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Once you’ve spent the money and time selecting and planting shrubs, trees, and other plants for your landscape, you’ll want to ensure they have the right amount of water to keep them healthy. However, when to water, how much to water, and how to water have no one right answer, as this depends on many factors.

In this article, we will demystify the art of watering your landscape and give you tips on how to conserve water by learning how to water a tree, or any plant, in a time-efficient manner.

When to Water Trees and Other Plants

Knowing when to water a fully grown tree is important, not just to ensure the tree has access to the moisture it needs for survival, but also to conserve water usage. Also, watering the rest of your landscape — shrubs, perennials, annuals, and your lawn — is also an important part of maintaining a healthy landscape.

Is It Better to Water in the Morning or Evening?

The answer is: It depends. Both morning and afternoon are great times to water plants, but which is better depends on the season. Typically, morning watering is best during hot months and growing seasons, so water reaches the plant roots and allows the soil to dry before the sun goes down. Watering in the afternoon during the summer can cause rapid evaporation before it can nourish the root system. If you wait until later in the evening, you risk water resting in the soil and around the roots, causing rot and fungal growth. However, evening watering is still better than watering in the middle of the day.

How Much to Water Your Trees, Shrubs, and Other Landscape Plantings

Both over- and under-watering plants can cause problems for your landscape, yet the amount of water needed is very specific to the plants and the environmental considerations unique to your yard. Here’s a good way to calculate how long it takes to water plants to ensure they are getting proper moisture:

• Wait until the top 6 to 9 inches of soil are dry and there’s no precipitation predicted for a few days.
• Put several shallow containers in the area which you will use to help measure water.
• Water the area with a sprinkler until there is one inch in each container and record how long it took.
• Wait two hours, then check the soil 6 to 9 inches below by digging below and feeling it with your fingertips. If the soil is cool and moist, this level of irrigation is appropriate.
• If the soil is dry, add another half-inch of water and check again.
• Continue this process until the top 6 to 9 inches of soil have received water, then record this time for future reference.

Of course, the length of time you water — or if you water — will change in the event of rain, so you’ll want to be sure to shut off any irrigation system when there’s precipitation.

Watering Equipment to Consider for Easy Maintenance

There are many ways to get water to the roots of your plants efficiently without manually watering every day. This is especially important when you need to keep trees and shrubs watered while you are on vacation, but it also reduces the amount of maintenance you must provide daily to keep your landscape healthy.

Irrigation systems are available with a number of features, such as soaker hoses, oscillating sprinklers for larger areas, and even drip irrigation to direct water to specific plants or root systems. When installing any irrigation system, make sure water is directed at the drip line of the tree or shrub. The drip line is where the outer edges of the branches reach. This is where the tree roots take up nutrients and soil. Watering near the tree trunk should be avoided, as this can cause root rot and promote other diseases.
The Benefits of Drip Line Irrigation

Watering at the drip line using a low-pressure, low-volume, watering system helps to conserve water by directing it precisely in the Critical Root Zone (CRZ) where it will be taken up by the roots. Drip line irrigation systems use a series of pipes, valves, emitters, and tubing to moisten the surface of the soil and the root zone, keeping roots moist but not soaking them. This technique minimizes some of the concerns that plague surface irrigation methods such as water evaporating before the roots can benefit, a greater use — and waste — of water, and water being directed against trunks and other woody plant parts which can cause disease.

Of course, surface irrigation is fine — and even preferred — for large areas of lawn or naturalized areas for which drip irrigation is ill-suited and cumbersome.

Need Help Getting Your Plants Properly Watered?

Whether you are confused about how often to water, or you just want to simplify your watering chores, consulting with a landscape professional is the right choice.

At Townsend Arborcare, we have a team of expert arborists and plant care specialists that can help you keep your landscape healthy and green while conserving water — and cutting down on the amount of maintenance needed on your part.

Let us take the workload off your hands. Contact a Townsend Arborcare consultant today and get expert help irrigating your landscape.
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