How to Care for your new plants – RIGHT NOW
A new plant is one that has been planted this season. Next Spring, you will have a mature landscape. Landscapes are living entities that evolve and get more beautiful over time… if we care for them. Right now, is the most critical time to get your new landscape started off strong.
WATERING BY HAND
As a homeowner, you’ll need to develop a routine to ensure new plantings are getting adequate water for establishment. If it is just a couple of trees, it might work easiest to set a hose at the base of the plant at a trickle until the root zone is thoroughly soaked. If it is an entire garden bed, you’ll probably be better off to set a sprinkler on a timer. If you use a watering can, or a wand to water by hand, just be sure you’re giving the area a thorough soak (the soil should get wet 6-12” below the surface) and that you aren’t just wetting the top quarter inch of mulch.
WATERING WITH AN IRRIGATION SYSTEM
If your plants are new, your irrigation system should be set to come on more frequently than it will need to in a few weeks. It is important that you walk your property after irrigation, and note any spots that appear dry or any spots that have large puddles. Those are both signs that there needs to be an adjustment to your system. If you don’t see puddles or dry spots, you should be fine. After 3 weeks, your system should be adjusted again to provide slightly less water than you need immediately after planting.
WATERING NEW SOD
New sod should never be allowed to dry out completely. Sod can shrink, and die in an afternoon if it dries completely. Frequent watering is essential. At a minimum, every day that it does not rain, you should be giving the sod a thorough soaking. If weather conditions are hot and dry, you might need to water 2x per day. After 3 weeks, your new sod should begin to root in. You can tug on a corner of a sod roll and feel some resistance to know it is rooted in. Once it is rooted and grass has grown 1.5x your normal cut height, you can begin mowing, and switch to a less frequent watering schedule that results in 1” of water per week.
WATERING NEW SEED
New Seed should never be allowed to dry out completely. However, excessive watering can result in runoff (even with erosion control) that can carry your seed to unintended destinations. Light, frequent watering is best. It should be performed at least daily, or if weather conditions are especially hot and dry you may need to water 2x per day.
All plants require water by rainfall, by an irrigation system, or by hand. When plants are new (planted this season) their root systems are small; no bigger than the container they came in. New plants are especially vulnerable to drought, and therefore special attention needs to be paid for the first month after planting.