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The correct way to water your trees

When it comes to keeping your tree healthy, watering is a key aspect. Your tree will outlive you if it is well-cared for and well-maintained. Getting the watering balance right can be tricky, but as arborists at Jim’s Trees & Stump Removal, we know a thing or two about the correct way to water your tree. 

The first thing you need to do is understand the current moisture level of your tree. A quick way to establish whether your watering techniques are successful is to dig a few inches into your tree’s soil and grab a handful of dirt. 

  • If the soil easily crumbles out of your hand then your tree needs more moisture. 
  • If the soil sticks to your hand then your tree has sufficient water. 
  • If the soil in your hand drips between your fingers then your tree has too much moisture

Newly planted vs established trees

The water needs of your tree will depend on when it was planted. A newly planted tree will maintain its original root ball for several months and therefore will require more water so the roots can grow and settle. Regular moisture will be essential to your new tree’s survival so we recommend watering 3-4 times a week. 

An established tree does not need to be watered as regularly. Instead, we recommend 2-3 times a week during the hotter months and less in winter. It’s also important to keep in mind that the roots do not necessarily mirror the canopy above. The roots can extend much further and deeper than you may initially think so you need to water a greater area of ground.

Watering techniques

To correctly water your tree, you need to ensure moisture is reaching the roots. This is often referred to as ‘deep watering’. A common mistake is to only water the base of a tree’s trunk. While the soil on top may look wet, minimal moisture will reach the roots due to evaporation. 

Slow and steady is ideal when it comes to watering your trees. A slower stream of water enables your tree to soak up the moisture without becoming soggy. You also want to prevent water from running off and instead want it to seep deep into the soil. 

Drip irrigation system

A drip irrigation system is a great way to water your trees. It may take some effort to install, but a drip system will water the roots of your tree and ensure it receives the correct amount of water. Some systems are fully automated and can be set on a timer which is convenient and water-efficient. 

Slow trickle via a hose

If you’re not ready to invest in a drip irrigation system, you can achieve the same result via a garden hose. Turn your hose on to a slow dribble and set it on the ground near the trunk. Depending on the size of your tree, leave it for at least 45 minutes before moving the hose further away from the trunk. 


Using a sprinkler is a popular method to water trees. If you need to cover a large area, sprinklers can be a great option. However, you’ll likely need to turn the sprinkler on for an extended period of time to reach the moisture level required. Sprinklers tend to lose a lot of water due to evaporation. 


Have a spare 10-litre bucket? Drill holes in the bottom, place it by the trunk of your tree and fill to the brim with water. The water will slowly drip from the bucket to the roots. The bucket method is an easy and affordable option, as well as a great use of an old bucket. 

Additional watering tips 

  • Mulch your tree to help retain moisture, 2-3 inches deep should be sufficient but don’t pile up near the trunk
  • Morning is the best time to water, as there is minimal evaporation and will keep the tree hydrated in the hotter parts of the day
  • Stay consistent with your watering schedule to avoid putting your tree under unnecessary stress

Have more questions regarding tree maintenance? Ask the experts! Get in touch with our friendly team today.

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