Long and Short-Term Tips For Watering and Protecting a Young Tree

June 17, 2021

It’s been about two months since Arbor Day, so if you planted a new tree in your yard and it’s still looking healthy, possibly has some new growth on it, then it may feel like you’re in the clear. However, planting a new tree is a long-term process to ensure that the roots have found their own source of water and that the tree can be self-sufficient. Even if your tree is looking really good, now is not the time to stop paying attention to it.

Here are some short- and long-term tips for watering and protecting your new tree.

When to Water

Weather in the Tacoma area has been beautiful, but there will be hot and very sunny days throughout the summer. This means that a large portion of the water will evaporate when it’s poured onto a tree at the wrong time. To avoid evaporation, water your trees in the morning or evening, which will give the soil and tree roots a chance to absorb the water.

When you first plant a tree, it will most likely need to be watered every day for at least a week, but this can depend on if there is any rain, as well as the type of soil, the size of the tree, the species, and the time of year. For the first two to three weeks, you’ll want to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Check on the tree occasionally and use a trowel to feel how wet the soil is. If the top two inches of soil are dry, then give the tree a good soaking.

How Much Water

A younger tree will need more water than older ones, and freshly planted trees will need more water than established trees. The general rule for established trees is to give it 10 gallons of water per inch of the tree’s diameter. For newly planted trees, it’s better to gauge how much water it needs by feeling how wet the soil is and making adjustments based on the appearance of the tree: if the leaves start fading in color or wilting.

Keep in mind that overwatering can be just as harmful as underwatering. Signs of overwatering include yellow leaves on lower branches at the inside of the canopy, brittle green leaves, fungus or algae, and black or dark brown roots.

Ways to Water the Tree

One of the most common ways for homeowners to water their trees is with a hose or watering can. This method is fairly convenient if the tree is close enough to the house, but it needs to be done correctly. When using a hose, it’s a greater amount of water is a small amount of time, making it difficult for water to seep into the soil. Make sure to add some water, wait for it to soak, add more water, and repeat this process until you’ve given it the correct amount.

Drip irrigation, the method preferred by tree care specialists, allows the water to drip at smaller amounts over a longer period of time so that the water can really soak the soil around the tree. Though there can be an installation process, when drip irrigation is set up, it is a great way to give your whole garden the water it needs while you can walk away and do other things.

If you don’t have drip irrigation, but want to use this long and slow watering technique, you can poke some holes in the bottom of a five or 10-gallon bucket or use a gator bag to slowly apply the water to the area. Do this at least once a week throughout the summer season after the first two to three weeks of daily watering when the tree is first planted.


Applying a layer of mulch to the area surrounding the tree can help significantly when it comes to protecting the soil and the roots. Mulch will help retain moisture, can keep weeds and grass at bay, and as the mulch breaks down, it will add a slow release of nitrogen to the tree. Mulch also looks great and can create a cohesiveness throughout the garden and yard.

Staking the Tree

If the trunk of the tree is still really small, it’s recommended that the tree is staked. This will stabilize the tree as it grows and protect it from wind. Use two or three sturdy wooden or metal stakes and push them into the ground about two to three inches away from the trunk. If using two stakes, put them opposite each other with the trunk in the middle, if using three, create a triangle shape around the tree. Use a soft material like canvas to attach the stakes. Give the tree enough slack so that it can move naturally.

Contact Apex Tree Experts in Tacoma For Superior Tree Services

Apex Tree Experts provides a range of tree care services throughout the Tacoma area. From guidance on planting new trees to keeping it trimmed and healthy as it grows, to hedge trimming and tree stump removal, we have your needs covered. Our team is committed to providing exceptional service and helping our customers make informed decisions for their trees and yard. Safety and the health of your trees are our number one priorities, so you can put your trust in us.

Whether you need help with a new tree or an existing tree needs trimming, schedule a consultation with Apex Tree Experts today.