Guidelines for Watering New and Established Trees 

Trees need water like any other plant in your garden–whether they are newly planted or have been in the ground for years. Established trees are sometimes forgotten about over time, but they need moisture just like any other plant in your landscape. 

Properly watering a newly planted tree

A new tree can take up to two years to really take root. During this time, watering is essential. Don’t worry about watering the leaves; that will not help the tree grow. However, the key is to water the soil around the base of the tree to nourish the root ball and saturate the soil. 

How to water an established tree

Notice how far the branches extend away from the trunk as a tree matures. The length of the branches directly corresponds to the length of the roots below the soil. The further out the branches reach from the trunk, the further out the roots are growing too. You should saturate the ground at the base of the tree in all directions, watering far enough away from the trunk to reach the furthest length of roots.  

General watering guidelines

Follow these tips for making sure that you are giving your new or established tree enough of the water it needs to remain healthy and grow.

Keep the soil moist, but you shouldn’t have standing water around the base of the tree. Also, deep watering once or twice a week is much better than frequent, light watering.

Invest in a good soil moisture reader to determine if the soil is getting enough water. 

If you don’t have a soil moisture reader, you can also insert a finger or a screwdriver directly into the dirt at the base of the tree. If it’s difficult to insert, the soil is too dry. Push it in 3-4″ inches. When you pull it out, wet dirt particles should be attached to it, which indicates you have watered enough. 

If you’re using a sprinkling system, place a container within range of the sprinkler. Once it fills one to two inches, chances are you’ve given the tree or shrub enough water. Purchase a watering bag, available through CPHort, which will slowly release water directly to the roots into the soil. Refill the bag following the watering guidelines (see chart below). 

If you notice any changes in the plant, such as the leaves are drooping or falling off, or prematurely changing color, the tree is experiencing an issue. It can indicate too much water, not enough water, or the need for fertilization or iron. If you have any questions regarding plant health care, feel free to reach out to us