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Summer Watering & Care for New Trees

Taking the time to provide the best possible care for newly planted trees and shrubs during their first year of life will reap many rewards. You probably know that a newly planted tree needs some special treatment, but did you know that that extra care should extend well beyond the first few months in the ground?

Are sprinklers enough?

It’s easy to want to rely on your automated sprinkler system to take care of all your landscape water needs. But that can get you into trouble with new plantings. Your existing irrigation system is configured to water established plants, not new plantings, which need more frequent care. You will need to supplement your weekly sprinkler regimen with extra watering for new trees and shrubs.

Nursery Trees In A Row

When trees are newly planted, it’s as if they are still growing in a container, with a limited root system.

When first planted, trees and shrubs won’t show a lot of new growth. Instead, they’ll quietly begin work on establishing their root system before they begin branching and putting out new leafy growth. When trees are first planted, it’s best to limit fertilizer use and instead focus on stimulating new root growth and building soil health. It can take two to three years before many trees will begin to put on appreciable new top growth.

When to add water

So, when should you apply extra water to your new trees? It’s a good idea to water them extra on the same day that your sprinkler system has already run. Why? Because when the first round of sprinklers moistens the soil, it makes it easy for another round of water to penetrate even deeper. You can lay a soaker hose around the drip line of the tree (where the leaves stop), and let the soaker hose run for an hour or two on a slow drip. This will help provide good saturation around the tree’s root ball. If you have a problem with water runoff, a soaker hose is a great way to efficiently get water directly to the soil without wasting water

Tree Planting At Schoolyard

Newly planted trees will need ongoing extra care, especially in areas without automated irrigation.

What if it rains?

You should perform this deep soak on new trees once or twice a week during the hot summer months. Once a week to every couple of weeks in the winter should be sufficient. If we have received an inch or more of rainfall in a week, then you can skip the extra watering. Instead of following a strict schedule, try to pay attention to weather patterns considering rain, heat and drying winds and adjust your watering accordingly. If in doubt, give your tree a longer soak, which will allow you more days before you must repeat the process.

By making sure your new trees are getting enough water, you’ll help to ensure its long-term health and strength. After the first year your new tree has been in the ground, you can begin to back off the extra watering, except during times of intense heat or drought. The larger the tree, the longer you should expect to provide some extra TLC to get it established long-term.

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