Caring For Your Street Tree

Cherry trees in bloom along streetscapeThe Town of Brookline chooses trees that are able to sustain dry spells and survive our unique urban climate. However, their establishment is very dependent on how they do during the first few years of life. Young trees require a substantial amount of water to thrive. The Town dispatches crews to water newly planted trees, but also depends on Brookline residents to water their street trees during dry spells.


Newly Planted Trees: For new trees, water immediately after the tree is planted and twice weekly for the first summer and until early December. A newly planted tree will need approximately 15-20 gallons of water per week.

During First Two Years: During the first couple growing seasons, your newly planted tree is expending a lot of energy trying to get its roots established in the soil. Especially during the first few summers of your new tree's life, it will have a difficult time dealing with heat and drought. You can make this easier by providing water and covering the soil. Deep watering can help speed the root establishment. Deep watering consists of keeping the soil moist to a depth that includes all the roots.

Protect your new tree: Minimize stressors to trees such as pet waste, salt and de-icing chemicals. Protect the trunk from tape and bikes. Cigarette butts, litter, and weeds should be removed promptly as well.

How Much Water? Not enough water is harmful for the tree, but too much water can also cause issues. Moist is different than soggy, and you can judge this by feel. The ideal condition is damp soil that dries for a short period to allow adequate oxygen to permeate the soil.

Tree Tip: As a rule of thumb, your tree’s soil should be moist at 2” below the ground. Dig down 2” and touch your finger to the soil; if the soil is moist to the touch, then the tree does not need water.

Tree tag: Your new tree comes with a care tag (it may have been placed on the tree itself, or on your doorknob). Post it in a place where you will remember to refer to it!

Mulch: You can add a 3-inch layer of loose, coarse mulch at least 3 inches from the tree trunk of your street tree. Please be mindful not to add too much mulch (4 inches or more), as this may be a barrier to oxygen getting to the soil.