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Learning how to water properly takes time and practice mixed with a good dose of common sense.
Newly installed plants need extra care and watering attention after being planted.
Plants require extra care and attention during drought periods.
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.
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:
Weather Factors: Air temperatures, precipitation and wind affect soil moisture.
Sodded areas must be kept moist during the first three months after completion.
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.