How Much Water Does My Tree Need?

This year our normal summer watering needs become even more critical since our trees have been at a water deficient most of the spring. So, the obvious question is – How much and how often should I water? This depends on the location, tree type and how mature it is – among other factors.

If the leaves are brown on the edges and are drooping or wilted, your tree isn’t getting enough water. Long term water stress usually leads to twig dieback, very little new growth and more susceptibility to insects and diseases.

How Much Should I Water My Young Trees?

Young trees need more care and attention for the first 2 to 3 years. During this time, trees focus on growing their roots, which is why you’ll see less above ground growth. By providing the tree with enough water, you’re helping grow strong, substantial roots while also promoting stem and leaf growth.

On the flip side, if you don’t water your newly planted tree enough, your tree will develop minimal roots, suffer from canopy dieback and take longer to establish. To set your new tree up for success, plan on providing about 20 gallons of water weekly. This can be done with a drip system, a sprinkler hose or even with buckets of water if need be. After 1-2 years up that amount by about 50%. Also add additional water before or for sure after a wind event or a breezy day.

How Much Should I Water My Mature Trees?

The roots of a mature tree have already spread out and can take water from deeper in the soil so they don’t need to be watered as often Plan to water mature trees ever 4 to 6 weeks during the summer.

One wat you can check to see how dry the soil is, is to poke a long screwdriver into the dirt—if it’s hard to push in, water. Deep root watering can be effective because it gets water directly into the root zone area. But if the water is placed too deep, the roots will miss the water as it drains below. Watering is much more efficient if it is applied from the soil surface down, like rain. Ninety percent of the roots are in the top 12 inches of soil and many of the roots that take up water are located in the dripline area. If water is placed below 12 inches, the tree misses out. The key here is to water slow enough to prevent runoff. A good rule of thumb is to water about 10 gallons for every inch of trunk diameter. This means ideally a 10-inch diameter tree would need 100 gallons of water and a 30 inch tree would need at least 300 gallons of water. Water loving trees (less drought tolerant) will need more water and more often – maples, birch, redwoods and similar trees fall in this category.

Helping water out – Water is the most limiting factor, but we at Arborwell know that a stressed tree needs help for other substances as well. Our proprietary formula we use includes at least four added products to help open the soil up to reduce runoff, stimulate root production, help the tree produce stress fighting compounds of its own and to improve the ability of the tree to transport water to the leaves.

We know this summer will be tough on trees, let us help your trees survive this drought season so they can thrive again.

Contact Arborwell Professional Tree Management at and talk to our arborists for your San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Hayward, or Sacramento commercial property today.

drought, tree health, tree management, water conservation

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