Watering Instructions for Trees & Shrubs

BestTime of Day

To Water Your Trees & Shrubs

Before 10:00AM

Q: How do I know when to water?

A: The simple answer is when Mother Nature doesn’t provide adequate rain and/or when the ground is dry. The best way to determine ground moisture is to dig 3-4″ into the soil – if the soil is damp, you don’t need to water. Remember, plants in this climate are used to periods of heavy rain followed by periods of drying out.

A 2x per week watering is typical for most newly installed plants.

Q: How much water should I apply?

A: The best tactic is to heavily drench the root zone of the new plants – never water the foliage. Plants do not take in moisture through their foliage and constantly wet leaves are susceptible to bacterial and fungal diseases.

A heavy watering (mixed with periods of drying out) will promote healthy roots that grow down to follow the water as it drains. In the process, root systems grow longer, deeper and stronger which makes them better able to withstand extreme weather conditions like drought and cold temperatures. Watering too frequently with small amounts of water promotes shallow root growth which leaves them susceptible to those extreme water conditions. A good watering would be comparable to 1″ of rain.

For most areas, hand watering with a garden hose works best. However, larger planting beds and longer rows of hedging plants like arborvitaes may be impractical to water by hand. For those, we recommend soaker hoses that slowly release water to the roots with very little runoff.

Q: Is it possible to overwater?

A: Yes! Watering too frequently can be very harmful to your plants. It is essential that air be allowed to re-enter the root zone between watering (roots need oxygen to survive). Allowing the soil to dry out is also Mother Nature’s way of controlling “root rot” diseases and bug issues which can thrive in constantly wet or saturated soil conditions. More new plants die from overwatering than die from drying out!


Additional Tips:

  1. Plants need the most water immediately following installation.
  2. A good rainfall of ½-1″ can replace on watering session.
  3. Water thoroughly twice per week – for the first three months and then once per week for the rest of the year (usually safe to end in mid-November). It is a good idea to water on the same days each week (i.e. Monday and Friday) to make it easier to remember.
  4. Due to their smaller-sized root systems, smaller plants (as well as plants like hydrangeas, rhododendrons & azaleas which have shallow root systems) will have a tendency to dry out quicker than plants with larger root balls. They may need to be watered more frequently.
  5. It is preferable to water in the morning and apply water only to the soil; not the foliage. Plants do not take in moisture through their foliage. Wet leaves are highly susceptible to fungal diseases.
  6. Applying a 2-3″ layer of mulch to the exposed dirt will help regulate soil temperatures, improve moisture retention and help keep weeds from growing. It also looks much better than exposed dirt.
  7. Plants in full sun will often require more frequent watering than those planted in shadier conditions.
  8. More frequent watering will be required during hot and windy weather.