How much water for young trees in this drought?

windytown(4)July 25, 2007

Whew! I've spent the past 12 hours or so moving the hoses around.

We moved into our new home three years ago and planted around 20 trees and numerous shrubs.

I've been running the hose on a slow trickle for half an hour per tree and 15 mins. on shrubs.

I haven't done this for two weeks as we had a good rain, well, two weeks ago. :)

An inch of rain per week is what I hear young trees require. Am I watering enough?

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I guess there is no definitive answer. There are just too many variables--soil type, kind of tree (tap roots/surface roots), sun and wind exposure, high/low ground, mulched or not. . . I would think 3-year-old trees are pretty much established; however, a tree or shrub with a shallow root system will dry out quicker. The usual answer is an inch per week, but if your soil is sandy, that would not be enough; if heavy, it would probably be a waste. Probably a better answer is that, if a day after you water, the soil still feels wet below the surface--but isn't muddy-- you probably watered it correctly. Sometimes, by the time a tree is showing stress--leaves curling and feeling dry, it is hard to get them back up to speed, on the other hand, some shrubs respond almost immediately. You basically have to use your intuition and not beat yourself up for any mistakes. Hardy trees have amazing resilience--non-native plants will suffer first. Hopefully you received some of yesterday's rain. Guess they got seven inches in some parts of Wisconsin. My yard got 3 tenths. Sigh. . .

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 8:04AM
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Thanks for your advice, hoghaven!

Given all of the variables you pointed out, I'll give our local nursery a call as they know our clay (yuck!) soil the best.

One-tenth of an inch of rain was all we received yesterday. Double-sigh....

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 8:51AM
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hoghaven summed it up quite well! Another piece of advice often given is to water enough to wet the ground down six inches. I tend to doubt that in most soils 1 inch of rain does that adequately.

For many plants, especially ones with a really good match between cultural requirements and actual placement in a landscape, I think deeper and less frequent watering is better.

I re-did the "landscaping" at our house several years ago and planted 60 trees and shrubs and over 1100 seedlings. I used mostly native plants, mulched well, and watered by the "deeper & less often" credo. I haven't lost any of the trees & shrubs (the perennials being a little harder to keep count of ;-) and these days supplemental water about once in a blue moon.

Your yard sounds really attractive with lots of variety. What types of plants did you put in?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 1:05PM
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We tried to plant a good variety of trees as we're pretty much "nuts" when it comes to our love of trees.

We have some of the usual suspects on a new lot: Autumn Blaze Maple, a couple of silver Maples, a Linden, Siouxland Poplar (for quick growth as a screen way in the back), three Niobe WIllows in the moister areas and lots of different flowering crab trees. My favorite is the Tina Crab with its' weeping habit. We also planted some Black Hills Spruce, a Serbian Spruce and an Austrian Black Pine.

Shrubs include Nordine Smokebush, Jim Dandy and Afterglow winterberry, Viburnum, Mockorange, Pussywillow, Amur Maple, Dogwoods, tons of Lilacs in several varieties and lots of various arborvitae. I'm sure I've forgotten a few!

In addition, there's three fairly large gardens containing a mixture of perennials, annuals and veggies.

It's all fun, and thanks for asking leaveweave! That was good mental exercise for this 47-year-old. LOLOL

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 3:13PM
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mustard_seeds(4 -Onalaska Wisconsin)

hi Windytown!

I am considering adding 3 winterberries to the border of my lawn - afterglow, red sprite, and Jim Dandy winterberries. The area I would like them is a sandy, full sun area. It gets dry but I use a lot of compost and wood chip mulch around my shrubs and I would try to keep them moist with frequent drinks from the hose - or maybe I could lay a soaker under the mulch. How have your winterberries done the past few years since you did all that planting? Do they get really thirsty in order to keep the fruit from dropping? How big have your WB shrubs become? Everywhere I have read says that JD will pollinate afterglow, but one poster on a Gardenweb forum said that his/her afterglow flowers were not blooming at the same time as JD and there were not good berries. I have not heard of problems with the red sprite pollination.

Thanks! Rachel

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 10:15AM
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Hi Rachel,

Unfortunately, the winterberries have not performed well for us. They are no bigger than when we planted them and just barely plug along with very few berries. As I said previously, our soil is clay and, I have to tell you, they are in an area that receives little protection from winter winds. They appear to be marginally hardy for our situation.

Perhaps they will do better in soil that is not as heavy as ours. Sorry to be a bummer. I hope you have better luck if you decide to try them.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 11:29PM
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