Watering Young Trees
Summertime Watering Tips – Part 1 of 3
Sure, it’s getting hot out there, but please don’t forget about those new trees you worked hard to plant this fall and winter! The first two years after planting is the most critical time to water your trees, especially during our hot, dry summers. Getting newly planted trees well established early can ensure their healthy growth for years to come, making for less maintenance needs and costs in the future. Young trees should be watered once or twice a week during the growing season if there is limited rainfall, with the average 5-gallon tree requiring up to 15-20 gallons of water per week.
When watering your young trees, a slow and steady source such as drip irrigation or a trickling garden hose is best for making sure the water reaches the root ball. Watering trees deeply and less frequently encourages roots to grow deeper into the soil. This is better than providing several light and shallow waterings, which can cause shallow root growth and less drought tolerance in the long run.
Keep in mind that wilting leaves on your tree don’t necessarily signify a need for water, and overwatering can cause wilting as well! The best way to ensure your tree needs water is to put your index finger all the way into the soil above the root ball. If the soil is moist here, a few inches down, you probably don’t need to water just yet. Keep your young trees mulched year-round to help keep the soil cooler in the root zone and to minimize evaporation. Make sure mulch is no deeper than 3”, and is at least 3” away from the tree’s trunk.
Lastly, make sure you check Austin’s current water restrictions here before watering. These restrictions help our city conserve water by dictating your watering day, as well as the best times of day (morning, evening, or night) to irrigate your trees and landscapes. These restrictions apply only to hose-end sprinklers and automatic irrigation systems. Tree bubblers, drip irrigation, and hand-held hoses are allowed any time.
Thanks for doing your part to nurture your young trees through the summer! Remember, if we take good care of our young trees, they will take care of us for decades into the future!
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