Basic Steps to Watering Plants and Trees

Basic Steps to Watering


Proper watering of newly planted plants is of utmost importance and ‘key’ to their success, especially during the 1st year, and for some, 2nd, and 3rd years, getting new roots established.  Don’t take this lightly; improper watering (too dry / too wet) is the #1 reason for new plants struggling or dying.  It’s difficult to tell new plant owners how and when to water as no 2 sites are the same: different soils, container vs. balled and burlapped plants, different plant’s water needs, the weather, and the seasons will vary watering requirements.  Here are general watering guidelines to help:


Thoroughly water all plants immediately after planting and again the next day.  Start regular waterings from there. (Water container plants as needed if not being planted within a few days.)


Check soil moisture daily (physically touch or use Moisture Meter), keeping even moisture in the root ball and surrounding soil for 3-4 weeks.  Water deeply and thoroughly as needed, to keep even moisture (not soggy wet).


Begin watering routine of deep thorough soaking, allow the soil to get close to dry, and soak again.  This may vary from once every 3-5 days to every 7-10 days.  Check soil moisture regularly to determine when to water next.  SOAK, LET SOIL GET CLOSE TO DRY, SOAK.  Do this until mid-fall.  Water evergreens as needed until late fall.  “Close to dry” lets the soil breathe between waterings.


During the 2nd and 3rd growing seasons, continue to water as needed, which now may be every 10 days to 2 weeks.  It can take 2-3 years or longer for new plants to become ‘established’.  Pay special attention during hotter / drier times of the year.  Windy days can be very drying as well.


Established landscape plants would like 1” of rainfall every 7-10 days for optimum growing conditions.  Unfortunately, unless it’s an all-day or multiple-day rain, rainfall may not sufficiently water newly planted trees and shrubs.  Check soil moisture (physical touch or use Moisture Meter), water as needed, and count on rainfall as a bonus.


Miss a watering during dry times, and your time, effort, and investment may be wasted.   Proper watering is the key to your new plant’s success.

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