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“A very slow trickle from the garden hose is usually the most recommended. Trees drink best not with just dumping 5 gallons of water but a slow watering that will allow more absorption of nutrients. Trees hydrate themselves by the water dripping off their leaves and slowly absorbing by their drip line. Five gallons per week is usually recommended the best to start with.” And for owners to measure that, they can take a five gallon bucket and time out how long for the hose on a slow trickle to fill that bucket. So if it takes 20 minutes to fill, you should be able to judge that every 20 minutes you should move the garden hose to another tree.


An important factor in tree survival is providing water at the correct frequency. The first 3 years are most critical, but pay attention to watering needs throughout the tree’s life. In arid environments most trees will have to be watered throughout the growing season and during dry winters for life unless they are native to
that area.

How often and how much?

Frequency depends on water uptake by plants, surface evaporation, and soil drainage. Soils that drain quickly will require more frequent watering than those that drain slowly. To determine your soil’s drainage rate. The best way to know how often and how much to water is to check the soil moisture at 6 inches below the surface. Water when dry. 

First 3 years after planting: If the soil is dry, provide about 2 gallons of water per diameter inch of the trunk.

All other years: Because soil type and weather conditions influence the demand for water, irrigation schedules and amounts vary.


Tree roots need oxygen.

Soil saturated with water for more than 24 hours can prevent roots from getting oxygen. Therefore, watering too much is as dangerous as watering too little (and is harder to correct).

Check every other day in fast-draining soils, weekly in slow-draining soils

Water the root ball and just beyond

All other years:

Check weekly

Water within the dripline or, for large trees, at the base and at the dripline

Where? Water the root ball and just beyond. For large trees, focus watering on the area within 6 feet of the trunk and at the dripline.

When? Start checking soil moisture and watering when necessary in early spring, and continue until the soil freezes. For mild climates, water as needed during dry winters. For winter watering, choose warm days above freezing to ensure water soaks into the ground.