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Long, hot summer – how often and how much should you water your trees?

Posted on: July 30th, 2018

Watering trees? They’re not fragile like flowering plants or vegetables! Surely they get everything they need from the soil?

When the temperature rises, most of us with gardens will automatically start watering our plants and shrubs more to prevent them from drying out and dying. But what about your trees? Do you assume that they can fend for themselves during the warmer summer months? If so, you’d be sadly mistaken.

Established trees can usually withstand dry spells but with the intense heat and sun the UK is currently experiencing, soil is far drier than usual. Each day, trees take in gallons of water per day but if this moisture isn’t then replenished through rain or watering, they will become thirsty, weak and more susceptible to disease and fungus. And then of course, there’s newly planted trees. Older trees have extensive root systems that go deep into the soil but new trees and shrubs haven’t had the time to develop the deep roots they need to source water independently. Without help, they may end up struggling to survive.

Tree maintenance should be part of your ongoing gardening plan and with that comes watering when the temperature rises. Here are our top tips to ensure your trees remain healthy in the summer:

• Long and slow is the way to go when watering your trees when it’s hot. You want to give the base of each tree a deep soak. Avoid frequent watering at short intervals. You could use a soaker hose or tree bag to achieve a slower rate of water flow.

• Try to water trees in the morning. The earlier you do it the cooler the temperatures. This means less water loss from evaporation, plus you’re helping the tree to cope with the hot sun later in the day.

• The amount a tree will need to water will depend on a number of factors – age, size and type of soil. For example, soils that contain clay will not drain well. Therefore you will need to make sure that trees do not end up being overwatered by checking that the top couple of inches of soil has dried out before you water again. In addition, young trees will still have root balls so overwatering may lead to the tree drowning. The best way to avoid this is to slow drip using a specialist hose attachment or purchase a tree bag.

• Avoid getting foliage wet when watering as the water will intensify the sunlight and burn the leaves.

• If you have a newly planted tree in your garden, it will need to be closely monitored for the first few months. Excessive heat and sunshine may make it vulnerable.

• Apply approximately 3 inches of wood mulch to the base of your trees – this provides protection from heat, helps to retain water and prevents weeds from competing with tree roots.

• Do not assume that because you’ve watered your lawn, that will also help your trees. The amount of water you would use on your lawn will not soak deep enough into the soil to enable your tree’s roots to access the moisture. Always water your lawn and trees separately.

We hope you found our article on ‘Long, hot summer – how often and how much should you water your trees?’ helpful. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

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