June 1, 2021 /
Jona Elwell

Warmer Temperatures = Water Trees

While Memorial Day Weekend typically ushers in the unofficial start of summer, this year was anything but typical. Temperatures were near historic lows and instead of BBQs and lawn games, folks were huddled inside hiding from the rain. It may have been a bust for your weekend plans, but the rain was much needed for trees! Even though we got a dousing of rain, it’s been quite dry around the greater DMV and with temperatures ramping up, trees need our help. 


Remember to water! Young trees need approximately an inch and a half of rain each week (equal to 25 gallons of water) to properly establish. When it doesn’t rain for weeks on end, that means trees are all the more desperate.

Here are a few simple tips to get your trees ready for the hot summer months –

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

    1. 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.
    2. Water SLOWLY. When the ground is hard and dry – water will run off if too much is applied too quickly.
    3. 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 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.