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Watering New Trees & Shrubs

This is a simple guide to go by to help make sure your plant material is getting properly watered through the season.

  1. Allow a minimum of 5-7 days between waterings.
  2. Pull mulch back away from trunk or stem of plant and check the soil of the original plant root ball. The moisture content of the root ball will often be quite different from that of the surrounding soil. Until the plant has become established, the root ball soil is the only area from which the plant's roots can effectively draw water.
  3. If the soil is moist within the first 1/2 inch down, do not water. Even if the plant appears wilted, if there is moisture in the soil, the plant will recover when the sun goes down. Many plants drown due to overwatering. Don't forget to check the plant again in a couple of days.
  4. If the soil is not moist within the first 1/2 inch, then water slowly and deeply. Watering this way saturates the entire root ball and will allow the plants to go longer between waterings and it is better for the overall health of the plant. To water deeply, we suggest placing the hose at the base of the plant and turning it on at a slow trickle for about 15-20 minutes. For larger plantings, set up sprinklers and apply about an inch of water to the entire planting. The easiest way to tell when you have an inch of water is to set out an empty tuna can in the bed. When the can is full, turn off the sprinkler.
  5. Be sure to check your plants for water in the winter. Broadleaf evergreens, in particular, need water throughout the year. Winter watering is less critical because there is usually much more rainfall and the plant's water needs are reduced. However, with winter's drying winds, and periodic warm spells, watering is often necessary. (One of the main causes of winter injury to your plants results from drying out.)

Just because your plants have been in the ground for a year or two does not mean they are established enough to make it on their own through the summer. Check plants for water regularly for the first three to four years. Older, established plants may require additional watering during periods of unusually dry weather.

For specific questions about individual plants, please call the Garden Center at 434-295-2159.