How to water your new plants...it isn't as simple as you think!
New plants, just like new baby chicks, or a puppy, take some additional care. Watering your new plants is part of that "extra" process. If you've been following along on our spring blog series you've already found the perfect tree, planted it in the perfect spot using the perfect method and now…..just turn on the sprinklers or emitters and I'm done, right? Nope, not quite. It's time to learn how to perfectly water your newly planted trees and plants.
New trees and shrubs need to be watered deeply and regularly through the first 2 growing seasons. This helps new plants get enough water to those new roots. Until a plant is established with a full root system, sprinkler water or drip systems do not provide a deep enough soaking to saturate the root ball properly.**
Proper watering will allow the plants to establish a deep and strong root system. The bonus is that when you establish good habits now your tree or plant will require less water long term. But, in the short term, it is incredibly important to follow a good watering protocol. This will ensure those new plants get the best start possible.
Growing season #1 – new plants need regular deep soaking.
First, we should establish what “deep soaking” is. Turn your hose on a slow trickle and place it 4-6” from the base of the plant. Let the hose run between 10-30 minutes, depending on the size of the root ball. Deep soaking is the best way to water your new plants.
Deep soaking of a plant in its first year can be broken down into 5 phases.
The first week after planting, the tree (or shrub) will go into a bit of shock. The plant has been getting watered daily in the nursery and now it has been moved, transplanted, and it is in need of some extra water. This will help keep the roots healthy while they start to grow into the soil around the rootball. For this first week, we recommend deep soaking the new plants every day, saturate the entire rootball so it can feed the tree.
The second week after planting, the plant has started growing into the soil. A pro tip for training the roots to grow deeper is to start adjusting the watering. Deep soak them every other day so the soil can dry out between waterings. The drying out is necessary for the root system as it helps drive the roots deeper to seek new water sources. Plus, the time between waterings allows the roots to breathe (and yes, roots breathe!). Oxygen is as important in plant roots as it is in our lungs. Want to learn more? Check out this great article from Science Line.
The third week, and through the rest of the first growing season, the plants will need to be deep soaked twice per week. You may need a third deep soaking if it's especially hot during the heat of summer.
Fall watering can be reduced further once the temps start to drop to 1 time per week.
Winter watering is essential. Some people think that snow will be enough water for plants, but that's not true! We do not get enough snow in our area to saturate the rootball when temperatures creep above freezing. We've got a fun pro tip to help you keep your newly planted trees watered in the winter. Fill a large cup (16 oz or more) with ice. Dump the cup of ice on your trees and shrubs. The ice will slowly melt and water your tree. How often you add ice depends on how warm of a winter it is.
Growing season #2 – plants still establishing, deep soak but less often
As temperatures start to warm up in early spring, it is a good time to start deep soaking your trees and shrubs. The ground will likely be dry after winter, so a routine of 1 time per week is good to start in March.
Keep deep soaking your new trees and shrubs 1 time per week throughout this growing season. When the temperatures heat up in the summer you can add a second soaking.
Winter watering will still be necessary. Use our pro-tip ice trick and the same routine as last year.
**Sprinklers are designed to put out water in a manner that is wide but shallow watering. This is fine for the grass or small plants but is not deep enough for trees or shrubs. The saturation from sprinklers only goes about 2-3 inches deep, but a rootball depth is between 8-20 inches.
Drip or emitter systems put out an average gph (gallon per hour), but this is not necessarily an accurate measurement of how much water is getting into the soil. Emitters have a tendency to get clogged very easily. Additionally, the water pressure through the drip system might be less than required to hit that gph, so even if you have increased the time it is running, it still might not be as many gallons as are needed.
So, that’s the 411 on the 101 of watering. Give your new plants the best start for establishing now and you’ll have a healthy, vibrant tree (or shrub) for years to come.
And, as always, let us know if you have any questions. We are here to help.
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Watering Guide - 3 quick tips!
5 Ways to Reduce Water Waste in Utah
Myths about planting in the fall:
These are a few myths we want to bust about planting trees and shrubs this time of year. They aren’t true! Fall is one of the BEST times of year to get those beauties in the ground. We are going to share the nitty gritty of why with you right here, right now.
The leaves, yes, will be falling off deciduous trees and shrubs over the next month or two. But your plant is still alive. In fact, Trees and Shrubs do 80% of their rooting in the fall! 80%!!! All that energy that had been going into keeping those leaves green and strong is now being directed into the root systems.
Planting new items in the fall, with proper watering techniques, ensures that you are giving the best possible focus on establishing those new plants faster. And because the plants are focused on rooting they will have stronger and deeper roots. Come spring, the leaves will be back – better, stronger and faster for having given the roots some focused time to proliferate.
While you can plant any time of year, and spring is a great time to do so, we highly recommend planting in the fall. New plants focus their energy into the root system rather than the leaves. This means they will establish themselves more quickly in the fall. The main difference between fall planting and spring planting is the price. In the fall you have an amazing selection to choose from, but it’s all on sale.
Glover Nursery brings in truckloads of fresh product specifically for fall and we immediately put it on sale. Why do we do this? Well, we love our customers. We love having a huge selection year-round for our beloved customers. And, we LOVE helping give these beautiful plants the best possible start to their new life in your yard (and as we mentioned they do 80% of their rooting in the fall, so…..it’s a win-win-win, major, jumbo, love-fest for us all).
The shape of the tree with or without the leaves on it is going to change, drastically so, over the next few years. No matter what size tree you buy now, the canopy will develop, branch out and expand. The full-grown shape for a tree will always be the direction the tree grows, but the tree you buy today will not be the same in a year – it will literally branch out.
We find that choosing the tree without leaves better allows you to select a tree with strong structure and balanced branching. This bare bones beauty will only be enhanced when the leaves come on in spring. And, the faster it establishes a strong, healthy root system, the faster it will grow those leaves. (we are noticing a theme here now, aren’t we? Spring=flowers, Fall=rooting powers)
Is it though? Unless the ground is frozen and you can’t dig a hole, you can still plant a tree or shrub. If you are able to dig up the soil, those roots will be able to grow into the soil. And, maybe this is TMI, but I sure do prefer all that sweaty work when the temps are lower. Actually, I have my brothers do it for me because they are the best….but, even still, cooler weather makes them happier to help.
There really isn’t a reason to let the cooler weather stop you from planting. Unless, that is, you just do not like being outside if it dips below 60 degrees. In which case, we raise our cup of hot cocoa to you. We will be here in the summer when you are ready to be outdoors again.
Winter watering is a concern. Many people think that snow melt is enough to water trees and shrubs, but it really isn’t. That soft, fluffy snow melts down into very little water and does not reach those roots.
It’s important to remember that the ground does not stay frozen all the time, it thaws and refreezes throughout the season. When it thaws, those little roots are active and searching for a water source. Even trees you planted in spring will still need winter watering. The snow melt won’t do the trick.
Turning your sprinklers on in winter isn’t necessary, in fact it is detrimental. However, getting some deep soaking into those roots at least once a month is imperative. If you don’t want to hook up your hose in winter, there is a great trick that Rod Glover recommends: dump a few tumblerfuls of ice around the root zone – this way, when it does thaw enough to melt, the ice will water the tree at the exact right time. And, most folks have ice makers that keep those glossy cubes coming all day, so it takes barely any time or effort.
SO, there you have it. Myth-busting complete. Combine this with Ryan's video on water saving techniques, pop in some gorgeous fall blooming perennials, and you have the powerful formula for true fall gardening success.
And, as always, we are here to help with any questions you may have.
See you soon!
How Planting Trees Affects Air Quality
It’s Planting Time: Start Seeding Indoors!
A lot of people think that you can't plant in the summer/early fall. We have a lot of people ask us is it safe to plant in the heat? Can I still plant? The answer is yes you can! And, you can be very successful. As Ryan Glover likes to say, "if you can dig, you can plant." If you like to dig in the late summer/early fall then why not add some instant shade?
All of the plants and trees we have in the nursery are ready to plant. If you're looking to add a few more trees and shrubs to your yard for some cooling shade, now is a great time to do it. You will want to keep in mind Ryan's 5 tips for planting in the heat.
Learn more about watering techniques here....Remember slow, deep watering is best to give your new plants a great start.
Garden Plant Helleborus: The First Blooms of Spring
Summer is here and that means so is the heat. We get a lot of people wanting to reduce wasted water, which is awesome. We have five easy water saving tips for you. Don't be nervous about depriving your much-loved plants and potentially causing them harm. Our top 5 tips to help save water will have both your water bill and your plants happy.
There are many small adjustments that add up to significant progress for water conservation. Some big tasks like installing a drip system may be more of a long-term goal project. However, there are also many small things you can do today to make a large difference in saving water.
Helping our water supply while saving money on your water bill…that's the goal. AND, extra bonus, you'll be giving your plants the best possible support. Many of these recommendations are actually the best thing for your plants. That’s like winning the plant lottery and water lottery at the same time! Here are our top 5 ways to help you save water.
Water your lawn early in the morning, between 4-7am. When we water lawns in the middle of the day, the majority of that water goes straight into the air and evaporates before it ever hits your lawn. Many sprinkler heads turn water into tiny drops and those tiny drops evaporate fast in the heat.
When you water before the air is hot more of the water will actually reach the lawn, and therefore the roots, where the water is needed. The result, less time is needed to water and therefore less water is used (and wasted). For more lawn specific ideas, check our last blog post, Summer Lawn Tips.
Your sprinkler system can be adjusted to work smarter. You can make quick changes to your sprinkler system like correct where the heads spray, adjust clocks throughout the year as seasons change and make sure none of the lines are broken. These quick changes will save hundreds of gallons of water in one season. The simple things can really add up! Monitoring your sprinkler system is the simplest way to start.
A great resource for other sprinkler related recommendations to reduce water waste can be found at scienTurfic Sod.
Water at the base of your trees, shrubs, and perennials to save water. Spraying the leaves and trunks can actually cause damage in the heat. Plus, it doesn’t solve the problem of the water reaching the roots where it is needed.
It is extremely important to deep soak new plants during their establishment phase. To deep soak new plants, turn your hose to a very slow trickle. Place the hose about 4-6” from the base of the stem or trunk of your new plant. The length of watering time needed depends on the size of the root ball. For smaller 1-5 gallon size plants, 10-15 minutes twice a week should be sufficient. For larger trees and shrubs, we recommend 10 minutes per inch caliper on the tree (i.e. a large 4” caliper tree requires 40 minutes of soaking).
Established plants are plants that have been in your landscape for a year or more. Two years or more for larger trees. We recommend installing a drip system or micro-emitter. The benefit of these systems is there is zero water waste. All of the water is put directly into the soil where it is needed. These systems emit water at such a slow rate that the water absorbs deeper and deeper into the soil. Achieving our ultimate goal, getting the water to those grounding roots.
This might seem obvious, but if your soil is still wet from previous watering it likely can wait another day or two. This includes rain-storms. The recommended way to check if your soil is wet is what my grampa called “the finger test”. It is a very simple water saving test. Stick your finger in the soil up to your second knuckle. If you feel moisture, no need to water. This simple check will save you hundreds of gallons of water waste.
Clay soil holds more water, sandy soil dries faster. If you have more clay base, you do not need to water as often. Clay base soils do need to be watered deeper.
Sandy soil needs less watering at any given time. But it will need slightly more frequent watering. Knowing your soil type will save you water, time, money and hassle. And, your plants will thrive when you combine proper watering technique with the appropriate soil type.
There are loads more ways you can reduce, or even eliminate, water waste. looking for even more ideas to help save water? There are wonderful local resources available. Check out some of the following.
If you have any great tips that you don’t see, let us know! There are probably loads of great water-saving inventions out there we haven’t seen yet and would love to share. After all, when it comes to reducing water waste, we are all in it together.
How Trees Can Help With a Waterwise Landscape
Updates, Sales, and Gardening Tips
9275 S. 1300 W. West Jordan, UT 84088 Phone: (801) 562-5496 Fax: (801) 562-5595 Email: [email protected]
Updates, Sales, and Gardening Tips