A 50 mm (2”) diameter tree needs a minimum of 130 litres (30 gallons) of water per week. If you are able to water using a soaker hose or slow drip, give the tree a minimum of two hour’s worth of water. For just over 50 cents per month in water, you can ensure the survival of your new tree.

During a week when it rains two or more days, watering is not necessary. Watering should continue until the first frost, usually around the beginning of October. At that time, one final soaking should get your tree through the winter.

The most common reason for poor survival of new trees is inconsistent watering. If you plan to take holidays away from home, ask a neighbour to water while you are gone. Regular watering will greatly improve the tree’s health and appearance during this critical establishment period.


Carefully watch your new tree. Monitor for signs of poor health such as leaf yellowing or leaf drop and insect infestations. In most cases, the tree will be strong enough to overcome small problems on its own, as long as it is provided sufficient water, especially during periods of drought.

The Early Years

It will take time to see results! The first priority for a newly transplanted tree is to grow new roots. You won’t see much growth above ground for the first year or two. Once the root system is established, the leaves and growth pattern will take on the appearance of a more mature tree.

Fertilization is usually not necessary for a newly transplanted tree because root systems are not yet sufficiently developed to take full advantage of it.

If the spring weather is unusually cold or dry, the new tree may not develop foliage as quickly as other established trees. Chances are the tree is just taking a bit longer to break its dormancy and there’s nothing to worry about. Simply water regularly and wait. If you find in mid-June that there are no signs of life then you may want to seek advice.

Important Tips

Consider placing a mulch layer of approximately 8cm (3”) over the soil but, do not pile it up on the trunk of the tree. This keeps surface moisture from evaporating and reduces the need to weed. Mulch is available at all garden centres as well as many grocery stores.

String trimmers MUST NEVER be used to trim grass around the tree trunk. They cause significant damage to the trunk by cutting the bark which will kill the tree. Keep your lawnmower away for the same reason.

Don’t plant flower beds around the tree. If the soil level is raised around the trunk, the bark may soften due to the increased moisture. This can make it more susceptible to attack by insects and disease.

Avoid using pesticides in close proximity to your tree. Sprays drift easily and should not be allowed to make contact with the leaves or trunk which can damage the tree.

Tree Facts

  • The majority of a tree’s feeder roots are in the top 60 cm of soil. The most common reason for poor survival of a newly planted tree is inconsistent watering.
  • Watering a newly planted tree costs just over 50 cents per month.
    String trimmers must never be used to trim grass around the tree trunk.
  • They cause damage to the trunk by cutting the bark, which will kill the tree.
  • Unobstructed tree roots may extend 2-3 times beyond the radius of the tree’s canopy.

Wondering about costs?