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How to Tell If You Are Over Watering a Tree

By Tallulah Philange
Over watering a tree can be as damaging as under watering it.
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While trees, especially young ones, need water to survive, over watering can quickly drown a tree, seriously harming and even killing it. Some signs of over watering, such as wilting, are the same as those of under watering, so it's important to monitor your trees for multiple signs that you're providing too much water. While you should follow nursery recommendations for watering for new trees, certain factors such as wet soil or damp weather call for adjusting your approach.

Inspect the circumference around the tree, at both the base and several feet out from the trunk. Any sign of mold, algae or mushrooms indicates the tree is over watered, as does standing water observed over several days.

Feel several leaves in your hand. If they are green, but brittle, the tree is over watered.

Look at the leaves overall. If they are wilted, this could be a sign of over watering. It is also a sign of under watering, so wilting alone cannot give you a definitive answer. Rely instead on the cumulative signs.

Find young leaves on the tree and assess their color. If they are light green or turning yellow, the tree is over watered. Look also for young shoot growth. If the shoots are wilted, you're over watering.

Feel the soil around the tree for several consecutive days. Stick your finger several inches into the ground, and sink a dowel or wooden handle of a tool down further. If the soil is constantly wet close to the surface over several days with no watering or rain, the tree is over watered. If the deep or shallow holes you create fill up with water, this is a sure sign of too much water.


Things You Will Need

  • Wooden dowel or tool handle


  • Before planting a tree, dig the hole for the tree and fill it with water. Wait for it to drain and fill it again. Time how long it takes to drain. If it drains quickly and almost immediately, you have dry soil that needs more regular watering. If it doesn't empty overnight, you have heavy soil that calls for less frequent watering.

About the Author


Tallulah Philange has worked as a journalist since 2003. Her work has appeared in the "Princeton (N.J.) Packet," "Destinations" magazine and in higher education publications. She also has edited and produced online content for those publications. Philange holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from American University and a Master of Arts in communication, culture and technology from Georgetown University.