Did a new neighbor put down roots near you recently? Tall? Thin? Quiet, with kind of a wooden personality? You, my friend, have a new street tree. And it’s high time you offered it some hospitality.
Joking aside, we’re getting into a critical period for young street trees. From May through at least September, these one- to three-year-old trees need 25 gallons of water per week. This means watering at least once each week, even after periods of heavy rain. We don’t get enough of the gentle, soaking rains these trees need. The powerful downpours we do get? They don’t get the job done.
Casey Trees provides guidance so your watering efforts have the greatest impact.
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.
You can find newly planted street trees close to 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 online sources. There are different kinds depending on the types of trees you have.
Take the Casey Trees “25 to Stay Alive” watering pledge and Casey Trees will send you a free 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.