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   Trees for Humanity
planting & yardscape design

Jason McCarthy

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Watering Tree

Tree watering is a key part of tree care and it is difficult to recommend an exact amount due to the varieties of climates. But a few guidelines will help you to water your trees.

Watering Newly Planted Trees: For new trees, water immediately after you plant a tree.

Watering Trees During First Two Years: During the first couple growing seasons, your newly planted tree is expending a lot of energy trying to get its roots established in the soil. Especially during the first few summers of your new trees life, it will have a difficult time dealing with heat and drought. You can make this easier by providing water and covering the soil with wood-chip mulch. Deep watering can help speed the root establishment. Deep water consists of keeping the soil moist to a depth that includes all the roots.

How Much Water and When: Not enough water is harmful for the tree but too much water is bad as well. Over-watering is a common tree care mistake. Please note that moist is different than soggy, and you can judge this by feel. A damp soil that dries for a short period will allow adequate oxygen to permeate.

As general rule, your soil should be moist. Usually 30 seconds with a steady stream of water from a garden hose w/ a diffuser nozzle per tree seedling is sufficient. Mulching is also key in retaining moisture in the soil.

You can check soil moisture by using a garden trowel and inserting it into the ground to a depth of 2", and then move the blade of the trowel back and forth to create a small narrow trench. Then use your finger to touch the soil. If it is moist to the touch, then they do not need water.

Watering Trees After the First Two Years: After your tree has been established in your yard for two years the roots will be established. This will allow your tree to withstand a wider range of water conditions including on its own because it has a proper root structure.

Plant a Tree

Environment Day


Your tree will be well watered upon completion, so we suggest letting it drink and absorb it's first watering at least a week before starting the watering process. Which includes the bucket challenge... If you choose to accept the challenge, we suggest 2, 5gallon buckets a week for the first 2 to 3 weeks. And depending on the heat level, it is better to let your tree dry out than over watering it. Trees are capable of drowning and developing root rot.

As part of your design, mulching your tree will help keep moisture in the soil. It is still ok to use rock as part of the ground cover, but it may require a little more attention.

With the hot summers in Colorado we often experience, the sun will heat up those rocks and act as an oven basically, drying out the soil much faster and needing more attention to watering. I have found that using a hydro meter can be helpful in gauging whether or not to add more water to your trees or shrubs. It is not a good idea in my opinion to rely on sprinklers to properly water your tree or shrubs in the first few months of its new home. Not completely getting through to the roots in need.

The first year of your tree's life will be developing its root system. So don't be discouraged if you don't notice a major difference in growth until the next season. However the watering schedule for the second year is generally a lot less and can maintain it's moisture naturally that mother nature provides. Just remember that mother nature also provides extreme temps in the mid-summer months and still may need more attention to not completely dry out.

We also suggest wrapping your new tree during the winter months. You can use any number of things to protect your tree from extreme cold weather and harsh winds and snow. Coconut paper is the most commonly used tree wrap which I will provide free of charge if needed. Strips of cloth, carpet, or cardstock are also ok to use. Wrap your tree on Thanksgiving, and unwrap your tree on Easter. Easy to remember that way. The proper way to wrap your tree is to start from the base of your tree and completely go around the trunk moving upward until you get to the first arm or branch on your tree. You can secure it there with some good duct tape.

Pruning your new tree is not necessary during its first year in the ground. Although some trees have different pruning guidelines than others, most enjoy a little hair cut in the spring time to stimulate growth through the season. I will provide literature upon completion of your design which will include watering and a specific guide with some helpful information regarding the tree and shrubs you picked out.