UI Extension: Tips for watering newly planted shrubs & trees


It can be hard to know how much water newly planted shrubs and trees need. Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator Ryan Pankau shares a few tips.


All newly planted trees and shrubs need to be watered once a week anytime rainfall is less than one inch per week. In Central Illinois, we get about 40 inches of rainfall per year.

In April, May, and June, we average over four inches of rain per month. July, August, and September tends to be a little bit dryer with an average of three inches or less per month.

Transplant Shock:

Newly planted trees can be in transplant shock for three or more years. Established trees and shrubs grow out of transplant shock by extending their root system beyond the initial planning hole and by establishing a root system that can support their canopy.

Established trees and shrubs– especially native species– should not need watering in future years. The exception would be trees with poor health or during extreme drought.

In those cases, plan to water your trees.

How do you water?

It’s better to water heavily once a week, as opposed to many times in smaller amounts. This mimics natural rainfall.

Make sure your watering extends beyond the existing root system to promote outward root development.

As for application methods, the fastest method is to use a garden hose with open flow. Movement of the hose should be based on slope and soil infiltration.

Using a soaker hose is the slowest method, but most thorough. It has a very low evaporation rate and excellent coverage of the root zone.

Overhead sprinklers are slower than an open flow garden hose, but faster than a soaker hose. However, they can lose up to 50% from evaporation.

Tree watering bags have a slow application rate. Depending on the bag size, water could be of limited quantity. They experience a low evaporation rate, however they do a poor job of covering the entire root zone.

For more information, visit this Garden Scoop Blog post HERE.

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