The trees we plant in our gardens and streets have been grown in nurseries where their roots have been pruned and controlled to create a stable, but small, mass of roots which can be easily transplanted to their final home – our gardens.
Nurseries recognize the stress caused by having a limited root mass, particularly when growing trees, and therefore ensure that the young trees are irrigated each day so that there is no stress which would hold back their growth and detract from their appearance.
In other words, the tree we buy from the nursery has become reliant on easy access to its daily water needs. And so, when we plant it in our home landscapes, we must continue providing water directly to the root ball each day - otherwise it will go into shock and quite probably die.
The most effective way to watering directly is to run your hose on the slightest trickle and place the end on the root ball, close to the tree’s trunk.
The benefit of running the water as a trickle is that it soaks the whole root mass thoroughly and not just the soil surface. The other benefit (for us) is that you don’t have to stand holding the hose but can return 10 minutes later to move the hose end to the next tree or shrub. And should you be distracted for whatever reason, the low volume usage will be minimal and the root ball will not be overwatered.
These newly planted young trees have been watered regularly during their first year and are showing their health and vigor.
In the heat of summer, and especially if there is a breeze, the tree will require several gallons of water each day to keep its leaves cool and to enable the new shoots to continue growing.
The presence of water in the surrounding soil is also essential to enable the roots to begin growing and exploring – the faster this root establishment happens, the less need to supply water in the future.
Also, trees in this tough North American climate start their growth in spring but begin to slow new growth in July/August so as to prepare for winter. By providing consistent water availability during these 3-4 months, we enable the tree to maximize both branch and root growth. However, if there is a dry spell, the trees’ growth shuts down early and will not start up again even if the water supply returns.
It is the consistency of water being provided which enables the plant to thrive and rapidly become the pleasure we anticipate from having a healthy tree to look at and sit under.