Unfortunately there is no easy way to determine how often your trees will need to be watered. We can, however, offer advice about how to monitor your tree and read the signs that show there may be a problem linked to the watering.
Signs a tree needs watering include: leaves wilting, browning on the edges or tips of the leaves and leaf drop in severe cases.
Signs a tree has been watered too much include: stunted growth, yellowing leaves, rapid leaf drop, and spotting of the leaves.
These signs can vary depending on the type of tree, so it is always best to dig a small test hole 18" down to see how moist or dry the soil is.
Newly planted trees may need to be checked every couple of days in hot weather, and must be watered immediately at the first sign of stress. It can take 2 to 3 seasons to establish a newly planted tree.
How much should I water my tree?
One hour after watering, the soil at about 5 inches depth should feel moist, but should not drizzle water if squeezed gently in the hand. The amount of water you need to apply to achieve this level of moisture will depend on the size of your tree and your soil type. Rich organic soils act like sponges, light sandy soils like sieves and sticky clay soils hold water in the planting hole. All of these soils can be damaging to the root system of the tree if they are not improve with good quality compost or drainage material such as grit or sand.
Do I have to water my tree all year round?
If your tree was planted in the winter, after you have watered it well when planting you may not need to water it at all until spring. Deciduous trees, once they lose all their leaves, become dormant and until they begin to put out leaves, will not have any water requirements. Evergreen trees don't ever become fully dormant, although they are not actively growing during the winter. If we have a particularly dry winter, you may need to water evergreen trees occasionally so that they can maintain their leaf health. Trees planted during the spring and summer months are at the peak of their productive cycle at this time; producing blossom, new foliage and also fruit. These trees will have a much higher demand for nutrients and water. Watering newly planted trees is different to watering the smaller shrubs or plants in your garden. Monitor them closely and they will become well established and beautiful specimens, a real feature of your garden.
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