How to Water Trees and Shrubs

Water is necessary for all plants to survive, yet most plants cannot survive if there is too much of it.

How to Check the Moisture of the Soil

You must conduct frequent moisture inspections in order to determine how much water your trees and plants require:

  1. Take a sample from about 8 inches deep in the soil.
  2. Squeeze it between your fingers. It’s moist if it can be molded into a ball, which is a positive thing. It’s too dry and needs water if it crumbles like sand.

How Much Should You Water?

Because most trees and shrubs have deep roots, you’ll have to water them for longer than you would other plants or lawns in order for the moisture to reach them. The goal is to get damp soil to a depth of roughly 20 inches. The rate of absorption is determined by the type of soil: water absorbs more quickly in sandy soil than in clay soil. To water, follow these steps:

  1. Start by watering the tree or shrub once a week throughout the dry summer months. If the plant is surrounded by a berm, simply turn on a garden hose to a trickle and place it inside the berm for a few hours. If a berm isn’t present, use an inexpensive soaker hose, which can be found at home centers and gardening stores.
  2. Take a soil sample the next day to determine its moisture content. As needed, increase or decrease the amount of watering.

Remember: either water deeply or don’t water at all. If you merely dampen the surface, the roots will climb up to get the water rather than growing deeper to stabilize the plant.

If It Rains, How Much Should I Water?

If it rains, forgo the watering and test the soil the next day.