Watering Instructions For New Plants
The goal is to reach a point where no extra watering is needed. Plants with limited root systems, (all new plants) need water more frequently to get established. This is most important in the first season after planting but can remain critical into the second and sometimes even the third year if water conditions have been poor and root expansion is slow. Most of the frequent watering usually is needed the first season. Slow, thorough soaking of individual plants or plant beds is preferable to infrequent heavy watering (dumping a bucket) or frequent light watering (spraying with a hose for a few seconds). Most plants like access to water but do not like to have saturated soil. Allow the soil in the root zone to dry slightly before the next water application. Always water as early in the morning as practical so the leaves can dry quickly. Wet leaves leads to fungus problems.
Sod requires light yet frequent watering until established. The roots of the sod only extend 1/2 inch down into the soil and therefore dry out very quickly. You want to keep this root zone damp, but not wet. If there is standing water this will promote fungus growth. When the sod is new you will be able to peel back a corner of the sod. You never want the bottom of the sod to look dry. Roots will start to grow after a few days so do not force up the sod once it is rooted. As the roots grow deeper into the soil you will need to modify your water habits. In the first week or two you will need to water daily, sometimes up to three times a day. Over the next several weeks decrease the frequency of your applications while increasing the duration. You can allow the surface to dry out between water applications. Tease the roots to grow deeper by applying water less frequently but to a greater depth as the roots grow.
Seed also requires light yet frequent watering until established. The seeds are in the top 1/2 inch of your soil and therefore can dry out very quickly. You want to keep the seeds damp, but not wet. If there is standing water this will drown the seedlings. The seed will germinate after 7-14 days. As the roots grow deeper into the soil you will need to modify your water habits. In the first 3 weeks you will need to water daily, sometimes up to three times a day. Over the next several weeks decrease the frequency of your applications while increasing the duration. After the grass is about 4 inches tall, you can allow the surface to dry out between water applications. Tease the roots to grow deeper by applying water less frequently but to a greater depth as the roots grow.
Annuals require light yet frequent watering until established. The roots typically only extend an inch down into the soil. Allow the root zone of the plant to dry slightly between water applications. Depending on temperature this may be either daily or every few days.
Perennial Flowers & Groundcover
The roots of your perennials are typically 3-6 inches deep in the soil when planted. That means you want to water to the same depth. Apply water every 2 to 3 days, approximately 15 seconds per plant with a hose end sprayer. If you apply for 15 seconds straight most of the water will run off. It is best to water each plant for 5 seconds before moving to the next plant and then rotate between the plants for 3 rounds.
Expect to water once or twice every week. The shrub’s roots are 6-9 inches down into soil so they will take longer to dry out but also require more water to saturate the soil. Rain probably will not get the soil wet deep enough so you may need to water even during wet weather. If you are not sure when to water, dig around the plant with a small trowel. If the soil is dry anywhere in the root zone, is time to water. If the soil is still damp or wet, wait a few days and then test again.
Expect to water once every week. The Trees roots are 9-18 inches down into soil so they will take longer to dry out but also require more water to saturate the soil. Rain will not get the soil wet deep enough so you will need to water even during wet weather. Often times we will provide a special bag to assist in watering trees. If this was not included in your project, please ask for a tree bag. To use the bag simply fill with water once per week. The bag will slowly apply the water directly to the root system of the tree. If you do not have a watering bag you can lay a hose at the base of the tree. Allow the hose to run at a light trickle for one hour. You want to apply 15-30 gallons of water over the course of the hour.
Watering Instructions For Established Plants
Grass requires 1 – 1.5 inches of water per week during the height of the growing season. Water each section of your yard once to threes time per week depending on soil type. Rocky soil will require water more frequently than rich loam soil. To ensure that your sprinklers are providing enough water, use a rain gauge placed in the desired watering zone. Often it is best to apply half of the needed water at a time, allowing the water to soak into the soil before applying the second half of the needed water a few hours later.
Annuals require about 1 ½ inches of water per week during the height of the growing season. Infrequent but thorough watering is much preferred over light yet frequent watering. If overhead irrigation is practiced, water as early in the morning as possible to all foliage to dry quickly. Wet foliage promotes disease infestation. To ensure that your sprinklers are providing enough water, use a rain gauge placed in the desired watering zone to ensure that 1 ½ inches are being applied.
Deep watering less often is preferable to frequent, scant watering. That means making sure that the soil is wet after watering to the depth of 1”. If the soil becomes dried out, water. If the soil is wet, do not water.
Trees and Shrubs
Expect to water once every week or two during dry spells, less frequently when it rains. When watering, soak the entire root area of the plant well. Watering heavily and less frequently is preferred to frequent light waterings. (Light waterings promote shallow rooted plants). The usual rule is 1” of water per week for established trees and shrubs.