Overwatering VS Underwatering Trees

The sunny and cheerful weather has finally shown up. The garden is slowly waking up, and so are the tree buds. So it’s time to take out your garden gloves, tie up those boots, and walk around the yard to check the garden's overall health.  

As an owner, you always wonder if your trees or plants have survived the winter. 

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if a tree needs water because it doesn’t look nice or seems to have struggled through the winter. 

The most significant mistake people make at this time of the year is overwatering their trees because they are scared of losing them.

Before taking action, getting familiar with the consequences of underwatering or overwatering your trees is essential.

Someone watering a tree

How to check if your trees need more or less water

Researching beforehand is a great place to start when taking care of trees. When planting trees, it’s crucial to learn how to water trees when they are young. They need our absolute attention and love for the first few years of life.

You can use different methods to check if your trees need more or less water. 

Method 1

  • Use a long screwdriver and insert it into the soil beneath the tree. Your tree will need more water if it’s too hard to push on the ground.

Method 2

  • Below your tree, dig six to eight inches deep and feel the soil. The soil should be moist and cool.

  • If the soil is soaking wet, well, it’s been overwatered. 

  • If you roll the soil into a ball that crumbles in your hands, it will need more water.

What happens when you overwater trees

Many signs can help you identify if your trees are over-saturated with water. 

  • The water is sitting on the surface of the lawn. 
  • The green leaves are very fragile and may break easily.
  • The new growth on the tree weakens before growing, or it becomes yellow or green.
  • Leaves start to wilt. 

How to save an overwatered tree

Overwatered trees struggle to breathe. When the ground saturates with water, it blocks the tree roots from getting enough oxygen. Therefore can lead to root rot, fungi and long-term tree stress. 

If a tree is drowned in water, stop watering it for a couple of weeks. Let it dry out, and then do the screwdriver test mentioned above to check if it needs water. 

Remember to only water the tree where it needs it. 

If you have clay soil, add compost to the mix to help drain the water. 

If you can’t find the problem related to if you’re under or over-watering your tree, contact our team of professionals

What happens when you underwater trees

Many signs can help you identify if your trees are underwatered.

  • Wilted leaves are turning brown at the tips.
  • Early leaf drops or fall colours start appearing. 
  • Small canopy and undersized leaves, yellowing leaves or leaf scorch.

How to save an underwatered tree

A tree needs sufficient water to grow and produce energy by photosynthesis. 

We recommend watering the trees by hand with a hose to nourish them sufficiently. However, if you are busy with life and don’t have sufficient time, install an irrigation system like an automatic sprinkler system or drip hoses. 

But having an automatic sprinkler system or drip hoses isn’t always the best solution since the water isn’t directly going to the tree. 

As the weeks go by, check the soil’s condition to see if there’s any progress. 

tree buds growing

Don’t forget to always check your tree’s health at the beginning of the new season.

Underwatering is better than overwatering trees. 

If you have any problems with irrigation, check out how to fix poor garden drainage article. 


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