“We are in the dog days of summer and is there anything that I should be doing for my trees?” I hear this question all the time. My answer is always: be sure that you are watering properly. So many people tell me that they water everyday or every other day and are shocked when I tell them not to water more than twice a week. The key to proper watering is not how often you water but how deep the water is penetrating the soil. Typically a frequent watering is also very shallow. Tree roots are within the top 12 inches of the soil, so a proper watering should penetrate the soil deeper than just the top 1 inch. A watering of 15 minutes or less is generally just scratching the surface.
What I recommend to start is to measure how much is delivered when the system is running. Most people are shocked at the lack of water that is delivered in the time that they water. Ultimately, the goal should be 1 inch of water per week, taking into consideration rainfall (or lack thereof). The goal should be to water less frequently but more thoroughly. If you can run your system once a week and deliver one inch, that is GREAT! The likelihood of that happening is pretty small unless you have a yard that water does not run off of. If you live in a neighborhood where the lot was graded to run toward the street or the neighbor’s, the likelihood of watering once and getting one inch is pretty small. Watering twice a week and delivering a half an inch is better than watering three times a week delivering 1/3 of an inch, which is better than watering four times a week delivering 1/4 of an inch. I recommend that clients measure how much they water and do the math.
If you water for 15 minutes and you deliver 1/4 of an inch, then a simple calculation will tell you that it takes one hour to deliver 1 inch. If your yard can not absorb that amount of water in one sitting, then break it into two. If you have an automated controller that has a A/B program then split the time so that the B program comes on after the A program has completed. Do not assume that the controller was set up properly by the company that installed it. Chances are the controller was set at factory default settings, which is to turn on every other day for 5 minutes. Don’t be lulled into thinking that the system is working at its best without actually measuring how much it is actually delivering. Your trees will be happy that you took the time to make sure that they are getting what they need. When your trees are happy, they are a lot less vulnerable to pestilence and disease. When they are less vulnerable to pest and disease, they cost less to maintain. When they cost less to maintain, then you have more dispensable income to spend at The Arbor Gate…and that is always a good thing!