Residents should water their trees, city forester says

Above, city crews water trees on Second St. (Contributed)

By Patrick Lynn

Residents are being asked to water trees on and around their properties.

Trees around the City of Stevens Point are showing signs of stress, according to City Forester Todd Ernster, due in large part to prolonged heat and dry weather.

“The dry conditions make trees more susceptible to disease or attacks from insects,” Ernster said on Tuesday. “We need measurable rain or a soaking rain. When the rain comes so fast, it’s not actually soaking in. When you’re this dry, it takes some time for water to penetrate.”

Ernster’s department does water some city-owned plantings from time to time, he said, but added that was “only supplemental” watering and any watering adjacent property owners provide is “much needed and appreciated”.

Applying mulch around trees is also beneficial, as mulches three-to-four inches deep help conserve moisture, improve soil conditions, and even protect the tree, Ernster said.

The dept. recommends soaking the soil beneath the tree to the outermost ends of its branches for about an hour every week. Homeowners with a two-inch diameter street tree would need about 20 gallons of water every five-to-seven days, which would cost about four cents per watering.

Trees less than three years old need at least 20 gallons of water per week to survive.

“Dry conditions can quickly zap the life out of trees, especially those that are newly planted,” he said.

How to water your trees

  • Water your trees in the evening after 9 p.m., or in the morning before 7 a.m. to prevent evaporation and water usage during peak times.
  • For small trees, at least once a week fill a 5-gallon bucket four times and slowly pour water around the base of your tree, or poke 2-4 small holes towards the bottom on the sides and let the water slowly drip out. Tree-gators, which can hold 20 gallons of water and slowly let is seep into the ground can be purchased at garden centers. Or, position your hose at the base of your tree set on trickle for one hour to get the recommended twenty gallons, at least once a week. During dry times like we are currently experiencing watering twice a week is better.
  • For larger, mature trees or trees with visible signs of stress—loss of leaves or yellowing foliage — use a water-conserving drip hose around the drip lines of your trees, watering very gradually once a week for a 24-hour period.

Ernster said trees offer many benefits to homeowners. A shaded house doesn’t need as much air conditioning, he said, and trees bolster property values.

For ore more information contact the City Forestry Department at (715) 346-1532.