Why it’s so important to water young urban trees

16 June 2023 4 minute read

Newly planted trees need plenty of water in the Spring and Summer

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! 👇

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 every two weeks, trees planted in the last two years once every three weeks and trees planted in the last three years once a month. However, this year we’ve made the decision to water our trees planted in the last year once a week as that is when they need it most to establish.

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 and you can pour half of the 50 litres into the pipe and half around the base of the tree.
  • 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!


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.

How can I help?

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

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.

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.

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