Newly planted trees (those planted within the past three years) require regular watering and care throughout the annual growing season. The first few years are the most critical to their long term survival and growth.
A 200-250 cm sugar maple sapling that was planted as a bare root tree in mid-May 2018. Note the hardwood mulch placed around the base of tree and the tree-watering bag set in place. The bag capacity is 65-70L when full with a draining time of 6-8 hours, but the bag content can be reduced when used for watering smaller sized trees.
Deep watering to a depth of 30-40 cm keeps the tree’s root zone moist (but not wet) and encourages rapid root regeneration that is essential to the tree’s reestablishment in its new environment.
MLF’s woodlot manager, Mike Fisher has been watering the 200-250 cm sugar maple saplings regularly, partially filling the tree-watering-bags with 40-45 L of water weekly. The trees were watered more frequently during the hot dry weather we experienced in June and July. The water soaks into the soil over a period of 4-6 hours, saturating the tree’s root zone.
It’s a year later and the sapling has grown to 20-25 mm stem caliper. The tree-watering-bag is in place, wrapped around the base of the tree and partially filled with water (40-45 L).
Note: This particular tree was planted in a more exposed location and required a stake to keep it upright while it grew new roots to support the tree. The stake will be removed in spring 2020 if the tree is well “anchored”.
On well-drained soils, 40-45 L per 25 mm of stem diameter/week should be enough water. Don’t overfill the bag as too much water can damage the roots by keeping the soil too wet. Water the trees every 4-5 days during hot, dry, drought-like conditions.
Above: You can also use a DIY tree-watering-bucket, an economical alternative to the commercial tree-watering-bag that is shown in the background. Capacity of 20 L. Fill twice to provide the 40-45 L required for each watering. Alter the location of the bucket placement relative to the tree trunk by 90 degrees as you water the sapling during the growing season, to encourage uniform root development around the tree. The duct tape flap covers the “fill hole”, preventing small birds from entering the bucket to get a drink.
The consequences of failing to adequately water recently planted maples – drought stressed leaves as the tree slowly dies.
Year four and after: you can relax a bit on tree watering in later years but be prepared to water during long periods of drought.