is dry, it’s time to water.  If the mulch is still moist, then you should probably wait to water.

The standard rule for summer in Central Texas is to water at least once a week at the rate of ten gallons for every diameter inch of the tree. For example, if you have a three-inch diameter tree, you need thirty gallons of water for it.

When applying water, make sure you do it slowly. You don’t want to soak the tree. Slower watering makes sure that the deep roots get fed.  Light surface watering like you do with sprinklers on your lawn is not sufficient for trees. This type of watering can promote shallow root growth while starving the deeper roots. The best place to apply water is the outer half of the root ball area under the canopy.

A soaker hose is probably the best way to water your trees. It can water a greater area at one time and does not need to be moved as often. A soaker hose also allows for gentle watering which is what you need for your trees. If you blast water under the drip line, you may remove essential nutrients to the tree and wash away useful soil.

Why is it important not to overwater your trees?

Overwatering leads to a lot of declining trees each year. Tree roots can’t breathe and, if they don’t have a drying out period, the roots will slowly begin to die. One symptom of too much watering is the unexpected lightening or yellowing of leaves.  It starts on the lower part of the tree and slowly moves outward. Other symptoms include wilting of young shoots or brittle green leaves.

It’s summer in Texas. That means heat, heat and more heat. How do you keep your trees healthy during this time of intense heat? Luckily, we’re not under drought conditions like in previous summers. With the healthy amount of rain we had this spring, our watering restrictions are better than they have been. Regardless, it’s still important to monitor your watering schedule and methods for watering your trees.

Trees should be watered regularly and correctly to ensure their lasting health.  Newly planted trees need water the most. Without enough water, they can experience slowed root and shoot growth. This can cause the tree to become stunted in its height. Once stunting occurs, it’s difficult for a tree to make up for the lost growth. Newly planted trees should be watered once a week. Weekly watering should continue not only through the summer but also into the fall. You want to do this until the tree is well established in the landscape.

So, what are some water guidelines you should follow?

Keep your soil moist but not soaked. Too much water, especially in a heavy clay soil, can damage a tree. How? It eliminates air from the soil and suffocates the roots. You don’t want your soil to remain saturated constantly. It needs to dry out between watering sessions. The mulch around the tree can help you determine when to water. If the soil below the surface of the mulch is dry, it’s time to water.  If the mulch is still moist, then you should probably wait to water.

The standard rule for summer in Central Texas is to water at least once a week at the rate of ten gallons for every diameter inch of the tree. For example, if you have a three-inch diameter tree, you need thirty gallons of water for it.

When applying water, make sure you do it slowly. You don’t want to soak the tree. Slower watering makes sure that the deep roots get fed.  Light surface watering like you do with sprinklers on your lawn is not sufficient for trees. This type of watering can promote shallow root growth while starving the deeper roots. The best place to apply water is the outer half of the root ball area under the canopy.

A soaker hose is probably the best way to water your trees. It can water a greater area at one time and does not need to be moved as often. A soaker hose also allows for gentle watering which is what you need for your trees. If you blast water under the drip line, you may remove essential nutrients to the tree and wash away useful soil.

Why is it important not to overwater your trees?

Overwatering leads to a lot of declining trees each year. Tree roots can’t breathe and, if they don’t have a drying out period, the roots will slowly begin to die. One symptom of too much watering is the unexpected lightening or yellowing of leaves.  It starts on the lower part of the tree and slowly moves outward. Other symptoms include wilting of young shoots or brittle green leaves.

Which trees need water the most?

It’s the new trees that need the most water. Newly planted trees should be watered regularly especially between the months of April through September for the first 2-3 years after they’ve been planted. This will give them the time they need to become successfully established in your landscape. It gives them the best chance of survival.

Established trees don’t generally need to be watered. The rain that comes naturally is usually enough. Of course, you should observe your trees to see if they are suffering from drought stress. In that case, they could probably use a watering. If you do water an older tree, concentrate on the area under the crown or foliage.

When is the best time of day to water your trees?

When it’s as hot as Texas gets, you should water your trees after dark and before sunrise if possible. Between 10 pm and 8 am is a good guideline. Trees relieve water deficits during the night. There is also less evaporation of the water during these hours because the sun is not bearing down on your yard. If you plant drought tolerant trees, they have the best chance of survival.

If you have any questions about watering your trees, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Austin Tree Service. We are happy to help you determine if and when your trees need to be watered. Call us at 512-341-8888.