Despite their all-American standing and apparently effortless spring beauty, cherry trees would be the most difficult of this familiar fruit trees to stay alive. Both sweet and sour cherry trees are bashful about water — too small and they die, too much and they decay or contract annoying ailments such as brown rot, bacterial canker, cytospora canker and root and crown rots. The most critical irrigation period in a young tree’s life span is the season after transplant before a powerful root system is established.
Press the hose nozzle to the ground a couple of inches from the back of this newly planted tree. Turn on the hose until the water flows smoothly but gradually. Allow the water to soak the ground round the young tree completely to settle the soil around the root ball or bare roots of the tree. When water stands to the ground surface, turn off the hose.
Assemble a basin around the young tree in the form of an inner tube. Dig a shallow dump a few inches deep then build basin walls of soil. The planting hole should have been three times the width of the tree root ball, so produce the basin marginally larger than that. You would like the water that you put in the basin to soak in the cherry tree entire root area and a little beyond it to support root development.
Slant the floor and walls of the basin so the water will not travel toward the back but rather away from it. The floor of this basin should be slightly deeper to the outside edge than the inside edge and the top of the inner wall should tip at a small toward the tree.
Fill the basin once or twice weekly during the initial growing season. Fill it more often in hot weather and much less when it rains. Normal irrigation is critical to the young cherry tree as its roots remain limited to the entire first season.
Eliminate the basin in winter. Winter rains are most likely to fill and refill a standing basin, providing the cherry tree much more water than it may use. Avoid allowing a puddle of rainwater to accumulate around the back of the tree.