Why it’s so important to water young urban trees

16 June 2023 3 minute read

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Newly planted trees need plenty of water in the warmer months

Our tree planting season takes place during the winter so the trees will have time to establish before summer kicks in. But that doesn't mean there isn't plenty for us to do for our trees during the summer!

During the summer months, our Urban Forest team will be travelling around to make sure our trees survive the heat and get a good water. Learn how Trees for Cities is looking after newly planted trees - and how you can help out too! 👇

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Between April - October, we're out watering all of the young trees previously planted by us

Why do we water newly planted trees?

Newly planted 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 young 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 trees that were planted by Trees for Cities in the last year once a week, trees planted in the last two years once every three weeks and trees planted in the last three years once a month.

We start our watering programme after our planting season ends so it's likely you might spot us out and about watering between May - September. Come say hi if you see us!

What's your best tree watering tips?

  • Aim to use 50 litres of water and pour it around the base of the tree. Street trees often have plastic pipes or watering bags. With plastic pipes, pour most of the water down the pipe and a bit around the base of the tree. With a watering bag, locate the small slit opening (sometimes concealed behind a label) and fill the bag up with water.
  • Water at night or early in the morning as this minimises evaporation and lets the roots take in the optimal amount of water.
  • 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!


Our Urban Forest team also carry out vital maintenance on our trees when they check in on them.

We will remove any weeds as they compete with the tree for nutrients and water, and we will reapply mulch if needed to the base of the tree to keep the water from evaporating from the soil in the summer. Mulch can also help deter weeds from popping back up too.

We will also check in on the tree guards and straps and inspect for any signs of damage to make sure they remain secure and can support the tree.

Become a Watering Champion

Newly planted trees need about 50 litres of water a week but can do with more during periods of dry, hot weather. Whilst we check in and look after our newly planted trees, we could always do with some helping hands!

Our national street tree sponsorship scheme Trees for Streets has launched Watering Champions - a way for residents to support newly planted street trees by supplementing council watering.

Find out if your council is running the Watering Champions scheme.

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