The easiest way to check the soil is to put a stick down the drainage pipe. If the soil is muddy at the end of the stick or if there is a water line on the stick 48 hours after the tree was previously watered, then that indicates that the soil is too wet. That is an indication that too many gallons were previously applied and the soil needs more time to drain before obtaining a playdoh like texture. Once the tree is ready to be watered again then the gallons should be decreased. If we aren’t sure of how many gallons were applied the previous watering then we will need to create a new baseline before we start to deviate from our watering guidelines (start with step 1).
Step 1: Soil samples will need to be collected every 24 hours until the soil has obtained a Play-Doh like texture (soft, moist, pliable and cool to the touch). If there is any standing watering in the hole, then it will need to be drained. The easiest way to drain the excess water is to use a hand pump and a simple one to use is from Siphon King. While the soil samples continue to be collected the tree(s) should not be watered.
Step 2: At the time of the next watering we need to decrease the next watering. Depending upon how many days it took for the soil to feel like Play-Doh we will need to cut the gallons back accordingly. There are many degrees of overwatering; for example, the soil could barely be wetter than Play-Doh and a small cutback of 5% to 10% may be required or we could see 1”, 2”, 3” or 4”+ of standing watering in the hole. If we see 4”+ of standing water in the hole then a cutback of 75% would be good starting point. If we had the choice between overwatering and underwatering we would rather have underwatering so don’t be afraid to make a substantial cut to the number of gallons that are applied as it is much easier to add gallons to the schedule than to constantly drain the water out of the holes and have the trees overwatered during that time. The most important thing here is to make sure that we know how many gallons are applied each watering.
Step 3: Collect another soil sample 48 hours after the tree is watered.
Step 4: If the soil sample is still too wet then steps 1-3 will need to be repeated until a Play-Doh like texture has been obtained 48 hours after each watering. Once the soil has a Play-Doh like texture (soft, moist, pliable and cool to the touch) then the correct number of gallons has been determined and this new watering schedule can be repeated in accordance with our watering frequency.