Caring for your new trees during their first few months is critical. Here are a few tips…
The most important thing to do is to assure your tree will receive enough water down to the roots located several feet below the ground. Do this by constructing a water basin around the newly planted tree. Mound dirt around the tree at the outer tips of the lower limbs, or drip line. Create the channel shaped basin around the tree so that it will hold water 6” to 8” of standing water that can slowly absorb into the soil directly above the root ball. This first step is crucial in maintaining proper water care transplanted trees in Northern Utah.
Fill the basin of the newly planted spruce with water once a day for the first 5 days to provide the new roots with plenty of water and to help prevent transplant shock.
Second to third weeks
Fill the basin full of water twice per week through the second and third weeks.
Remainder of growing season
After this, fill the basin full of water once a week through the first growing season after transplanting. Drip irrigation can do this automatically. In general, lawn sprinklers will not be able to fill the basin sufficiently to provide enough water to the deeper roots.
Extremely hot weather
Fill the basin twice per week during periods of very hot dry weather.
Taper the frequency as temperatures moderate in mid-August and September. One last good soaking is good just before the first frost to help the tree through the winter.
Do not begin watering immediately when the ground thaws in the spring. As the soil dries from spring warmth, the roots follow any water in the soil, encouraging depth. Continuing with water care transplanted trees in Northern Utah can be very tricky as Utah’s weather is wildly erratic.
Spruce trees only need to receive 1” to 3” of water each week depending on the temperature. If your sprinkler system is delivering that much water to the tree no additional watering is required. If not, hand watering will be needed periodically. Check the moisture content of the soil around the Spruce tree with your fingers. Feel the soil to determine if it is moist or dry. Observe the appearance of the tree by looking, in specific, at the needles near the end of the limbs. Look for low hanging needle tips that can indicate either too much or too little water.
Press down on the soil 12 inches away from the base of the tree with your foot. Look at where your shoe meets the soil to see if water appears or if there is an audible squishing sound. This indicates the spruce is over-watered. Look at the lowest limbs of the spruce tree to see if they are brown or yellow in color. Over-watered spruce trees begin to die from the bottom up. Crouch down and look at the soil under the tree to see if mushrooms or a white mold-like growth is present. These only grow in constantly soggy soil and indicate the soil is over-watered.