It’s Time to Water Our Trees!!

It’s Time to Water Our Trees!!

The Sacramento Tree Foundation (STF) points out we’ve gone 30 days without rain as of February 24, 2018. This is the time when we are supposed to be getting a major share of our annual Rainfall.  The National Weather Service says our region is “abnormally dry.” Not quite a drought yet, but our trees most likely need a drink! The service predicts that drought development is likely.

Here’s the link to our drought outlook:

Particularly at risk are the young trees our neighborhood has planted. They need, on average, 15 gallons a week during dry weather! Please don’t assume lawn watering or sprinkles of rain will suffice.  Here are the STF recommendations for watering young and mature trees:


  • For the first three years, young trees need slow, deep watering during the dry weather.
  • Water near the base of the tree with a slow soak by:
    • Setting your hose on a slow trickle near the base of the tree. Leave the hose on trickle
      for about 2 hours.
    • Or, place a bucket with a small hole (1/8″) drilled near the bottom. Fill the bucket with
      water and allow it to slowly drain into the soil.
  • On average, your tree will need 15 gallons of water per week.
  • Water two to three times per week depending on how hot and dry it is outside.
  • As your tree grows, expand your watering area outward to provide water to all of the
    extending roots.
  • Remember, watering your lawn will not replace the need to deeply water young trees. Deep
    water encourages roots to grow down. Sprinklers leave water on the surface and encourage
    roots to grow along the surface – causing problems in the future.


  • Check the Soil
    • To determine how often your tree needs water, learn about your soil type and check your soil moisture. Use a screwdriver, hand trowel, or soil probe to test the soil 6-12 inches below the surface. If it is wet and sticky, allow it to dry for several days before adding water. If it is dry and crumbly, apply water slowly to soak the soil 12-18 inches below the surface
  • Water the Roots
    • The dripline is at the edge of the canopy. Roots extend beyond the dripline. The roots of a mature tree extend underground even wider than the branches extend above ground. Slowly soak the root zone beginning at the drip line (the soil beneath the edge of the leaves) and extending outward. Soak the soil so the water reaches the roots 12-18 inches below the soil.
    • Do not apply water at the base of your mature tree. This will not effectively provide water to the tree’s roots.
    • You can use a soaker hose spiraled throughout the root zone, drip emitters, or an oscillating sprinkler on a low setting and moved to various areas within the root zone.
    • Allow the water to soak into the soil for several hours.
  • Know your Tree Type
    • Some established, drought tolerant trees like California native oaks, California laurel, cork oak, Chinese pistache, and goldenrain trees can be damaged with frequent summer watering. These trees may need one or two thorough soaks during periods of dry weather.
    • Moisture adapted trees such as birches, redwoods, magnolias and red maples will likely need regular, deep watering throughout their lives and especially during dry weather.
    • Trees in or near lawn areas which have become accustomed to frequent, shallow watering from sprinklers may develop surface roots and will have higher water needs or require a period of transitional watering techniques to wean them from regular sprinkler water.

Here are links to Sacramento Tree Foundation guidelines for tree watering:

– Kate Riley, River Park Tree Canopy Project

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