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Friday - August 15, 2008

From: Sachse, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Watering, Trees
Title: Proper watering of cedar elm trees in Sachse, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I've just planted two Cedar elm trees in clay soil, each about four inches in diameter, and I want to water them correctly. I'm aware that too much water can be bad as well as too little water. I don't want to endanger the trees because of improper watering.

ANSWER:

We would have preferred that you plant the Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm) in late Fall or early Winter, when the plant was dormant, and the heat was not so intense. However, now that you have it in the ground, it is going to need some tender loving care to keep it going. Sachse, in north central Texas, may not have had quite as extreme a drought and heat wave as Central Texas has, but close. Newly planted trees will almost surely have had some root damage, if not actually having had some root pruning, before they go into their permanent location. Clay soil is all right for the Cedar elm, but you do have to be careful not to overwater it and drown the roots. Hopefully, you amended the soil with some compost or other organic materials to loosen the dirt and improve the texture. Whether you did that or not, do mulch with an shredded hardwood mulch. This will protect the roots from the heat, and help to keep moisture in the ground. Also, as it decomposes, the mulching material will continue to add more organic material around the tree roots. Now, stick a hose down into the dirt around the roots, and water it with a very slow dribble until water appears on the surface. Then, watch and see how long the water takes to disappear. If it takes a half hour or more, the soil is not draining well at all. If it is draining normally, you can give the tree its drink of water every other day. If water does appear to be standing in the hole, give it less water but every day. This should go on until the weather cools and/or we get some rainfall. Keep a close eye on your tree, as it is susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease.This website gives comprehensive instructions for identifying and dealing with this very destructive disease.

 

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