Drought Protection Strategy

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Content - Residents - Enviro Sustainability - NFG - Urban Forest - Tree Watering

The Drought Protection Strategy provides the City with strategies to help the urban forest be drought tolerant.  These strategies reflect the best practices in maintenance and planting, the selection of suitable trees and tree watering alerts and are implemented during standard maintenance and during periods of recognized drought. The urban forest is a valuable asset and residents are encouraged to help protect this asset we share.

Residents can help keep Kingston's urban forest healthy by watering trees when the City issues Tree Watering Alerts during extended dry periods. 

The City has trained forestry staff who incorporate industry best practices to maintain, water and care for public trees along street boulevards as part of the City's Urban Forest Management Plan. Newly-planted trees receive priority care.  The City depends on regular rainfall to help keep the whole urban forest healthy.

Tree Watering Alerts

During a drought, the City's Tree Watering Alert will be activated to enlist the help of residents to ensure all our public trees are watered and kept healthy.

Tree Watering AlertA Tree Watering Alert is triggered when there has been "Insufficient rain to accommodate the suitable natural watering of trees over an extended period of time, generally less than 25 millimetres (1 inch) of rain over a period of two to three weeks, where existing ground water sources are believed to be lower than normal.

This page will show when a Tree Watering Alert is in effect.  The Tree Watering Alert means trees – both your own and any public trees beside your home or business – need to be watered once a week (see the Guidelines on this page) while the Alert is in effect.

How much water does a tree need?

Trees need about 2.5 cm (one inch) of water per week to stay healthy.  Trees – especially young or newly-planted trees ­– must have water to survive.  Lawns can go dormant during periods of drought and grow back after rain.  Trees do not go dormant. Trees need water to avoid long-term damage.

Using a hose or sprinkler to water a tree will cost less than $0.20 a week – but please try one of the water wise methods described below to conserve treated water.

Guidelines for water wise watering of trees

Trees, especially young ones, enjoy deep infrequent soakings.  Well-watered trees are more drought- resistant – but, conserving water is even more important during droughts.  Please consider these guidelines when watering trees:  

  1. Water trees according to the Water Restriction Bylaw.  Odd-numbered addresses water on odd-numbered days, evens on evens, from June 15 to September 15.  Use sprinklers only in the mornings between 5 and 10 a.m. on your scheduled day (hoses may be used anytime on your day).
  2. Water a circular area around the tree – ideally, extending from the trunk to its outermost branches. This waters the tree's full root system.  During a drought, concentrate on saturating the soil about 1.5 m around the tree.
  3. Water to a depth of 2.5 cm (one inch).  If you are using a sprinkler, you can check the depth with an empty tuna can: stop watering when the can is half-full.  Save water by:
  • Placing mulch around the tree, forming it in a dish to help retain moisture.
  • Watering in the early morning to reduce the loss of water to evaporation.
  • Using water from a rain barrel.  Put it in a bucket with holes drilled in the bottom and place it at the base of a tree. Or consider water bags available at some local retailers.

See Utilities Kingston's Water Conservation Garden page for tips on how to set up your garden to need less water.

Image - Residents - Enviro Sustainability - NFG - Urban Forest - Tree Watering

Father & Daughter watering a tree