In a perfect world, property owners would always select species native or capable of adapting to their local environment. Such trees would usually thrive, as they have evolved to cope with the parasites, pests, temperature and rainfall patterns common to the area. In fact, native tree species rarely require much supplemental care, if they’re planted properly and in a good location.
But, in the real world, homeowners and commercial property managers frequently elect to install non-native tree species. These trees often require you to help them out a little, often by providing supplemental water. However, water is a precious resource, and you’ll want to administer this supplemental water in an efficient way to prevent waste.
Fortunately, it isn’t hard to water your trees correctly, just heed the advice below. Just be sure to obey any and all water-use restrictions or regulations in effect in your area.
Water the Right Location
Most people understand that trees draw water from the soil via their roots. But many fail to understand that some of a tree’s roots play a bigger role in water acquisition than others do. Generally speaking, it is the fine, white roots at the distal ends of the root plate (roughly located near the dripline) that draw most of the water from the ground; the thick, woody roots near the trunk absorb very little water and primarily serve to stabilize and anchor the tree. Accordingly, you’ll want to concentrate your watering efforts in these areas.
Water on the Right Schedule
Just as you must apply water in the right location, you’ll need to embrace a sensible watering schedule. In general, trees thrive best when provided with deeper, less-frequent water applications, rather than they do when provided with small quantities of water on a frequent basis. In practice, this means watering mature, established trees about once every week or once every other week. However, newly installed trees have a greater need for supplemental water than established trees do, so you’ll want to provide these trees with water several times per week for the first year of their life.
You’ll also want to water during the most effective times of the day. Essentially, this means applying water sometime between the late afternoon and early the following morning, when the temperatures are cool and the evaporation rate slow.
Provide the Right Amount of Water
While most trees appreciate supplemental water, all trees have varying soil-moisture tolerances. If you exceed these, your tree’s roots may become infested with bacteria or fungi, which will lead to the tree’s decline. Trees of different species, ages and health statuses have varying water requirements, but a general rule of thumb is to provide about 15 litres of water for every centimetre of trunk diameter, as measured 1.5 meters above the ground. Be sure to apply the water slowly, so that it can percolate into the soil instead of running across the surface.
Retain the Water the Right Way
You not only want to apply water the right way and in the correct amounts, but you also want to ensure that this water does the most good once it reaches the soil. One great way to do this is by applying a thick layer of organic mulch above your tree’s root zone. The mulch will help keep the soil cooler, which will reduce the evaporation rate in the soil below, and it will also form a “vapour barrier” that will further reduce the amount of water lost to the air.
If you need a little help or guidance watering your trees, don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends at Trav’s Tree Service. One of our arborists will visit your property and help determine the water needs of your trees and recommend the most viable watering strategy. We can even install drip systems or set up other water-saving options for you.