winter tree care

Are Your Trees’ Thirsty?

Winter Tree Care

Even though it is not hot, sultry, dog days of summer, trees in your landscape still need to be watered when there is no rain.

Do My Trees Need Water

A good rule of thumb is to check your soil using a screwdriver. Sounds odd but it works. Simply try to insert the screwdriver into the ground, if the ground is dry, you won’t be able to. If the screwdriver can be inserted easily into the soil surrounding your tree, to the depth of 6-8 inches, then you soil has moisture in it, and it wouldn’t be necessary to water at this time. Also, if you remove the screwdriver from the soil and it comes out with dirt on it, this is a good indicator that there is moisture in the soil. Monitoring your trees water intake is vital for tree care, as water is the most important nutrient for tree health.

How Much Water Do Trees Need

Water trees every week or every two weeks if your tree is newly planted. It is especially important to help them recover from the stress of transplanting. Water 10-15 gallons each time you water.

For mature trees, once a month or every other month should be sufficient. To determine how much water to apply, measure the trunk diameter about waist height (about 3-4 feet off the ground). Once you have determined the trunk diameter, use 10-15 gallons per inch of trunk diameter. An example would be a tree with a 5” trunk diameter at waist height would need 50-75 gallons of water.

How To Water A Tree

How To Water A Tree

Once you have determined the amount of water your tree needs, water in the winter when the temperature is above 40 degrees. It is critical that you apply the water slowly, so it has time to soak into the ground, ensuring deep root penetration and not run off. In order for tree roots to absorb the water, it is essential the water be applied at the proper place. The correct water amount should be applied from the edge of the tree canopy (also known as the drip line) to the opposite side of the tree canopy. In other words, apply water under the tree from the edge of branches to the trunk, until you have fully encircled the entire tree. This area is the critical root zone directly underneath the full span of a tree’s branches. Deep root watering is essential to tree health.

Methods Used To Water Trees

There are several methods that can be used to water your trees during the winter months, one of which is to use a soft watering wand. Using this allows you to water slowly and apply the water to the critical root zone directly underneath the canopy of the tree. You can test your water wand output to determine the gallons per minute by using a 5 gallon bucket and timing the output for a minute. This test should tell you how many gallons per minute your water source and soft water spray wand is outputting to determine the correct amount to apply to your tree. Another method would be using a sprinkler. Again, follow the above-mentioned methods of where to apply the water, and determining your gallons per minute output from the sprinkler. Finally, there is the bucket method which allows you to water and easily know the amount of water you have applied without watering too much. Just remember to apply very slowly allowing the tree to absorb the water. On the opposite end, if you suspect your tree is getting too much water, you can verify your watering the appropriate amount by digging a 6-8 inch hole under the tree canopy. The soil should be cool and moist at this depth. If the soil is muddy, saturated, or soupy, you are overwatering. If your tree is not being overwatered yet still exhibiting unhealthy signs such as yellowing or withering, our certified arborist will be happy to help assist with your tree care.

Conserve Moisture

Mulching trees is the best way to conserve moisture in the ground. Mulch reduces evaporation when watering and it also helps moderate the soil temperatures in those winter months, not to mention it helps with weed control. Mulching is a good thing! A typical application is 4 inches, applied 2-3 feet out from the trunk of the tree without allowing it to touch the tree bark.

Tips For Winter Tree Care

The ideal time to water is in the morning to mid-day to help eliminate water loss due to evaporation and wind draft. Watering during these hours, allow the water to be absorbed by the roots before the ground freezes again at nightfall. Trees located in irrigated lawns generally do not require additional water if the critical root zone is adequately receiving enough water. Armed with winter tree care, your trees are worth protecting & investing time in because of their added value to the landscape, such as shade, beauty and wildlife habitat. They also protect from wind in the winter and provide cool shade in summer. Tree care directly relates to your tree’s health. If you need additional advise, trust our tree professionals for your tree service.