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Brandon Rushing

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How to Water Turf, Plants & Trees

1. Shrubs, Perennials, Ground Covers, Flowers

  • First 2 Weeks: Water plants daily. Water enough to lightly soak the plant's roots.
  • Second 2 Weeks: Water plant material every other day. Water enough to lightly soak the entire plant's roots.
  • After 4 Weeks: Maintenance watering 2 times per week when there is not sufficient precipitation.
  • Tip: When considering the amount of time to water each plant, the roots of each plant will vary according to the size of the plant material. Small ground cover plugs will require less water per plant as compared to a 24" shrub. If rainfall (Mother Nature) provides sufficient precipitation, you can forego watering that cycle. Remember, light rainfall may not be enough water to penetrate the mulch/soil enough to lightly soak the root ball. The rain even needs to be at least 0.5" of precipitation to eliminate that watering cycle. It is important to monitor new plants during the first year. Plants will need more water (than stated above) during hot and dry conditions.

2. Trees & Large Evergreens over 4' in height

  • First 2 Weeks: Water plants by hand if possible. This ensures enough water volume reaches the entire root ball of the plant. Each plant will require about 20 gallons of water per week. Ideally, this is split into 3 waterings for the week. Water the entire root zone area and under the canopy of the plant. You want the roots to receive enough water to keep the entire root ball moist. Super squishy soil is too wet and firm soil is too dry.  Most tree and evergreens over 4' in height have root balls from 12-24" depth so it takes several minutes of water per plant. Most watering sources flow at 2 gallons per minute on average. Therefore, you would need to water each plant for about 10 minutes per week. 
  • Second 2 Weeks: Water each plant about 10 gallons per week. Ideally, this is split into 3 waterings again.  Water enough to lightly soak the root ball. Most watering sources flow at 2 gallons per minute. Therefore, you would need to water each plant for about 5 minutes per week. 
  • After 4 Weeks: Supplement rainfall or irrigation system and target 5 gallons of water per week of 2.5 minutes of watering per plant.

3. Sod

  • First 2 Weeks: Water sod daily. Set your manual or automatic sprinkler time based on when the water penetrates through the sod soil into the native soil.
  • Second 2 Weeks: Water plant material every other day. Set your manual or automatic sprinkler time based on when the water penetrates the soil on the underside of the sod.
  • After 4 Weeks: Maintenance water 2 times per week when there is not sufficient precipitation. 
  • Tip: Healthy, mature lawns need enough water to penetrate the soil 1-2 times per week. An ideal amount of rainfall would be 1” per week (split into 2 watering cycles of ½” precipitation). Remember, light rainfall may not be enough water to penetrate the lawn's and lightly soak the roots. The rain event needs to be at least 0.5" of precipitation to eliminate that watering cycle. It is important to monitor your lawn during the first year, as the sod will need more watering (than stated above) during hot and dry conditions. If you water your lawn more than 2 times per week you are increasing the chance for disease and fungus problems. Disease problems increase with high moisture, heat and humidity.

3. Seed

  • First 2 Weeks or until the majority of seeds germinate: Water seed 1-2 times daily. Set your manual or automatic sprinkler time based on when the water penetrates the soil. Keep the seed moist for quickest results.
  • Second 2 Weeks: Water seed every other day. Set your manual or automatic sprinkler time based on when the water penetrates the soil.
  • After 4 Weeks: Maintenance water 2 times per week when there is not sufficient precipitation. 
  • Tip: Seeds will germinate in approximately 10-14 days with proper watering. Rainfall will encourage quicker germination. Mature lawns need enough water to penetrate the soil 1-2 times per week. An ideal amount of rainfall would be 1” per week (split into 2 waterings of ½”). Remember, light rainfall will not be enough water to penetrate the soil of the lawn and lightly soak the roots. It is important to monitor your lawn during the first year, as lawns will need supplemental watering during hot and dry conditions. If you water your lawn more than 2 times per week you are increasing the chance for disease and fungus problems. Disease problems increase with high moisture, heat and humidity.

Conditions that require more frequent watering:

  • Plants installed in full sun, especially afternoon sun exposure will require more water as the intense sun will dry out the soil more quickly. The opposite is true for full shade locations.
  • Windy locations or windy conditions will dry out plants more quickly.
  • Plants installed on slopes will dry out more quickly as gravity will cause the water to go downhill away from the plant roots.
  • Plants installed near foundations or structures or under overhangs will not receive as much rainfall as open areas.
  • Large evergreens over 4' in height and all trees are best watered by hand so the water is concentrated to reach the entire root ball to a depth of 12-24". This can take several minutes for each plant during each watering cycle. 

 
Sprinkler System Settings
The following settings are guidelines and approximate estimates based on typical conditions and systems. Coverage of systems, water pressure and other factors may alter these recommendations, please adjust accordingly.

New sod/seed/plant watering times

  • Rotor heads/MP heads            30-45 minutes per cycle
  • Spray/Mist heads                     10-15 minutes per cycle
  • Drip system                              30-60 minutes per cycle  

Maintenance watering:  Water 2-3 times per week only. Recommend using the times above but err on the side of more water since you are only watering 2-3 times per week.    

Written by Brandon Rushing, Founder & President

Posted on: August 7th, 2020