How to Keep Your Trees Hydrated in the Summer
Summertime generally means dealing with extreme heat and periods of drought that can cause issues for your trees. Portland trees are in constant danger in the summer because of this, and it is necessary to bear that in mind and follow proper steps to combat it. Not properly maintaining your trees to guard against the summer weather is a mistake that could result in those trees dying, so maintenance is a must. Knowing when and how to water your trees and how much water to give them is crucial to your trees’ survival and growth.
Take Advantage of Cooler Temperatures in the Morning
The ground and air are both cooler in the morning, which means less evaporation due to extreme warmth. This means watering your trees early in the morning is best because the maximum amount of water will make it through to the roots instead of evaporating. If you are unable to get your watering done early in the morning, waiting until the very end of the afternoon is best because it is still light enough to see properly but not as hot as in the middle of the day. The watering has to be done early enough for the leaves to dry before nightfall because otherwise, the trees could be susceptible to various fungi.
Administer the Proper Amount of Water
It is vital that the right amount of water is used when maintaining trees. Too much water can more or less drown the root of a tree while under-watering it can dehydrate it and kill it. Portland trees that are given too much or too little water are also far more likely to be vulnerable to attacks by bugs and other pests. It is a delicate balance between too much and not enough water for a tree, but a general rule of thumb in the summer is to water a tree roughly three times as long as you would water your lawn.
You should also make sure to water your trees every three days or so, with roughly five gallons of water being used each time. This is just a guideline, though, and your individual trees may need slightly more or less water. The way to determine exactly how much water is appropriate is to check the moisture of the soil below the surface. If the soil is dry, you may need to water slightly more frequently, and if it is soggy, then you may need to start watering a little less. Ideally, the soil will be slightly moist, not dry or soggy.
Use the Correct Equipment
Giving a tree too much or not enough water is a very easy mistake to make. One of the biggest culprits causing that to happen is using the wrong watering tools. Overhead sprinklers are easy to use, but a terrible method for watering trees since they lose so much water to evaporation. It is best to use methods that apply water slowly and don’t lose too much to evaporation.
A garden hose is the easiest and most effective way to water Portland trees because it gives you the most control and allows the water to soak into the roots of each tree. With a garden hose, you can closely regulate where the water goes as opposed to a sprinkler, where the water goes more or less everywhere and evaporates before most of it can percolate down into the soil. Unlike with a sprinkler, the hose can be placed anywhere and is firmly within your control
Soaker hoses can be an effective option as well since they operate at low pressure and at a uniform water volume. These hoses do not wet the leaves, instead, they go right to the root system. This is good because it results in very little evaporation while simultaneously limiting the possibility of being vulnerable to fungi. Drip irrigation systems are a good choice, too, since they are cheap, easy to use, and are perfect for outdoor use.
Newly Planted Trees vs. Established Trees
During summer weather new trees will likely require watering a minimum of the standard three times per week. Otherwise, they could be at risk of seeing their roots dry out. The roots are still growing and maturing during the first few months after a tree is planted, so the soil has to be kept moist to ensure this growth and maturation continues properly. It may take months or even a full season or two for the tree to become established, but until that point, it is crucial that extra moisture is cultivated so that the tree can continue its suitable development.
An established tree’s roots can sometimes reach deep into the soil, but most times those roots are located in the first foot of that soil. These established trees require a deep, soaking irrigation several feet below the drip line to ensure proper moisture. Preferably, the soil should be moistened to a level that is just short of the full first foot of the soil.
Mulch is Your Friend
Using mulch when watering your trees is smart and effective for tree development for several reasons.
(1) Mulch insulates the soil, which helps buffer it from the extremely hot temperatures you will be dealing with in the summer.
(2) Mulch is great for retaining water, which is important because it means the roots of the tree will be kept moist.
(3) Mulch helps to keep out weeds and prevent root competition.
(4) Mulch stops the process of soil compaction from taking place, which means the soil is more likely to stay moist and less likely to dry up.
While adding mulch can be very helpful, it is extremely important to prevent it from touching the trunk of the tree as this could lead to water being blocked from getting through to the roots. The correct way to mulch is to remove grass within several feet of the tree and add mulch to that area, but only at the base of the tree.