Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall: What the Changing Seasons Mean for Watering Your Newly Planted Tree

Fall is here but don’t pack away your garden hose just yet! Newly planted trees should be watered throughout the fall season up until the ground freezes. Fall watering supports root development in newly planted trees and helps evergreen trees combat the stress of winter conditions.


Fall has arrived and the cooling temperatures and shorter days are a cue that it is once again time to prepare our outdoor spaces for the winter. Cleaning and storing patio furniture, mulching garden beds and planting for the spring are standard fall to-do list chores.  But one thing you should not cut short during this season is watering your newly planted tree! 


Above ground, trees begin to wind down during the fall, displaying brilliant fall colours and dropping leaves in preparation for the winter. But did you know there is a lot of unseen activity taking place below ground too? Despite lower air temperatures, soil remains warm well into the fall season thanks to the hot summer months. This warm soil creates an ideal environment for new root growth, which continues up until the ground freezes. Fall watering supports this seasonal root development, which in turn leads to a stronger, more developed root system come spring.


For evergreen trees, fall watering is especially important to protect against winter drought. Dry winter winds can quickly wick away moisture from the leaves (needles) that an evergreen keeps year-round. If an evergreen loses more water than it has absorbed during the fall, it becomes susceptible to drying out and browning may occur. Therefore, fall watering helps prepare an evergreen for the stress of winter conditions.


On average, newly planted trees should be watered twice weekly, using approximately 6 gallons of water each time. This is equivalent to 3 full watering cans or a hose with no nozzle on a very slow trickle for 15 minutes. Because every soil type is different, it is important to check the soil before watering. Stick your finger into the soil and if it feels damp and cool, your tree should be good for another day. If it feels hard and dry, it’s time to water!

Interested in planting a new tree this fall? Our subsidized Backyard Tree Planting Program makes planting native species easy, fun and affordable. Apply now to book your personalized consultation with an ISA certified arborist. 



Jess Wilkin is the Residential Planting Programs Operations Supervisor at LEAF.


LEAF offers a subsidized Backyard Tree Planting Program for private property. The program is supported by the City of Toronto, the Regional Municipality of York, the City of Markham, the Town of Newmarket, the Regional Municipality of Durham, the Town of Ajax, City of Oshawa, the City of Pickering, the Township of Scugog, the Town of Whitby, Ontario Power Generation, Ontario Trillium Foundation and GrandTrees/Canadian Trees For Life.