City Calls on Residents to Water Trees
City Forester Todd Ernster stands by more than 100 saplings in May. His department was charged with planting hundreds total throughout the city this year. (City-Times photo)
Courtesy of the Stevens Point Forestry Dept.
Due to the lack of rain, trees in Stevens Point are showing signs of stress such as wilting and dropping leaves. Until we have a measurable or soaking rain, please water the street trees in front of your home, especially recently-planted trees.
Dry conditions also make trees more susceptible to disease or attacks from insects.
Besides being nice to sit under on a hot day, trees are seriously beneficial to a community. A shaded house doesn’t need as much air conditioning. Trees bolster property values – “mature trees” is one of Realtors’ favorite expressions. Trees are good for the air and water quality because they filter out harmful pollutants that otherwise would wash directly into our streams and rivers or be inhaled directly into our lungs.
The Stevens Point Forestry Department does water some City-owned street trees from time to time, but this is only a supplemental watering. Any watering adjacent property owners can provide is much needed and appreciated.
Soak the soil beneath the tree out to the outermost ends of the branches for an hour or so every week.
Trees that are less than three years old need at least 20 gallons of water (about an inch of rainfall) per week to survive. Dry conditions can quickly zap the life out of trees, especially those that are newly planted. You may not have to water smaller, younger trees as long, but during hot days, you may have to water more often.
For example, if you have a two-inch diameter street tree out in front of your home, the tree needs about twenty gallons of water every 5-7 days. This would only cost about four cents per watering.
How to Water Your Trees
• Water your trees in the evening after 9 p.m., or in the morning before 7 a.m., to prevent evaporation and water usage during peak times.
• For small trees, fill a 5-gallon bucket and slowly pour water around the base of your tree, or poke 2-4 small holes towards the bottom and on the sides of the bucket and let the water slowly drip out. Do this four times at least once a week. Tree-gators, which can hold 20 gallons of water and slowly let it seep into the ground, can be purchased at garden centers.
• Or, position your hose at the base of your tree and let it trickle for one hour to get the recommended twenty gallons at least once a week. During dry times like we are currently experiencing, watering twice a week is better.
• For larger, mature trees or trees with visible signs of stress such as loss of leaves or yellowing foliage, use a water-conserving drip hose around the drip lines of your trees, watering very gradually once a week for a 24-hour period.
Applying mulch around your tree is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your tree. Mulches are materials, such as wood chips and shredded bark, placed over the soil surface to help conserve moisture, improve soil conditions, and even protect the tree. A layer of mulch 3-4 inches deep, but not touching the trunk, should be applied as broadly as practical around the tree.
We need a measurable rain or a good, soaking rain before we can stop watering our trees. When rain comes too fast, it doesn’t soak into the soil and make its way into the tree. When conditions are this dry, it takes some time for water to penetrate.