Have you heard about the newest tree care craze, deep watering? It is a question that pops up more and more as we get toward the summer months. This isn’t really a new concept, but it has popped up on websites like Facebook and Pinterest, so people want to know more about it. Deep watering, or deep root watering, gives your tree the kind of watering that it really needs, especially during the summer months when it is very hot and Mother Nature doesn’t deliver on the rain.

These are the times when your trees are parched and are showing signs that they might need some help, but you can’t necessarily read them. By the time you can read them, it is often too late and you have to do something more than simply water them.

Still there are a few things you need to understand about deep watering before you do it.

4. How Deep It Actually Goes

  • The roots get the water, not the leaves
  • 12” to 18” deep, depending on the plant
  • Some plants might not need it that deep, some need deeper

When you water your plants regularly, you probably allow your hose to sprinkle some water onto the leaves of your plants and the soil around the plants. However, most plants don’t have leaves or stems that can absorb the water. Instead, it has to make its way into the ground and eventually get to the root system.

The problem is that, when it is hot outside, the water evaporates almost immediately and ends up not getting to the plants. According to Slate, this is why many plants and trees still die, even if you have already watered them often. It is also why people think they are overwatering their plants.

The truth is that they aren’t watering them correctly. Deep watering goes deeper into the ground so that the roots get the water.

3. Use a Soaker For Easier Watering

  • Great for people who aren’t home all the time
  • Can be DIY’d by some people
  • Do not over water with this system

Don’t like to be out in the hot sunlight all the time? You aren’t alone, and that is why there are so many options for ways to water your gardens and lawn that don’t require you to stand outside for too long. If this sounds like you, you might want to invest in a soaker hose or soaker system. A soaker hose is simply an attachment to your traditional garden hose. This attachment has holes every so often, holes that are smaller than a hose opening, but still big enough to let out water. Once you put this onto your hose, you can then wind it through your gardens and position it where you need it to be. This works pretty well, but, according to the DIY Network, you can make your own so you get precise control of where the water goes.

These still use a bit of water, but they are considered to be better than the traditional sprinkler systems because they put the water directly where it needs to be, not up into the air first.

This type of system is good for people who don’t or can’t take care of their yards, people who are regularly away from their properties, and those who simply have too much to keep up with when it comes to taking care of their yards.

2. Trees and Shrubs Should Be Watered Deeply

  • Tree branches tend to go deep
  • They will also spread far and wide around the tree
  • Trees are the most vulnerable in a drought

According to the Morton Arboretum, “There is no reason to water the leaves of a plant. Water the soil, where the roots are. The Arboretum recommends watering within the drip line of a tree, from the trunk out to the end of the branches, to reach the roots most effectively. The water-absorbing roots are within the top two feet of soil; you want to keep these roots moist but not wet.”

This is why it is so important to deep water your trees and shrubs. These are some of the most vulnerable parts of your yard and they also tend to be the hardest to water. They are probably the ones that need the most water too, because their deep roots often don’t get the water that you do use – plants and weeds will get it first. During the hottest part of the summer, they are particularly vulnerable.

You don’t want to completely saturate the ground so that the dirt starts to move, but you do want to do some deep watering.

1. It Won’t Work for All Plants

  • Deep watering won’t work for plants with shallower roots
  • Most won’t be harmed by it either
  • Useful for annuals and bigger plants

One common mistake that people make is that they believe that deep watering will work for all of the plants in their year – this isn’t true. In fact, perennials and vegetables don’t need deep watering because they do not have roots that go too deeply into the ground, according to Gardeners. Instead, their root systems are closer to the surface. You will want to spend maybe a few seconds more over them with the hose, but you don’t really need to look into deep watering at all.

As always, you want to look at your plants to see if there are signs of over watering or under watering.

In fact, the best approach here is to hand water your perennials and vegetables so that you know exactly how much water they are getting at any given time.

At times, it can seem silly to think so much about watering your trees. However, they do need it and you have a responsibility to take care of them.

If you are looking for a tree care professional in Southern Ontario, give Van Till Tree Care a call today at (705) 653-3777. We will help you to better understand your trees and how to handle any watering issues that you may find – of course, we can also help you at other times of the year as well.

Header photo courtesy of Katriona McCarthy on Flickr!

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