Watering your trees

Trees prefer:

  • More volume, less frequency
  • At the dripline (the outer perimeter of the tree) rather than at the trunk

Most irrigation systems are set up for shrubs and not for trees.

  • Emitters ( ¼ “ spaghetti tubing) rather than bubblers ( ½” tubing)
  • At the trunk rather than the dripline
  • Scheduled to run frequently with short durations rather than weekly for longer durations

First Year
Volume should be equal to size of tree you plant. 5 gallon tree = 5 gallons of water, 15 gallons = 15 gallons of water. A 2.5’ ball and burlap tree should get at least 20-30 gallons of water each time you water.

Fall planting
Daily for first 2 weeks
3 times weekly for next 2 weeks
2 times weekly for next 2 weeks
Once weekly through March
Twice weekly April through October (When we have sustained high temperatures above 90 degrees, water 3 times weekly.)

Spring planting
Daily for first 2 weeks
3 times weekly through August
Twice weekly August through October
Once weekly November through May

Subsequent Years

  • Trees should be watered at the drip line which is the outer perimeter of the tree
  • The volume of water should increase from the ‘first year’ rate as the tree gets bigger
  • Water should reach a depth of about 18”

January and February – Once or twice monthly
March and April – 3 times monthly
May through October – Once weekly (When we have sustained high temperatures above 90 degrees, water about every 5 days.)
November and December – 3 times monthly

To every rule, there is an exception
Some trees like Desert Willow, Vitex, Pine, and Juniper are more drought-tolerant. This means that you water less frequently but still the same volume (to a depth of about 18”).

Some trees are less tolerant of our arid conditions like Maple, Magnolia, Birch and Aspen. This means that you water more frequently but still the same volume of water.

Trees that are tall and narrow like Italian Cypress, Aspen and Lombardy Poplar have a drip line that far outreaches the natural drip line. These trees should be watered about 8-10 feet from the root when possible.

The above watering schedules are based on average precipitation. When rain or snow is below average, increase the frequency of the watering.

One Comment on “Watering your trees”

  1. Good morning, i have a well established older tree tree that had been neglected for several years . From speaking with you earlier, I understand the watering schedule, and to water at the drip line. My question is which should i use – bubbler or emitter?
    Thanks, Joan

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