Heritage Oak Tree
We planted a Heritage Oak about three weeks ago and it just doesn’t look right. For about a week it was getting really overwatered until we fixed the sprinkler issue the landscapers created. We pulled the tree up some to allow more air and placed more / new soil around it. It is now getting more air and the soil is moist but not overwatered. It is now turning fall looking and I’m not sure what to do. Is this transplant shock? Anything we can do to save the tree??
Arapahoe County Colorado
Two things are likely, maybe three.
1. The best time to plant trees & shrubs is in the spring and early fall. Transplant shock is guaranteed in the hot weather. High temperatures and low humidity put an enormous amount of stress on transplanted trees.
2. Overwatering will cause oxygen starvation to roots. When roots are starved for oxygen, the tree's roots are already dying before the effects are seen above-ground. CSU has specific guidelines for caring for and watering newly planted trees. See this link and follow all instructions.
3. Improper planting. There are no photos at ground level showing if it was planted too deeply, has mulch around the base, etc. Again, CSU has guidelines for tree planting, so hopefully the landscapers planted it correctly. This would also include removal of any foreign material such as wire baskets, burlap, twine, etc.
Water the tree according to CSU guidelines taking note of providing additional water because of the scorching heat. Using a houseplant moisture meter can also help you determine if the root ball and surrounding planting area is too dry. If you are watering the tree by sprinkler system alone, calculate the output rate of how much water the tree is actually getting.
There is no way to know what the outcome of this tree will be. Take corrective action now and watch it closely for further decline. If the sprinkler issue was caused by the landscaping company, they should be notified immediately so they are aware of the effect on the tree and rectify it if needed.
Also, trees and landscapes need water during dry winter periods. It is vitally important with new landscapes because plants are trying to establish in the first years.