Top 10 tips for watering trees in a drought
During very hot weather, your local trees may need a little extra help, especially newly planted trees or those which are showing signs of stress.
- Trees should be watered three times a month from April until the end of September. When possible avoid evaporation by watering early or late, not in the middle of the day.
- Water slowly, to ensure that the water does not run off. The ground will probably be hard and it will take time for the water to permeate through the surface, so especially to begin with, water slowly and thoroughly.
- Estimating the amount of water that a tree needs is difficult. A useful rule of thumb is a full watering can or five minutes with a hose, per 2.5cm/1in of trunk diameter at knee height.
- Inadequate watering, which only wets the surface of the ground, can cause surface roots to grow and this could lead to more drought problems if the watering stops.
- Concentrate efforts under the canopy of the tree, as this is where most of the roots are likely to be. Ensure that you water evenly so that no matter where the roots are, they get some water.
- Don’t concentrate all your watering around the base of the trunk, as most of the roots are likely to be further out.
- To ensure the soil retains water, use mulch extensively around trees in a circle of at least least 1m/3ft radius and to a depth of 10cm/4in. Use wood chips, shredded bark, leaves or evergreen needles as mulch. Make sure that the mulch is not touching the trunk.
- If you use a watering can or hose, attach a watering rose to slow down the speed of watering and ensure the water doesn’t run off. Alternatively, use a perforated hose and lay it around the tree under the canopy. Again, five minutes watering per 2.5cm/1in of stem diameter.
- Another option is to drill 7mm/¼ in holes in a bucket or watering can, and then stand it under the tree, so that the water drains out slowly into the soil.
- Re-use “grey” water (such as bath water, but not dishwasher water because of the salt) whenever possible or collect any rain water from gutters in water butts.
The Tree Council's national Tree Care Campaign runs from March to September and highlights the need for better care for all trees, in order to ensure their survival and increase the number reaching maturity.
Read more advice on tree care during a drought here.