How to properly water trees through summer season

Updated Jul 22, 2024

Hose Spouting Water

A great deal of thought and planning needs to go in when properly watering trees. 

The Arbor Day Foundation tackled this issue and offered a few words of advice for landscapers maintaining trees this summer.

Watering trees can be a difficult task due to the vast amount of variety and climates.

However there are a few basic rules of thumb landscapers need to follow, including:

  • Watering newly planted trees: For new trees, water immediately after a tree is planted.
  • Watering trees during the first two years: During the first couple of growing seasons, a newly planted tree is expending a lot of energy trying to get its roots established in the soil. Especially during the first few summers of a new tree’s life, it will have a difficult time dealing with heat and drought. Landscapers can make this easier by providing water and covering the soil with wood-chip mulch. Deep watering can help speed the root establishment. Deep watering consists of keeping the soil moist to a depth that includes all the roots.
  • How much water and when: Not enough water is harmful to the tree but too much water is bad as well. Over-watering is a common tree care mistake. Please note that moist is different than soggy, and you can judge this by feel. A damp soil that dries for a short period will allow adequate oxygen to permeate the soil.

As a rule of thumb, the soil should be moist. Usually, 30 seconds with a steady stream of water from a garden hose with a diffuser nozzle per tree seedlings is sufficient. Mulching is also key in retaining moisture in the soil.

Check soil moisture by using a garden trowel and inserting it into the ground to a depth of 2 inches, and then move the blade of the trowel back and forth to create a small narrow trench. Then use your finger to touch the soil. If it is moist to the touch, then they do not need water.

  • Watering trees after the first two years: After a tree has been established in a yard for two years, the roots will be established. This will allow a tree to withstand a wider range of water conditions including on its own because it has a proper root structure.

If the area constantly deals with drought, you will want to consider trees listed as drought-tolerant. These trees are adapted to sites in their native habitat that regularly experience prolonged dry spells. Although they are native to drought-prone areas and are more tolerant than others the first few years of life are critical to the survival of any tree and following the steps above will help trees grow.

Some drought-tolerant species include:

On the opposite side of the spectrum, if the area deals with a large amount of moisture or wet conditions, here are a few trees that will do better in wet conditions:

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