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Watering Guidelines

 

 

 

Learning how to water properly takes time and practice mixed with a good dose of common sense.
Always test the soil before you water and don’t wait until you see plants wilting... it might be too late. It’s up to you to keep your plants alive and thriving. Garden Gate provides a one-year guarantee on plantings supplied and installed by us, with exceptions noted in our Conditions of Sale. However, our guarantee is contingent upon you providing proper watering and care. If you have any questions concerning the care requirements for your new plantings, please contact your consultant.

Newly installed plants need extra care and watering attention after being planted.
As the old adage says, “the first year newly planted plants sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap” is really true. During the first few years roots are forming, but they are not adequate to search out and provide moisture from the surrounding area. It is up to you to provide this needed moisture. If plants are allowed to wilt due to drying out, irreparable damage may occur to plant tissue. If the lack of water is chronic, stunted growth, increased pest and disease problems and lower winter hardiness can result. Protect your investment and water properly!

Plants require extra care and attention during drought periods.
Even plants which may have been planted for several years may require extra watering during drought periods due to competition from surrounding trees and more mature plantings or because the root system hasn’t developed fully enough to support the plant.

During periods of stress the soil type, temperature, exposure and season of the year may affect your watering schedule, thus confusing the person providing watering. Expect that your watering schedule will change throughout the year and from area to area within your garden based upon the many variables that Mother Nature brings with each season of the year.

Check the soil before you water because over-watering can be just as detrimental as under-watering.
A Ross Root Feeder, or other metal probe, is a great tool to check soil moisture. Push the probe into the soil applying the pressure of your body weight. If the probe goes in too easily, the soil is too wet. If the probe is hard to push in, then the soil is too dry. If the probe goes in slowly but rather evenly, then the soil moisture level is probably about right.

After a few tries you’ll learn what the “feel” should be like when the soil moisture is just right. Alternatively, dig a small hole into the soil to at least 3 or 4 inches and feel the soil. If the soil feels moist to your touch then you don’t need to water. If there is visible water or water quickly seeps into the hole, defer watering for a few days. Although we think of watering during the late spring through the summer, fall watering is crucial to winter survival of newly planted plants. Therefore, continue monitoring watering until freezing temperatures occur regularly.

Here are some tips for effective watering:
For large trees and shrubs turn on the hose to a slow trickle and let the water slowly soak into the soil around each plant. Depending on the size of the tree or shrub and the moisture content of the soil, each plant could require a few minutes to a few hours. The slow trickle allows the heavy clay soils in our area to absorb the water gradually, thus getting the most out of each drop.

Alternatively, a soaker type hose can be snaked through the plant bed. It is critical that the soaker hose runs over the top of each root ball. Soaker hoses are meant to be left running for several hours at a time. You can either buy several hoses to cover your newly planted beds or move one hose from area to area. If you decide to use a sprinkler, the best system is an impact head type sprinkler. This sprinkler puts out a stream of water and an arm comes across the stream, due to water pressure, and causes the sprinkler head to rotate. This type of sprinkler can be purchased on a tall metal tower or on small spikes and the head can be adjusted to cover any part of a circle up to a full 360 degrees.

As a general rule of thumb, plants that grow in our climate like to have a minimum of 1 inch of water per week, preferably in several doses versus a big downpour.
If you are watering with an impact sprinkler, set a small plastic tub in your plant bed. Then you can monitor the amount of water the bed receives. If you are hand-watering, use the metal probe to monitor the soil moisture level.

Minimum watering requirements:
• Deciduous trees, 2-3.5” caliper - 20 gallons per plant
• Evergreen trees, 6-10’ height - 15 gallons per plant
• Shrubs, 18-24” height or spread - 2.5 gallons per plant
• Ground cover, 2.25” peat pot - 50 gallons per 100 sq. ft.
• Perennials, Grasses, Vines, 1 gallon size - 2 gallons per plant
• If your plants are larger or smaller than the ones listed above, adjust the water quantity accordingly.

Weather Factors: Air temperatures, precipitation and wind affect soil moisture.
• Cool, dry weather: water every 2-5 days, being sure to check soil moisture before watering.
• Cool, wet weather: water every 7-14 days. Plant roots can rot if they’re sitting in water for long periods of time, causing decline and death of the plant. During cool, wet weather you may not need to water at all since natural rainfall might be sufficient. Check the soil with a metal probe before you water and be careful not to over-water.
• Hot, dry weather: moisture should be checked daily. Frequent, even daily watering, especially of smaller plants, may be required to avoid water stress and plant loss.
• Rainy weather: If it’s raining regularly, less care is required. Check the soil moisture a few days after a rain and water only if needed. Summer rain from a short cloudburst may run off quickly and not adequately soak the soil. Even a good rain in the summer might not be adequate if we’ve had a long period of drought. Long, steady rain soaks the soil and makes the need to water frequently less urgent. Typically, one inch of water per week is sufficient for most plants. However, smaller plants may need water more frequently.
• Maturity of planting: In years two and three after planting, plants should still be watered to insure an average of 1 inch of rainfall or irrigation per week. Therefore, you need to monitor Mother Nature and help her out when needed. During a prolonged drought, shallow rooted plants like azaleas, as well as plants planted in a wooded environment, will require some supplemental watering even after they are well established due to tree root competition.

Sodded areas must be kept moist during the first three months after completion.
Watering may be required daily or on a frequent schedule to maintain adequate soil moisture to a depth of a minimum of 6 inches. Sod may not recover if allowed to dry out before it has fully rooted. Don’t mow sod for the first two to three weeks after installation.

Newly seeded areas must be kept moist on a daily basis until germination is complete. If the seed dries out at any point, the germination rate will be reduced dramatically. After germination, watering must be performed to keep the soil moist to a depth of 6 inches. This watering should be practiced for the first three to six months until the seedlings are well established.