New/Young Tree Watering Guidelines

Friendly Reminders

  • The toughest day in a tree’s life is the day it is planted.
  • Transplant shock is very common and may result in minor branch dieback and a general stressed appearance. This is normal and you should stay the course with proper after care. If you are worried though, have an arborist check it out.
  • For newly planted trees they generally take one year to establish for each inch of trunk diameter. So a 1.5 inch diameter tree will take a minimum of 1.5 years to establish under normal conditions.

Proper watering is one of the most important factors for helping a new tree establish and to start their new life off with a great start.

Watering Guidelines

  • Test the soil to see if your tree needs water. Using your finger, dig down into the soil and poke about a finger’s length deep. If the soil is dry, then you should water based on the guidelines below.
  • Most new trees will need between 5-10 gallons per inch diameter. For example, for a 2” diameter tree you would put down between 10-20 gallons of water.
  • The amount and frequency of waterings depends on the time of year, soil drainage, and how long the tree has been in the ground. Be sure to test the soil!


Growing Season:

  • Day 1 – 14 Apply 1-2 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter daily
  • Day 15 and beyond: Apply 5-10 gallons of water every 3-5 days. Don’t forget to test the soil with your fingers before you water.


Dorman Season:

  • Apply your 5-10 gallons of water about 1-2 times a month. Water only when the air temperature is above 40 degrees and apply during mid-day so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night.

Application Methods

  • There are multiple delivery methods available to water your tree to apply the water evenly around the root zone of the tree.


Hose Method:

  • Tools Needed: Garden hose, 5 gallon bucket, timing device
  • Turn your hose on to a replicable setting, then using a timer, record how long it takes to fill up the 5 gallon bucket.
  • For this example, if it took 50 seconds to fill the bucket then it would take 50 seconds to use 5 gallons of water using the same flow.
  • Water the root zone while timing yourself for between 50-100 seconds (which equals 5-10 gallons).


Bucket Method:

  • Tools Needed: Garden hose, 5 gallon bucket, drill
  • Drill four ¼” holes around the base of the bucket.
  • Fill the bucket with water and place it around the root zone of the tree so it drains evenly.

Other care trips:

  • Wrap the trunk in the fall (October) with tree wrapping to prevent sunscald. Wrap the trunk from the ground up to the first branch.
  • No pruning, except any dead branches, should occur at this time.
  • Do not apply any fertilizer.
  • Mulch around the tree in order to retain water moisture and help add nutrients back into the soil.


If you follow these guidelines then you’ll be doing everything you can to set your new tree up for success and long, healthy life. If anything looks off or you need help please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! May this new tree(s) provide you with decades of happiness and enjoyment!