September 20

Top 4 Signs You May be Underwatering or Overwatering Your Indianapolis Trees



When it comes to watering and feeding a tree, it is difficult to estimate when you are watering too much, when you are watering too little, and when you have watered just enough. It is a little bit like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, where you may just never get it right. Once you find out what the right amount is, you are able to regulate yourself. Still, the right amount of water your tree needs and when it needs that water may vary depending on the season, type of weather we are having, type of soil you have, and it can even change as the tree ages.

Looking for the right amount of water for your tree? We can’t really help you there without knowing your individual tree. Instead, we can help you know how to tell if you are overwatering or underwatering your tree:

4. Leaves Turning Brown

Brown leaves on a tree with poor water.
Credit: 20After4
  • Can be a sign of overwatering
  • Can be a sign of underwatering
  • Browning can occur anywhere on leaves

If the leaves turn brown and wilt, you could either be overwater or underwatering your trees, according to Teleflora. The most likely culprit is overwatering, however, which may seem strange. There are times when you are watering too much and the tree can get sick for some other reason, but pulling back on the amount of water that you give your trees can help.

Most often, gardeners and homeowners will try to water their trees even more, adding to the overall problem. The best solution is to check the soil to see if it’s wet. Put your finger into the soil a few inches, and then check to see if the soil is moist. You can’t look at it and tell, nor can you just put your finger on the top of the soil.

3. Stay in the Soil

Irrigation system for trees.
Credit: CIAT
  • Feel the soil regularly to know how it feels
  • Go about two inches deep
  • Invest in a water gauge

The soil around your trees is really the greatest indicator for whether or not you are overwatering or underwatering your trees. If you place your hand on the soil and it is wet, you do not need to water your tree for some time. Many gardeners will use this as their indicator – they don’t have a set schedule or time when they water, they go simply on touch. For some people, touching the soil on a regular basis isn’t necessarily what they want to do, so there is a solution.

Investing in a water gauge can tell you how wet the soil is with just a glance. These gauges usually say “dry,” “moist,” or “wet.” For trees, you want to ensure that you go for a water gauge that goes deep into the soil to really test, but you have to make sure that you don’t pierce the roots.

If the top of the soil is dry, you may want to go down a few layers and see what lurks beneath. Unless you have a shallow-root tree, the water should actually be concentrated on the lower levels of soil, according to Hunker.

2. You Drop Drip Irrigate Your Trees

Drop drip irrigation system in use.
Credit: Aqua Mechanical
  • Can cause overwatering or underwatering
  • Takes your attention off of the trees
  • Floods ground as well

Drip irrigation systems are almost always a bad idea for any yard, especially if you are going to use the drip irrigation as a way to monitor your watering for you. Many people will do this to save time or help them to remember to take care of their trees, but they are really putting themselves at a disservice.

Home Guides quotes Las Pilitas Nursery, saying, “Drip irrigation causes many root problems including overwatering, especially for native trees.” If you have native trees, you will have to take a little bit of extra time to pay attention the amount of water that your trees are getting. It doesn’t take long, but it will make you understand your trees all that much more and your trees will be healthier.

1. You Have a Young Tree

Young tree grows strong.
Credit: Sayed Manami
  • Most young trees are overwatered
  • Err on the side of underwatering
  • Pay attention to the type of tree

When you first get a new tree, you may want to shower it with love, affection, nutrition, and water. However, The Arbor Doctor reports that some 95% of people who plant new trees and take care of them by themselves, will actually overwater their tree. While most trees will still prosper, there is a chance that your tree will not make it through.

Ensure that you aren’t overwatering your new tree by taking note of how quickly the leaves perk up, what the bark looks like, and how quickly it establishes itself in the ground. Trees need drier soil so that they can get into the ground firmly and the roots get strong enough to hold the tree up in the ground.

At Menchhofer Tree Care, we can help you to ensure that your tree isn’t showing signs of overwater or underwater because of another problem. The same signs that point to either problem could point to infestations, diseases, and problems with the environment. You cannot be too careful with trees, especially those that are young and those that are extremely large – both pose different dangers to your yard.

We will come up with a watering schedule that allows you to get your tree enough water and at the exact right time. This helps your tree to thrive and stay beautiful, no matter what season we are in. Give us a call at (317) 661-4240 to get started today.

Header Photo Courtesy of Wellington Silva on Flickr!

Menchhofer Tree Care

About Steve Menchhofer

Steve Menchhofer has been caring for the trees of the Indianapolis, Indiana metro area for over 40 years. Steve and his team of experienced, certified arborists are members of the International Society of Arboriculture and the Indiana Arborist Association.

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