Now that most of the trees sponsored during the first season of our project have been planted, it’s time to look at watering them to help them establish and give them the best start.
There are lots of differing opinions on when and how to water trees, and it can depend on who you ask and what role they have in the process of growing or managing trees. We’ve tried to make it simple and distill the advice so there’s no guesswork for you as the tree sponsor.
So if you’ve opted to water the street tree you’ve sponsored, but aren’t sure when to start or how to do it, read on – we’ve got you covered.
When should I start watering the tree?
The tree will need to be watered in soon after planting. Lots of councils arrange this themselves, but if it’s especially hot or dry, feel free to give the tree a drink – you won’t harm it by doing this.
The Arboricultural Association advises watering street trees between May and the start of September, but this will vary in different parts of the country, and also depends on the weather too, of course.
London, the South and areas of the Midlands in particular can experience hot and dry weather as early as April, so take a look at the tree itself: if it’s starting to bud, then it’s time to start watering!
A good rule of thumb is to water from Spring when there’s no longer a frost at night through to the Autumn, when rainfall becomes more frequent.
How much water does it need?
A young street tree needs 50 litres of water every week – even more if it’s a dry summer.
That’s the equivalent of 5 standard watering cans full. Or a wheelie bin full of water if you think about it all in one go.
What to use to water
- Watering can – this is ideal as it’s easy to carry, and you can use the rose attachment to mimic the effect of rain.
- Large plastic bottle – 1 or 2 litre-sized bottles are easy to come by, and not too heavy to carry. Also you’ll be reusing plastic that was intended as single use, which is never a bad thing.
- Bucket – most people will have one of these kicking about. It also means fewer trips to and from the tap than using a bottle.
- Other containers – large cartons, jugs, tubs and bowls will all hold water, just make sure they’re not too heavy to carry when full!
You can also use a hose if you have one – while they can be controversial, and are subject to restrictions when the mains water supply runs low, they are an efficient way to deliver a large volume of water directly to the tree and avoid spillage.
In hot or dry weather, there might be hosepipe bans, so check with your water company to see if your area is affected.
How to water the tree
Experts advise doing your tree watering in the early morning or evening, as the water won’t evaporate away in the heat of the sun.
If the tree has a watering tube…
If your tree is fitted with a watering tube, pour half the water down the tube, and the other half around the tree trunk.
Here’s Tom from our parent charity Trees for Cities demonstrating how to water a tree with a tube:
If there’s a watering bag…
Your tree might have a watering bag, in which case fill that with water.
The bag can hold around 50 litres, and will gradually allow the water to seep into the soil, where the tree roots will be able to absorb it.
Pour some water on the area around the base of the tree as well, just for good measure.
If the tree has no accessories…
Simply water the area around the trunk gradually. Whatever amount of water you are giving the tree needs to be able to soak away within 10 minutes, so there aren’t puddles left behind.
Take time to enjoy it!
However or whenever you’re watering your tree, it’s a great opportunity to take some time out of your busy routine and enjoy the outdoors.
Listen to the birds, smell the roses and have a chat to your neighbours while you’re out there – it’s proven that spending time around trees is great for our mental health!