Watering Instructions for New Landscape Plantings

Watering during the first growing season and through the establishment period that a tree/shrub is planted is crucial for its survival. We strongly recommend our clients follow these watering instructions for new plantings that have been installed at their property.

After planting, the roots of trees will eventually spread into surrounding soil. Until that happens, trees continue to draw water mostly from their root ball. Smaller trees and shrubs establish more quickly than larger trees. It is critical to the tree’s health that the root ball of the tree not dry out during the establishment period. A tree with a dry root ball cannot absorb water.

Most new tree and shrub transplants that are properly planted in well-drained soil require about one inch of water per week. New trees and shrubs may need to be watered every other day for the first month and once a week for the remaining portion of the first growing season, depending on rainfall amounts and temperatures. Remember, plants that are in direct sunlight will dry out quicker than those with full or partial shade and therefore require more water!


  • Water new plants thoroughly with a heavy, slow soaking, making certain that the soil around the roots is wet. Using a hose with a spray nozzle is not appropriate for watering. Take the nozzle off, turn down the pressure, and allow a slower soaking of the soil around the roots by a trickle of water. Avoid getting the foliage wet if possible.
  • Larger areas that require sprinklers must have the water distributed in a consistent pattern. Realize that the sprinkler will need to run for extended period of time to put out enough water to meet the needs of the newly developing roots.
  • Natural precipitation should not be considered when meeting the needs of newly installed plants during the first month or two. Temperature affects newly installed plants more than rainfall. During hot periods, plants need more water. Look for wilting or drooping leaves. It may be necessary to water daily.
  • The best thing to do is test the soil around the roots of the plants to see if they need to be watered. You want to avoid over-watering and saturating the soil. The soil should be moist, not dripping wet. After the first month, water less frequently unless the soil is drying out or if there is no natural precipitation. New plantings up to a year old generally need about an inch of water each week.
  • Perennials need to be watered every other day until established. Every day in hot weather.
  • Shrubs should be watered two or three times per week for the first year.
  • Trees need to be watered slowly over the first and second years. Use a slow soaker hose or drip method to allow the water to percolate through the soil instead of running off the top. Deep watering encourages roots to grow properly and helps prepare plants for future droughts.

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