A Guide to Watering Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs

Beautiful trees and shrubs are a nice addition to a home landscape. The problem is that these flora can be more challenging to establish than smaller plants. Watering a new tree and water uptake for shrubs is especially important.

We've put together a very simple guide to newly planted tree care. We'll also discuss the water requirements for newly planted shrubs. Follow these simple tips and your trees and shrubs will be well on their way to developing strong roots.

The Basics of Watering New Shrubs and Trees

The important thing to understand about trees and shrubs is that they typically begin their existence in a burlap covering or a container. This restricts the root system of the tree or shrub until you can get it transplanted.

Once you have the plant placed, proper irrigation is necessary to make sure that the roots are able to expand and take hold. They will eventually become wider than what you see above ground. An awareness of this will help as you tackle new tree watering.

Watering Requirements for Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs

Determining how much water a tree or shrub needs is a fairly straightforward process. You start by determining the plant's diameter or caliper. Measure the diameter of the tree or shrub about 6 inches up the stem of the plant.

The rough requirement when watering trees and shrubs is 1 to 1.5 gallons of water per trunk inch. You should also realize that watering transplanted trees may be vital for many years depending upon the caliper. A newly planted tree can take as long as nine years to fully establish a root system when it has a large diameter.

Getting Help From a Rain Day

You are fortunate if you live in an area where a specific season brings rain to your landscape. This will make watering newly planted shrubs easier.

If only we could depend upon Mother Nature to be consistent in her watering efforts. The rain that you are likely to get will be sporadic, so you'll still need to maintain your regular program of irrigation in most cases. Rain water is a bonus.

How Often Should You Water New Trees and Shrubs?

In the earliest weeks of the transplanting process, you will need to water plants and shrubs every day. Maintain this cycle for two to three weeks after planting. Again, this initial daily watering period will need to be extended based on the diameter of the plant.

At three to 12 weeks, you should be able to water every two to three days. Once your plants have crossed the 12-week threshold, a good watering once per week should be sufficient. This will continue until the root system is well established.

It is important to remember that these are just guidelines. You will need to adjust your schedule based on climate, soil and many other factors. If you are going to err, make sure it is on the side of watering too often as opposed to watering too little.

Proper Water Placement for New Trees and Shrubs

You cannot just place trees and shrubs in a hole and cover them. These larger plants usually have a root ball that is restricted. You'll need to construct a planting area where the root ball can sit atop the planting hole, not within it.

Backfill should surround the planting hole, and you'll want the root ball to sit in a depression at the center. You can then fill the area around the root ball with water to allow it to soak into the ground around the developing root system.

Using mulch to help retain the moisture in the planting hole can be very beneficial. This will help to ensure that the water uptake is done properly. You want to create a scenario where the roots of your trees and shrubs are the primary beneficiary of all the watering you do.

It is very rewarding to have trees and shrubs on your property. Don't be intimidated by the process. Study and implement these basic tips. Above all, have patience. Trees and shrubs require a long-term commitment.


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