Temperatures are rising in the Midwest and Kansas City is creeping into 90 degree days. You may be feeling sluggish at work, dreading the evening walk with Fido or more commonly, craving a cool glass of water. Well, you wouldn’t be the only thing feeling the effects of the heat, your trees are too!
Watering trees planted within the last 7 years is a must during our dry months. We think of it more often in the summer when the heat is beating down on us but really we also have dry months in fall and winter.
There are several options for watering trees, but all you really need is a garden hose. Turn the spigot for the hose about a quarter of a turn and place the nozzle approximately one foot from the trunk of the tree. Periodically, move the hose around the tree. You want to water the tree deeply, giving it a good soak. The majority of tree roots are typically in the top 18 inches of soil, which means those deep root watering systems may be missing the mark.
If you want to invest some money, there are a few other options for watering. You could install a soaker hose in a spiral in the area under the tree from the tip of the branches to the trunk, called the dripline. Watering bags are also an option. These bags zip around the tree holding 20 gallons of water. They are filled with a garden hose then slowly leak out over an 8 hour time period. If you have turf irrigation, consider installing a separate head/zone or drip system around your trees to make sure they receive adequate water. Healthy turf roots compete for the same moisture and are shallower. Watering on a timed cycle could mean you are watering shorter roots but it isn’t enough to saturate deeper where the tree roots are found.
Your watering schedule is dependent on the soil, which can vary greatly. Clay soils, which we typically have in our area, hold on to moisture. The best method is to use your fingers and feel the soil. Use a hand trowel or screwdriver to dig down below the mulch. Recent rainfall could also be a good indicator that it is time to check your trees.
Below are two great websites that can be used to gather local information about recent rainfall. Don’t just keep yourself hydrated, think of your trees as well!