Water is vital for the life and survival of all plants.

Water is also essential for the transportation of nutrients and sugars from the soil to the plants.  All plants will suffer from water shortage or drought at some point. This can be fatal in some cases or severely slow the growth of those plants. Plants suffering from a prolonged drought can be left susceptible to secondary infection by pests and pathogens.

Limitation of urban soils to retain water

In the urban setting, the soils are often found to have less structure and a greater density than soils found in a more naturalized setting.  This is a direct result of the urbanization of cities.  In newly developed areas or even the new builds in Toronto, the developers are taking away all the old nutrient-rich soils and replacing it with just a thin layer of top soil. These soils have few nutrients and are very low in the organic matter that all plants and trees need to thrive.  This also results in the reduction of pore space within the soil and ultimately reduces the plant’s availability to access water.

In Toronto, soils are often found surrounded by pavement and concrete. This raises the internal temperature of the soils, which inhibits the development of the microbiology and nutrients within the soil.  Paving around the trees and plants in the city does not allow the water needed to penetrate the root zone of those plants.

The development of hard-scape surfaces throughout the city ultimately promotes more evaporation rather than the retention of water into the soils. Compaction in the urban environment is another major issue for the development of plants and trees.  Compacted soils lead to a lot of run off and the water is unable to saturate the ground properly.  

Why does typical irrigation not work with trees?

Typical irrigation does not work for trees because it tends to focus solely on the first few inches of the soil, which is only good for grass and flowers.  This is also inefficient for trees because normal irrigation loses up to half of the water to evaporation.  This type of irrigation can also lead to soil compaction.

Trees need more deep watering, which you do not get from typical home irrigation. Deep watering promotes deep root growth of trees and shrubs and will help the tree be more drought-tolerant.

Depending on the season, young or newly planted trees should be kept moist at all times so the roots do not dry out. Mulch around the base of the tree will help retain some of that moisture.  

How can we collect water and target it into the soil at depth?

  • Aeration Tubes – Once installed properly within the tree root zone, the aeration tubes allow us to directly feed the roots and make sure the sure the tree is being watered properly; This is done by creating space throughout the root zone of the tree allowing water to enter the soil at depth. It is watering and feeding the trees root system directly.  The installation of aeration tubes will also alleviate any compaction around the base and drip line of the tree.
  • Soaker Hoses – are an efficient way to water trees, as they are porous and release water very slowly so you can get that deep root watering.  Encircle the tree with a spiral of soaker house and run it for an hour or more, or as long as it takes for water to penetrate 6 to 10 inches of the soil.
  • Dry Wells The idea behind the dry wells are to capture and hold the wasted storm water and reuse it at depths for watering the trees. The dry wells can be installed to capture eaves troughs downspouts and channel it to a storage tank underground in proximity to trees. Slowly the water will percolate out of the dry well and into the soil below grade where it benefits the trees root zone.