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Watering Your New Plants - Metropolitan Forestry Services

We want to ensure that your new plants get the best possible start in your landscape.

Newly planted trees and shrubs need special attention for the first 3-5 years, especially when it comes to watering. By sticking to a proper watering routine, you will support your new plants’ establishment and encourage them to develop into healthy, beautiful, and beneficial elements of your landscape.

General Timing


  • First 10-14 days: water every day (Check soil first to make sure you aren’t overwatering)
  • Next 3-12 weeks: water every 2-3 days
  • After 12 weeks: If the soil is dry to the touch, it has not rained recently, and:
    • Temperatures are under 95 degrees: water once per week.
    • Temperatures are over 95 degrees: water twice per week or soak deeply once per week.



  • Water slowly and deeply! The whole root ball needs to be fully saturated each time you water it, otherwise the dry roots will begin to die off.
  • Irrigation systems CANNOT be trusted to water your trees and shrubs! They are designed to water turf, and they typically only soak the top couple inches of soil. Trees and shrubs have roots that extend several inches below the surface, so the water from irrigation does not usually reach the whole root zone.
  • Overwatering is just as bad as underwatering. Always check the soil to gauge the moisture level before you water.
  • Your evergreen trees and shrubs still need to be watered about once a month during the winter – when temperatures are above 40 degrees and the soil is dry, water your plants deeply.

How to Check if Your Tree Needs to Be Watered


First, check the soil around the root ball to determine if the tree needs water. A few inches away from the trunk, dig down into the soil with a screwdriver or use a soil probe. This way you can see what the soil looks like a few inches down into the root ball of the tree or shrub. If the soil is powder dry, you need to water. If the soil is completely saturated and muddy or if it has a foul odor, let the soil dry so the roots can regain access to oxygen. If the soil is soft, wet, and slightly crumbly (I compare it to moist chocolate cake), wait a day or two then check again. Also, monitor the temperature and amount of rainfall with a rain gauge and adjust your approach accordingly.


Watering Methods


Turn on the hose on as if you are going to take a drink from it, like a water fountain. Place the hose into or on the soil nearest the center of the planting hole. Let it run until the soil will not absorb anymore, moving it around the root ball if you wish. If water is running off within the first few minutes, turn the pressure down. You can also use a watering wand on low pressure. It can take between 10-15 minutes for trees and 5 minutes for shrubs to completely soak the soil.

This is not recommended for a few reasons. For one, it can be inefficient and costly; a significant amount of the water will evaporate in the hot air and soil surface before it can soak into the soil. Also, overhead watering splashes the soil and foliage, creating the perfect transmission zone for soil-borne diseases and fungi and thus increasing the risk of infection.
Even so, this may be the most practical option for some people to make sure their plants are well-watered. Run the sprinkler for at least 20 minutes on opposite sides of the tree. This is best to do in the morning so the water can evaporate from the plants quickly while less water evaporates from the cooler soil.

Some products are designed to make watering targeted and efficient. One product is a slow-release watering bag. The bag loosely surrounds the trunk and can be filled rapidly with a hose. Another product is a soaker hose which is placed over the tree’s root ball. With both products, the permeable material releases the water over several hours, providing a full soaking without runoff and very minimal moisture loss.

If you notice that your planting is not looking well, we can check up on it and make recommendations. As always, reach out to us with any questions, we are happy to help!

Printable PDF: Watering Your New Plants

"We were very happy with the crew that completed our project - they were very professional, efficient and careful. They didn’t disturb any of the other landscaping in the process and both my husband and I were pleasantly surprised with the quality of their clean up!"

– Martha V.

Our goal is to provide you with the best possible service. If you are not satisfied with any treatment or completed job, we will resolve the situation to your satisfaction. We want to do our utmost to ensure your trees and shrubs are always 'green and growing'.