Central Texas weather has become less predictable and leads to more frequent and prolonged droughts. It’s sometimes tough to know how often to water trees in the greater Austin area. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it is possible to water your trees too much. When and how much to water your trees depends on many factors. Watering needs for new or transplanted trees are different than for established trees, and soil conditions and the time of year also play into the equation. Here are tips on how often to water trees in Central Texas.
New or Transplanted Trees
Newly planted trees as well as transplanted trees require more water for the first few years than established trees. A general rule of thumb is to water new or transplanted trees two times a week for the first year or two.
A tree that has been thriving in place for a few years typically needs water twice a month—and less if there has been a recent soaking rain. Overwatering trees can damage the root system by saturating the soil and making it harder for the tree to take up oxygen and nutrients. To determine if your tree needs water, test the soil with a trowel or screwdriver—if the soil is dry two or three inches deep, then your tree needs water.
To determine how much water a tree needs, measure the diameter of the tree about three feet up from the base—that is, measure straight across the trunk from side to side (not all the way around). A tree typically needs 10 gallons of water per inch of diameter.
An occasional thorough soaking is better than frequent light watering. It’s better to water at night or early in the morning to prevent evaporation and make sure the water you’re using soaks into the soil instead of being taken up by the warm air and sunshine.
Concentrate watering around the “drip line” of the tree, where the branches overhang the soil, and not right on the trunk. Tree roots spread outward seeking water and nutrients from the soil, so watering around the drip line has the best chance of delivering needed moisture to the roots. While sprinklers are okay, a soaker hose does the best job of delivering moisture with minimal evaporation to the targeted area at the drip line. When your trowel or screwdriver shows that the soil is moist six to nine inches deep, you’re done watering.
Your goal is to keep the soil around your trees moist (but not saturated) and not to allow the soil to dry out completely. A consistent level of moisture is best for the health of your central Texas trees. If you’re concerned about the health of your trees or confused about how often to water trees in the greater Austin, Texas area, contact Sid Mourning Tree Service. We’ll come out to inspect the health of your trees and make recommendations about how best to care for them.
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