Newly planted trees and shrubs require special watering. Soil and weather conditions will dictate how often and how much water to apply. The quantity of water needed varies with the soil, climate, and size of the tree or shrub grown.
Examine soil moisture by putting your finger in the soil to determine the need for water. If the soil feels dry or just slightly damp, watering is needed. Soil type and drainage must also be considered. Well-drained, sandy soil will need more water, more often than a clay soil that may hold too much water.
Soil and Drainage
The usual advice is to transplant trees and shrubs in soil at least as good as the soil in which it previously grew. There are three basic types of soil: clay, sand, and loam. Clay soil has very little space between its particles; clay soil is often very rich in nutrients, but water and nutrients have trouble traveling through clay soil to the roots of the plant. Sandy soil transports material easily, but it can’t hold nutrients and water for very long. Clay and sand mixed together, along with fibrous organic matter, or humus, comprise the ideal soil, loam, which is light and rich. It is important to match the appropriate plant to the soil; the wrong plant will struggle to thrive and eventually fail.
Drainage is of first importance. Drainage is the ability of soil to move water so that the roots do not get waterlogged and nutrients can percolate through the soil to the roots, where they are used. To determine whether your drainage is adequate, dig a hole one-foot deep by one-foot wide. Fill the hole with water, and see how long it takes to drain. If water stands more than 30 minutes, drainage is a problem.
Digging the Hole
The value of a proper planting hole cannot be overestimated. Dig the hole twice as wide as the container the tree or shrub is growing in. Measure the height of the soil in the container and dig the hole at the same depth. Do not dig deeper or the plant will be set too deep once the disturbed soil settles.
Water is essential to the tree or shrub and they must have an even supply of moisture – 1 to 2 inches of water per week. To apply the equivalent of 1 inch of water requires about 2/3 of a gallon of water to each square foot. Use a watering can, bucket or pail and apply a measured amount of water directly to each individual plant. Remember that the quantity of water varies with soil type, soil drainage, the climate, and the age of the plant.
Container size: Diameter of planting hole: Gallons of water per week to supply 1 inch:
45 5 feet/19.625 square feet 12.95 gallons
25 4 feet/12.56 square feet 8.3 gallons
20 3 feet 4 inches/8.75 square feet 5.75 gallons
15 3 feet/7.065 square feet 4.66 gallons
10 2 feet 8 inches/5.58 square feet 3.68 gallons
7 2 feet 6 inches/4.91 square feet 3.24 gallons
5 2 feet/3.14 square feet 2.08 gallons
Give your trees and shrubs a thorough soaking when you water, then allow them to go dry between watering. Water once a week or every 10 days. An even distribution of water during the growing season results in a uniform growth of plants. Short, frequent watering should be avoided, as this does not promote deep root growth, but rather the development of a shallow root system, which makes the plant vulnerable to environmental stresses.