By: Jean Ferdinandsen, Certified Arborist WI-0149A
Water is the greatest component of most living things. We know how revitalizing a drink of water can be when thirsty. Water has been found to be the most limiting factor for plant growth. The results of lack of water may not show up immediately on large trees, but will be become evident in the next few years.
Tree systems shut down under dry conditions. Water uptake and photosynthesis are reduced. Fine roots desiccate and die. A dangerous spiral of decline starts.
Adequate water can stop this spiral. Most trees require the equivalent of an inch of water per week. If nature does not provide enough water, you will need to supply supplemental water. Proper watering will be crucial for your tree’s health in 2013 and the future.
Water deeply enough to soak the soil to a 6” depth and repeat only when the top 3” become dry. This promotes a deeper, healthier root system. Irrigation systems are set up primarily for turf grass (which can recover more readily from drought than trees, and is cheaper to replace). These irrigation systems produce a very shallow watering several times a week. Do not depend on your irrigation system to properly water trees.
Always check soil moisture before watering Trees roots can be drowned with too much water. Water where it will do the most good, at the roots. Start watering a few feet from the trunk to well beyond the drip line of the tree. Avoid wetting the foliage. Mulch with organic materials such as bark wood chips to conserve moisture and moderate fluctuations.
Proper watering will help maintain your valuable trees and avoid stressing them. If you need guidance, the certified arborists at Wachtel Tree Science are available to assist and guide you with tree care.