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A landscape that is well designed and professionally installed can add more than beauty, it adds value to your home and to your property. Proper watering is the most important task that you can perform to insure the success of your new plantings. Simply watering them is not necessarily difficult, however, determining when, how much and how often can be.
The size of the root ball, the type of plant, soil structure and soil type, exposure to sun and wind, weather and temperature are all factors that will affect each plant’s water needs. Sandy soils absorb water much quicker than silty or clay soils. They also drain much quicker. Heavy or clay soils retain moisture better, but do not drain as well. Exposure to the sun and wind also affect how well soils retain moisture. Soils in sunny locations will dry out much quicker than those in the shade. Likewise, soils exposed to the wind will dry out much quicker than those in protected areas. In addition to soil type, soil compaction and slopes also affect how well soil can absorb moisture.
Newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials require more water and far more water monitoring than established ones. We have found that in many cases, new trees need water about 1-2 times per week, new shrubs need water about 3-4 times per week, and new perennials need water about every 1-2 days. It is, however, impossible to generalize because of all of the exposure and soil variables.
The symptoms of water stress are almost identical, and so it is crucial to monitor the soil conditions carefully.
- Signs that a plant might need more water: the soil is dry, leaves are wilting or curling, leaves are turning yellow or brown and falling off.
- Signs that a plant might have too much water: the soil is wet, leaves are wilting or curling, leaves are turning yellow or brown and falling off.
For the first 2 to 3 weeks:
It is necessary to physically check the soil around the individual plants daily. Using a stick, a rod, or your finger, poke into the soil deep enough to assess the soil moisture.
For trees go about 6-12” deep, for shrubs 4-6” and for perennials 2-3” deep. You may not have to check every single plant, however, check enough sizes and varieties to be sure that you are not overlooking any plants. Pay particular attention to plants in a hot dry location such as the south and west sides of the homes foundation, or on a hilltop setting. If a plant is wet, you can skip watering that one. If the soil is only slightly moist or dry, it is time to water.
From three weeks through the first season:
As the roots are developing and moving out into the surrounding soil, the plants will need less frequent and deeper watering to promote deeper root development. Occasionally you will need to check soil moisture and monitor your plants to avoid water stress. As the temperatures drop it is still necessary to monitor your plants.
After the first season:
Water less frequently the second season and slowly increase the time between watering. After the second season, you probably won’t need to water unless there is a drought.