Newly planted trees must be watered thoroughly for the first five (5) days after planting. This settles the soil and removes air pockets in the soil and from around the tree.
Supplemental watering is extremely important during the first two years, especially during times of high winds, high temperatures, and low rainfall. If your tree does not get enough water, the overall health of the tree will be adversely affected.
The biggest problem facing your tree is the lack of water. Your tree will exhibit certain signs when it has been under or over watered.
Symptoms of Under-watering: Leaves are dry and crumble; they could be brown or light green. Leaves voluntarily fall off.
Symptoms of Over-watering: Leaves discolor but do not drop or come off easily. Leaves do not crumble and will fold in your hand.
When does a tree need water? Whenever the rootball is dry. You can determine this by feeling the soil around the rootball to a depth of 3’ – 6’. I dig a shovel deep and feel the soil. If it is dry, then thoroughly water the entire root ball.
How much water is needed? Your tree will require a thorough soaking at least once a week depending on the weather conditions. Your tree is thoroughly soaked when the water has absorbed and starts to puddle around the root ball. One rule of thumb is to give a newly planted tree 10 gallons of water per caliper each week. Let the soil dry between waterings, especially clay soil.
How should I water the tree? Trees prefer to be watered slowly and deeply. The water should be about the width of a pencil when it leaves the hose. Use a hand-held hose or a soaker hose and water directly onto the root ball. The easiest method is to lay a water hose 1-2 feet from the trunk. Move the hose around the root ball as it becomes thoroughly soaked. You can also purchase slow-release watering bags, such as Tree Gators.
If I use automatic sprinklers, how long should it be set? Your irrigation specialist can best make these recommendations based on your system and your soil. Installing bubblers is a great way to automatically water your trees. Generally speaking though, during hot months, sprinklers with pop-up heads should be set for at least 20 minutes; rotary heads for 1 hour. During cooler months, pop-up heads should be set for 15 minutes; rotary heads for 45 minutes. Do not rely on your sprinkler system alone to provide adequate water, especially during our hot summer months.
GENERAL WATERING GUIDELINES
IN SANDY SOILS:
When first planted, water every other day for 3 months. Water twice a week for the next 3 months, then once a week or as needed.
IN CLAY SOILS:
The first 3 months, water deeply twice a week from June to September and once a week the rest of the year. After 3 months, water once every 2 weeks or as needed. Clay soils tend to hold water so be careful of letting your live oak stand in water. If you’re unsure, dig in the tree’s bed to see whether or not the dirt is wet.
YELLOW LEAVES – too much water
BROWN LEAVES – not enough water
OVERWATERING AND UNDERWATERING will kill a tree