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The landscapers planted a new tree (1 1/2 diameter) in the middle of the sod they also installed. They have the yard set to be watered 3x daily for half an hour at a time (the sprinkler heads are the low-flow Hunter rotator ones).

Is this too much water for the tree? If I tone back the water on the sod will that be too little water for the lawn? Do I need to give the tree a deep watering at some point?

One suggestion I have found is to remove the sod in a 6' ring around the tree -- but doesn't that ignore the fact that there is still water going to that area, and probably even more water to the tree since there's no sod to soak it up?

Edit: Some more information - Yard is in Colorado (very dry, has been in the 80s), with Colorado's typical clayey soil. The tree is a Box Elder.

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very difficult to say without knowing what kind of soil, your location, the weather you have been having, kind of tree. Can you provide more information? –  kevinsky Sep 25 '12 at 20:33
    
@kevinsky - updated to provide more information –  Nick Sep 25 '12 at 21:20
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sod should only be watered that frequently until the roots take (hopefully a few weeks). After that, you want to back off the frequency but increase the amount (deeper, but more infrequent waterings) to encourage deeper root growth. –  DA. Sep 25 '12 at 22:42
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2 Answers 2

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I wouldn't worry about the tree getting to much water - a new tree needs a couple of gallons of water a week in temperate climates, more in hotter places like yours, or if the weather is hot and dry, for its first 2 years. The problem is the frequency - it's better to water a tree once a week with 2 or 3 gallons than a little 3 times a day, in order to encourage deeper rooting, as DA mentions in his comment. Pity DA didn't post his comment as an answer, because what DA says is what I'd recommend.

In the meantime, I'd water the tree directly, once a week with a couple of gallons at its base, despite the frequency of sprinkler watering. I'd also be inclined to remove the sod in a circle around it and replace with a mulch, simply because it makes the extra water you give from a can or whatever more easily able to penetrate the soil down to the roots.

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Where I live this tree is known as a Manitoba maple (Acer negundo). It is described as

This species prefers bright sunlight. It often grows on flood plains and other disturbed areas with ample water supply, such as riparian habitats.

This tree would not be planted where I live because of it's brittle weak wood, short life and prodigious amounts of seed. Cultivars show some promise but this is still a tree to plant away from the house. It tolerates extended flooding and a mature specimen can be hacked at with a chainsaw and regrow from the base.

The existing water schedule is adequate for this tough tree but bamboo and DA are correct in their recommendations if you want to encourage growth and a good root system.

You may with to observe other box elders in your area to see how big they get and if people have issues with seedlings or brittle wood. Good preventive pruning now, when the tree is young, can make a huge difference in whether the tree will suffer wind damage later.

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