How much should you water new trees

Watering newly planted trees and shrubs

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Quick facts

  • Newly planted trees and shrubs need regular and consistent watering until root systems establish.  
  • Root systems of trees and shrubs, whether bare root, balled and burlapped, or in a container, are severely reduced or restricted.
  • After planting, root systems will grow and establish until they are much wider than the above ground portion of the plant.

When to water

Newly planted trees or shrubs require more frequent watering than established trees and shrubs. They should be watered at planting time and at these intervals:

  • 1-2 weeks after planting, water daily.
  • 3-12 weeks after planting, water every 2 to 3 days.
  • After 12 weeks, water weekly until roots are established.

How long does it take for tree and shrub roots to establish?

Newly planted shrubs are considered established when their root spread equals the spread of the above-ground canopy. In Minnesota, this will take one to two years.

How to measure tree caliper

Establishment times for trees increases with tree size. Trunk caliper at planting time can be used to determine the time it takes for roots to establish.

Find the caliper of your tree:

  • Measure the trunk diameter at 6 inches above the ground for diameters up to 4 inches.
  • If the diameter is more than 4 inches, measure at 12 inches above the ground. 

How much to water newly planted trees based on size of trunk

Caliper of tree trunk Root establishment time Gallons of water at each irrigation
1 inch 1.5 years 1-1.5 gallons
2 inches 3 years 2-3 gallons
3 inches 4.5 years 3-4.5 gallons
4 inches 6 years 4-6 gallons
5 inches 7. 5 years 5-7.5 gallons
6 inches 9 years 6-9 gallons

Make a reservoir over the root ball for watering.

Treegator® bags hold 14-15 gallons of water and release a slow trickle of water over 5-9 hours.

Kathy Zuzek, former Extension educator

Reviewed in 2018

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When Should I Water New Trees

Home › Ornamental Gardens › Trees › General Tree Care

General Tree Care

By: Teo Spengler

Image by v_zaitsev

When you plant new trees in your yard, it is very important to give the young trees excellent cultural care. Watering a newly transplanted tree is one of the most important tasks. But gardeners have questions about how best to do this: When should I water new trees? How much to water a new tree?

Read on to find answers to these questions and other tips on taking care of a newly planted tree.

Transplanted Tree Watering

The process of transplant is hard on a young tree. Many trees do not survive the shock of a transplant and the top reason involves water. Too little irrigation will kill a newly planted tree, but so will excess water if the tree is allowed to sit in it.

Why is watering a newly transplanted tree such an important issue? All trees uptake water from their roots. When you buy a young tree to plant in your backyard, its root system has been cut way back no matter how the tree is presented. Bare root trees, balled-and-burlapped trees and container trees all require regular and consistent watering until their root systems reestablish.

Watering a newly planted tree depends on things like the amount of rainfall you get in your area, wind conditions, temperatures, what season it is, and how well the soil drains.

When Should I Water New Trees?

Every stage of a transplanted tree’s first few years has irrigation requirements, but none are more important than the actual time of planting. You do not want the tree water stressed at any point in the process.

Water thoroughly before planting, at planting time and the day after planting. This helps to settle the soil and get rid of large air pockets. Water daily for the first week, then twice a week for the next month or so. Take your time and be sure the water soaks the entire root ball.

Also, try watering them later in the evening, after the heat of the day has subsided. This way, the water will not evaporate immediately and the roots get a good chance at absorbing some of that moisture.

How Much Should I Water New Trees?

Gradually water less frequently until, at about five weeks, you are giving the tree water every seven to 14 days. Continue this for the first few years.

The rule of thumb is that you should continue providing water for a newly planted tree until its roots are established. That period depends on the size of the tree. The bigger the tree at transplant, the longer it will take to establish a root system and the more water it needs each watering.

A tree that is about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) in diameter will take about 18 months to establish, requiring about 1.5 gallons (5.67 L.) of water at every watering. A tree that is 6 inches (15 cm.) in diameter will take some 9 years and need about 9 gallons (34 L.) at each watering.

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How to properly water trees and bushes in the garden

All plants in the garden need moisture. Fruit trees and shrubs are no exception in this regard. The only question is how to properly water these plants? Let's figure it out.

Young plants are watered first when planting. Further, the seedlings need moisture so that they take root faster, develop and prepare for the formation of fruits. A fertile garden also requires watering - to form a quality crop.

How much water does the garden need? It is very difficult to answer this question right away, since a lot depends on the weather, the condition of the soil, as well as the age and needs of the plant. Therefore, it is impossible to water all crops in the same way, as many gardeners do. How will be correct?

When is the first watering of horticultural crops?

Usually it is enough to water the trees in the garden 2-3 times during the summer season, and 3-4 times in dry weather. At the same time, specimens that have just been planted are recommended to be watered 2-3 times a month for better survival. The first watering is carried out at the end of May - the first half of June, depending on the crop.


First watering time

Strawberries, currants, gooseberries

Late May - early June

Apple tree

Early June

Plum, cherry plum, cherry, pear

First half of June


Before sap flow, before bud break

Irrigation rate for fruit trees

When irrigating trees , the water rate changes depending on the age of the crop:

  • seedling - 30-50 liters of water;
  • 3-5 year old trees - 50-80 l;
  • 7-12 year olds - 120-150 liters;
  • older - 30-50 liters per 1 sq. m of the trunk circle.

Under berry bushes it is necessary to pour 40-60 liters of water per 1 sq.m. Strawberries are watered at the rate of 20-30 liters per 1 sq.m (during the formation of the crop).

But it is important to understand that there are many conditions that should be taken into account when watering the garden. For example, it is necessary to take into account the composition of the soil on the site. On sandy soil, the number of irrigations should be increased, and the water rate should be reduced. At the same time, on a clay substrate, the irrigation rules change exactly the opposite. It is also worth paying attention to the landscape features of the backyard territory: if the water flows down the slope, the plants in the garden may not receive the amount of moisture they need.

Features of watering plants during the season

Apple and pear

These crops require heavy watering in May-July and moderate watering in August-September. If the summer is hot, water the apple tree and pear 3-4 times per season, and if it is also dry, 4-5 times.

Plum and cherry plum

Stone fruits are quite demanding on soil and air moisture. Most of all they need watering in spring and in the first half of summer. And plums, among other things, equally poorly tolerate both lack and excess moisture.


It is enough to water the grapes once a month, and if it rains, even less often. The main thing is not to water superficially, but so that water flows to the roots, for example, you can dig an irrigation tube into the ground. Grapes are not watered before flowering and during it.


Cherries should not be watered too often: water compacts the soil and displaces oxygen from it. Four waterings per season is enough: during the active growth of shoots at the end of June, during the ripening of berries in July (in dry weather) and at the end of the season (the last decade of September).

Gooseberry, currant

Gooseberry bushes should be watered under the root. You can make special grooves so that water does not spread over the surface, but goes directly to the roots. Water should penetrate to a depth of about 50 cm. Both plants need to be watered three times per season, especially during the formation of berries.


During fruiting and in dry summers, strawberries are watered more often, sometimes once every 7-10 days. If the soil around the bushes is dry and crumbles in your hands, it's time to water the strawberries.

Many gardeners make the mistake of watering their plants often but little by little. Such watering will not bring much benefit, since moisture does not reach the roots of horticultural crops, but remains in the upper layers of the soil. At the same time, the bulk of the roots of fruit trees is at a depth of 50-70 cm.

Basic garden watering methods

Surface watering

This type involves watering in the near-stem circles. To carry it out under the trees, you need to organize recesses with sides to get the so-called "bowl". The diameter of the near-stem circle should be equal to the diameter of the crown, so it can change every year.

Trees can also be watered in furrows. This method is suitable for a flat area where all the trees grow side by side. To do this, furrows up to 30 cm wide should be cut between the rows, into which water can be supplied when irrigated from a hose. After the water is absorbed, the furrows must be covered.


With this method of irrigation, not only the soil is moistened, but also the air around the plants, and sometimes the green mass. The main condition for such irrigation is a constant pressure of water, which does not flow in a continuous stream, but is sprayed in the form of an aqueous suspension. Sprinkling is good for sloping areas, because such irrigation does not erode the topsoil (the most fertile). But this is also a more costly method of irrigation, since for its implementation it is necessary to purchase special equipment.

Subsurface irrigation

In this method of irrigation, water is supplied through pipes laid in the ground directly to the roots of plants. At the same time, water consumption is reduced by 3 times, which is a significant plus. But subsoil irrigation also has a minus: laying pipes is a laborious and costly process. But when watering through pipes, it is not necessary to cut furrows and loosen the soil.

Proper watering of plants is the key to a rich harvest, so do not treat this activity with disdain. Each culture requires attention during care, including irrigation with water.

how much water trees need in a garden

As you know, moisture is the basis of nutrition for any plant. Young seedlings need timely watering in order to take root in a new place as quickly as possible, and for already fruit-bearing trees, proper watering is the key to a quality future harvest.

Read on to find out when and how to water trees, how much water they need depending on their age, what is the rate and frequency of watering.

By the way! All the basic principles and rules for watering apple trees and other fruit trees are the same.


  • 1 How often and how much to water the trees
    • 1.1 Type of soil
    • 1.2 Age of wood
    • 1.3 Weather conditions and season
    • 2 How to water trees properly

    How often and how much to water trees

    It is important to understand that there are many conditions to consider when watering.

    As a rule, the following factors (conditions) are distinguished, which directly determine how often to water and how much water to pour under apple trees and other fruit trees:

    • type (composition) of soil;
    • age;
    • weather and time of year.

    Soil type

    It's simple: if the soil is heavy, then it retains moisture better, if it is light, then water does not linger at all. Accordingly:

    • On clay and chernozem soils - water 1-2 times a month in summer, no more than 1 time in spring and autumn.
    • On sandy soils - 2-4 times a month in summer, and in spring and autumn - 1-2 times.

    Please note! To saturate an earthen clod to the required depth (on average 40 cm), light sandy loamy soil needs about 1.5 times less water than heavy loam.

    Age of the tree0071 15-20 liters for 1 year ie:

    However! Please note that stone fruits (cherries, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots) are less moisture-loving than pome trees (apples, pears) . At the same time, the frequency of irrigation remains unchanged, but the amount of water should be different (1.5-2 times).

    For example, on the Internet you can find the following picture:

    • 2-3 year old seedling - 30-60 liters;

    Please note! It is especially important to monitor the humidity in the first year after planting, especially if it is done in the spring. You need to water often and little by little (every week or 10 days, 20-30 liters each). If you notice that the leaves have begun to fade, then urgently perform intensive watering.

    • 4-5 year old tree - 60-100 liters;
    • 6-7 fruit tree - 90-140 liters;
    • 8-10 year old mature tree - 120-200 liters.

    Tip! Very many gardeners believe that the main criterion for a plant to have enough water is moisture and moisture stagnation on the soil surface. In other words, if you are pouring, and the water is no longer leaving, this means that it is time to stop watering.

    Weather conditions and seasons

    Trees are never additionally watered in early spring because during this period the ground is still wet after winter (snow melting). Therefore, the first spring watering is carried out only in April-May during budding (before flowering) - it is enough to water 1 time.

    If the summer is very hot and dry (there is no precipitation at all, it is clear all the time), the air temperature rises to +30 degrees and above, then young trees planted recently , it is advisable to water 2 times a week. If the summer is cool, there are occasional rains , then once a week will be more than is enough.

    Of course, mature and fruit-bearing trees do not need to be watered so often , maximum 2 times a month in case of extreme heat and 1 time in moderate summer .

    Approximate schedule for watering mature trees
    1. During budding (before flowering) - in spring (April-May).
    2. After flowering (in 2-3 weeks) - in summer (June).
    3. During fruiting (up to 2-3 weeks of ripening) - in summer (July-August).
    4. Autumn water-recharging watering after leaf fall (October-November).

    Thus, most often during the summer season (from May to August), it is enough to water mature trees in the garden 3-4 times, and in dry weather - 4-5 times. And do not forget, if possible, to make water-charging watering, but already in late autumn.

    Autumn water recharge

    Please note! Read in this separate article about the subtleties, timing and necessity of water-charging irrigation in autumn .

    How to properly water trees

    Tips and recommendations for proper watering of apple trees and other fruit trees: 20-25 cm), take a handful of earth from the bottom, if it is dry, then immediately water it.

  • As for the time of day, then it is ideal to water the trees in the early morning , it is possible in the evening, but during the day it is very undesirable, only if the weather is cloudy.
  • For the convenience of watering and initial water retention, you need to make rollers according to the projection of the crown of your tree about 10 centimeters high.

The trunk circle must match the size of the projection of the crown of your tree.

In general, ideally, you need to water along the crown projection, but this is not necessary, although it is very desirable. However, should not be poured under the barrel in any case .

  • Watering with ice water from a well or well is clearly not a good idea. Too cold water affects all plants depressingly. Another thing is ordinary country water (with a temperature of 16-20 degrees).

But during autumn moisture-charging irrigation, you can use water from a well.

If the soil is constantly wet, then the roots of the fruit tree may begin to rot from an excess of moisture.

  • In other words, you must follow the watering schedule . It is necessary to water rarely, but abundantly, in order to soak the entire root ball (up to 30-50 cm deep).

In case of sudden changes in humidity (sometimes too dry, sometimes too wet), young trees can throw off their leaves.

  • Late spring or early autumn precipitation, especially summer rains in no case can replace the individual watering of the tree . Even when there is a relatively long and fairly heavy rain, as a maximum it will only moisten the surface layer of the soil (by 3-5 cm), but not the necessary 40 cm.

Another thing is late autumn, winter, early spring.

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