Proper watering is critical to your plant’s health. The following instructions are just guidelines. No watering schedule is a substitute for observing the condition of your newly planted plants every day.
The concept behind this watering schedule is to insure deep root watering. Reason for deep watering: Frequent, shallow watering (rain, sprinklers etc…) leads to shallow root systems. Plants with shallow root systems are not very drought-tolerant.
Check the soil. If need be poke holes or fracture the soil with a spading fork around the root zone to make sure water goes to the bottom of the plant. Remember – Getting the bark wet does not mean the root zone is wet. You must check to make sure the roots are moist.
Watering guidelines for 1st year plantings: For Best Results, use an open-ended hose placed at the base of the plant and running at a slow trickle for the time indicated in the chart below. If you prefer to use soaker hoses, they should be wound through the planting bed and wrapped loosely around the trunks of plants. They must be left running overnight, twice per week. Gator Bags are also an option for watering. They need to be filled as often as if you were watering with a hose.
IMPORTANT REMINDER, the gator bag acts like an umbrella and will not allow natural rainwater to soak in. Planting in the SPRING: Water 3 times per week, for the first 3 weeks, whether it rains or not. After the first 3 weeks, water twice per week whether it rains or not Conditions Requiring More Frequent Watering: Windy locations – wind dries plants out more quickly.
Slopes – plants planted on a slope will dry out more quickly, since the water runs downhill away from the roots. Be sure to keep the hose pressure at a very slow trickle, place it above the plant on the slope and water more frequently. Overhangs – plants placed under a roof overhang will need more water, since the soil in that area tends to be drier as it does not receive any rain. Things to Avoid: Oscillating sprinklers – While excellent for watering lawns, which have a relatively shallow roots system, a sprinkler does not provide sufficient water for deeper-rooted plants such as trees and shrubs and can contribute to foliar fungal diseases.
Bucket method – A bucket of water poured around a plant will be applied too quickly to soak in before most of it runs off. Watering guidelines for plants in ground longer than 1 year: A “sticking the finger in the soil” test (about 3″ – 4″ down) is a good method.
If the soil is dry to the touch, water. If it is moist, do not water. Observe the weather (Is it a normal or an unusual year in terms of moisture and temperature?). Consider the type of plant (Does it like dry conditions, normal moisture, or a lot of moisture?) Is the right plant in the right spot (shade loving plants in a shady spot, sun loving plants in a sunny spot?).
Trees and Shrubs: All trees and shrubs need more frequent watering from planting time until becoming well rooted, which may take two or more growing seasons. Once established, plants can then be weaned to tolerate less frequent watering. Proper weaning develops deep roots and makes the plants more drought tolerant.
Water established trees, shrubs and ground covers infrequently, yet thoroughly. In the absence of rain, most trees and shrubs benefit from a once-amonth thorough watering during the growing season. The feeding root system of a tree or shrub is located within the top 12 inches of the soil and at the “drip line” of the plant. The drip line is the area directly below the outermost reaches of the branches.
Apply water and fertilizer just inside and a little beyond the drip line, not at the trunk. Simply lay a slowly running hose on the ground and move it around the drip line as each area becomes saturated to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. For large trees, this watering technique may take several hours.