Important: Remember to water those new (street) trees!

Posted 8/25/22

I know how busy life gets and other activities are spreading out the time between the watering of your new street tree plantings, but I’m here to say, “Please don’t give up!”

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Important: Remember to water those new (street) trees!


I know how busy life gets and maybe vacations and other homeowner activities are spreading out the time between the watering of your new street tree plantings, but I’m here to say, “Please don’t give up!” Stay with it and you will be gifted in the years to come with the beauty of nature’s shade from the heat, blossoms for bees, and a sanctuary for birds for you and your neighbors to enjoy!

Through university research findings that the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has collected and shared on their Tree Tenders website, new trees regularly watered the first few months after they are planted have a greater chance of living a healthier and longer lifespan. Below are watering directions to follow during your new tree's first year of planting from “PHS Presents Basic Tree Care: Watering,” found along with other great tree beneficial gardening videos in their Tree Planting Care video library.

According to Mindy Maslin, PHS Director of Tree Tender, When trees are dug from the ground for transplanting they can lose up to 90% of their root mass. Until this root mass regenerates they need help in getting enough water, nutrients and oxygen. 

Rain water in good times is rarely enough in our harsh urban environments. Unfortunately these are not good times, heat waves and  long periods without rain make it difficult for new trees to access the water they need to develop the root system that can support them.

Normally (when there is rain during the week)  15 gallons  of water once a week  is enough. During extremely hot and or dry times that should be increased to  15 gallons 2-3 times a week.

To help the tree with it’s nutrient and Oxygen needs we recommend aerating the soil, removing weeks and mulching (3 inches high, 3 inches away from trunk and 3 feet wide)

Set a reminder to water your new trees twice a week with 15 to 20 gallons per week from March after the thaw through to defoliation. But especially keep watch during hot and dry weather for leaf wilting or browning of the leaves that are signs of heat stress and dehydration.

Here are a few options and directions about how to successfully water young trees:

Water slowly so the water doesn’t run off in the early hours of the day, or later as the sun is setting, to reduce the amount of evaporation which also allows for the water to penetrate deeper into the dry soil and reach deeper roots. 

Try using a five gallon bucket with holes poked in the bottom (fill it twice), a hose with a slow drip valve, or watering bags which are sold at plant nursery stores. 

Spread the water (you may need to move the water source around) to cover the entire root region. Don’t just water the trunk of the tree because the wider perimeter of root growth is just as important.

Remove weeds and add or reapply natural mulch around the tree, 3 inches thick and 3 feet wide around the base; 3 inches away from the tree root flare to protect the tree roots.

If you are going away for a long trip, ask a neighbor, youngster or friend to water your container plants, and your new tree!

Hold onto this list; magnet it onto your fridge; visit PHS Tree Tenders website for more fun info and facts to bring you closer to the urban landscape around you!

Leslie Cerf, Co-Chair,

Chestnut Hill Tree Tenders