‘Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.’ Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, M.D. Discoverer of Vitamin C


Watering is one of the fundamentals of successful tree (and shrub) establishment. Trees will require watering for the first two years post planting, after which they will generally be able to look after themselves.

How much and how often to water a newly planted tree will depend on numerous factors including soil typelocationair temperaturewind speedsize, and species of tree.

young tree

The following is a good general guide as to how much and how often to water your newly planted tree.

  • Use a watering can with a rose attachment to water or a sprinkler or other such method that will administer water slowly and at a low pressure, mimicking rainfall
  • Water should be applied to the surface of the tree planting pitevenly distributed over the whole area to encourage even root development
  • A newly planted tree should be ‘watered in’ when planted
  • A newly planted tree should be continuously watered from bud burst in spring to leaf fall in autumn (for deciduous trees)
  • It is occasionally necessary to water evergreens a little during the winter months if it is particularly dry. This does not need to be done routinely and can be a response to a period of dry weather.
  • During the height of summer, water should be applied at a rate of 20 litres (roughly 2 x 5-gallon buckets) every other day. A lesser volume water is generally required during spring and autumn.


Top Tips to make the most of your watering


Mulch your tree. Mulch should consist of either sheet material or organic material and be 1.0m in diameter with the tree at the centre.

If using organic material, it should be at least 50mm in depth but no more than 100mm in depth.

Mulch should only be applied to the root system; tree stems should be mulch free. The mulch should resemble a shallow bowl not a flat plate. The mulch helps to retain waterprevent weed growthcontrol soil temperature and gives you an indication of where you need to water!


Make sure that you are able to quantify how much water you are applying to your tree and how often you are applying it.

If there is a problem with watering, it is much easier to diagnose if you know how much and how often.

NB newly planted trees still need watering, even after it has been raining! It is the root-ball of the tree that needs watering and often rainfall is intercepted by the canopy and does not reach the planting pit.


Reference: Barcham Trees