Over the years, we have heard of a lot of different tree care fads – from rubbing essential oils on your tree (can be effective) to talking to your trees (probably not great for them, but good for you). So, how can you tell when one fad is effective and one isn’t?

Have you heard about the hottest tree care fad, deep watering? It is a query that pops up more and more as we get toward the summer months. This isn’t really a unique concept, but it has popped up on online resources like Facebook and Pinterest, so a lot of people want to know more about it. Deep watering, or deep root watering, gives your tree the kind of watering that it certainly needs, even more so 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 withered and are displaying signs that they may possibly need some support, but you can’t necessarily read them. By the time you can look at them, it is typically too late and you have to do something more than just water them.

Still, there are a number of things you need to realize about deep watering before you do it.

4. How Deep The Water Actually Goes

irrigation system
Credit: Ian Sane
  • The roots receive the water, not the leaves
  • 12″ to 18″ deep, depending on the plant
  • Some gardens might not really need it that deep, some require deeper

When you water your plants consistently, you likely allow your hose to spray some water onto the leaves of your plants and the soil all around the plants. Having said that, most plants don’t have leaves or stems that can consume the water. Instead, it has to make its way into the soil and ultimately get to the root system.

The problem is that, when it is sweltering outside, the water vanishes 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 reality is that they aren’t watering them carefully. Deep watering goes deeper into the dirt so that the roots get the water.

3. Use a Soaker For More Convenient Watering

old fashioned irrigation in green grass
Credit: USDA
  • Good for people who aren’t home all the time
  • Can be DIY ‘d by a number of people
  • Do not over water with this technique

Don’t like to be out in the scorching sunlight all the time? You aren’t by yourself, and that is why there are so many possibilities for ways to water your gardens and lawn that don’t mandate you to remain 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 addition to your basic garden hose. This add-on has perforations every so often, holes that are much smaller than a hose entrance, but still substantial enough to let out water. Once you install this onto your hose, you can then situate it throughout your flower gardens and set up it where you need it to be. This works really well, but, according to the DIY Network, you can make your own so you get a definite direction of where the water goes.

These still use a bit of water, but they are deemed to be better than the conventional sprinkler systems because they put the water exactly where it needs to be, not up into the atmosphere before anything else.

This type of system is great 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 Bushes Should Be Watered Deeply

watering system
Credit: Ian Sane
  • 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 essential to deep water your trees and bushes. These are some of the most defenseless parts of your yard and they also tend to be the worst 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 extremely susceptible.

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

1. It Isn’t Necessary for All Plants

Watering system
Credit: Kevin Dooley
  • Deep watering won’t work for plants with shallower roots
  • Most won’t be damaged by it either
  • Helpful for annuals and bigger plants

One normal misstep that people make is that they assume that deep watering will work for all of the plants in their yard– this isn’t legitimate. In fact, perennials and vegetables don’t need deep watering because they do not have roots that go too deep into the earth, according to Gardeners. Instead, their root systems are closer to the top. You will want to spend maybe a couple 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 marks of over watering or under watering.

In fact, the best technique 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.

Tree care is difficult, and it isn’t something that you want to do all by yourself. For daily maintenance and watering possibilities, you can take a lot of it into your own hands. Still, for bigger or harder jobs like bringing down branches, treating diseases, or pruning your trees, you want to contact a professional.

At Portland Tree Service, we can help you with all of your tree care needs – and we will bring our own tools. For more information about our services, give us a call today at (503) 941-0922.

Header photo courtesy of Sheila Sund on Flickr!