The correct amount of water is the most important factor in ensuring proper tree establishment. Too much water can be as damaging to a newly planted tree as too little water, so be sure to periodically check soil moisture by examining the soil in the area of the roots.


Follow these recommendations to help establish your tree:

  • Water deeply and slowly. Apply water so it moistens the critical root zone (from near the trunk of the tree to the dripline) to a depth of 12 inches. Methods for watering include a deep root fork or needle, soaker hose or soft spray wand. Apply water to many locations under the dripline. If a deep root fork or needle is used, insert the device no deeper than eight inches into the soil.
  • Consistent moisture is essential. Maintaining consistent soil moisture allows for better root water absorption. Drought stressed or over-watered trees are more vulnerable to disease and insect infestations, as well as branch dieback.
  • Generally, a newly planted tree should be watered every three to five days during the growing season, depending on weather and soil conditions. Remember that newly planted trees also need water during dry periods in the winter months. Try to water at least once a month in the dormant season.
  • Use the following “rule of thumb” for applying the proper amount of water: apply 10 gallons of water per inch of tree diameter; for instance a one-inch tree will require 10 gallons of water each time it is watered. For mature trees 10 inches in diameter or more, apply 15 gallons of water per inch of tree diameter. Use a ruler to measure your tree’s diameter.
  • Mulch helps conserve and is critical to soil moisture. Apply organic mulch within the drip line, at a depth of three to four inches. It’s best to eliminate turf prior to adding mulch. Leave a six-inch space between the mulch and trunk of trees. Mulch materials may include wood chips, bark, leaves and evergreen needles.