Construction and Renovation

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Posts tagged watering
Caring for Your New Plants

You've planted a new garden or had a new landscape planting installed and your care is vital to it's success. 

Mature plants (grown plants or seedlings that have been started elsewhere and by way of a pot have been transplanted to your yard) require extensive care. Imagine taking a child in his or her early development years and moving them to a new environment, they will require careful attention and care to recognize his or her needs to continue crucial development. The same goes for mature plants. 

More attention than less

It's best to pay more attention than assume the plant will be fine. Make it a part of your daily routine to check on your plants the first week after planting. Not all plants leave the nursery healthy and signs or stress are likely to show in the first week after planting. Some stress can be turned around with your help.

Water Water Water

Don't worry about drowning your plants. Plants in the landscape aren't likely to drown unless they're planted in a swimming pool. When a potted plant is watered the water stays in the pot until the plant uses it or it evaporates. When a plant in the ground is watered, the water runs over and through the ground. As the soil dries the plant will need more water until it establishes new roots in its new home. There's no rule of thumb as to when a plant establishes but when you're making daily observations you will notice a plants health improve between watering. 

Rain helps but is not enough

Rain water is very helpful in the early weeks of a new planting however it shouldn't be the only irrigation. Rain water will help slow the evaporation and runoff of the water from your hose but it won't be enough for the new plants. So put the rain coat on and get out there.

The First Summer

If you plant in the spring and see no visible signs of stress when you stop your watering routine the plant has established, for now... Greenhouse and nursery grown plants are used to being hooked to an automatic irrigation system. With this they have only just begun getting water and nutrients on their own. A hot dry summer may take it's toll on a new plant because of how easy it's life has been thus far. If you see signs of stress you may need to water at any time in it's first year. 


Be careful not to over fertilize in the first season. Use a slow release fertilizer or starter fertilizer. Root growth is the number one priority and most fertilizers will encourage foliage in exchange for root growth. If this happens, the plant may not winter well or make it through a dry season. 


Resist the urge to prune in the first season. Remove any dead branches or foliage and cut back old flowers. Pruning can cause unnecessary stress to a plant and stunt growth in other ways. Be ready to prune next year when the plant shows signs of strong healthy growth.

Watering New Plantings in the Fall

Here's a brief post for quick reference if you're starting a new planting with just weeks before the first winter freeze.

Below is a copy of the guidelines we left with a client after planting a row of mature arborvitae.

Watering Guide Fall.jpg

The big thing to remember when planting in the fall is that the potential of success is higher because the needs of the plant are lower than other times of the year. That said the window could be smaller to get the plant what it needs before the harsh winter conditions set in. Its important to act quickly and efficiently. 

Deciduous trees/plants (trees that lose their leaves in the fall) go dormant for the winter and drawn the water they need earlier in the fall. If you're planting late, mulch heavily to protect roots from killing frost. Water in early spring when the tree is searching for water to start the leafing process.

Evergreen trees/plants circulate water all winter and may only go dormant for the harshest weeks of the season. With that you have a longer opportunity to help the tree establish. Don't mulch as heavily unless the tree begins to mulch on it's own. You'll notice foliage dropping around it's base which is natures way of mulching and protecting what could be weak dry roots. If mulch is required water immediately in the spring but do not fertilize until the tree is strong enough to handle the stimulation. 

Whenever you're planting, you're taking a tree that was living happily and healthily in one place, uprooting it, then placing it somewhere else with hopes that it continues. Consider the changes the plant is experiencing. If conditions are better than those previous it will do better, if conditions are lesser than it may take more work on the part of the plant to catch up. As the planter or caretaker we interfere to help the plant transition. If after some time it does not look healthy, we, as the caretaker are to blame. Consider the care immediately after planting as a rehab program and you are sure to see great success for the life of the plant. 

Get out there and plant a tree, there's still time!