Why it’s so important to water young urban trees

3 August 2020 3 minute read

Watering trees at Ripple Greenway in East London

Want to know what it's like to be our resident tree waterers? We’ve asked Oscar and Tom from our Urban Forest team a few questions all about how they’re keeping our trees alive during the summer months - and how you can help out too!


Why do we water young trees? 

- Young trees need more water primarily because they often have root balls that are tightly packed - these help them to fit into small bags for easy handling and transportation. We then take these baby trees and put them into rather challenging urban environments - trees didn’t evolve to live in cities, and so it takes young trees a while to adjust to the habitat. It takes roughly two years for their roots to grow deep enough for the trees to be able to sustain themselves and the more water they have in this period the better.

What is Trees for Cities’ watering practice?

- It can vary depending on weather and other factors, but our current practice is to water 0-1 year old trees once every two weeks, 1-2 year old trees once every three weeks and 2-3 year old trees once a month. However, this year we’ve made the decision to water the 0-1 year old trees once a week as that is when they need it most to establish.

What's your best tree watering tips? 

- Water at night or early in the morning as this minimises evaporation and lets the roots take in the optimal amount of water. If possible, add some liquid fertiliser (such as liquid seaweed) to the water to help give a boost of nutrients. Ideally add mulch if there isn’t much around, as this helps retain moisture and minimises weed growth.

Check out our video above for more tips!

What do you like most about being our resident tree waterers?

- Seeing the successful sites where the trees have made a noticeable impact on the local area, for instance Jolly's Green or Ripple Greenway in East London. Also spending time in these areas and witnessing some of the local wildlife return to these environments.

Why should people get involved and become Tree Watering Champions in their local area? 

- To improve the aesthetic appeal of their street as well as all the other benefits that come with increased canopy cover: environmental improvement, noise reduction, shade on hot days, increased biodiversity and wildlife habitat, and it could even increase the value of your house and minimise crime!

So, if you have a tree outside your house, or one that you pass on your daily walk, we'd love your help as a Tree Watering Champion! As an added bonus, spending time with trees has been shown to have positive effects on your wellbeing.

Check out our map, made possible thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery, to see where our projects are located across the UK. If you volunteered at one of our planting days near you, why not go back and water them - they will thank you for it!

Have a look at our poster below with all the info you need on how to water a thirsty urban tree. Let us know where you'll be watering trees and send us a snap on Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #water4trees.

NB: Please follow the government’s guidelines on social distancing. More info here.  

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