Weekly Watering Alert | July 22, 2024 – OPTIONAL



Watering Alert Key:
Don’t Water – Recent or predicted rainfall exceeding 1.5 inches this week. Trees have enough water.
Optional – Trees may need water, depending on the forecast. Check trees for signs (wilting leaves and/or dry soil) and water as needed. See watering FAQs below for more guidance on how to water.
Must Water – Very little observed or forecasted rainfall this week. Young trees must be watered.

Watering alerts are determined using local weather forecasts and NOAA/National Weather Service’s observed precipitation amounts for the DC metro area. Watering alerts are updated every Monday evening and run April 1 through October 31.

Sign up for the Leaflet, or pledge to water trees, to receive our weekly watering alerts.



Watering FAQ

When should I water my trees?

Water early spring to late fall (April 1 – October 31). The best time of day to water is early morning or late evening. Watering during the day results in losing much of the water to evaporation.

Trees that have lost their leaves and gone dormant in winter months do not require watering. Evergreen trees do not need water during the winter months either, though they keep their leaves. You may stop watering your trees at the start of winter and resume when temperatures are regularly above 75 degrees.

How much water do my trees need?

Trees need approximately 10 gallons of water per inch of base trunk diameter, per week. Casey Trees often plants trees that are at least 1.50” in caliper (i.e. the trunk’s diameter is at least 1.5 inches), and thus require 15 gallons, up to 25 gallons of water (approximately 1.5 inches of rainfall), per week.

How should I water my trees?

The easiest way to water trees is to simply soak the roots with a garden hose for approximately 5 minutes a few times a week, when they need water. Directly water to the roots and base of the tree, not the leaves. You can also fill a five-gallon bucket and apply water to the base of the tree.

It is important to water slowly, especially when the ground is hard and dry. Water should soak into the soil – water will run off if too much is applied too quickly. If possible, place a hose a foot or so from the base of the tree and turn it on to a trickle. Let it run for 30 minutes (set a timer for yourself), 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. 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.

Should I use a watering bag?

Slow-release watering bags can be helpful to aid in slow watering a tree. Casey Trees used to install watering bags with trees but stopped this practice for environmental reasons (less plastic use). It is possible to sufficiently water trees without watering bags. And while watering bags can be helpful, they can also damage a tree’s trunk if not adequately maintained or left on a tree to maturity. If you can thoroughly water your tree without the aid of a watering bag, we suggest that as the best practice.

Should I mulch around my trees?

Mulch keeps the water in the soil feeding the roots by slowing evaporation. 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. Remember to donut mulch, not volcano mulch – piling mulch against the trunk results in poor tree health.


Should I water mature/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.

I am still unsure if my trees need water – what should I do?

The best way to ensure a young tree stays healthy after planting is to keep it well watered. When unsure, choosing to water is often the best choice. If you are still concerned, you can check soil moisture. Soil that is moist or damp to the touch is fine. If the soil feels dry, water the tree thoroughly. Water should soak into the soil. Trees should never sit in a puddle of water for an extended amount of time. This can lead to root damage.


Pledge to Water

"25 to Stay Alive" Watering Pledge

Newly planted trees — those that have been in the ground less than three years — require 25 gallons of water, approximately 1.5 inches of rainfall, per week to survive. Every Monday from April 1 through October 31, we post a tree watering alert in our weekly newsletter, our homepage, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

When you pledge to water your trees, we will mail you a complimentary rain gauge so you can keep tracking weekly rainfall totals at home. If less than 1.5 inches of rain falls, water your trees with the recommended 25 gallons of water. Check out DDOT's handy watering map to find thirsty trees near you. 

Please note all fields are required in order to process your rain gauge request. Rain gauges are mailed between April 1 and October 31. Offer limited to those within a 25-mile radius of the District.

"I pledge to practice 25 to Stay Alive by watering trees on and surrounding my property with 25 gallons of water each week in times of little or no rainfall during the spring, summer and fall. I will use the rain gauge provided to me by Casey Trees to monitor rainfall totals on my property and water trees accordingly."  

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We can only offer a complimentary rain gauge to addresses within a 25-mile radius of Washington, DC.