The single most important factor in plant and lawn health is water. This is true of all plants, but is especially critical for newly installed lawns, trees and shrubs. New plantings have minimal root systems and reduced ability for moisture absorption.
There is no single recommendation that can cover every situation; natural rainfall, soil type, temperatures and wind all influence moisture requirements.
We recommend watering deeply but infrequently.
Plants need about 1 inch of water per week to maintain health and vigor. Our standard recommendation is to use a hose with a slow trickle, but you can also use a ‘soaker’ hose. A circular sprinkler works well with larger trees.
Here are our watering guidelines:
Trees and Shrubs
Because Mid-Michigan soils tend toward heavy clay, daily light watering can run the risk of drowning plants if your soils are poorly drained (a frequent consequence of automatic sprinkling systems). Thus our suggestions are for substantial watering and an interval of time in between to allow soils to drain (healthy roots require both water and air!).
First Year Shrubs and Potted Plants
Using a slow trickle from a hose, each plant should receive 10-15 minutes of water 2-3 times each week. During severe heat and drought, you might need to water 4 times per week, or even daily with delicate perennials.
First Year Trees
Using a slow trickle from a hose, water 30 minutes at least twice each week. During very hot dry periods it may be appropriate to water every other day.
Even after the first year, extra water can be important. Water once each week during dry periods for 1-2 hours with a slow trickle.
Yes, even mature trees need water during protracted dry periods. We suggest using a sprinkler to water the entire area underneath the tree crown for 2-6 hours, once each week.
We suggest watering lawns early to mid-day to reduce disease potential and ‘air condition’ during very hot periods.
New seed germination and early growth is the one time when increased frequency is very helpful. Daily watering of 15-20 minutes is a minimum requirement, twice each day is preferable, and 3-4 times at 10 minutes is best.
Daily watering of 10-20 minutes is traditional, but if you have poorly drained soils and notice ‘squishy’ conditions after watering, consider trying longer but less frequent watering.
During extended hard dry periods, a weekly one hour watering will allow the roots to survive, even though the grass turns brown as it protects itself by going dormant.
Note: The best test of soil moisture is the ‘finger’ test: Stick your finger in the soil (beneath the mulch) to test. It should be moist, but not wet. If it is not moist, you need to water.
© Smith Tree and Landscape Service, Inc.