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Have you ever been working in the garden on a hot summer day and were so absorbed in what you were doing that you didn’t notice the time passing. When you finally walk into your cool, air-conditioned home and take a drink of water, you suddenly realize that “This is the best water I have ever tasted!”

In a similar way trees are the same way. They work 24/7 getting the water and nutrients from the soil around them. Nothing can work all day without taking a drink of water. Keeping your trees watered is the best thing you can do for your trees!

What is the importance of watering your trees?

Dieback of the Crown of a TreeThe most important thing that can be done for your tree is proper watering. Water is the source of life for everything, including plants. Watering in early spring is especially important. Trees do a lot of growing in the spring and need all the nutrients they can get. Some of the effects of under watering are:

  • Dieback of the crown of a tree, this is done to balance out the ratio of water the roots are absorbing to the leaves they have to feed.
  •  Growth of a tree in height and diameter, When you cut a tree down you can see the tree “rings”, this shows a diagram of how much water and nutrients the tree received in a growing season. The larger the ring the more nutrients the tree received and the more it grew that season, the smaller the ring the less nutrients.
  • In extreme cases lack of water can result in the death of a tree.

But I water my trees with my sprinkler system?

Sprinkler System Watering your trees with a sprinkler system is better than doing no watering at all but the amount of water that a tree needs is more than a sprinkler can provide. Most sprinklers do a great job of watering the grass that is in shallow soil but is not enough to reach the deep roots of a tree. 12-18” is what is recommended for the moisture to reach for a healthy tree. You can check this with a soil probe or by carefully digging. Putting a hose at the base of the tree and letting the water trickle for 15-25 minutes will ensure that the water soaks deep and will not run off. If you don’t feel like leaving a hose out to run you can invest in a soaker hose (see picture)

benefits of mulching To help balance out the extreme temperature changes the Mid-West can experience, mulch can be your friend. Here are some of the benefits of mulching your trees.

  • Helps maintain an even temperature in extreme weather changes
  • Helps keep soil moist for a longer period of time in the summer
  • Adds nutrients to the soil by decomposition

You do have to remember not to pile the mulch around the base of the trunk though, as this will promote rot in the base of the tree.