Plants adapt to heterogeneous soil conditions by altering their root architecture. For example, roots branch when in contact with water by using the hydropatterning response. We report that hydropatterning is dependent on auxin response factor ARF7. This transcription factor induces asymmetric expression of its target gene LBD16 in lateral root founder cells. This differential expression pattern is regulated by posttranslational modification of ARF7 with the small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) protein. SUMOylation negatively regulates ARF7 DNA binding activity. ARF7 SUMOylation is required to recruit the Aux/IAA (indole-3-acetic acid) repressor protein IAA3. Blocking ARF7 SUMOylation disrupts IAA3 recruitment and hydropatterning. We conclude that SUMO-dependent regulation of auxin response controls root branching pattern in response to water availability.