Ensuring your plants and turf get the right amount of water is absolutely critical to their health and vigor. Water helps roots uptake and distribute nutrients as well as help them develop and anchor plants and turf for robust growth. But exactly how much water is “the right amount”?
Three things to keep in mind when it comes to proper watering:
- Type of plant (from high-water-requiring turf to less thirsty succulents)
- Weather conditions (sun, temperature, rainfall, wind)
- Your soil conditions (compacted, clay, sandy or loam soils as well as if the ground is level or has dips and valleys where water can pool or runoff, respectively)
- “Watering well,” means wetting the soil to a depth of between 6-12 inches. Deep watering encourages roots to grow deeply.
- Avoid watering at night since water can remain on leaves without the sun to help it evaporate, contributing to fungal growth and disease.
- Newly planted sod needs to be watered twice a day, for about 20 minutes per session every day for at least two months. This should be enough so that your lawn gets a solid six inches of watering per cycle.
- Water new shrubs and trees to their drip line (extent of their branches).
- Water new plants right at their base (a soaker hose is great for this).
- Since new plants need more water than established plants, if you’re adding just one or two new plants to the garden, you may want to skip the soaker hose and just water at the base of those new additions so your other plants don’t get over-watered.
- Water a plant as soon as you’ve planted it, but be gentle. A slow steady trickle of water for about 15 minutes is ideal. Blasting the base with a hose can damage roots, cause soil erosion and waste water, since the plant won’t be able to soak it up that quickly.
- For the first week, do a 15-minute slow trickle watering every day. Succulents may only need to be watered every other day depending on conditions.
- On days when it rains over an inch, you can skip watering for that day.
- During the second week you can use the same watering method but now cut back to watering every other day. Succulents may only need watering 2-3 times per week based on conditions.
- By week 3, you can reduce watering to 2-3 times per week and continue this watering schedule for the remainder of the first growing season. Be aware of conditions and water more during hot dry periods and less during rainy, cooler periods.
- Container plants dry out quickly and will need to be watered at least every other day if not daily. Check by sticking your finger into the soil to see if it’s dry or still wet.