rWithout the proper amount of water, a newly planted tree will not be rooted in its new location. The amount of water needed is determined by the caliper of the tree trunk. For example, a one-inch caliper tree needs about one to one and one-half gallons of water each time it is irrigated, whereas a four-inch caliper tree needs about four to six gallons. It is the roots of a tree that need the water so that they can grow to provide the nutrients for supporting the branches and leaves of the tree. Water needs to be applied directly to the root ball and to the backfilled soil so that the roots expand beyond the ball. The root establishment time for a tree increases with its caliper size. It takes about one and one-half years for a one-inch caliper tree to establish its root system; a four-inch caliper tree takes about six years.
Two effective methods are recommended for watering transplanted trees. In the first, a reservoir is created to hold the water. This can be done by making a circular mound of earth three to four inches high around the plant's root ball. The reservoir should be filled with a slow trickle of water that will infiltrate the root ball. Another option is to place a plastic bag called a "Treegator" at the base of the trunk. The bag is filled with water and will slowly release the water into the root ball through small holes in the bottom of the bag. This means that any turf or grass must be removed from the area so that the tree does not have to compete with the surrounding groundcover for moisture. When two to three inches of mulch is applied on top of the root ball it decreases water evaporation, helps control weed growth, insulates the soil, and improves soil health.
Insufficient water harms all plants, and the effects of it can be seen at the top of the plant. The northeastern United States has been struggling with a drought this summer. Grass is brown, the leaves of corn plants are rolled up, tree leaves are turning brown and falling, and new bud growth is diminished or not occurring. All these signs show us that the plant roots are not receiving sufficient water.
What are the spiritual applications of this principle? In the Bible rains represent blessing while droughts represent cursing. Deuteronomy 28 talks about the ramifications of following or not following God's commandments. For those who follow His commandments God says, "The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of His bounty, to send rain on your land in season and bless all the work of your hands..." (Deuteronomy 28:12) For disobedience God says, "The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew.” (Deuteronomy 28:22)
God desires that we be well rooted and established in His love. (Ephesians 3:17) When this happens, Ephesians tells us, we will have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep His love is, and "to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Verses 18-19) This requires us to be filled with a reservoir of His spiritual rains in our hearts. In Jeremiah 31:12, the Lord tells His people that they will be "like a well-watered garden..." I think the best promise of all, however, comes from Jesus as He met the Samaritan woman at the town well: "Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them like a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)
When we root ourselves in God's garden and follow His ways, we can be assured that "we will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails." (Isaiah 58:11) We will be like the trees of the Lord talked about in Psalm 104:16. "The trees of the Lord are well watered." And well-watered trees bare good fruit.
Joan E. Mathias