It is extremely important to be diligent about regularly watering your newly planted trees, especially in the first year. Here are some tips.
It can vary from tree to tree, and while these are just general guidelines, it is good to understand how much water your trees really need to help them to establish a healthy root zone, and also how long it can take to establish a root zone. The better you understand these things, the more likely you are going to have a successful planting and establishment of you new tree to enjoy for years to come! Learning when to water is dependent on the environmental conditions, the soil, and where it is planted. To determine if you need to water, check the soil moisture a few inches below the soil surface of the root ball. If the soil is dry or leaves look wilted you will need to water more a little more frequently. It should feel moist, but not soggy. If there is any excess moisture, wait 1-2 days then check the soil moisture again before watering. Too much water is just as bad as not enough!
How much to water newly planted trees based on size of trunk.
Caliper of tree trunk Root establishment time Gallons of water at each irrigation
1 inch 1.5 years 1-1.5 gallons
2 inches 3 years 2-3 gallons
3 inches 4.5 years 3-4.5 gallons
4 inches 6 years 4-6 gallons
5 inches 7.5 years 5-7.5 gallons
6 inches 9 years 6-9 gallons
How to water
If possible, irrigate in the evening or early morning using low flow rate for a long duration within the water basin (a raised mound of dirt around the tree trunk, forming a circle 18' in diameter around the tree) to ensure that the entire root ball is saturated. *Note: to determine the duration needed to water 5 gallons, you can time how long it takes to fill a 1or 5 gallon bucket at a given flow rate.
• Turf sprinkler irrigation systems alone do not provide sufficient watering for young trees to survive; additional deep-watering is necessary to saturate the root ball in most cases.
• Ensure that the watering basin around the trunk of the tree holds water. If water drains out of the basin, the tree's roots are not getting watered. Keep the soil inside the watering basin free of all vegetation - this includes grass!
• It may be necessary to make adjustments in the frequency and duration of watering depending on soil type, drainage, weather, and trees species.
• Water your tree IMMEDIATELY after planting…waiting even a few hours makes a difference with tree survival.
• Most established trees will benefit from periodic, but infrequent deep watering, particularly during the dry season. It may be necessary to make adjustments in the frequency and duration of watering depending on soil type, drainage, weather, and tree species.
• As shown below, use mulch or wood chips in the watering basin to conserve soil moisture.
Seasonal and Yearly Information
Dry Season and Summer Months: Irrigate trees planted during the dry season 2 to 3 times a week for the first few months and every 3 to 4 days thereafter until the rainy season. It may be necessary to water more frequently during particularly dry, hot weather.
Rainy Season and Winter Months: Irrigate trees planted in the late winter to early spring on a weekly basis when rain or snow is lacking. Begin deep watering once to twice a week with the approach of warm, dry weather – water thoroughly.
1st Year After Planting
Most young trees need 10-15 gallons of water each week for the first year. Depending on the size of the tree, we recommend watering 5 gallons every 3 - 4
days. (Note: to determine the duration needed to water 5 gallons, you can time how long it takes to fill a 1or 5 gallon bucket at a given flow rate. Please refer to chart above.)
2nd Year After Planting
Gradually reduce the frequency of watering during the second year to a weekly basis. Begin in late spring and continue through early winter as needed.
3rd Year After Planting
By the third year, deep watering every other week should suffice, but remember to check your tree often. Watering during the rainy season may not be necessary - remove the soil berm that forms the watering basin - Do not pile soil/mulch up against the tree trunk or change the grade of the soil under the canopy.
4th & 5th Years After Planting
Many trees will thrive with 2 or 3 deep soakings during the summer of the fourth or fifth year. Most established trees will benefit from periodic, but infrequent deep watering, particularly during the dry season. Monitor your tree carefully!
Again, we can't express enough how important it is to properly water our new trees. Nearly every new tree that fails is a result of improper watering of your trees. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us as we would be happy to assist you with water if you need!