Once again it seems the rain has turned off like a faucet after our near-record wet June. How plants handle lack of moisture really depends on many things – soil, plant types, wind, sun and whether they are mulched or not. The rule of thumb for our plants is that they need about 1 inch of water per week if it comes naturally or from your hose. It is best to not rely on a schedule for watering and in most cases, an irrigation system is not going to provide enough water for trees and shrubs, especially new ones.
Brief waterings do not really help. You want to encourage deep roots so plants are more adaptable to changes and can reach moisture at lower levels in the soil. Morning watering is best since you get the water to the plants before they really need it during the heat of the day. Don’t wait until your plants wilt. By then the damage is already being done.
How Much to Water?
Newly planted plants require routine watering. Typically, 5-7 gallons, applied to the root ball once a week, is an appropriate quantity of water to add to a newly planted tree or shrub. For trees, one commonly used formula suggests 10 gallons of water per week for every 1 inch of tree caliper or large shrub. It is best to check the top 6-8 inches of soil. If it is dry then water otherwise it is ok to wait. Apply the water near the trunk, but also the area around the tree so roots are encourage to spread outwards too. Evergreens should be watered once a week during first year, right up until ground freezes.
Keep your plants watered and happy. Doing a little rain dance probably won’t hurt either.