Watering is perhaps the most important factor in new tree establishment. Once planted, a tree needs the right amount of water to establish its roots and begin a long and healthy life. Too little water and the tree will wilt and die, but too much water can drown the roots and kill the tree just as easily. Watering is also dependent upon the season and the amount of rain. A good watering plan accounts for both the time of year, and the amount of rainfall. The most important thing to remember when watering your tree is that regardless of what method you use to bring water to the tree, watering should be deep, slow and often to ensure that the entire root zone of the tree has been saturated. A fresh bed of mulch (no more than 2 inches deep) is also valuable for helping the soil hold more water and replenishing the nutrients in the soil.
The best watering system for a newly planted tree is soaker or drip hose. This should be placed in concentric circles around the root zone of the tree. Be careful not to place the soaker hose too close to the trunk, you want the ROOTS to get water NOT the trunk. If the trunk of the tree is constantly wet, disease, fungus and other harmful pathogens can get into the trunk of the tree. The duration of watering depends primarily upon the season.
Spring: This is the main growing season for the tree and thus you want to supply the tree with ample water. A tree needs about an inch of rain per week during this season. This equates to about 10-15 minutes of watering (depending on the pressure of your system) every OTHER day. However, no watering should take place on a rain day or the day after a rain day.
Summer: During the hot and dry summers the tree needs lots of water just to survive. Two inches of water per week is recommended during the summer months. Watering should take place every day for approximately 15-20 minutes, depending on the pressure in your system. Of course, if it rains that day, no watering is necessary. It is best to water in the evening or early morning when the sun isn’t up. This cuts down on evaporation due to the high temperatures and helps you get more out of each watering.
Fall and Winter: During the dormant season when the leaves are off the trees, your newly planted tree needs much less water. Only 5-10 minutes of watering a few times a week when the temperature is over 40 degrees. If the temperature is under 40 degrees no watering is necessary.
If you have an irrigation system already installed in your yard, you should check it every season to make sure it is properly calibrated and delivering the correct amount of water for that particular season. The system should also be adjusted as much as possible to cut down on the amount of water hitting the trunk of the tree. Rain sensors are also extremely valuable to make sure that you are not watering during rain days.
A good watering program will help your newly planted tree to establish its roots and begin a long life. Few investments last as long as a tree, but if it is not properly planted and maintained, that tree will die. Your watering program is essential to the establishment of your tree, remember, no tree will survive with the proper amount of water.