Watering trees and shrubs

Urban trees and shrubs are under stress in city environments, making them more vulnerable to pests or diseases. In the summer, you can help trees and shrubs get the water they need.

Use the Ontario Tree Atlas to choose a tree for your property

How to water trees

Soak the soil under and around the tree; about 30 to 60 centimetres (one to two feet) beyond the edges of the branches. Water slowly to let the water soak down to a depth of 30 cm (12 inches).

  • Once a week, use a garden hose or a soaker hose until the soil is saturated
  • Drill small holes in the bottom of one or more 20-litre (five-gallon) buckets. Set the buckets next to the tree and fill them with water once a week.

Watering for short periods of time encourages shallow rooting which can lead to more drought damage.

Don’t dig holes around the tree to water deeply. This dries out roots even more. You can use a soil needle/deep root feeder attached to a hose if the soil is not too hard or compacted.

Do not fertilize a tree under drought stress. Fertilizer can burn roots, or stimulate top growth resulting in too much leaf area for the root system to support.

Planting a new tree

Soak the hole and surrounding soil before you plant the tree, then water consistently to help the tree become established.

Keep watering until the first frost and give the tree one final soak in late fall.

Mature trees

Even mature trees need to be watered in the summer months, especially if they’re planted near sidewalks, patios, or raised lawns where water drains away from their roots.