Summer Water Tips for Healthy Trees
June 27, 2016
Summer is officially here...and with it comes intense heat. We’ve already seen temperatures hit the 100s this week. Large established trees can seem pretty self-sufficient; so it’s easy to forget to water them. But providing your trees supplemental water during the hot summer months is key to their long-term health and survival.
Avoid drought stress
Drought stress can impact your trees for years after the initial stress occurs. The damage done by drought stress won’t often be obvious to you, and so can go untreated.The best way to keep your trees healthy in the heat is to offer up some supplemental waterings. Remember, trees and lawns compete for water - and your trees can absorb much more water than the lawn. So if you’re only watering your lawn, it’s probably not enough water for your trees.
Summer watering tips
Established trees need regular moisture to thrive. You might think large trees have a taproot that can find moisture deep in the soil to supplement its water needs, but this is simply not the case. Most of the tree’s roots that absorb water are actually concentrated in the top 18-inches of soil - and they spread out in a wide mat (not a deep one).
Watering trees deeply on a regular schedule is the best way to support them in summer. An effective temporary solution for the hottest part of summer is to use simple soaker hoses. You can simply coil the soaker hose around the base of the tree (not against the trunk), as seen in the photo below. Or, you can attach a Gator Bag that delivers water directly to the roots of your trees. For a long-term solution, add drip nozzles to your irrigation system.
Soaker Hoses: Be the water is turned on to medium pressure to avoid damaging the soaker hose. The key to drip irrigation is to let it run long enough. This could be one hour to several hours depending on the size of the tree.
Gator Bags: For younger trees, smaller varieties and for when you might be leaving town on vacation, we suggest adding a Gator Bag to your tree. Gator Bags are filled with water and then deliver a slow drip to your tree’s roots. If you are leaving town for an extended period of time, have your maintenance service or even a neighbor refill it each week.
Automatic Irrigation: Adding bubbler or drip nozzles to your current irrigation system to provide water directly to your trees is an effective approach. Bubblers will deliver a slow, deep watering, which will avoid runoff and offer the best absorption.
Drip irrigation is not currently subject to water restrictions; you may run it any day of the week.
Remember that your soil quality can have a big impact on how your trees can use the water you provide. When soils are compacted or lack organic matter, water has a hard time getting to the roots. Often, it may just runoff your property. Having soil aerated in summer and adding compost around tree roots are simple ways to help improve tree health through the hottest months of the year.
If you feel your trees could be stressed this summer, call your local certified arborist for a consultation to get your trees back on the road to recovery.