Watering Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs
By Larry A. Sagers
Larry Sagers was the Utah State University Extension horticulturist at Thanksgiving Pointe, a weekly columnist for the Deseret Morning News and was a weekly host of KSL’s 1160’s Greenhouse Show. Used by permission. Originally published July 14, 2001
Planting nursery stock continues throughout the season. Encourage a vigorous root system by watering to a depth of 12 to 18 inches below the soil surface.
Trees require water, but improper watering can cause more harm than good. Over watering is a major cause of failure. Excess water forces oxygen out of the soil and results in oxygen starvation of the roots and the death of the plant.
Avoid light watering. This promotes shallow root systems susceptible to winter drying and summer heat stress. Deep watering to a depth of 12-18 inches below the soil surface, develops a vigorous root system.
Determine the length of watering by the moisture level of the soil just above the root zone, generally 8-10 inches at the edge of the planting hole. If the soil at that depth feels powdery or crumbles when squeezed in your hand, water the tree. Soil that forms a ball and clings together when squeezed contains adequate moisture.
Mulching around the tree’s base reduces soils moisture loss, improves water and sir penetration, and keeps soils temperature above freezing longer in the fall. Wood ships or shredded bark can be used for mulch. Cover the root ball area with mulch about 3-4 inches deep.
Avoid mounding mulch next to the tree trunk.