Watering a tree sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it? But trees,
particularly new, young trees, can suffer irreparable damage when they
are subjected to incorrect or insufficient watering. Here is a
question from a reader about that very subject, as well as some ideas
about removing the pesky stumps of a holly bush!
QUESTION: "I had planted two new trees in April, a redbud and an
apple serviceberry. Neither came with any instructions about watering.
The redbud has a circumference of 5 inches and the serviceberry 5 1/2
inches. Please give me an idea of how much and often to water them.
"Also, are new trees not to be fertilized for a couple years? Should
I be doing root stimulator applications on them both and for how long?
While on trees topic when is the best time to have Bradford trees
pruned?" - a reader
ANSWER: The best rule of thumb for new trees is to make sure the root
ball is moist until the tree or shrub grows through the first season.
To do this you can purchase a product from a company called Jobe. They
manufacture a tree spike that attaches to a regular garden hose.
Directions come with the spike.
If you cannot find this product, take a 1 to 2 inch PVC pipe and hammer
into the root ball but at the farthest point from the trunk of the
tree. Be careful not to hammer into any large root of the new tree.
Make sure the root ball is damp at least once a week during the first
A lot of folks think by watering the top of the ground that the roots
of the tree are getting watered and that is simply not the case. To
prove it to yourself, water the ground for a few minutes then dig down
to see how far the water has traveled. You will be amazed at how short
a distance the water has penetrated.
You can treat your new trees with a fertilizer that stimulates root
growth. Ask for it at your local garden center.
The best time to trim trees is when they are dormant: late fall when
they drop their leaves or early spring before the leaves appear.
QUESTION: "We recently removed some (old) holly bushes from the front
of our house. My husband chain sawed them down. Well, now I have about
3" of stump remaining from the ground and I keep getting new holly
growth all over. I have to keep clipping to control. We put a poison
into the stumps (after drilling holes) but they are still there. I want
to till up the whole area in front of house and replant some shrubs or
flowers. How can I make sure I kill the root, stump and any other new
growth?"- Ginnie Mercer
ANSWER: I know there are several products out there that you can
purchase from your local garden store. However, in order for you to do
this quickly you may have to dig them out. Since they are a three inch
caliper you will have to back away from the stump about two feet with a
spade and start digging. You use a spade to cut the roots all the way
around the trunk then dig down and lift up. This is the fastest way to
accomplish your task. It will take quite a while for poisons to kill
and rot the stump enough to till the ground.
After that Q and A appeared in a recent edition of my weekly e-mailed
newsletter, I received the following comment from a reader:
COMMENT: "About those stumps from the hollies, I have a suggestion
that might help until it's warm enough to dig those stumps out... She
can pour a big bag of high nitrogen fertilizer over the stumps and
roots area, cover that with wet newspaper and then top it with plastic
to keep it
moist. As you know, this will help rot and "soften" the stumps and
roots for easier digging in spring." - Teri
ANSWER: It would seem on the surface a great solution. I will post
your comment on my Web site and share it with our readers. Do you have
comments or suggestions to share with other readers of this column?
Send your ideas to me via e-mail.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send questions about trees, shrubs and
landscaping to email@example.com. For resources and additional
information, or to subscribe to Steve's free weekly e-mailed
newsletter, go to www.landsteward.org