New Trees Need Water
It may go without saying that your tree will need water immediately after it’s planted in your yard. Without sufficient water, your tree will not survive! The most important question is, “How much water?” Newly planted trees do not like too much water, and they surely do not like drought conditions. Here’s a quick reference to help you out.
Check the Soil
The best way to know if your tree needs water is to check the ground below it.
One way to do this is to dig down along the root ball to check the consistency of the ground. If you discover that it’s cool to the touch and has a soft play-dough-like feel, you’re in good shape. If the dirt crumbles in your hand, it’s time to water.
Another way to check the soil is to take a long screwdriver (4 inches or longer) and poke it into the ground about 10 inches from the trunk. If the ground is moist, the screwdriver will go in pretty easily. If you can’t poke it in easily at least 6 inches, it’s time to water.
Slow is best. A soaker hose, for example, covering the whole root zone and turned on for about an hour should release the right amount of water. However, you also can place a container underneath the hose or sprinkler. When an inch of water is accumulated, you have watered enough for the week. In extreme heat, twice a week may be needed.
Remember to CHECK that soil as described above.
The following trees fall outside the general guidelines for watering as their needs are slightly different than typical trees. Please note if you have one of the following:
Watch the Weather
Lastly, remember that the general guidelines need to be altered to compensate for weather. When there has been rainfall, take that into account and make sure you check the soil before watering. Likewise, be mindful of the temperature…. In extreme heat soil dries out more quickly so monitor water loss by checking the soil more frequently. Lastly, in winter months, trees still need water! Read through the comments below on winter watering, the whys and how, described by Amos Arber, Certified Arborist with the Water Resources Division for the Water Authority.
“The balancing act of watering your trees in the fall and winter is important. Newly planted trees (those planted within 1-3 years) are more susceptible to damage from dry conditions and should be watered more frequently than established trees. Try watering deeply three times a month in the FALL and twice a month in the WINTER.
Evergreen trees lose water through their needles in the dry winter air. They need more stored-up water going into the winter season to make up for that. Cold, dry winds can strip water from evergreens faster than their roots can absorb it, too. That is why it is especially important to provide enough water in the fall and during dry warm spells in the winter.
…Deciduous trees should also not get too dry in the fall and winter. Water acts as an insulator for both the tree and soil. Soil that stays moist will be warmer. Likewise, plant cells that are plump with water will be less susceptible to damage from the cold. Water deciduous trees deeply twice a month during the fall and once a month in the winter. When watering any tree, remember to apply water out to the edge of the tree’s canopy drip line. Some options for deep watering are: bury a soaker hose around the base of the tree trunk – the holes will keep the hose from bursting in freezing temps. Connect to a hose and water for one hour. Alternately, fill a 5 gallon bucket and slowly pour water out distributing as evenly as possible over the root zone.”