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Watering new Arborvitae Hedge?

I just planted a row of 10 6-7 foot Arborvitae, and followed the instructions on watering once a week. But with watering them once a week they are turning brown?! I had several knowledgeable people tell me that I should be watering the heck out, and so I have changed over to soaker hose, on for 45 minutes everyday, I live in North Providence, RI. Was the once a week a misprint??

From the Ask this Old House directions - http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/step/0,,20397712_20805078,00.html
-- Fill each dam with water, wait for it to be absorbed, then fill again. When the water soaks in the second time, rake away the dam and add a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch. Keep it away from the trunks to prevent rot. In the first growing season, water once a week, unless it rains. After that, water if there's no rain for two weeks if you have sandy soil, four weeks if your soil is clayey.--

Re: Watering new Arborvitae Hedge?

I've found over decades of gardening that watering instructions are only general, to be varied depending on the zone, soil condition, time of year, etc.

Before you planted, did you enrich the soil, double dig it, or add compost? Was it clay or sand before you planted the arborvitae?

When I plant something with a good sized root ball such as arborvitae would have, I double dig the soil, add compost, turn it under well, add the plant, then fill the hole with water and watch to see how well it absorbs into the earth. If it stands in the hole, I know that I need more compost and the soil isn't friable enough.

Another factor that has killed many plants I've purchased from nurseries is rootbound root balls. If the plants have been in pots (especially hard plastic pots) for too long, the roots will become bound and won't release once in the ground. They remain compacted and don't absorb moisture or nutrients; the plants begin to turn brown and eventually die.

A 6-7' tall arborvitae is going to require a significant amount of adjustment and adaptation to its new home. I suspect that the browning is occuring on the tips, perhaps at the top of the plants?

Has there been a drought in your area? If so, then you may have to water more often. If your soil is unamended clay or sand, you'll have to enrich it for the plants to survive.

Are you near the ocean, and are the plants subject to strong winds? These are also factors that could affect their survival.

What you can do is take cuttings now and root them in the even the plants don't survive. You could also remove one or two and pot them in very large containers with enriched soil to try to rescue them.

Good luck!

Re: Watering new Arborvitae Hedge?

I think you need to water more than once a week, but you may be watering too much with once a day for 45 minutes. Since the root ball in contained in a small area, it will dry out quickly. You don't want to drown the plants. Too much water can cause root rot or not allow the roots to spread out to seek water. From my experience arborvitae seem to be tolerant of wet soil.

Re: Watering new Arborvitae Hedge?

Another thought....how close together are the arborvitae? I have the sense that they're planted fairly close to create perhaps a privacy barrier. If the soil is poor, they may be competing for moisture.

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