May 3, 2021 /
Jona Elwell

Weekly Watering Alerts Return: How and When to Water

May is here and you know what that means? Starting now until the last week of September we’ll be issuing weekly watering alerts for trees every Leaflet and on our homepage, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Depending on past weather, forecasts, and a few other factors, we’ll either let you know whether you should water your trees, hold off, or if it’s up to you. 

We issue these alerts for a very important reason — newly-planted trees need at least 25 gallons a week to survive and thrive. This is such a critical part of new tree care we created a “25 to Stay Alive” Watering Pledge to get folks on board. Pledge now to get a freebie!

Last year brought quite a few firsts – DC broke its streak for the most days in July over 90 degrees and our crew broke their record for most trees watered in a day. What do you think this year will bring? Not sure how to tackle watering?

For newly planted trees (planted one – three years ago):

  • These trees are the most susceptible to damage/death due to inadequate water. But you should prioritize which trees to water by starting with those trees located in areas with limited soil – think street trees and those surrounded by/near concrete and curbs.
  • Water SLOWLY. When the ground is hard and dry – water will run off if too much is applied too quickly.
  • Place a hose a foot or so from the base of the tree and turn it on to a trickle. Let it run for an hour or two (or more), occasionally moving it the hose nozzle to provide water to the entire root zone of the tree. If you have a small sprinkler head you can use that to cover a wider area – but again turn it on low.
  • You can also water with a five gallon bucket that you have drilled some (five is sufficient) holes in the bottom about the diameter of a pencil lead. Place the bucket at the base of the tree, fill the bucket to the top with water, let it drain, move it slightly, and fill it again – up to five times.
  • If you can, place a mulch ring around the tree following the 3-3-3 rule: create a ring of mulch around your tree, 3 inches deep in a 3-foot radius from the trunk, making sure to leave a 3-inch space right around the tree trunk. Mulch keeps the water in the soil feeding the roots by slowing evaporation.
  • After you’ve saturated the soil around the tree, remember to do it again in 3 – 4 days’ time. If you are unsure about when to water again, check our Watering Alerts.

For established trees:

  • During a drought or dry spell, all trees can use some water, especially street trees. If you have street trees in front of your home letting a hose drip onto its roots for a few hours will be a big help! Move the hose nozzle around every hour or so to water the entire area.

We also have trusty “how-to” videos and you can even purchase  a watering bag to fill up once a week and walk away.

Keep your eyes peeled for next week’s report in the Leaflet and on our homepage, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.