Keeping your landscape trees healthy begins with providing sufficient soil moisture. Many homeowners don't consider the water needs for their trees, perhaps assuming that deep groundwater or water from nearby lawn sprinklers is sufficient. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. The following tips can help you make sure your trees get the water they need to survive and thrive.
Tip #1: Ring around the sapling
Young trees are at the greatest risk of suffering from lack of moisture. For the first two to three years, a newly planted sapling is sending out roots to both anchor it in places and to reach deep for moisture stores in the ground. If you water too frequently, the tree won't form a deep, healthy root system since there is plenty of surface water. On the other hand, too little water and the tree withers before it grows strong roots. To avoid both of these situations, practice deep, infrequent irrigation. Build a ring of soil up around the tree, making it about 3 feet in diameter and 6 inches tall. Every two weeks during the spring and summer, fill the ring with water and let it slowly seep into the ground. Within one or two years the ring will level back out to soil level, and at this time the young tree won't be as dependent on deep watering.
Tip #2: Adjust those sprinklers
Sprinklers can provide some water for your trees, but they can also damage a tree. This is because sprinkler spray over the same section of the trunk several times a week for months or years or end will eventually wear the wood and bark -- similar to sprinkler stains that occur on wood fencing. Switching to drip irrigation lines or to ground level fan sprayer heads can prevent this issue. You don't have to change all your sprinkler heads, just the ones that are hitting the tree. It can even be beneficial to have new lines installed to trees that aren't in the main lawn area. These can be set to provide a deep water for mature trees to ensure their water needs are met.
Tip #3: Know when to water
Mature trees aren't as dependent on irrigation as young trees, but they still need some outside watering to stay healthy. Most mature trees don't need any irrigation during the spring when the weather is naturally cool and damp, nor do they need water in the fall as they prepare for winter dormancy. They need water the most during the hot, dry days of summer. Both deciduous and conifers only need watered about once a month during summer, unless temperatures are steadily high and humidity is low -- then twice monthly watering is better. Conifers can also benefit from a monthly light watering in winter if your ground doesn't freeze.
For more help, contact a tree service or sprinkler and irrigation company like Noble Tree Service Inc.