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Part 7: Watering Your Landscape is Key to Establishment

Hosta with Water

Proper watering and post-project care are essential for your new landscape installation to thrive. We’ve put together this landscape watering guide as Step 7 of the secret formula to award-winning landscapes.

A definitive set of “rules” for watering in the Kansas City region does not exist. There are simply too many variables related to soil and the environment for a one-size-fits-all approach to watering. The guide we’ve created will help you with the basics, but there’s no shortcut to becoming familiar with your own plants’ preferences when getting comfortable with how often and how much to water.

Watering is the most important aspect of landscaping when establishing freshly installed plants because improper watering and plant care can cause a rapid decline or even death. Adequate watering is an essential step in protecting your investment and achieving landscape success.

A few key landscaping tips that are almost always applicable are:

  • Avoid relying only on sprinklers for trees and large shrubs. Instead, use a soaker hose or an open-ended hose with its spray nozzle removed, at low pressure.
  • Avoid watering your plants’ foliage; concentrate your aim at the base of the plant.
  • Monitor the condition of your plants and their soil. If leaves are drooping and the soil is dry, it’s time to water. But if leaves are drooping and the soil is wet, wait for the soil to dry out before your next watering.

How Often to Water

For optimal landscape success, new plantings typically need to be watered every second day for the first two weeks after planting. Then take down the frequency to once or twice a week through the third and fourth weeks, and then once a week throughout the rest of the growing season. Keep in mind that your plants will need more frequent watering during any hot and dry spells. Irrigation alone may not be enough for larger trees or plants that need a deep watering more than once a week throughout the growing season.

Winter watering monthly to a depth of six to eight inches is usually sufficient. Timing plays an important role during the winter months: try to water when the temperature rises above freezing so that the soil has a chance to thaw out a little. Most irrigation systems are shut down for winter. This means that either you, or your landscape maintenance provider will need to monitor this.

How Much to Water

In the Kansas City region, plant care for trees, shrubs, and perennials each have their own watering considerations.

Trees

Trees should be watered slowly, to allow the water to soak into the soil. For most new trees (with trunks of two inches wide or less), 10 gallons of water is typically sufficient. For larger trees (with trunks larger than two inches wide), add another 10 gallons per additional inch. For example, a tree with a three-inch wide trunk would require 20 gallons of water. If you’re using a soaker hose, water for at least four hours. Some people find it more convenient to use a five-gallon bucket with a one or two-inch diameter hole drilled into the side near the bottom. The bucket can be filled and allowed to leak slowly into the soil at the base of the tree.

Shrubs

Just like trees, shrubs should be watered slowly. As you water, count to 20 or 30 then stop and allow the water to soak in. During hot and dry spells, repeat the process, but be careful to stop watering if any puddles or runoff occur.

Perennials

Water the base of your perennials at very low pressure, to a count of 10. During hot and dry spells, you may need to repeat to another count of 10.

Landscape Success

Kansas City landscape success requires proper, consistent plant care and post-project care. High Prairie Landscape Group’s experts are well versed in how to ensure you get the most out of your landscaping effort. Some pointers:

  • Water requirements vary with the seasons. Spring and summer installations will require more frequent watering than fall and winter.
  • Consider the amount of rainfall. Often, a good rain soaking is sufficient.
  • Mornings are ideal for watering. Morning watering reduces the risk of disease and transplant shock. For more information on transplant shock and how to prevent it, click here.
  • Many types of trees have special watering requirements for their first three seasons, whereas smaller plants typically only require one year of special watering consideration. (However, during a drought, any type of tree or plant of any age may require special watering requirements.)

Get Started

If you’re in the Kansas City area, and you’re ready to get started on a unique, long-lasting, award-worthy outdoor living space, or if you have any questions about this landscape watering guide, plant care, or post-project care, contact High Prairie Landscape Group today!