Learn to plant and maintain strong, healthy trees that will thrive for generations.

Dry Weather Watering Tips

Even though many trees go dormant in the winter, roots absorb nutrients and water year round. Watering during a dry winter will keep your trees healthy and happy.

Follow the simple steps below and download our Tips for Drought Care for more information. 

  • Check if the tree is still alive

    Make a small scratch in the trunk of the tree with your fingernail. If it is green just under the bark, the tree is still alive.
  • Check the soil

    Use a small shovel or screw driver to probe the soil about 6 inches below the surface. If the soil feels dry and crumbly, water your tree deeply. If the soil feels sticky, allow it to dry for several days. Fun fact: moist soil will absorb more of the sun’s heat than dry soil and will radiate a small amount of heat during the night.
  • Soak soil by watering deeply

    For young trees, place a hose on trickle near the trunk of the tree. For trees older than 1 year, wrap a soaker hose underneath the drip line of the tree (the soil beneath the edge of the leaves). Allow the water to slowly drip into the soil for 1-2 hours. Allow the soil to dry, before watering again. Remember that lawn sprinklers leave water on the surface and do not provide adequate water to tree roots.
  • Watch the weather

    Check for rain in the forecast and adjust your watering accordingly. Remember to check the soil first. During freezing temperatures, water in late morning or early afternoon when the temperature warms and water can more easily soak into the soil. Avoid watering late at night or early in the morning when the ground is frozen.
  • Mulch

    Wood chip mulch will help the soil retain water, insulate tree roots, and provide nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. Make a fluffy "mulch doughnut" by placing mulch in a 4-foot diameter around your tree, 4 inches away from the trunk, and 6 inches thick.
You can be water wise and care for your trees at the same time! Learn more about how to care for young trees and mature trees during a drought.