For any homeowner, taking proper care of trees is essential for securing a tree’s long-term health and maintaining the aesthetics of their yard. In addition to mulching and fertilizing, regularly watering the trees is also crucial. However, what happens when you are not home to water your trees or don’t have any alternative arrangements to take care of the watering requirements—how long can trees go without water in Oregon? The expert arborists at Mr. Tree are here to answer all your questions.
Oregon is a sunny state in the summer. In fact, summers in Portland are so dry that it’s impossible for anyone to overwater their trees. If you have newly planted trees, they need anywhere between 10 to 30 gallons weekly to survive dry conditions. With mature trees, they need less water, but it can get a bit tricky. Since the roots of such trees are extensively spread out, they usually need to be watered once or twice a month.
However, as watering is directly linked to heat levels, even mature trees may need regular watering if there are drought-like conditions. Parts of central, eastern, and southern Oregon experience moderate drought throughout the year due to fewer seasons of abundant rain, making it difficult for trees to survive without adequate watering. Even if it isn’t possible to monitor the weather conditions and water the trees regularly, ensure that you at least water deeply about once a week. Deep watering during hot days is much better than shallow watering often. Deep watering helps the roots grow deeper, and deeper roots are less likely to dry out than surface roots.
Bear in mind that during extreme conditions, watering weekly or more may be necessary depending on how the soil holds moisture. Look out for signs of heat stress, such as wilted leaves or yellowing around the edges that signal the need for deep and consistent watering.
Winters in Oregon, especially in Portland, tend to be soggy. During this season, as long as the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and there is snow cover, you don’t need to water your trees. However, if you notice cracking in the soil due to winter freezing that may expose the roots to cold, start watering the trees regularly.
It’s also important to water during the middle of the day so that it can fully soak into the soil prior to night-time freezing.
Early fall in Oregon is usually dry and warm. The soil may dry out faster than expected. So, ideally, the watering schedule for your trees should be the same as you’d follow during summer.
A lot of homeowners prefer planting new trees during fall once the weather cools down a little and the soil is moist. If you are planning to do that, remember that the trees will require weekly watering or even more frequent attention, depending on the condition of the soil.
Rain is constant during springtime in Oregon, leaving the soil fairly moist. Unless the soil is extremely dry, you can skip watering your trees. Dry soil would need weekly watering. Also, make sure to wash away remains of any de-icing materials you may have applied to the soil by deeply watering the trees once or twice every year. Washing away minerals and salts may require a larger quantity of water than what you may otherwise use.
Other Factors That Affect Watering Requirements
How long trees can go without water also depends on a variety of other factors. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Type of tree
The species of the tree plays a critical role in determining the watering requirements. For instance, pines and firs can survive with monthly watering during the summer months, but deciduous trees may still need watering twice a month.
Check where the trees are placed. Trees that are planted close to buildings, walls, or fences cannot be left without water for an extended period as such structures reflect heat. Similarly, trees located in a windy zone will also need more water than usual.
Soil composition has a significant role in watering needs. For example, as sandy soils drain quickly, trees planted in sandy soil need more frequent watering. On the other hand, clay-heavy soils can retain moisture for a longer period of time, resulting in less frequent watering needs.
A lot of people tend to think that setting up overhead irrigation is the best solution to make sure that trees receive adequate water. However, as convenient as overhead irrigation may sound, they also contribute to creating a disease-happy environment. Leaf spot diseases, mildew, fungus, and bacteria can all proliferate in a moist environment created by overhead irrigation and pose a threat to the health of your tree. If you are keen on exploring other options, go for soaker hoses, standard hoses, or irrigation systems, as these are much better water delivery systems.
Always opt for slow watering, as trees find it the easiest to absorb water when it is slowly provided to a depth of 12 inches. For best results, don’t distribute more than 10 gallons of water per inch in the tree’s diameter. Irrigation lines are an excellent choice to support slow watering.
If you are not sure how many days your trees can survive without water, don’t be overzealous and fall prey to overwatering. There is such a thing as too much water, which can damage the roots. You can use a soil probe to measure the moisture level and decide whether you can skip watering. Still have questions or doubts? Speak to an expert at Mr. Tree. We can determine exactly how much water your trees need and how many days they can go on without getting any water in a particular season.