The Difference Between Overwatered and Underwatered Trees

Trees can’t talk so to speak and tell us when they’ve had too much to drink–or when they’re dying of thirst. Trees give off subtle clues that are easy to spot if you know what to look for. Take a look at the signs of over and under watering to see if your trees are experiencing either condition.

SIGNS OF UNDERWATERING TREES

  • Wilted or curling leaves that may turn brown at the tips or edge .
  • A sparse canopy of off-color and undersized leaves, leaf scorch or yellowing leaves.
  • Untimely fall color and early leaf drop.

SIGNS OF AN OVERWATERED TREE

  • The area around the tree is constantly wet.
  • New growth withers before it’s fully grown or becomes light green or yellow.
  • Leaves appear green but are fragile and break easily.

IS YOUR TREE GETTING TOO MUCH WATER OR NOT ENOUGH?

In both cases, the trees can look very similar. Luckily, there are two ways you can determine if your tree needs more or less water.

  1. The quick and simple test is accomplished by sticking a long screwdriver into the soil below your tree. If that’s hard to do, your tree needs more water.
  2. The more precise-as-can-be test involves digging 6-8 inches deep beloe your trees and grabbing a handful of soil. Your soil should be cool and moist. If it’s sopping wet, you’re overwatering. If your soil isn’t drenched or sandy, roll into a ball. If it crumbles, your tree needs more water. Poke the soil ball a few times. If it doesn’t budge, you probably have clay soil.

HOW TO SALVAGE AN OVERWATERED TREE

  1. If your tree has too much water, it’s struggling to breathe. That excess water controls areas that were previously held air pockets. Thus, causing your tree roots to get too much water and not enough oxygen. That’s a double whammy that could lead to root rot, fungi or long-term tree stress.
  2. Stop watering, don’t water your tree for a week or two. Prior to watering again, do the screwdriver test mentioned above. Only water your tree when it needs it.

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