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Posted on: October 1, 2021

A Reminder to Water Your Trees & Shrubs

Northbrook Reminders

Did you know that Northbrook is currently in a drought? During drought times, when we receive less than the average rainfall for that year, we urge you to water your trees and shrubs to help them survive. They are your most valuable landscape asset!

These landscape plants may not appear to suffer because they still look green, but as the subsoils dry out, their roots begin to shrivel and die; and ultimately the tree or shrub will go into survival mode. It may shed its leaves early and not be able to set winter buds. This lack of water will cause the tree to move into a decline spiral, ultimately causing early death or an onset disease, such as an insect infestation or decay.

Rule of thumb for watering your trees and shrubs: If we haven’t had an inch of rain in any week, water your trees at least once a week with 20 gallons or more of water. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much is 20 gallons of water?  
    20-gallons of water is a slow trickle from a hose for 15 to 20 minutes around the dripline of the tree.  The dripline is the area where the branches of the tree end.  This is the critical root zone.
  2. Will my sprinkler system take care of the needed water?  
    Your sprinkler system is often designed to water grass. So it will either over or under water your tree. During drought periods, the grass will use all of the water and the tree will get very little. That’s why your trees do need a soaking, even when you have a sprinkler system running for your lawn.
  3. Is there another way to water besides using a hose?
    Yes, there are gator bags, tree diapers and a regular hardware store bucket. Below are some descriptions of these tree watering devices.

    Gator Bag: A green bag that you can wrap around a small tree that allows you to fill it and slowly trickle the water to the base of the tree. For more information: treegator.com
    Tree Diaper:  A tree diaper is a ring that you can put at the base of the tree and cover with mulch. The ring will recharge from natural rain or snow. It only needs to be watered during a drought to recharge it using the 20 gallons of water rule of thumb. It provides continuous water as needed to the tree for up to three years. For more information: treediaper.com
    Water Buckets: You can use the old-fashioned bucket method. Get a 3 to 5-gallon bucket from the hardware store and just pour the water from the buckets around the base of the tree until it totals 20 gallons of water. Start at the trunk and work your way out to the dripline.

    A method designed by Northbrook resident Marnee Kenny: Purchase a few five-gallon buckets from a hardware store. Drill small holes near the bottom of two of them. When you fill them with water, the water trickles out slowly. Move them around the tree four times for a total of 40 gallons of water.

Monitor the Weather and Rain Reports

You will know when the drought has broken when you check in with your weather forecaster to hear that we are receiving regular rain. If it’s just a small amount, you may still need to water. The following websites will help you gauge when it’s safe to stop watering your trees and shrubs weekly:


For more information, feel free to contact Northbrook Public Works at 847/272-4711 and ask for Terry or Mark.

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