How to Water Trees Effectively by HC1209180078


									How to Your Water Trees and Shrubs the RIGHT Way!!!
Keith Mickler

Dog gone it, it is official; we haven’t had any quantifiable rainfall in almost four weeks,
so much for hurricane Irene bringing any relief to our parched landscapes. With that
being said let’s take a look into why water is so important to our trees and shrubs sheer

Water is the single most important resource for tree and shrub survival. A water
shortage severely damages our young and old trees/shrubs, and sets-up our healthy
ones with long-term issues. Think back to 2007 when Georgia experienced its worst
drought ever. Many of our trees are just now beginning to show signs of damaged
caused by the 2007 drought.

Drought conditions are leading to decline, pest problems, and non-recoverable damage.
Supplemental watering will greatly help in maintaining tree health.

Many of our trees are old and valuable. They are considered non-replaceable beyond
10 inches in diameter. If these trees are damaged or lost to drought they cannot be
replaced for several generations.

Manually, the best way to water our trees are with soaker hoses or trickle (drip)
irrigation. Lawn irrigation systems are less efficient for applying water to trees than
soaker hoses or drip irrigation, but are easy to use. Even a garden hose, moved often,
can provide a good soil soaking.

Use mulch underneath the trees out to the drip-line to conserve moisture, apply water
over the top of the mulch. Do not concentrate water at the base of the trunk as this can
lead to other pest problems.

Most all of the tree’s absorbing roots are in the top foot of soil. Applying water deeper
than this misses the most active roots and allows water to go unused and wasted. Apply
water across the surface and let it soak into the soil. Surface soaking allows a tree’s
roots more opportunity to absorb the water.

Lay water hoses or applicators out to the tree drip-line. Try to water the soil areas
directly beneath the foliage and shaded by the tree. Do not water closer than 3 feet to
the trunk on established trees. Be sure the water soaks in well. Make sure you use
mulch and slow application rates on slopes, clays, and compacted soils to assure the
water is soaking-in and not running-off

Do not spray tree foliage when applying water. Water droplets on tree leaves can lead
to pest problems and destruction of leaf tissue through sun damage. Try not to wet the
trunk if possible.

Young, newly planted trees need additional watering care. You must apply water
directly over where you need it in the soil. For new trees, concentrate water over the
root ball, as well as the planting area, to assure survival. Old, large trees should be
extensively watered over the entire area under their foliage.

The best time to water is at night from 10 pm to 8 am. Trees replenish their water
deficits during the night time hours. Watering at night allows full use of the water and not
as much loss to evaporation.

The next best time to water is when the foliage is dry and the potential for evaporation is
not at its daily peak which is late afternoon. Be sure to allow any water on the foliage to
dry-off before the evening dew appears. This dry gap between watering and dew will
help minimize pest problems. This is especially critical where turf surrounds a tree.

Depending upon your soil type, daily temperatures, and rainfall amounts, 1-3 inches of
water per week should keep a tree healthy. Trees in limited rooting areas such as
containers or on major slopes need additional care to assure water is reaching the roots
in sufficient amounts.

 A little over ½ gallon per square foot will equal 1 inch of water. Sandy soils can be
severely droughty because water runs out of the rooting zone quickly. Incorporate
composted organic materials when planting and mulch covers on the soil surface to
help hold in soil moisture preventing the rapid loss of water.

Trees should be watered once or twice a week (at least 1 inch of water per application)
during the growing season if there is no rainfall in that particular week. One heavy
watering is much better than many light, shallow watering. A bigger percentage of the
water is used by the tree when watered heavily. Also, light watering encourages shallow
rooting which can lead to even more severe drought damage.

Heck we, me, all of us need to provide some extra water until mother nature starts to
provide some rain if we wish to help our trees long term.
The above information was taken from a publication by Dr. Kim D. Coder, Daniel B. Warnell School of Forest Resources,
University of Georgia titled Watering Trees.

Keith Mickler is the County Coordinator and agriculture agent for The University of Georgia/Floyd County Cooperative Extension. Located at 12
East 4th Ave, Rome, GA 30161 (706) 295-6210. Office hours are Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension - Learning for Life. Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family and Consumer Sciences, 4-H
Youth. An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution. To obtain extension publications please visit our web site
or contact your county Cooperative Extension office.

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