I had not mentioned it in the piece because I found it confusing. It provided directions for watering trees only if it had a green tree bag.
We had two trees marked on my block that had been planted in 2015, not new but marked as new, and therefore needing to be watered. But there were no instructions for those trees.
I emailed Vera Ertem, the DDOT Urban Forestry arborist who manages the trees in our area, about this discrepancy. I asked whether we should be watering trees without tree bags, which DDOT removes after the first year to reuse. The answer is yes.
“New trees need water twice per week for the first year, once every two weeks for the next two years,” Ertem replied. “Most established trees do not need irrigation in the wet months, only need supplemental watering in the summer if it is dry. If it rains (Ed. note: this does not mean downpours) and soil soaks in every two weeks, there is no need of watering.”
“Trees do not develop deep roots if they are watered frequently,” she continued. “The roots remain close to surface where there is always water. So soaking soil well the first year or so allows deep root development instead of shallow roots.”
I noticed that she had cc’d Earl Eutsler, who is in charge of developing and refining this app. I shot him an email recommending that trees without tree bags be marked with a different color with different directions for watering. He responded that they are continuing to work on improving the app and will consider my recommendation.
Check out the app at treewatering.ddot.dc.gov. Let us know what you think.