Drought stress is common with newly planted trees and shrubs. Even in a cool, wet summer, the rain rarely replenishes soil moisture stores fully. The soil may be dry around the roots even when the surface appears moist.
Dry, windy conditions are especially likely to lead to water shortages. With experience, it is possible to detect the dull, lifeless foliage indicative of drought stress but by then the tree has already been damaged. Ideally anticipate water loss, and irrigate to prevent damage.
Watering aids can assist watering of newly planted trees such as irrigation tubes (biodegradable tree irrigation pipe made from potato starch is available) or watering bags such as Treegator®.
Weeds, lawns and other vegetation intercept water before it reaches the roots of newly planted trees and shrubs.
- Keep a vegetation-free circle at least 1.2m (4ft) in diameter around the plant for its first three years to help avoid this problem
- The circle can be kept weed free through hoeing or use of contact or systemic weedkillers
- Laying mulch over this circle is also helpful, although take care to leave a collar of 10cm (4in) around the woody stems that is free of mulch, to prevent the risk of rotting the bark