Trees, and tree care, are an essential part of Birmingham’s landscape and urban environment. They provide a range of benefits that help mitigate the impacts of climate change, such as air cooling, pollution reduction and storm-water interception.
For us to continue to benefit from these, we need to plant new trees to replace those that are reaching the end of their life, and more to increase those benefits.
Although mature trees are quite resilient, the young trees that are planted in the streets and green spaces need a helping hand, especially within the first few years During the early Spring and Summer months, and prolonged periods of dry weather, are when they need it the most. But how do you look after and water a young tree to keep it alive and nourished?
Newly planted trees need a lot of tree care. They need to be watered regularly over the summer months, for the first three years after planting, if they are going to establish well and thrive.
A tree’s requirement varies depending on several factors, such as species and location. A general rule is that they should receive at least 50 litres of water per week during May, June, July, and August. If you have a tree outside your house, or one that you pass on your daily walk, then you can help.
Here are our top watering tips:
Ideally water should be sustainably sourced. Rainwater is ideal, but bath water, or water which has been used for the washing up, is also suitable.
If the tree has a watering pipe, then half of the water should be poured down the pipe and the other half on the surface of the tree. If the tree has a watering bag, then fill that.
Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system. These methods deliver water slowly and evenly, which helps prevent runoff.
Check the soil moisture regularly. You can do this by sticking your finger into the soil a few inches. If the soil is dry to the touch, it’s time to water.Ian McDermott, Trustee, Trainer & Lecturer
Water deeply and infrequently. This will help the roots grow deep and strong, which will make the tree more drought-tolerant.
Watering should ideally be carried out in the early morning or evening. This will help prevent the water from evaporating quickly.
Try to water regularly during dry periods with as much as you can.
Water the soil, not the leaves. The leaves don’t need water as much as the roots do, and watering the leaves can actually spread disease.
Alongside watering tree care, there some other simple things you can do to help young trees:
Keep the area free from grass or other plant growth, weed by hand if you can, but do watch out for any sharp objects. Careless strimming can kill young trees.
If the tree has a protective cage around it, remove any litter and dispose of it responsibly.
If you can, add some mulch around the outside of the planting location, about 75mm deep, but don’t mound it up the trunk – think “doughnuts not volcanoes”. Mulch helps to retain moisture in the soil and suppress weeds.
Check for damaged or broken branches – if you are able to remove this with a clean-cut using secateurs, this will allow the tree to heal quicker.
If you find a tree that is dead or vandalised, then report it to:
Birmingham Tree Maintenance.
Other useful resources: