When to Stop Watering New Trees: A Homeowner’s Guide

Knowing when to stop watering new trees is something that confuses many homeowners. If you stop too soon, you risk stunting the tree’s root systems. Over water, and the tree’s roots become weak. In this post, S.M.B. Family Tree Service, House Springs’ professional tree service, explains how to balance soil moisture perfectly every time.

When to Water Newly Planted Trees

After planting, you must water your new saplings as follows:

  • Weeks one and two: Every day
  • Weeks 3 to 12: Water every second or third day
  • Weeks 13 onward: Water once a week until the root system establishes itself.

Please note that this is a rough guideline, so check the soil’s moisture content before watering. Things can change when watering shade trees or if you are using organic mulch. To determine how much water to use, look at the container your tree came in. Use enough water to fill the container to a quarter or third. 

How Long Does It Take the Tree’s Root System to Establish Itself?

The answer depends on the species, but a good rule of thumb is to compare the root spread to the canopy. When the roots reach the outer drip line or as far as the canopy does, the tree is established. This typically takes a year or two.

Therefore, the answer to when to stop watering new trees is usually after a year or two.

How to Water

There is an optimal way to water to ensure that your tree receives the maximum benefit. Start by pouring gallons of water onto the root ball directly, and ensure that the backfill soil also stays moist. Doing so encourages the roots to grow out and establish a strong network. As the tree grows, expand the area you water. 

You can also use the reservoir technique to ensure the water goes where you need it the most. Create a mound around the tree about three or four inches high so that it looks like there is a saucer around the tree. Fill this reservoir with slowly trickling water so that the tree gets the maximum benefit.

Mulch to Protect the Roots

Mulching is useful for several reasons and can be instrumental in when to stop watering new trees:

  • It prevents weeds and grass from taking over and competing with your tree for nutrients.
  • It holds moisture in the soil and prevents the water from running off too quickly.
  • It shades delicate roots from the harsh and drying effect of the sun.
  • It breaks down over time to release valuable nutrients.

How to Mulch Like the Pros

Here’s how to mulch like an expert:

  • Source an organic product from a reputable supplier.
  • Choose a mulch with properties that will agree with your tree. For example, pine needles are ideal for shrubs that like acidic soil, like azaleas. 
  • Remove weeds and turf from right next to the trunk to just beyond the outer canopy.
  • Start applying the mulch just outside where the root ball starts. You should leave the root ball clear.
  • Apply two to three inches of mulch from the outside of the root line to the edge of the tree’s canopy. 
  • As the tree grows and the roots extend further, extend the mulch line.

Over time, as the mulch decays and it’s time to add compost, dig the mulch in gently and apply the compost. Then start again with a new layer of mulch. 

Contact Us for Expert Advice

Now that you know when to stop watering new trees, it’s time to ensure that your trees are in their best possible shape. We’ll help prevent dying or decaying trees, pest damage, and stunted growth.  Contact S.M.B Family Tree Service at (636) 212-1852 to schedule an evaluation. 

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