Basic Tree Care
Selecting the Right Tree
Interactive Tree Selector Program from the Texas Forest Service. texastreeplanting.tamu.edu
texasoakwilt.org – for information on how to identify and stop the spread of oak wilt.
Recommended reading from the National Arbor Day Foundation: pruning guide, tree care and planting, 9 things to know about trees – arborday.org/trees/index.cfm
Caring for Trees During a Hot, Dry Summer
If you think the last time you watered your trees was when you watered your lawn, that’s not necessarily true. Trees need a specific watering regimen. By watering your trees wisely, you can help them stay healthy while reducing wasted water.
- A tree planted within the past five years needs 5-10 gallons of water each week during the summer drought to survive and grow.
- The best way to water your tree is to lay an open-ended hose inside the berm, which is the circle of dirt or mulch around your tree. Use a slow trickle of water for an extended amount of time–several hours or even overnight. This will allow the tree roots a chance to fully absorb the water
- Mulch is a key ingredient for a happy tree. A thin layer of mulch around the tree can help it retain moisture longer and keep the water available to the root system. Berms should be about 4-6 inches deep. Be sure not to put mulch directly on the trunk of the tree. Done correctly, a berm should look like a doughnut around the tree trunk. For examples of how to mulch, see our Mulching 101 page.
- Avoid planting shrubs or flowers at the base of your tree. These other plants create intense competition for water.
- Another watering option is to buy a 5-gallon bucket and drill holes in the bottom of it on one side. Set the bucket in the berm and fill it with water. The bucket will drain slowly into the berm, and you won’t have to worry about forgetting a running hose or setting a timer. ‘Gator bags’ can also be purchased at a local hardware or gardening store which will produce the same result.
- Larger trees that are more than five years old, or even huge trees, still need water, though less often. Water these trees once every four weeks. Again, use an open-ended hose at a slow trickle, moving it around all sides of the tree. For large older trees, place the hose at the dripline (where the farthest limbs reach) rather than right next to the trunk.
- Trees will grow 30-60 percent faster if they are watered through the summer drought. Dry and brown grass can bounce back pretty easily after not getting water, but a dead tree doesn’t bounce back. So the next time you water your lawn, don’t forget that your trees need a drink, too. Watering trees according to the 5-day summer watering schedule will help them survive the hot and dry Texas summer.