Posted by Brent Wilson on 8/14/2016 to FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
So you or your landscape contractor recently installed some new shrubs and trees in your landscape and you want them to thrive and enhance the aesthetical and increase the monetary value of your property and home. Smart move.
When it comes to protecting your landscape investments, in this case proper watering to ensure the survival of your plants and trees, it's well worth the while to get a little advice that will go a long way towards protecting that investment.
Depending on the time of year, type of plant, soil type and porosity, sun exposure, weather conditions and other various factors, there's really no way we can formulate a "one-size-fits-all" watering schedule for a landscape filled with many different types of plants and different environmental conditions. For example, if there's sufficient rainfall to adequately water plants, supplemental irrigation may not be necessary at all. On the other hand the weather could be very dry, but this doesn't mean that all the different types of plants in your landscape will have the same water needs.
So, if there's no way to set a routine watering schedule for all plants, what to do?
While the established plants in your landscape have grown extensive root systems over the years that help them through extended periods of dry weather, which means there's usually not a need to frequently check soil moisture, you'll need to monitor soil moisture more closely and frequently during the first year after planting; when and while newer plants are acclimating to their new home and establishing a root system. Once established, plants will require less and less attention to watering as time goes by.
There are basically two ways to monitor soil moisture...
1) By Hand. The most effective way to test soil moisture is by using your finger or a moisture meter to test the top two or more inches of the soil. If the soil is damp or moist hold off on the watering. If the top two or more inches of the soil is dry then this means it's time for a good soaking. In time you'll learn how often various plants in your landscape need a dose of water when weather conditions are dry.
2) By Observation. Another way to know whether or not a plant needs water is to keep an eye on its new fresh leaves. If the new leaves are wilting or drooping this is often an indicator that a plant could use a good deep soaking. That said, it's still a good idea to test the soil with your finger because leaves can also wilt due to oversaturated soil, not too mention that a plant won't always have fresh new leaves.
How To Water New Plants By Hand
There are essentially two ways to water plants: by hand or by automated irrigation system. In this article we're focusing on the hand watering method. To find helpful tips for watering outdoor plants with an an automatic irrigation or sprinkler system click here.
Watering newly planted plants by hand is very simple and straightforward. If you've used the finger test or a moisture meter and determined that the top two or more inches of the soil is dry, and that your plant needs water, simply use a garden hose or watering container to give the plant a good deep soaking.
Keep in mind that when watering newly planted plants, rather than just splashing them with a little water every day it's much better to deep soak less often. Also keep in mind that it's best to avoid splashing water on foliage when watering, especially if watering during the late evening or at night, which can cause development of fungal disease on foliage.
Important Tip: Also keep in mind that when watering newly planted shrubs, trees and other plants it's important that the entire root ball of the plant, which could be 6 inches or more in height, remains consistently damp to moist during the first growing season. This deep soaking to a depth equal to greater than the bottom of the root ball or planting holes is especially important. After that, you'll just be providing enough water to soak the top of the root ball and surrounding soil.
In average garden soil you should not have to water your newly planted plants every day. In the absence of sufficient rainfall, water only as needed to keep the entire root ball and surrounding soil damp to moist. Keep in mind that deep soaking less frequently, and allowing the soil to dry some before watering again, is much better than splashing just a little water on plants every day. The same is true for established plants. After a week or so you should know how often specific types of plants need to be watered in order to maintain adequate soil moisture.
Important Tip: Contrary to popular belief, with the exception of bog or aquatic plants, more plants are damaged or die due to oversaturated, constantly soggy or wet soil than dry soil conditions. Constantly soggy soil most often occurs when plants have been planted too deep (with the top of their root ball below the soil level) and/or over-watering.
Best Time To Water Plants
When watering by hand you can do so at any time of day. That said, watering during the early morning hours is best. Why? In the event you splash some water on the foliage of the plant when watering, watering in the morning would allow this water on the leaves to dry off, which prevents development of fungal diseases.
Other Important Watering Tips
When watering plants it is best to avoid splashing water on the leaves, especially when watering in the late evening. Water with a garden hose or soaker hose at the base of the plant.
When plants have gone dormant for winter, which means they are not actively growing and drinking as much water, plants will require much less water.
Contrary to popular belief, with the exception of bog or aquatic plants, more new plants within are damaged or die during the the first few weeks or months after planting due to oversaturated, constantly soggy or wet soil than dry soil conditions. Constantly soggy soil leads to the development of root rot and most often occurs when plants have been planted too deep (with the top of their root ball below the soil level) and/or have been overwatered.
Hope this information was helpful. If you need more information or have any questions or suggestions don't hesitate to contact us.
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