How to Water

Conserve our precious resource!

Get to know your soils and your microclimates.  Test the soil moisture level before watering.  Your finger is the best moisture meter.  Using a trowel, if necessary, feel the soil to a depth of 5” – 10” to determine water needs.   Deep watering should result in a soil that is moist (like a wrung-out sponge) 5” to 10” deep.  Adjust the watering time and amount to achieve this result.

All of these recommendations assume that:

  • the soil has been prepared properly for the type of plant;
  • that there is proper mulch around non-xeric plants;
  • and there is no rain.

Whenever we get at least 1” of rain, start the watering schedule over again.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER

  • What kind of plant is it?
  • Is it in a pot or the ground?
  • If in the ground, how long has the plant been in the ground?
    • Newly planted = First two years (Trees first 3-4 years)
    • Established = After two years (Trees after 4 years)
  • What season is it?  Plants will need more water during the active growing season.
  • What kind of soil is it?
    • Clay = Difficult to get the clay to absorb water but holds water longer
    • Sand or Well-draining soil = Easily absorbs water, but doesn’t hold it long
    • Shallow = will dry out faster than deep
  • What is the microclimate?
    • Is it in the sun or shade?
    • Windy or still?
    • Low place or top of a hill?
    • Shady, low areas retain water longer; sunny, windy, hilly areas dry out faster

Watering Containers

Water thoroughly making sure all soil is wet.  Do not allow the pot to sit in a saucer of water for more than half an hour.  Consider the size and material of the pot, the type of plant, and the type of soil.

  • Smaller pots need water more often.
  • Outdoor pots need more water than indoor.
  • Pots in full sun need water more often than shade.
  • Terracotta pots need more water than plastic or glazed pottery.

Outdoor Plants in Containers


Xeric

  • March: Every 2 weeks
  • April – September:  Once a week (some xeric plants prefer every 2 weeks)
  • October – early December:  Every 2 weeks
  • mid December – February:  Once a month or not at all
Never water xeric plants before a freeze.

Other

  • When temperatures are 95º or higher:  Daily or more often to prevent wilting
  • May – September:  Every 2nd or 3rd day
  • October – April:  Once every week or two

Watering Plants in Ground

Native Perennials


New plantings (For plants in the ground less than two years.)

  • When temperatures are 95º or higher:  Light daily watering, plus deep watering once a week
  • May – September:  Deep watering once every week or two
  • October – April:  Deep watering once every 2-3 weeks

Established

  • When temperatures are 95º or higher:  Once per week
  • May – September:  Deep watering once every week or two
  • October – April:  Deep watering once every 2-3 weeks
  •  

Annuals & Non-Native Perennials


New plantings (For plants in the ground less than two years.)

  • When temperatures are 95º or higher:  Light to medium daily watering, plus deep watering once a week
  • May – September:  Deep watering once or twice per week
  • October – April:  Deep watering once every week or two

Established

  • When temperatures are 95º or higher:  Light daily watering or every other day, plus deep watering once a week
  • May – September:  Deep watering once or twice per week
  • October – April:  Deep watering once every week or two
  •  

Xeric Plants

Never water xeric plants before a freeze.

New plantings – Start with slightly damp soil and don’t water right away.  After one week, water once a week for the next 2 weeks.  For the next two years:

  • March:  Once a month
  • April – September: Every two weeks
  • October – early December: Once a month
  • mid December – February:  No watering

Established

  • March – September:  Once a month
  • October through February:  No watering
  •  

Lawns


New plantings (For turf less than two years old of all varieties.)

  • Newly planted sod:
    • Water daily for the first 2 weeks.
    • Every other day for the next 2 weeks.
    • Then follow regular schedule.
  • Newly planted seed:
    • Water lightly daily or more often until grass emerges; do not let seedbed surface dry out.
    • Water every second or third day until the first mowing.
    • Then follow regular schedule.
  • October – early December: Once a month
  • mid December – February:  No watering

Established 

  • All established lawns (except buffalo and native grass seed lawns) needs 1″ – 1.5″ of water every 5 days during the growing season, and only once every 3-4 weeks during the winter.
  • Buffalo and native grass, when established, are low maintenance and can forego both water and mowing.  Lawns will turn brown and go dormant in a drought, but the grass can be kept green, by watering when the grass begins to look stressed (dull, gray-blue color).  This is every week or two in the summer, and once a month in the winter.