The absolute best way to know if your tree needs water is to stick your finger about 2-3 inches into the soil directly in the root ball, close to the trunk. If the soil is wet or moist do not water the tree. Once the dirt in the root ball becomes dry to the touch then the tree requires more water. It is especially important to check on the moisture of the soil around your new trees when the temperature is particularly warm. If you are unsure about whether you should give your tree more water, determine the temperature for the day, if the weather will be hot then go ahead and give the tree some more water, if the weather is cooler it is best to hold off on watering.
The best method for watering your tree is to place the end of a hose at the base of the tree and turn on the water to a slow trickle and run for about 10 minutes or so depending on the size of the tree and the moisture levels in the soil. Water your tree this amount once a week, twice a week if temperature is 25°C or above. If you do not have a hose long enough you can use a 5-gallon bucket filled with water with a few small holes in the bottom placed by the trunk or you can use a watering bag around the trunk of the tree which slowly drains water.
* A tree which has been under-watered is easier to save than a tree which has been overwatered *
Watering with an Irrigation System
Unlike grass, which can tolerate extensive watering, trees do best when the soil is moist and not saturated. Saturated soil creates favourable conditions for pathogens to grow and can cause the roots of the tree to rot and die. The best type of irrigation system for trees is drip line irrigation, this type of irrigation supplies the tree with a slow and steady amount of water directly to the roots of the tree while minimizing water consumption. If your irrigation system uses exclusively spray heads it is likely your tree is being overwatered. Trees that are closest to the spray heads are most at risk for overwatering, so it is important to regularly check on the moisture of the soil of your garden beds and adjust your irrigation zones to supply an appropriate volume of water.
In new landscapes irrigation systems often run more frequently and for longer periods of time to allow the sod to establish. Once the sod is established it is critical that the system be slowed for the other plant life to survive because much of the excess water from the sodded areas will pool in the garden beds. In Calgary we often experience a very rainy spring season, and during times of heavy rainfall there is no need for your irrigation to run at all until a week or two after the frequent rain comes to an end.
What do the numbers mean?
The numbers on fertilizer packaging provides you with the percentage of the nutrients in the fertilizer mixture. The numbers always follow this sequence:
N-P-K Nitrogen – Phosphorus – Potassium
Nitrogen: Encourages leaf development. Phosphorus: Promotes root growth. Potassium: Helps to fight off disease, promotes root growth, and supports flower and fruit growth.
For newly planted trees using a fertilizer with a high percentage of phosphorus is best to encourage root growth, without a healthy root system it is impossible to have a healthy tree. Carefully read the directions of the fertilizer you purchase to ensure you do not over fertilize your tree which can cause fertilizer burn due to salts within the fertilizer drawing out moisture from your tree. Be sure not to apply lawn or flower fertilizer to your tree as they have different requirements.
Trees require fertilizing only in the early spring/summer months, not in the fall. Fertilizing in the fall will encourage the tree to continue to grow when it should be preparing for the winter to come. Fertilizing in the fall will lead to worsened winter stress on your tree which can lead to excess winter damage.
We highly suggest that homeowners only prune their trees to remove any dead or damaged branches. Pruning causes stress to trees and leaves them with wounds making it more susceptible for bugs and pathogens to enter.
It is normal for trees to have a small number of dead branches after the winter, these dead segments should be removed so that the tree can focus on sending nutrients to the parts which are living. To be completely sure the branch is dead you can check by scratching the branch with your fingernail, if the tissue underneath is still green then the branch is still living and does not need to be removed. If the tissue underneath is brown, then that part is dead and can be carefully removed. Always sanitize your pruning sheers before use to ensure disease does not spread.
If an entire branch is dead to the trunk, carefully cut at the branch collar with minimal damage to the tree. To prune any dead ends of a branch, make your cut close to a leaf node or lateral branch so it can continue to grow.
Bark mulch provides your tree with nutrients, helps to prevent weeds from growing and insulates the ground to allow the soil to remain moist for longer periods of time. When in a grassy area removing the grass and making a circle of mulch at least a 2-foot radius can also prevent damage to the tree or the roots from lawn movers, trimmers and other tools.
Avoid creating a mulch volcano around the trunk of the tree. The mulch should be in an even layer around the tree and most importantly should not be touching the trunk of the tree or the root flare to avoid the bark from rotting and exposing the tree to insects or disease.
If you often see wild animals on your property it is important to protect your trees from becoming food for the animals. If rabbits are common in your area create a protective barrier around the trunk of the tree using chicken wire or any similar products. If deer or moose are common in your area some create a fenced radius around the tree for protection or use wildlife repellents such as Plantskydd which will deter the animals from your trees.
Address: 30034 Township Rd 254B, Calgary, AB T3R 1G1
Mailing Address: P.O.Box 1779 Cochrane, Alberta T4C 1B6