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My tree was just planted. Do I need to water?

Yes, please! Our planting contractor will water the tree immediately after planting. Then, it’s up to you. Follow these general instructions for newly planted trees for the first two years after planting: 

Time of Year  Quantity  Frequency* 
First two weeks after planting  3-5 gallons  Daily 
April-October  15-20 gallons  Every 2-3 days 
November-March  15-20 gallons  Every 2 weeks** 

*Do NOT water wet soil 

**Mid-day, when the temperature is at least 40 degrees 

Other watering tips

  • Allow soil to dry between waterings.  
  • Be sure to check soil moisture to determine if more or less watering is necessary. 
  • Increase frequency of watering during long periods of high temperatures (heat wave) and/or without precipitation (drought). 
  • In preparation for winter, perform a deep root irrigation: Water your tree with 15 gallons of water with a slow trickle over several hours. 

For how many seasons do I need to provide extra water for my tree?

We recommend following our watering guidelines for at least two years after the tree installation to ensure that your tree becomes established. Your tree needs extra water while it grows back roots cut off during transplanting (when we transfer your tree from our nursery to your right-of-way). After your tree becomes established, you can reduce the frequency of watering, but we still recommend following the “10 gallons of water per inch of trunk caliper” watering rule when we experience long periods without precipitation and throughout the winter. You can continue to monitor your soil moisture to determine when your tree needs to be watered. If it’s dry, it could use some water!  

How can I check if my tree needs to be watered?

Feel it with your hand. Dig down into the soil a few inches and squeeze the soil with your hand to feel if it is wet, dry or inbetween. Wet soil will stick together; dry soil will crumble or fall apart. You can also invest in a soil moisture meterthis low-cost device allows you to probe the soil and determine the moisture content.  

How can I make sure water reaches deeper into the soil?

A simple garden hose is the most basic tool needed to water your tree. But soaker hoses, soft spray nozzles and soil needles can help break through the soil surface and ensure the water gets where it needs to go. Most of the tree’s absorbing roots are found in the first 12 inches of soil depth, so apply water slowly to ensure it has time to absorb into the soil and reach these vital roots. Monitor your watering, and if the water is running off and not soaking in, reduce the rate of your watering.

Why do I need to winter water?

Roots never rest. In the fall and winter, trees drop their leaves and become dormant as they prepare for colder temperatures. However, roots never go dormant and still need water to survive. Colorado often experiences dry periods over winter (two or more weeks without precipitation), which can leave roots susceptible to drying out, causing tree death or severe root damage. Do not water when temperatures are near or below freezing, as this can also cause root damage. Read our watering guidelines for more information on how to water your tree in the winter.  

How can I tell how much water my tree is getting through my hose or irrigation system?

You can determine your hose’s output by taking a container of known quantity, like a gallon jug or five-gallon bucket, and setting a timer for how long it takes the hose to fill up the container. Then you can calculate how long you should trickle your hose to achieve a certain quantity of watering.

For example, if it takes a hose two minutes to fill up a gallon of water at a trickle and you need to give your tree 15 gallons of water, then you should water for 30 minutes at a trickle. Be sure to move the hose around the base of the tree to evenly water all roots.

There are some conversions to measure how much output a sprinkler system has. For trees, an irrigation system is helpful, but is generally not enough water to get the tree established. We recommend using a “treegator” watering bag and/or a watering hose, in addition to an irrigation system. CSU Extension has more tips on watering. 

I’ve turned off my outdoor water for the winter. How I can I water my trees?

You can use buckets or a treegator watering bag. You want to make sure the water is delivered slowly if you are using a bucket, so do not dump the water. There are helpful resources on how to convert five-gallon buckets for better tree watering. You can also use your garden hosejust remember to disconnect your hose from your outdoor spigot.  

Do I still need to water if it rained or snowed?

Most likely, yes. We generally get very little precipitation in Denver, and when we do, it can be brief and heavy, and this type of rainfall usually does not fully absorb into the soil, especially in areas of Denver that have heavy and compacted soils. If you are unsure, check the soil moisture prior to watering. Read more about how you can check if your tree needs to be watered in above FAQ.