How Often Should I Water My Plants and Trees?

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Another common question we get asked by homeowners is how often they should water their plants and trees.

Many who inquire are hoping our answer will be universal; however, when it comes to how often to water and the amounts needed, each plant and tree species have specific requirements.

In today’s column, we’ll take a quick look at the different watering factors to consider, along with checking soil conditions, times to water, and general watering guidelines.

Being that annuals, perennials, and newly planted trees, and shrubs are common here in Tallahassee and Leon County, we’ll briefly cover general watering instructions too.

What are the six common watering factors to ask yourself?

Each plant and tree has specific planting and watering requirements. When you’re looking at your yard or garden, there are six crucial check-list questions to ask yourself before you sprinkle. Knowing the answer to each keeps you from accidentally over or under watering your garden.

  1. How long has the plant or tree been established? Knowing the age and how long it’s been in the ground is crucial to accurate irrigation.

  2. What season of the year is it currently? There are times of the year you water more, i.e., less in the winter months versus more in the summertime.

  3. Does the plant or tree thrive better in dry or wet conditions? Some plant or shrub species will require specific soil conditions to thrive in your garden.

  4. Has it rained recently? If you’ve noticed some plant changes in your garden, consider if the changes came before or after it rained.

  5. Have you had recent windy conditions in your area? There are times when you’ve had several windy days that your ground dried up quicker than usual.

  6. Are temperatures hotter than usual, and is it sunnier? Any above-average temperatures and brighter conditions can affect the ground’s wetness.

As you can see, approaching your garden with each questioned answered ahead of time, you’ll scrutinize each plant, tree, and shrub so that you can provide a higher degree of water management. Just remember, avoid wetting the leaves or flowers. Only water deeply as each plant, tree, or shrub needs it.

What’s the fastest way to know it’s time to water?

With small shallow-rooted plants, all it takes is your index finger. Stick your finger down in the soil, near the roots, about two inches. Does the earth feel moist or dry? If it’s damp you won’t need to water, just recheck it tomorrow. Now if your soil is dry, then water deeply.

When it comes to larger plants, trees, and shrubs, you will have to check for moisture that is deeper in the ground with a soil probe tool. That device is shoved down into the ground, twisted, and then pulled up. With the sample out, you can see how deep down the moisture sits.

What is the best time of the day to water?

There are several landscaping schools of thought about the best time of the day to water plants and trees. Having tested morning, mid-afternoon, and evening watering times, it is Dickerson Landscaping and Lawn Cares conclusion that morning watering is the best time with the best results.

Our research has shown that when watering in the morning, plants and trees get sufficient amounts of moisture that carries them through the warmest and brightest part of the day. We’ve also seen that morning irrigation gives the foliage plenty of time to dry, avoiding potential fungal diseases which are commonly found on plant leaves that remain wet from evening irrigation.

Basic watering guidelines for Annuals, Perennials, and newly planted Trees and Shrubs

Watering Annuals

With your annuals, use a gentle shower or spray of water, but avoid using high-pressure streams. These are delicate plants, and the blooms can get knocked off easily and damage the plant. When you water in the morning, soak it deeply until you see tiny pools forming on top of the soil, but do permit time for the water to sink into the earth before watering again.

Irrigating Perennials

Like the annuals, these are delicate plants too, so use a gentle shower or spray of water, but avoid using high-pressure streams. Again, just water deeply and less frequently. If you have a perennial garden that is well-established, it will need an inch of water per week. If during Leon County’s rainy season your garden does not get an inch of rainfall, then supplemental watering is necessary.

Newly Planted Tree and Shrub Watering

As a rule of thumb, like annuals and perennials, it is always a best practice to water deeply and less frequently with trees and shrubs. With your first-year newly planted trees and shrubs, you will need to provide supplement waterings. Primarily, their roots have not grown deep enough into the ground to take hold. Like perennials, newly planted saplings must get at least an inch of water per week to soak their root zone.  

At Dickerson Landscaping and Lawn Care, we specialize in proper water management for plants and trees. When you’re shopping around for landscaping or lawn care services, contact us today. Our watering specialists are ready to take your call.

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