Ah, apple trees. There's nothing quite like walking through Swans Trail Farms’ orchard, picking a juicy apple right off the tree, and taking that first crisp bite. Our U-pick apples are water the correct amount every season. But as delicious as apples are, they can be tricky to grow, especially when it comes to watering. Too much water can lead to shallow roots, disease, and even death, while too little water can result in small, dry apples. So how do you strike the right balance? Here are a few tips on how to tell when it's time to water your apple trees, and how much water they really need.

Get to Know Your Soil

The first step in deciding when to water your apple trees is understanding the soil they're growing in. Different soils hold different amounts of water, and if you're lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, you're more likely to have clay soil, which can hold onto water for longer periods of time. Sandy soil, on the other hand, drains quickly and may require more frequent watering. Test the soil by sticking a finger about two inches deep into the ground. If it feels dry, it's time to water.

Watch the Leaves

If your apple tree is thirsty, the leaves will start to droop and curl, and the edges may turn brown. Don't wait for the whole tree to show signs of stress before you water. Once you see a few leaves wilting, it's time to give your tree a good drink.

Check the Weather

Of course, you don't want to water your apple trees if it's about to rain. Check the weather forecast and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. On hot, sunny days, your trees may need water twice a day, while cooler, cloudier days may require less.

Water Deeply and Slowly

When you do water your trees, make sure to water deeply and slowly. Don't just sprinkle the leaves with a hose; instead, use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to water the roots directly. Water slowly to allow it to soak in and reach the roots, rather than running off and evaporating on the surface.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

One of the best things you can do to conserve water and keep your apple trees healthy is to mulch around the base of the tree. Mulch helps to retain moisture in the soil, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Choose an organic mulch like wood chips, straw, or compost, and spread it around the tree about two to three inches deep.


Growing apple trees can be challenging, but with a little bit of knowledge and care, you can be well on your way to fruitful harvests for years to come. By getting to know your soil, watching your tree's leaves, checking the weather forecast, watering deeply and slowly, and mulching around the base of the tree, you can keep your apple trees healthy and hydrated without drowning them in excess water. Happy gardening, and enjoy those delicious apples!