Top 4 Signs You May be Underwatering or Overwatering Your Richmond Trees

Watering and feeding a tree seems like it should be easy and one of the most obvious things – after all, trees grow perfectly well in the wild without any human intervention, right? Well, that is true but they also don’t have some of the stressors that trees in our yards have. You have to be careful when taking care of your trees. Think of them like your dog – as long as you love them and keep up with their nutrients, and maybe add in some training now and then, they should be fine.

However, when you start doing too much to your trees, like overwatering them, it is like overfeeding your dog: same happy dog, but it just doesn’t perform quite as well. If you don’t give your tree enough treats, the same thing can happen.

You need to find the right balance of overwatering and underwatering your trees so that they can grow tall and strong. Not quite sure how to do that? Well, here are some tips so that you can find that sweet spot:

4. You Can Read Your Leaves

  • Can be a sign of overwatering: leaves tend to be wilted
  • Can be a sign of underwatering: leaves are a bit crispy
  • Browning can occur anywhere on leaves, but eventually, spreads.

If the leaves on your trees start turning brown and wilting, you could be overwatering your trees or underwatering them. You may be able to tell which one you are doing by simply feeling the leaves and the texture should give it away. Most often, we are overwatering our trees so that the brown leaves are wilted and not at all crunchy, according to Teleflora. If you are watering your trees too much, the tree will get sick because of some other reason, including the quality of the water.

If homeowners see that a tree is starting to turn brown, they automatically think that the tree needs more water, but that is rarely the case. The best solution is to check the soil to see how wet it is. If you put your finger into the soil a few inches and it is moist, your tree has enough water. If you don’t feel any moisture, you should consider giving it water.

3. That Moisture is Incredibly Important.

  • Use your finger to feel the soil regularly to know how it feels
  • Go about two inches deep for younger trees and a little deeper for older ones
  • Invest in a water gauge for more precise measurements

All of the soil around your trees will really be the best monitor you have for whether or not your trees are getting too much water or too little water. Once again, you have to place your hand on top of the soil first. If it is wet, you should not have to water your tree again for some time. If it is dry, stick your finger into the ground and feel. If you feel moisture, you still won’t have to water for some time. If you feel no water, you may want to water the tree.

If you aren’t a huge fan of sticking your finger into the soil, you can invest in a water gauge. A water gauge is an easy way to tell if your soil is “dry,” “wet,” or “moist/damp.” You want to be in that last group for most types of trees – though you will want to look up your tree’s specific needs.

When testing, be careful to ensure that you aren’t piercing the tree’s roots, which is common, according to Hunker. Remember that the water should almost always be concentrated lower in the soil. If it isn’t, you may want to do some digging to see what the blockage is.

2. Drop Drip Irrigation Is Not Always Best

  • Can easily be the main cause of overwatering or underwatering
  • You tend to pay less attention to the trees in this case
  • Floods ground as well, opening tree up for fungi

Home Guides quotes Las Pilitas Nursery, who specializes in trees, saying, “Drip irrigation causes many root problems including overwatering, especially for native trees.”

Drop drip irrigation systems are an easy way to ensure that your tree always gets water. However, it isn’t a great idea for your yard, especially if you have trees that tend to be overcome with water quickly. Sure, it can work for flowers and certain types of trees, but many people will use this as a babysitter of sorts for their trees. You have to remember to look over your tree for signs that your watering schedule isn’t what it needs to be.

If you do have native trees, you want to spend some time paying more attention to the amounts of water that you use. You can go back to drop drip irrigation after you know, but some hard work initially won’t hurt.

1. Young Trees Are the Hardest to Water

  • Most young trees are overwatered from the time they are planted
  • However, underwatering might be better
  • Pay attention to the type of tree and the climate

As soon as we get a new tree in our yards, we want to shower it with nutrition and water. However, that isn’t the best thing to do. Some 95% of people who get new trees won’t be able to take care of it by themselves without a few lessons from professionals, according to The Arbor Doctor. Most people won’t seek that professional help and end up overwatering their trees.

Thankfully, trees are sturdy and can withstand some initial overwatering. However, it is best to ensure that you aren’t overwatering by paying attention to the soil, the leaves, and the suggestions of professionals – whether that is from a tree care company or the nursery where you purchased the tree.

At Ridgeline Tree Service, our goal is to ensure that your trees are happy, healthy, and prosperous. We do this through routine maintenance, best practices for tree care, and other essential activities. We serve the Greater Richmond area with our professionalism, perfection, and experience. If you have any questions about tree care, watering your trees, or you feel that something is going wrong with your trees, give us a call today at (804) 378-2900 to schedule a meeting.

Header Photo Courtesy of pete beard on Flickr!


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