Q: I’m in a quandary. I received a ten-foot tall ‘Kwansan’ cherry tree for my birthday. Should I go ahead and plant it in the face of watering restrictions? Plus, I’m going to be on vacation next week.
A: If the tree looks healthy, I’d plant it. I’m positive you can collect enough bath water to water it thoroughly before you leave on vacation. The key to the tree’s survival is how quickly the roots explore the surrounding soil. To that end, use a shovel to thoroughly loosen an area ten feet in diameter to a depth of ten inches. There is no need to amend the soil unless it is the hardest of red clay. Plant the tree in the center of the loosened area. Pour twenty gallons of graywater slowly onto the root ball next to the trunk. After watering, cover the entire loosened area with two inches of pine bark mini-chips. When you get back from vacation, water with twenty more gallons. By that time the tree will start dropping its leaves for winter and rainfall will keep the soil moist enough for it to grow new roots.