Good watering habits is perhaps the most important factor in determining your new landscapes success. During establishment (first year in the ground), they should be monitored closely so they do not dry out.
High temperatures in conjunction with winds can really do a number on your new plantings. If you are unsure as to if the plant needs water, you simply need to check it. You do this by pulling back the mulch at the base of the plant in question. Using your finger, feel how wet the soil is. The soil should be moist and cool to the touch, not just on the surface, but a couple of inches down as well. Too much water can be just as bad for the plant. Too much water, on a consistent basis can cause root rot (this can kill the plant in time) which shows as a wilted appearance as well. A dry wilt is always better than a wet wilt. Bottom line, only water when you know it’s needed. A plant will tell you when it is thirsty by the way it looks. Good indicators of dry plant conditions are if the plant is wilting, saggy, or worst case, crispy to the touch.
I think it’s fairly tough to over water the plants on the first month, so plan on watering 2x per week during those first 4 weeks. After the first month, back it down to at least 1x per week for the next 5-8 weeks. Again, do not over water; this can happen easily in clay soils. Remember to use the method above to check the plants if unsure. Monitor the weather and your plants. If we are experiencing hot drying winds then chances are good the plants are going to be thirsty. Plants with large leaves, loose moisture more readily than those plants that have small leaves or needles (in the case of evergreens). Those large leafed plants can become your indicator plants. As they show signs of dryness first, you can simply monitor them and when they start to wilt, a watering session is needed for all the large leafy varieties. You will find out that ground covers, Evergreens and grasses generally can go longer between waterings. Again it all comes down to knowing your plants.
Hand watering with a low pressure hose is best as you can direct the water to the roots. Overhead watering with a sprinkler is not usually recommended. Overhead sprinklers are typically set to water turf, which requires a different rate of watering than landscaping plants. Unless you have a zone in your sprinkler system set up for the landscaping beds specifically, you will need to water your landscaping plants by hand. Keep in mind, after the first month or so they will be less susceptible to under watering. If you do not have the time to water or simply are not interested in that aspect of yard maintenance then a sprinkler system in your beds may be warranted. Talk to us about installing a drip system, we can give you an estimate.
Trees especially need deep watering, usually once per week is sufficient. As always check the soil before watering. Leaving a hose on at 20% flow for half an hour is a good way to deep water a tree.
Mulching: A 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch is very beneficial around all trees and plants. Do not “bury” your plants with the mulch; keep a bowl of mulch around the plant so it is not riding up on the plant stalk or trunk. Mulch will hold moisture and reduce temperature extremes in the soil. Keep that mulch level constant. During spring maintenance season, it’s very common for us to top dress the mulch, returning the level to that of 2-3 inches.
President, Landmark Landscapes