Water Wise: Watering Your New Tree


Soil temperature and moisture conditions are both important factors when plantng a young tree. Be sure to water your tree thoroughly; before planting, at the time of planting, and and again the next day after planting, to settle the soil and eliminate large air pockets. Problems begin to emerge when the medium in the root ball retains or accepts moisture differently than the surrounding soil. The backfill soil may be thouroughly saturated, while the medium in the root ball is dry.

Unless there is rainfall, you should water your new tree one- two times per week during the first month after it is planted. After that month, a 10 gallon weekly soaking will be sufficient to support the tree during the spring and summer months. It is easy to over-water in the efforts to get a new tree off to a good start. However, this may keep the soil excessively wet, causing “wet wilt” which looks similar to wilt induced by dryness. Excessive watering also causes root damage from the depletion of oxygen.

Continue regularly watering your new tree as long as it is considered a new transplant. The establishment period for a young tree extends through the first three growing seasons. As the root system of the tree expands, you should water in a wider ring around the base, soaking the soil to a depth of 8-12″.

An organic mulch around the base of the tree is recommended to maintain soil moisture and temperature. It is crucial that the mulch does not touch the base of the tree! Apply the mulch ring 2-3″ deep and at least 1′ away from the trunk. Mulch that comes in contact with the trunk can cause canker infections or decay.