How to Grow: Watering New Trees

Watch this video on caring for newly planted trees including information on watering and care.


Water is essential for gardening. No matter where you are in the country, you need to have adequate water for your trees, shrubs, perennials, annual flowers, and veggies to grow their best. Even in the arid places like the Southwest, trees and shrubs that are just planted in the ground need water to survive.

The first thing you want to do whenever you’re thinking of planting a new tree, shrub, or perennial flower, is to get one adapted to your area. Look for native plants that are adapted to your weather conditions, whether it be dry or wet. That being said there’s somethings you need to do, especially with new trees and shrubs, so you make sure they’ll survive that critical first year. You have a tree, like this big pine tree. They’ve actually destroyed ninety percent of the roots when they dug this from the nursery. There’s not a lot of root system to support all these needles. That’s why it needs to stay adequately moist all season long, especially that first year.

You can do that simply by having a moat around your tree and watering by hand. Watering that way works pretty well but always the question people have is how long should I water the tree. Well, a tree like this will need about 25 gallons of water a week. That’s a lot of water. You want to make sure it soaks down 8 to 10 inches deep into the soil. How long you water will be dependent upon if it’s a clay soil or sandy soil. Of course, sandy soil will drain faster, but clay soil will hold more water. One simple thing you can do, if you just want to average it all out, is if you have a loamy soil, so just count to 30. Take your watering wand and just start counting, one, two, three, four, five, all the way up to 30. That usually will put down enough moisture so it sinks down eight to ten inches feet. Another thing you can do is take a screwdriver. Use a long handle screwdriver like this one. Make sure it’s about eight to ten inches long and stick it into the soil. When you stick it into the soil, if it slides down all the way without much resistance, that means that soil is pretty wet. It’s nice and slick so you can easily insert the screw driver. If you push it down and you hit some resistance it’s probably because the moisture hasn’t gone down that far so you need to water a little bit more.

A real easy way to water new trees, shrubs and plants it’s with a soaker hose. These are great because you can put them on a timer. It slowly oozes water through the hose. You’ll keep that soil evenly moist. You can just time how long you need to keep it on to soak it down to 8 to 10 inches. That way you’ll know in the future how long to run that soaker hose.

There are some products on the market that are really nice for these new trees and shrubs. One of them is called a gator bag. Gator bags are these plastic bags that have two sleeves. You fill them up with water and they slowly drip out the moisture from that water over time. You can add 15 to 20 gallons a week just by filling up one of these Gator bags. You can get them in a donut shape or you can get them in a tall, pyramid shape, too. What’s nice about them is that you can fill them up and forget about them. They’ll slowly ooze out water then maybe once or twice a week add more water to them.

For newly planted seedlings like vegetables and flowers, those need to be watered regularly because they have very shallow root systems. Go out almost every day and keep them nice and moist. Once they’re established then you can do more deep watering that I talked about. It’s better to water deeply and infrequently than frequently and very shallowly because you want those roots to go down deep in the soil where the moisture is. Wen you’re watering seedlings, keep it shallow. But once they get established, make it much deeper .

By watering properly you’ll be able to get your trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, and veggies growing well and surviving. These babies are a big investment and you want to make sure you’ve got your investment well protected.

Go here for a video on how to plant a tree