This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Care should be taken not to water too much A fruit grower once to our knowl-edge, when planting a row of trees, used water too freely - by the buckets full. During the night the temperature changed, the thermometer fell to below freezing point, and the wet ground was entirely frozen, injuring the trees and roots as much as if they had been severely scalded. Trees should never be water-soaked, and until the leaves begin to form, they never need much water. The Country Gentleman in discussing this point, says judiciously:
" When covered with foliage, a tree pumps water out of the soil and dissipates it in the air at least twenty times faster than bare branches. Some young trees, and especially pear trees, often remain fresh and alive for several weeks, without opening leaves ; and in such a case, or when the stem is slightly shriveled, nothing is better than to tie a little long straw around it, and wet this straw daily. The moisture is absorbed precisely where it is wanted, at the hark ; and young trees that appeared hopeless in condition have thus been restored to vigorous growth in a few weeks. As a general rule, never water the roots of young trees, but depend upon maintaining the moisture of soil by a clean mellow surface; and if necessary at midsummer by mulching. Watering gives at best an intermitting supply, hardens or crusts the surface, and commonly docs more harm than good".