We live in zone 8B. We have clay soil. We are having a dead plum tree removed and are thinking of getting a red bud avondale tree to replace it. It will go in the center of our small front lawn, will get regular (depending on how bad our drought is) watering from the grass sprinklers.
What is the best way to deep water the newly planted tree, we will probably get a 15 gallon size (I think that is what they said at the nursery?). Are any of the advertised products...tree-gator, ooze tube, (or others I have't seen) worth it? They aren't very expensive but do they work?
I will ask the nursery, but like to get opinions from my DIY friends.
We have always used a metal, deep waterer. Kind of like a pointed/narrow/hollow cane, with four holes at the bottom of a strong metal pipe? The top end screws onto a water hose and usually has a shut off on it.
Once the water is running through it, it is usually pretty easy to insert into the soil, down by the root zone. We would water with it all around the tree in at least 4 places, until the water came bubbling to the surface. I would imagine at least once a week, unless you got measurable rain.
You might plan to augment the planting hole a bit with some compost or just better top soil than the surrounding clay.
Is the new tree going into the same place as the dead tree being removed? If so, there will be issues of plum tree roots in that area that would need to be pulled out as much as possible.
Even though the plum is dead, the roots might be large enough to impede spread of the new tree's roots, especially in clay soil. This isn't necessarily an easy task though. In fact it can be quite laborious.
One garden site identifies a 15 gallon pot as having a 15" depth and an 18.5" "width", which I assume means diameter.
The hole for the new plant should be excavated and clear of roots to at least the size of the root ball and several inches beyond that on all sides. This is not really a standard but is based on personal experience and preference.
If you have any bags of compost, you could mix them in with the soil to help absorb the water, as clay could slow down if not block moisture absorption. Some sand wouldn't hurt either. Your goal would be to lessen the compaction of the clay so that the roots can find their own way in their new home and the moisture can reach the roots without being deterred by the clay.
I would also add some coffee grounds when turning over the soil before putting in the root ball. If you don't drink coffee, my organic gardening friends state that they get grounds from Starbucks, which apparently donates them quite freely. The worms will help aerate the soil and to a limited extent counteract the heavy clay effect.
What I do when I transplant is to excavate a hole larger than the root ball of the new arrival, work in compost well, separate the roots if the rootball is compacted (very important if the rootball is rootbound), then set in the new plant and fill the hole with water.
I watch to see how well the water absorbs. If it doesn't absorb and just sits, it would be a good idea to remove the root ball and add more amendments (compost, etc.) to the soil.
Once the water is draining at a reasonable rate, then you can fill in the hole. It's hard to measure a reasonable rate as it will vary by soil. But typically you can observe the water draining/being slowly absorbed as soon as you pour it in. It shouldn't just sit, and it shouldn't drain so rapidly that it literally just disappears.
I'm not familiar with any of the products you mentioned. I generally try to keep my gardening as simple as possible, free of devices.
I did check out Tree-gator and ooze-tube, which just seem to be something like inner tubes with a slow release mechanism. Given that your soil is clay, I'm not sure how helpful this would be as the clay is a primary factor in drainage regardless of how often the devices release moisture.
You could easily check your tree every day by gently poking a stick down several inches to check for moisture level. Or you could add a stick at planting time and just pull it out to visually check moisture in the soil on the stick.
Personally, unless your weather is extremely hot (and where in this winter is it that hot now??), I wouldn't add water until the stick reaches close to the base of the root ball and is dryer - not completely dry, but just not as moist as when transplanting took place. This is really a judgment call.
Watch the tip leaves as well; they're an indicator of too much dryness (and other problems).
And I'd rather check regularly than rely on a pre-determined release system for a new arrival in its new home.
But that's just a personal opinion.
The other important issue is to research how much water your new tree variety actually needs.
Edited to add that I've just read Conrad's post and think the idea of a watering pipe is a really good one. I might try something like that myself.This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
When planting trees, it was taught to me also (dig and loosen sides of a 10 gallon hole, for a 5 gallon tree)
Place top soil from the dug hole off to the side and back fill with it first (or place it along side the root ball), placing the less rich soil at ground level. Better soil down for the roots, and the poor soil at the top to help discourage weed and grass growth near the trunk.
Be sure to loosen up or cut through any wrapped roots if it is a container grown tree, as they often tend to wrap themselves around inside the container. They can actually choke themselves as the roots grow around, rather than out.
As usual DIYer's have hit one out of the ball park again. Thanks so much, all replies are very useful, helpful, and exactly the type of information I was hoping for.
my sainted mother (d) always hectored us that you never plant in a dry hole. fill it full, let it drain into the soil, then fill it again and set the plant in. if you keep on watering regularly, it has never resulted in a dead plant or tree for me.
sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
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