How do St. Louisans water their landscape trees and shrubs? With our heavy clay soils and poor drainage, many plants suffer from drowning during the Winter and Spring months; when summer approaches the soil dries out, cracking open and causing drought situations. We have been planting trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals in the St. Louis area for 40 years and the problems of over watering and under watering far exceed other problems such as insects or disease. Many of these watering problems increase insects and diseases problems because the tree is put under stress. Please remember that most irrigation systems are installed for lawn care and it is virtually impossible to water trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, and grass all with the same irrigation system. It is also impossible to water established trees and new trees with the same irrigation system. New trees require target watering directly in the root ball because the root system is not grown out into the existing soil. Each year we see new plants dying from drought even though there is a sprinkler system working in the yard. To be successful and establish your new landscape some auxiliary watering will need to be done. Sprinkler systems will certainly help during the hot dry parts of the year but other methods should be done as well.
MFS recommends the round soaker hoses that ooze water all along the length of the hose. These can be placed over the root ball of individual trees or along rows of trees. The water soaks directly into the root zone without much waste. Tree gators are also an option; these are the green plastic bags that you see wrapped around the trunks of trees. They can be filled with water which slowly leaks out into the root ball. Also, I recommend purchasing a soil probe that will allow you to take a soil sample at least eight to ten inches down in the soil. This will tell you exactly what is going on in the root zone of your trees and shrubs. Please call us if you need advice on how to water a tree.