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Don’t Forget, Your Trees Need Water as Badly as Your Flowers and Plants

Summer in Northern Michigan has started very hot and very dry. If you planted new trees this spring or last fall, don’t forget to keep them watered.

The DNR says dry weather can weaken healthy trees and make them more vulnerable to disease, insects and limb breakage. New trees still setting their roots especially need water.

Here’s the best practice for watering your trees:


Prioritize newly-planted or high-value trees. Water new trees weekly and established trees every two to three weeks. You’ll want to make sure the soil is soaked about 10 to 12 inches deep. The trick is to keep your trees healthy, but avoid overwatering them.

If you’re using a sprinkler: Place an empty container or rain gauge nearby. One inch of water should equal about 10 to 12 inches in the ground.

If you’re using a hose: Run water slowly until the ground is saturated. Focus on the whole dripline of the tree (the area around the tree where the limbs extend), not just the base of the trunk.

If you’re using a bucket: Most new trees need 5 to 10 gallons of water each week per inch of trunk diameter (width across the trunk, not how wide around it is).


Don’t water in the middle of the day. Most of it will be lost to evaporation.

Don’t use a mist sprinkler. Again, most of the water will evaporate.

Don’t use fertilizer. Fertilizer salts can injure roots when the soil is dry.

Do use mulch. Organic mulch will help retain soil moisture and save water. Use 3 to 4 inches spread around the tree trunk, not touching it (think a donut shape).

If you haven’t planted your trees yet, the DNR says it’s probably best to wait until fall to avoid the current dry conditions.

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