Our trees are stressed, and need our help.
There has been no significant rain over the last 30-odd days. “Significant rain” means a steady rainfall amounting to 1.5 inches within a week. Downpours do not count. Two inches of rain fell in 30 minutes in some parts of DC recently, but in those instances, the water just runs off without being absorbed by the dry, hardened ground.
Street trees, one to three years old, need 25 gallons of water per week, and need to be watered at least once a week. Those surrounded by impervious surface are most at risk. So, let’s get to watering.
Casey Trees provides instructions on getting the most of our efforts:
1. Water SLOWLY. When the ground is hard and dry – water will run off if too much is applied too quickly.
2. Place a hose a foot or so from the base of the tree and turn it on to a trickle. Let it run for an hour or two (or more), occasionally moving it the hose nozzle to provide water to the entire root zone of the tree. If you have a small sprinkler head you can use that to cover a wider area – but again turn it on low.
3. You can also water with a five gallon bucket that you have drilled some (five is sufficient) holes in the bottom about the diameter of a pencil lead. Place the bucket at the base of the tree, fill the bucket to the top with water, let it drain, move it slightly, and fill it again – up to five times.
4. If you can, place a mulch ring around the tree following the 3-3-3 rule: create a ring of mulch around your tree, 3 inches deep in a 3-foot radius from the trunk, making sure to leave a 3-inch space right around the tree trunk. Mulch keeps the water in the soil feeding the roots by slowing evaporation.
5. After you’ve saturated the soil around the tree, remember to do it again in 3-4 days’ time.
Find newly planted street trees that can use watering from a hose leading from your home, apartment, or workplace on this DC Department of Transportation watering map.
All new street trees have water bags that you can fill up with a hose. If you need a water bag for your tree you can buy one from Ace Hardware, Home Depot and other online sources. There are different kinds depending on the types of trees you have.
Take the pledge to water and Casey Trees will send you a rain gauge. The organization also sends out watering alerts each week from May through September, which you can get through its weekly newsletter, The Leaflet, the Casey Trees homepage, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Casey Trees is out there watering, too. Its crews got to 2,000 trees last week. Our donations support their efforts.