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Distance to water table

hole with water
A large tree spade was used to dig this hole, revealing a shallow water table.

Dig several holes with a shovel or 4-inch auger or backhoe two to three feet deep and wait two to four hours. Any tree can be planted if no water appears in the hole. If water appears in the hole, select trees that tolerate wet sites.

Measure the distance between the soil surface and the top of the water. If this distance is less than 18 inches, only small or medium-sized wet site trees are recommended.

Large trees may topple in wind storms as they grow older due to a shallow root system. Possible exceptions to this rule are baldcypress, Black Gum and some other trees that can grow with root systems submerged in water.

Distance to the water table often varies during the year. It might be several inches below the surface in the cooler season and drop several feet in the growing season because transpiration pulls it from the soil. This type of site should be considered poorly drained. To help avoid making erroneous conclusions about depth to the water table determine it during the coolest and wettest season.