Did you plant a new tree earlier this spring? Is it showing signs of transplant stress such as wilting, browning or curling leaves, drooping foliage or early fall color? Does the soil surrounding the trunk look like the surface of the moon? If so, it’s likely that it is not be receiving adequate water.
Newly planted trees are like babies and require a lot of attention the first few years after planting as they expend energy to establish roots into the surrounding soil. It is good practice to water trees for the first three years after planting. During the growing season, newly planted trees can require 10-15 gallons of water applied 2-3 times/week if there is no rainfall.
To help your tree establish into the surrounding soil we recommend these tips:
• Prioritize which trees to water by starting with those growing in full sun, in limited soil space or adjacent to heat-absorbing surfaces like sidewalks and driveways.
• Using a garden trowel, dig a few inches into the soil surrounding the root ball to see if the soil has moisture or if it’s very dry.
• If the soil feels dry, apply water in the early morning or evening to prevent loss to evaporation using the following methods:
Hose Method: place a hose a foot or so from the base of the trunk and run it at a trickle for 30 minutes, moving it around the root ball to a different position every 10 minutes. This will ensure water doesn’t run off the surface too quickly and will infiltrate the root zone.
Sprinkler Method: Fix the sprinkler head so it doesn’t oscillate, set it on low and place near the base of the tree, keeping the water off the trunk, for 15 minutes on one side then 15 minutes on the other. It’s a good way to cover more area.
Bucket Method: If you don’t have a hose or it doesn’t reach the tree, use a 5-gallon bucket. Fill the bucket with water and SLOWLY pour the water to the base of the tree allowing it to fully infiltrate the soil. Once the first five gallons has infiltrated the soil, repeat two more times so a total of 15 gallons of water is applied. Your tree and triceps will thank you!
You can also water with a 5-gallon bucket that you have drilled some (5 is sufficient) holes in the bottom about the diameter of a pencil lead. Place the bucket at the base of the tree, fill the bucket to the top with water, let it drain, move it slightly around the tree and fill it again – up to 3 times.
• After you’ve saturated the soil around the tree, remember to do it again in 3 – 4 days’ time if it hasn’t rained.
• Check the mulch. If you didn’t at time of planting, place a mulch ring around the tree following the 3-3-3 rule. Place mulch no more than 3” higher than soil grade, at least 3’ wide radially from the trunk and at least 3” away from the trunk of the tree. Mulch creates an insulation blanket by keeping the soil cool, feeding the roots and slowing evaporation.
Here’s to happy, healthy, growing trees!