Top 10 Tips For Watering your landscape

Homestead Landscape with statueOur Landscape Division might love sunny, dry weather so they can install their designs with ease. And we like that idea too! But the downside of uninterrupted garden projects is the high risk that new installed plants can get mighty thirsty under hot conditions!
Here at Homestead Gardens, we really want to make sure new plants are getting watered properly going into summer. With the protection of your plants and investment in mind, we’re offering here a condensed guide to watering!

Check soil moisture around new plants daily

If a Homestead Gardens planting crew has planted your new trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, or sod/seed, they will give your new plants an initial deep watering. Then, for the next few weeks, check your plants’ soil moisture daily and water deeply as needed. You should plan to water the soil around your new plant for at least 2 or 3 hours. Take care to water the roots, and not the leaves of your plant.

Check Under the Mulch

If there is a lot of humidity, soil may not dry out in shady areas, even when it is hot outside. For this reason (and others, like over-watering) it’s important to check the soil for moisture below the mulch. If the soil under your mulch is damp, DO NOT WATER. 

garden-hose-wateringWater Slowly and Deeply

Water deeply when you water.  Why?  Roots go where the water is, so deep watering makes the roots go deep, too.  Thus, the plant becomes more and more resilient to stressful conditions.
Try not to get too anxious about watering your new plants: worrying can lead to over-watering. When we mention overwatering, we mean that you are watering too often, not necessarily that you are watering too much at any given time.
What’s the right watering frequency?  When the plants need it. What’s the correct amount? When the soil around the plant is moist, but not muddy. 

Space Watering Sessions

Daily watering creates dependent plants. If there has been no heavy rain during the first two-week period after your landscape is planted, water plants deeply 3 times per week. Gradually lessen how often you water to help create and stimulate resiliency. If we have a hot dry summer, 3 times per week might still be necessary.
Frequent and light watering encourages shallow root growth. Shallow or light watering will cause the soil around the plant to dry quickly. This causes a lot of stress to the plant, whether it is newly planted or established. 

Create Self-Sufficiency

For the first few weeks after your landscape is planted, especially in summer, it may be necessary to water your plants every day, but the frequency will decrease as roots spread. Maximum self-sufficiency comes from deep roots. Again, water deeply and slowly, gradually extending days without watering to help the plant grow stronger and more resilient. 

Use buckets, not teacups. 

Don’t be shy or stingy when watering in the landscape. Be sure to give your plants a full and deep watering. Especially when first planted, your plants need two-three hours of watering at a trickle, three times each week in periods of low precipitation! Remember: long, deep and generous. When we say deep watering, this means watering to the depth of the balled and burlapped or containered root size.

new shrubWater the Soil and Not the Leaves

Watering your plant’s leaves can lead to fungal and disease issues that could damage your plant. Also, watering leaves means some vital moisture could be lost to evaporation, especially on hot, sunny days. It’s very important to note that your plants shouldn’t be watered in the hottest part of the day. Many experts recommend early morning hours to avoid the hottest rays of the sun. 

There are times when an overhead shower is just what your plant needs.

  • During dry or windy weather,  a fine layer of dust can reduce your plants’ ability to photosynthesize efficiently. 
  • Sometimes your heat-stressed plant may just need a little cooling-off with a shower. Don’t offer a shower in the hottest hours of the day when the sun is shining directly on the plants. 
  • Some insects, including aphids and spider mites, can be kept in check by simply hosing them off.

Hand Watering vs. Slow Trickles

For larger plants what’s recommended isn’t hand watering but a slow trickle of water for two to three hours around the drip line of a plant. Larger trees will require more time. The drip line is the area near the stem or trunk of your plant, under the outer circumference of the tree branches or plant foliage. The water will drip down into the soil and root zone, encouraging healthy growth. 

Go Dry Between Waterings

Once your plant is fully established (this can be up to two years), water less frequently, letting the topmost layer of salt dry out between waterings.  Plants need air, and it’s between waterings that your plant will be able to breathe. 

lush-residential-lawn-3Sod and Seed

In the case of sod and seed, it’s important to KEEP THE SOIL MOIST AT ALL TIMES until the turf is established. This means you need to water daily when the weather is warm and/or windy.

landscapedivisionFinal Thoughts

A plant’s first growing season in the garden will determine its future.  Pay close attention during that period, knowing that watering needs will change over time.  Adjust watering as conditions change and as your plants mature. For information on watering systems, check out our blog post on that topic here

If you have any questions about watering your plants or landscape, please contact our Landscape Division by email at [email protected] or telephone at 410.867.6336.