Watering Instructions for New Plantings


Immediately After Planting

Right after planting, we will soak them in to give them a good start. After that it is up to you to keep them alive and well!

Week 1-2

After Planting Plants will need 1.5-2” of water per week, either from rainfall or watering.

  • Summer Plantings - Check tree and shrubs every few days for the first two weeks. Perennials should be checked daily, especially during extreme heat and drought.

  • Spring/Fall Plantings - Check trees and shrubs weekly, perennials 2-3 times per week. Water less if temperatures are cooler.

Week 3 – 12

After Planting Plants will need 1.5-2” of water per week, either from rainfall or watering.

Summer Plantings- Check trees and shrubs weekly, and perennials every 2-3 times per week, especially during extreme heat and drought.

Spring/Fall Plantings-In Fall, cooler temperatures can provide relief, but if it is a dry fall, don’t forget to water if needed. Monitor irrigatios systems to avoid over watering. Water less if temperatures are cooler.

Year 2-3

Plants will need at least 1” of water per week, either from rainfall or watering. Monitor water requirements of new plantings for at least the first two to three years. Keep an eye on plants close to buildings where heat may reflect and plants under roof eaves that may not get as much natural rainfall. During the hot summer months, rainfall can be deceiving. Often, light rain is not enough to get down to the plant roots, or heavy rains mostly run-off the dry soil and contributes little to the ground moisture.

Established Plantings

Plants will need at least 1” of water per week, either from rainfall or watering.

During Drought - Provide more deep watering

Even established plants may need watering to help survive periods of drought in the summer, especially for the first few years as they establish deep roots. Perennial beds can be irrigated with a sprinkler for about an hour to soak the soil. A slow soak for trees and shrubs is best. Turn your hose to about ¼ the flow, and let it drip slow at the base of each plant for 1-2 hours, moving around as needed. This will encourage deep wide roots and a healthier plant. If fall is dry, or winter doesn’t have much snow, evergreens may need extra water in late fall or early spring. Check your evergreens in November, before the soil freezes, and again in spring when the soil begins to thaw.

How to Check Soil Moisture- Dig around the root zone with your fingers to a depth of 2-3” for small plants and 6-8” for larger trees.

Is it Dry? Water Deep and Slow - When the soil feels dry to the touch at that depth, place a hose at the base of the plant, on a heavy trickle. Water for 30-60 seconds for small plants – longer for larger plants (up to an hour each) while moving the hose to a few locations around bigger plants.

Is it Still Moist? Avoid watering when the soil is moist. Ideally, soil should dry out between watering. As we say “in the biz”, most plants don’t like wet feet. If a plant’s roots are constantly wet, the plant can weaken over time. Plants can die from over watering because of lack of oxygen to their roots or can become susceptible to pests and diseases.

What if I don’t have time to water low and slow?

Watering deep and slow will encourage deep rooting, but if you have to water by hand or are setting up an irrigation system, here is a general amount of water each plant needs at each watering.

Trees – 1-1.5 gallons of water per inch of stem caliper

Shrubs and Perennials – ¼-1/3 of the volume container that was planted (ex. 3 gallon shrub would need .75-1 gallon of water)

When is the best time to water?

Best Time to Water = Early morning (less evaporation)

Mulch is your friend - Mulch allows the most efficient use and retention of the water available. At planting, you should have a 2-3” layer of mulch applied. Top dress 1-2 times per year with 1-2” of mulch. A good layer of quality mulch will help conserve ground moisture, prevent weeds, and reduce competition for water. We prefer Double Shredded Hardwood mulch because it lasts longer and knits together for an effective mat. Don’t pile mulch around stems or apply more than 3”, it can reduce oxygen levels, damage the trunk or stems, and encourage rodents.

Some plants may need more water than others

Species – Different species of plants evolved in different areas and have different transpiration rates and drought tolerances. If you notice one type of plant getting wilted, it may need more water. Other types need a lot less water and will start to decline if there is too much moisture. We can answer any questions you have about your plantings.

Rootball Size – The difference in size between the rootball or container volume and the canopy of the plant can change its water needs. If you have a tiny rootball and a large plant on top, it will be more stressed by transplanting, and will need more water.

Location – Low areas tend to need less water, high spots tend to need more. Slopes can lose water from runoff, especially in heavy rains. Windy areas will evaporate water quicker and the plant’s leaves will transpire quicker (lose water from pores).

Competition – Weeds, lawn, flower beds, and other plantings can all compete for water. You would be surprised how far roots can travel and seek out water.

Temperature – Heat + Sun = Dry. The hotter it is, the more water a plant will need and more will evaporate. The longer the length of daylight, the more time plants will be taking up water and transpiring.

Soil Depth and Type – Sandy soils can drain too fast, clay soils drain slow and can get waterlogged. Loam soil is ideal. Urban soils or ‘fill’ around homes can be made up of anything, usually not anything good. Amending with topsoil and compost can help with soil structure for plants.