Amazing Things You Didn’t Know About Trees

You probably already know that trees are a vital part of the survival of every living species on this planet. Without trees, none of us would be here. With the assistance of trees, we can reverse climate change, since they act as our natural filtration system for our planet. They are an important part in keeping our air clean and breathable. 

Trees also add natural beauty to our landscape. Humans have an instinctive draw towards trees that’s undeniable. The presence of trees has been known to make people feel calmer and happier, as research studies show. Trees also have several interesting characteristics. 

Here are some top fascinating facts about trees below:

Trees Never Die From Old Age

Trees will never die from old age like many other species on this planet. Trees often die from things like insect infestation, disease, weather related injury, or even from human causes. Some trees live to be thousands of years old. In fact, there is one tree in Colorado that is said to be more than 2,000 years old.

Trees “Talk” to Each Other

Did you know that trees have their own communication system? Trees use water, nutrients, and moss to communicate with each other. They can send each other warnings about drought or even insects. Here’s a great video where you can learn more about how trees communicate.

The Largest Tree is Right Here In the US

If you’ve ever driven through the Redwood forests in California, you probably noticed how insanely large and tall these trees are. The Giant Sequoia that lives in this forests are not only the largest tree, but they are also the tallest. It also claims stake to being the most gargantuan living being in the entire world. It’s as tall as a 33 story building and weighs almost 3 tons. 

Trees Can Defend Themselves

There are some trees that can produce chemicals that can fend off insects that might try to eat their leaves or fruit. They can also send off airborne warning signals to outlying trees, as we learned above. This allows other trees to get a head start to begin defending themselves.

You Can Use Trees to Guide You When Hiking

Trees can act as a navigation guide or a compass. In climates like Colorado, moss will grow on the northern side of a tree. Also, tree rings can also be used to tell what direction is north or south. The rings of a tree trunk are slightly thicker on the southern side if a tree grows in the northern hemisphere, because it receives more light.

Trees are the Oldest Living Organisms on our Planet

In Utah, a colony of Quaking Aspen, is believed to be the oldest living organism on Earth. The 105 acre colony is made of genetically identical trees, called stems, connected by a single 80,000 year old root system. 

The Earth Has Fewer Trees 

Agriculture has completely altered the how many trees there are now on our planet. We now have 46% less trees now than we did at the beginning of the agricultural revolution more than 12,000 years ago. Humans have deforested vast amounts of land to make room for crops. 

Why Trees are Important to Wildlife

Here at Urban Forestry, we’re big fans of critters! We actually take great pride in making sure that all critters are protected when we go to remove or trim trees as part of our service. 

We keep in mind that these are habitats and sanctuaries for animals including (but not limited to) birds, squirrels, snakes, opossums, bats and many other small organisms. These animals spend a lot of time sleeping, nesting, eating, and raising their young in trees. That’s why we try our best not to disturb these homes, just like you wouldn’t want anyone to come and tear down your house without warning. 

Living in trees would be challenging, if it weren’t that many of these animals are well adapted to thrive in tree tops. As you can imagine, living up in treetops comes with many challenges including moving from tree to tree, raising babies, storing food, and finding shelter during extreme weather conditions. 

Evolution has been generous to many of these tree-dwelling creatures and have adapted them to withstand these challenges. The anatomy of these animals are perfectly formed to help them survive and thrive in the tops of trees. 

Types of anatomy of animals to make them adapt at living in trees:

  • Powerful semi-retractive claws
  • Flexible ankle joints
  • Strong feet and curved claws
  • Sharp claws
  • Long tails for balance
Photo by Maddie Franz on

Why Dead or Dying Trees Are Important to Wildlife

Even dead and dying trees can provide sanctuary for animals and a safe haven for them to take care of their young. Dying trees as a result of disease, fire, lightning, or drought are still important to wildlife. Birds and other mammals use these dying trees for nests, storage areas, and areas for perching. The hollow trunks, cavities, and branches are all components of dying trees that help wildlife survive. 

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Also, if dead or decaying branches fall into a nearby water system, it can also provide habitat for underwater animals that are part of that ecosystem. The dead tree branch in a lake or stream might offer perching options for aquatic birds/turtles/frogs or sanctuary for fish to lay their precious eggs. 

Decaying logs also provide many types of animals and organisms support in the wild. Decaying logs will create moisture and nutrients which aid in new plant growth. This provides food for smaller soil dwelling organisms like earthworms and insects. 

Dead and decaying trees are so important to the ecosystem because most animals are not equipped to create their own holes or burrow into living trees. The trunks and branches are much too strong. They rely on existing holes to nest within and make a home. 

For learning more about Colorado’s wildlife, a great link is Colorado’s Department of Education which lists out all the animals that are important to the area’s ecosystem. Visit their site here!

Our Favorite Parks and Hiking Trails near Denver

Denver is a unique city almost smack dab in the middle of the U.S. that is surrounded by nature. In fact, in most areas in Denver you can peak outside and see the mountains off in the distance. It’s one of the most scenic and beautiful places to live and visit. 
Most people that choose to live in Denver come here for the vast opportunities to spend time outdoors throughout the year. 

If you’re into nature (especially getting in some forrest bathing) here are a list of some of our must-see parks to visit that have a vast array of native trees, outdoor activities, and rock formations!

Photo by JoEllen Moths on

Bear Creek Lake
Located 20 miles west of the Cherry Creek neighborhood, this park offers all kinds of activities for outdoorsy people who like archery, horse riding, fishing, camping, hiking or mountain biking. It’s centered around three lakes at the foothills of the mountains near Red Rocks. 

White Ranch Park
White Ranch Park is located 26 miles northwest of Denver. It’s one of the largest parks in the area with 20 miles of hiking trails that offer both rugged and gentle terrains that can accommodate any type of hiker. They also offer camping grounds that allow for tent-only and walk-in camping. The scenery is beautiful there with open meadow and buttes. You can also see the Denver skyline off in the distance or do some white water rafting. 

One of the areas biggest draws is the Flatirons, which are the striking reddish brown sandstone formations that are at the foothills of the mountains near Boulder. There are several trails located here that will take you from the ground all the way up to the tops of the Flatirons. The scenery is filled with rocks and native trees while you walk throughout the trail. They also offer awe-inspiring views of the Boulder area and beyond. If you’re into rock climbing, the Flatirons are a popular spot for novice and advanced climbers. 

Garden of the Gods
If you’re down for a little road trip, the Garden of the Gods is one of the most beautiful awe-provoking parks in the Colorado area. Situated near the base of the Rocky Mountains, these ancient rock formations are surrounded by flat meads to the east and seem to jut out of the ground by pure accident. They tower nearly 300’ feet into the air and offer dramatic views. These red jagged rocks are a stark contrast to the deep brown tree-covered mountains to the west. You can hike and climb these red rocks and view the scenery for miles westward. 

Flat Irons Vista
If hiking up mountains or hill is not your thing, then the Flat Irons Vista offers hiking that lets you admire wide open spaces. Located just south of Boulder, it provides views off in the distance of where you can see formations rise out of the flat land around you. You’ll wind through Ponderosa Pines and flat meadows. This is a wonderful hike for an afternoon walking meditation. 

There are so many options to explore in the Denver area to take in the vast and unique scenery that Colorado has to offer. What are your favorite hiking trails to see the various native trees and landscape? Send us a note. We’d love to hear from you!

How Much Does Tree Care Cost?

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Tree Trimming

Tree trimming costs can vary depending on several different reasons. Hiring a professional to trim your tree can range anywhere from $100 – $1,000+ with $300 being the average price for most straight forward services. The size of the tree is the biggest determining factor when it comes to the cost. Smaller trees cost on average $100 and larger trees can be in the higher price range of upwards of $1,000 or more due to the number of branches and labor involved. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the costs are for one tree only. If you have several trees on your property, this means the amount of labor involved could double or quadruple. 

Things to Keep in Mind

  • The size of your tree – The bigger the tree, the more costly it’s going to be. Larger trees have more branches that need trimming. That requires more labor and therefore more expenses. 
  • Where your tree is located. – If your tree is located in a difficult to reach part of your property or near a power-line, it’s going to take extra time and precautions to access your tree. This will also require more labor and additional costs. 
  • Number of trees.- If you need several trees on your property trimmed, it will require a significant amount of labor, which will impact the cost. 
  • The health of your trees. – If diseases and pests have destructed your tree, then it will require additional care to get them healthy again. You may need to pay more in costs to get them back to good health. 
  • Hauling away your branches. – There will often be an extra charge for the company to dispose of your branches and dead limbs. 

Removing a Tree

This is the most expensive tree service. The reason is that cutting down a tree is labor intensive and can be a difficult process. Tree service professionals need to remove the tree one section at a time. They also need to haul away the tree, which is often included in the quote they provide. 

Depending on the size of your tree, tree removal can cost on average $300 – $1,000+. 

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Hauling a way a dead tree from a difficult to reach area or even a rural area can increase the price
  • Some tree companies offer onsite services that will turn your branches into mulch or turn your dead tree into firewood. This often is an additional cost.

Stump Removal

It’s important to keep in mind that when you have your tree removed, the stump will remain unless requested as an additional cost. Stump removal requires grinding down the stump or digging it up. Price ranges for stump removal vary depending on the size of the stump, but on average the cost is anywhere from $65 – $350. Most tree professionals will include this in their quote. 

DIY Tree Care

While it’s best to always hire a professional for tree care, tree trimming can often be done by property owners themselves if you have smaller trees. 

Remember to always be safe when trimming your own trees. You’ll need gloves, safety glasses, work boots, and long sleeve shirts. 

Using an extendable tree trimming tool, you can cut down branches. Safety precautions are highly necessary when trimming branches. You need to cautious of falling limbs and branches. Oftentimes, branches can be heavier and larger than they look.

You can also find information about tree care and tree trimming in these blogs. 

Feel free to reach out to one of our professional tree trimming specialists for more information and to receive a quote!

Safely Felling a Tree

When hiring a certified arborist, remember that safety is always the first priority! Felling trees is risky business, and performing a tree limbing or removal job without respecting safety protocols can presents serious liabilities to you, your family, and your home. As outlined in our article, What Is An Arborist?, arborists are highly trained and receive their credentials from the International Society of Arboriculture. “Tree surgeons” as they are also referred to, are also required to keep their certifications up-to-date with the latest safety procedures and industry development.

While, the following article discusses expert practices for felling a tree, this is not an invitation to try this at home. This article is for educational purposes only, and will ultimately help you to stay informed when making the decision regarding who to hire for your tree service!

Survey The Area

First and foremost, a tree expert will want to survey the area for any obstacles of obstructions that are within a radius equal to the height of the tree. These obstructions may include other trees, power lines, people, and pets. In addition to estimating the felling zone, it is also common practice to plan out a 45 degree angle escape path that is opposite of the direction that the tree will fall.

The tree felling zone can often be estimated without using fancy trigonometry. By holding an ax handle at arm’s length and keeping one eye closed, you can align the tree’s top and bottom to be even with the top and bottom of the ax as you move towards and away from the tree. Once you have found this sweet spot, the tree top should land right around your feet. Of course, adding a couple meters or more helps you to provide a safety buffer!

A professional arborist will always be equipped with the right safety equipment to do the job. This will include a helmet to protect from falling debris, ear protection to protect from high decibel noises (the chainsaw, and the tree felling itself), safety glasses to prevent woods chips and dust from entering the eyes, and kevlar chaps which contain protective material that can stop a chainsaw instantly from seriously injuring the arborist!

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Felling Procedure

Before beginning to cut down the tree, an arborist will clear any loose debris or branches around the tree before starting the job. Now everything should be prepped to start the process! While there are various different methods to fell a tree, we are going to describe here one of the most common procedures. Keep in mind that best practice is to have a work assistant as a look-out person that has their eyes on the tree during the entire process.

Initially, the tree is marked where the cut will be made at a comfortable height using chalk, or my lightly scoring the tree with the chainsaw. First, with the tree to the left, a 70 degree cut is made on the side facing the direction that you want the tree to fall (known as the “fall side”), about a quarter deep into the diameter of the tree. (Note: Many chainsaws will have a sight on the equipment for this purpose). Next, a second horizontal cut is made to meet the bottom of the first cut, resulting in a triangular notch being cut from the tree trunk.

The third cut is referred to as the “felling cut”. This cut is made from the opposite side slightly above the previous horizontal cut. The cut is made about 1/4 to 1/2 into the diameter of the tree until the arborist is able to insert a wedge into the cut. Then with the wedge still inserted, the cut is finished while steal leaving about 10 percent as a hinge point. As the tree begins to fall, the tree specialist will immediately remove the chainsaw, engage the chain brake, and run in the direction of their escape path.

With the tree on the ground, the limbs can now be safely removed, and the tree trunk itself can be cut down into larger sections to be hauled off, or turned into mulch or firewood!

Contact Us Today To Get The Job Done Right!

Looking to have a tree felled on your property and don’t know who to contact? At Urban Forestry Tree Service, we connect you with a network of licensed and insured tree specialists, which helps you to take out all of the guess work. We pride ourselves on customer satisfaction, and putting safety first. Contact us today to schedule a free quote, and we’ll get back to you ASAP. We look forward to working with you!

Caring For Your Black Walnut Tree

The black walnut is a stately native of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, with a huge crown and dark, ridged bark. Its nuts have been used for their oil and protein by indigenous people for at least 4,000 years, and its timber – durable and chocolate-brown – has for centuries been over-exploited for veneers and furniture.

Two-thirds of the annual black walnut harvest in the United States comes from Missouri. Their flavor is more intense than that often common, cultivated “English” kind but their tough, deeply corrugated shells are hard work for a casual snack – possibly an adaptation to dissuade rodents from polishing off the next generation of trees.

Walnut trees protect themselves with juglone, a natural herbicide that discourages competing plants, and tannin, an inspect repellent. For humans though, these chemicals work as dye and fixer, handily delivered in one package. During the American Civil War, walnut husks were used to dye homespun uniforms a brownish-grey for Confederate soldiers and to make the ink they used to scratch out letters to loved ones back home.

During World War I, black walnut was specified for aircraft propellers because it could withstand huge forces without fragmenting. By World War II, walnut has been so depleted that the US government ran a campaign to encourage private individuals to donate trees to the war effort. Simultaneously, powdered walnut shells were combined with nitroglycerine to make a form of dynamite. With such associations, it is perhaps appropriate that black walnut wood has also long been popular for upmarket coffins.

Walnut Tree

Weed Control for the Black Walnut Tree

Weeds that grow in your yard effect black walnut trees in the same way as it does with other plants. Weeds will rob your trees of vital moisture. light, and nutrients that it needs to stay healthy and grow. There are several things you can do to help prevent weeds from impacting the health of your walnut trees:

  • Cultivation is the best weed control method. Cultivate a shallow area around your tree and take precautions to not dig too deep, so that you don’t damage the roots.
  • Mowing periodically removes the top layer of the weeds. This allows more sunlight to get to your tree.
  • Mulching with plastic, sawdust, bark, or wood chips can control weeds. Make sure and do this each year!
  • Several chemicals are effective in controlling weeds in black walnut, particularly one
    preemergent herbicide, simazine, and five postemergent herbicides: atrazine, amitrol, dalapon, glyphosate, and 2,4-D. These are tolerated well by black walnut, generally available, inexpensive, and safe when handled and applied properly.

Ground Cover for the Black Walnut Tree

The ideal ground cover for a black walnut plantation would be similar to that in a
dense mature forest. Unfortunately, when a plantation is established, regardless of the type of site preparation, the walnut seedlings will not be tall or dense enough to shade out the vegetation that competes against them.

In general, it’s important to keep in mind that grasses will reduce the growth of a black walnut tree, while legumes will promote it. Here’s a couple of key things to think about when it comes to ground cover:

Here’s a couple of key things to think about when it comes to ground cover:

  • The ground cover should not compete with your tree
  • The ground cover should help control or prevent weeds
  • The ground cover should improve the soil
  • The ground cover should either prevent or control pests
  • The ground cover should be easy to maintain


Walnut Council Org
Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori

A Closer Look: Quaking Aspen

Any comprehensive survey of the Colorado’s treescape would not be complete without a solid mention of the quaking aspen. In fact, the quaking aspen is so bountiful in Colorado that it covers an area that spans 5 million acres of land – that’s 20 percent of the forested area throughout the state! This deciduous tree can be found at elevations of ranging from 6,500 to 11,500 feet, particularly west of the front range throughout the West Slope. Ideal growing conditions include moist, well-drained soil with a more acidic pH that is more often found at such high altitudes. For this reason, you are not likely to to see many quaking aspen in Denver, as conditions are not ideal for them to thrive.

In honor of this majestic native species, we couldn’t help but dedicate an article to our readers profiling the quaking aspen, and luckily came across some fantastic detail in the book Around The World In 80 Trees. We highly recommend reading through the entirety of the book (which is also beautifully illustrated), but in the meantime, enjoy this passage on the quaking aspen…

Photo by Logan Fisher on

The most widespread North American tree species, the quaking aspen, thrives in the high country of the west, especially in Colorado and Utah, where it is the state tree. A stand of aspen makes the heart leap. Its leaves flicker and shimmer, vivid green on top and pale grey underneath, becoming first yellow and then brilliant gold in autumn, glorious against clear mountain skies. The leaf stalks, or petioles, are long and flattened like ribbons so that leaves bend and twist in the slightest air, rustling with the soothing sound of a rippling stream. Nobody knows for sure why aspen leaves have evolved to quiver. One theory is that the flexibility of the stalks helps aspens to avoid having their leaves stripped by mountain winds. The constant movement might also allow light to filter through dense woods to the aspens’ pale trunks, which – tinged green with chlorophyll – can also photosynthesize.

The aspen hates shade. It can’t reproduce beneath its own canopy, let alone compete with a blanket of pines, but after a fire it can quickly repopulate fire-cleared ground before other species. That is why there are often whole groves of aspens of exactly the same height, having all sprouted simultaneously. Out west, where dry spells make life hard for seeds, aspens abstain from sexual reproduction and instead generate new tree stems directly by suckering. What look like separate trees may actually be genetically identical tree trunks rising from a common root system, collectively known as clone. In fact, the heaviest known living organism on the planet may be a single stand of quaking aspens in Utah, affectionately called Pando (Latin for “I spread”), which contains 45,000 trees, covers more than 40 hectares (100 acres) and probably weighs 6,500 tons. The colony (but not any individual tree) may be 80,000 years old.

The risk of reproducing this way is that plants may lack the genetic diversity to overcome disease or to adapt quickly to a changing environment. However, distinct aspen populations are remarkably diverse and can also revert to sexual reproduction; as a result, the species are very successful. Counter-intuitively, one of the main threats to large groups of aspen is the presence of protected areas and visitor centers with campsites. This is not because of what campers might do to the trees, but because fire in such places is more likely to be controlled or extinguished, giving the edge to competing shade-tolerant conifers.

Caring For Your Trees In Winter

As we write this article, it is officially the eve of winter. So what better way to honor the change of season than to discuss proper maintenance for caring for your trees in sub-freezing conditions! Remember, as your trees are not protected from the elements in the cold harsh winter, they remain especially vulnerable. This especially applies to smaller trees that are lacking deep root systems. In this article we discuss different methods for protecting your trees, and ensuring their health and longevity long into the future.

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Insulate your Trees

Applying roughly 2 inches of mulch to the base of a tree acts like a layer of warm insulation. This ultimately protects tree roots from extreme temperatures, while also serving to retain water in the soil. Although it may seem counterintuitive, it is preferred to wait until the ground freezes to apply mulch beneath the tree, so that mice or other rodents don’t end up making a home within the mulch.

Planning for Denver Weather Extremes

It is essential to keep newly planted trees watered even throughout the fall until the time when the ground starts freezing. May sure to bookmark in your calendar that Denver’s average first freeze typically falls around October 7th. Since Colorado is a specially prone to dramatic swings and temperature, it is not uncommon to experience warm spells that causes the ground to thaw. In case this does happen, continue watering a newly planted trees during these periods.

It should go without saying that even in the winter months, the Colorado sun can be direct and piercing. For this reason we recommend spraying broadleaf evergreen trees with anti-desiccant, which covers the leaves in a wax-like coating, and helps prevent loss of moisture.

Similarly, these extreme temperatures can cause the tree trunks to thaw out during the day, and to freeze in the evening. Unfortunately, this can cause the bark to crack and rupture, resulting in a condition known as sunscald. To reiterate, it is newly planted trees that are especially vulnerable under these conditions. In order to protect these trees, you can either paint your tree trunks white, or wrap them carefully in tree wrap, starting as close to the base of the tree as possible. Remove the wrapping in the spring as soon as freezing temperatures come to an end (in Denver, this is typically around April or May).

We found a concise video on how to wrap trees for winter protection here:

Protection from the Elements

Snow can in fact build up and accumulate on tree branches. Ultimately this can weigh them down and cause them to break. First, you can try gently pushing the snow off of low-hanging branches, while being careful not to break them. If the snow seems to have frozen into ice, try taking a garden hose with warm water and melting the ice down.

Critters such as rabbits and voles love to chew away at the inner and outer bark of trees, and if are allowed to do this for long enough, may cause permanent damage (i.e your newly planted trees may not survive). Protect yourself against these rodents by wrapping your trees with plastic tree guard (in the same manner as you would with tree wrap). Once the spring comes around, rodents will have better things to do than to gnaw on the bark of your trees, and it will be safe to remove the plastic tree guard at this point.

The winter may also present you with ideal opportunities to prune your trees. In the absence of foliage, it becomes much easier to spot areas where are your trees require pruning attention. Furthermore, given that many disease-causing organisms lay dormant in the winter, pruning your trees where appropriate may help to prevent the spread of disease. To learn more about pruning, see our article on Simple Pruning Techniques

Recycling Your Christmas Tree in Denver

That bittersweet time arrives every year, where we’re done decking the halls and roasting chestnuts over an open fire. That’s right – Christmas must inevitably come to an end as we turn a corner towards the new year. And along with this season of change, as we start packing up decorations and lights from the home, we must make the decision about how to dispose of our live Christmas tree (for you fake tree folks, this article does not apply!). But just because your tree will no longer be the centerpiece in your living room, doesn’t mean that the spirit of the tree can’t live on…

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Christmas Kindling

Thankfully there are ways to extend the life of your evergreen that will extend well beyond the holidays….

To start with, one option is to chop up your tree into firewood for an outdoor fire-pit. (Just remember that kindling from Christmas tree is not safe for indoor fires, as it can produce a chemical known as creosote which can build up and cause the fire to send out extremely hot sparks). What better way to prolong the holiday spirit than to warm yourself by an outdoor fire with a cup of hot cocoa and friends and family by your side!

Compost Your Tree

Another option is to use your tree trimmings as compost throughout your landscape. Using a thin layer of branches from your evergreens provides a solid base layer, allowing air to flow from the bottom of the compost pile. For this technique, you’ll simply stack the tree trimmings in a bin roughly 5-6 inches high, and then start adding your kitchen waste and other compostable items.

In a similar fashion, you can also repurpose some of the trimmings and lay them beneath your perennial plants to serve as protection from frost and temperature swings (which are notorious in Colorado!).

Recycle Your Tree

Before you go leaving your tree out by the curbside for disposal, did you know that many cities offer tree recycling programs? In fact, right here in Denver the city runs a program by Denver Recycles called Treecycle, where the city will turn your Christmas tree into mulch – for free! In turn, that mulch is made available to Denver residents at the Mulch Giveaway and Compost Sale in May.

Last year, the city collected 21,500 trees – holy recycling Santa! This coming 2020, the program will be running between January 6 -17, and you can read more details HERE. And not to worry, if you miss the aforementioned window to curbside your tree, there are also Treecycle drop off locations on 7354 E. Cherry Creek Drive South and 10450 Smith Rd. that will be open until January 31st. That gives you a full month and then some after Christmas to recycle your tree!

And if you’re reading this article from another city, make sure to do a Google search to see if your nearby city offers a similar program. Otherwise, you can use one of the options above to repurpose your tree. If none of these options apply to you, many Christmas tree shops will accept returned trees after the holidays, in most cases to use for their own mulching or recycling purposes. Make sure to contact the tree farm where you purchased your tree in advance to see if this is something that they offer.

Best Practices for Watering Trees and Shrubs

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Proper watering practices should not be dismissed when considering the health of your trees and shrubs. After all, water is the elixir of life! Here we explore the best means by which to water and soak your trees, while also considering methods for determining just how long you should water them for. So next time you start watering, consider these tips and tricks from The Homeowner’s Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook to keep your trees healthy and properly hydrated!…

Adequate water helps newly planted trees and shrubs recover from transplant shock so their roots can establish in the soil, a process that may take up to three years. If a tree is large at planting time, it will take longer to become established than a small tree does. Unless you plant drought-tolerant varieties, it’s especially important to water established plants in stressful times to help them maintain their vigor. Keeping them hydrated and healthy reduces the chances of stress-related pests and diseases.

Transplants need water on a regular basis when the top couple of inches of soil feel dry but before the deeper planting soil completely dries out. Water trees deeply at least once or twice a week with an irrigation bag (such as a TreeGator, a low-cost plastic bag that dispenses water automatically out of holes in the bottom) or a soaker hose, or leave a dribbling garden hose at the base of the plant. Continue watering long and deeply throughout the growing season and repeat the following year until the plant is well established and growing at a relatively constant rate. Establishing a newly planted tree depends upon both climate and planting conditions.

Soak It to Them!

A soaker hose is the most economical and efficient method for delivering moisture to transplanted trees and shrubs. Water seeps through tiny pores along the hose, penetrating the soil around the roots where the plant needs it most. Soaker hoses reduce the likelihood of transmitting disease by water splashing from one plant to another. Moreover, you can hide a soaker hose under a thin layer of mulch or topsoil, although clogs are less likely above ground.

A well-made hose resits cracking, clogging, decay, and frost damage, though you may want to check for clogs if you move the hose frequently. A high-quality, 60-foot black soaker hose with a 5/8 inch diameter sells for as little as $13. If your plant is at a distance from the source of water, attach a garden hose to your faucet and a soaker hose as the end of the garden hose. For large areas, you can attach a second soaker hose to the first, but make sure that water reaches the end of the second line. Fitting a Y-joint to your faucet lets you install a second hose to the water’s source.

Consider installing an irrigation system in order to automate sprinklers and soaker hoses. This way, you will know when you can deep-water a particular bed on a hot, droughty day in five minutes. For example, a second franklinia planted 10 feet from the first in a mixed border and never irrigated will survive as a small multi-stemmed shrub.

How Long to Water? It Depends…

The duration of watering also varies with root depth and composition. A tree planted in porous sandy soil may need more frequent watering than the same tree planted in slow-draining heavy clay where water pools on the soil surface. Gauge how much water your plants need by digging a small hole with a narrow trowel in the watering zone and checking after 15 minutes to see if water has reached the deeper roots. Note that most tree roots occur in the top 12 inches of soil. Check every few minutes to see if you need to keep watering for full saturation. Determine how long it takes for moisture to reach the entire root zone, then water your garden for that amount of time or set your automatic timer to run for the duration. Depending upon your region and the weather, you may want to water established trees as much as twice a week or as little as once every two weeks. Once established, trees planted in a moist open environment probably don’t need watering except during dry spells.

Water Efficiency

Planting the right plant in the right place is the first step to water efficiency. If you group plants requiring little water in one area and plants that needs lots of water in another space, then wasting this precious natural resource is less likely. Once trees and shrubs are established, they usually survive without extra moisture.