Watering Your New Tree

It's Important to Get New Trees Off to a Good Start...

Newly planted young trees, like many other living things, need help before they can grow on their own. This is called an establishment period - where the tree grows its root system strong enough to support itself and withstand a range of harsh conditions throughout the rest of its life. Those receiving GGCP free trees have been made aware of their responsibility to water their trees for the first two years of establishment. Failure to keep your trees watered could result in your tree not reaching its full size potential, increasing vulnerability to pests and diseases or death.

Trees need 25 gallons of water, approximately 1.5 inches of rainfall, per week to survive. We’ve made watering easier and more efficient by including a free 15 gallon green gator bag (above). This bag offers a “deep watering” method for your trees. Deep watering keeps the soil moist to a depth that reaches all the roots for a longer period of time, therefore speeding root establishment. Watering by hand does not reach all of the roots and has to be done more frequently. This method can also lead to overwatering or underwatering, both of which can be detrimental to tree health.

How to water your tree:

  1. Start watering your tree immediately after planting
  2. Zip the gator bag around the base of your tree and center it
  3. Fill the bag until it is full by inserting a hose into the small opening at the top of the bag.*
  4. Be sure to check the level every day and refill if it is running low or completely empty

*note: there is a small opening, approximately 4 inches long, at the top of the bag to insert a hose. Water should NOT go in the open space between the trunk and the bag. The trunk should not be wet by any means.  


  1. Be extra diligent about watering your tree in the summer! Don’t allow your bag to become empty. Your tree is already using most of its energy trying to grow its roots; heat stress will slow it down significantly which could result in death
  2. Keep mulch around your tree to reduce competition for water and increase the amount of water held in the soil
  3. Feel the soil to make sure it is moist. The soil should be damp not soggy
  4. If you don’t have a hose to fill your gator bag, ask your neighbor if you could borrow theirs! Or use a large pitcher/bucket to carry water from your nearest water source to your tree

Both over and underwatering could cause your tree to go into stress. When new trees become stressed they are no longer able to use their energy to establish. Look out for these signs to make sure your new tree stays healthy:

Signs of underwatering:

  • Wilted, curling or browning leaves
  • Yellowing leaves
  • Sparse canopy with small leaves

Signs of overwatering:

  • The area surrounding the tree is consistently wet and not damp
  • New leaves are a lighter green or turn yellow
  • Leaves are fragile and break when touched


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Page last updated:  Monday, June 10, 2019 11:23 am