Watering your landscape – best practices

With 21 out of the past 24 days in May featuring some amount of precipitation in and around the Denver metro area, making sure your landscape is properly hydrated is not a priority on homeowner’s minds.

But this abnormal precipitation will eventually cease in regularity and before long garden hoses and irrigation systems will yet again be called upon to provide moisture to lawns, trees and plants throughout your landscape.

While more established plant material can often weather the varied precipitation Colorado typically experiences, new plantings require more specialized attention for survival in our compact soil conditions.

After installing a new tree, plant or shrub, it’s important that you continue watering on a regular basis.

  • Water trees every 5 – 7 days by filling the water well and letting the water soak into the root ball (if the water soaks into the soil quickly, fill the well until it soaks down slowly)
  • Water shrubs every 2 – 3 days by applying water until the roots are thoroughly saturated (about three gallons per watering)
  • Water perennials every day as needed

Depending on how much moisture has occurred (taking run off into account) the actual amount of watering will obviously vary.

Trees, plants and shrubs planted in lawn areas equipped with automatic sprinkler systems may not need to be watered as frequently.

One way to check a plant’s moisture level is to use a simple “Crumble Test”. Dig down around the root ball about 3″ deep. When you find the soil too dry to form a ball when squeezed in your hand, it needs water. If the soil ball feels moist and stays together easily, hold off watering.

The best times to water are early in the morning or evening, which will help reduce evaporation. It is also good, at the same time, to spray down the leaves of deciduous trees and the needles of evergreens during hot weather periods, which will arrive in Colorado before you know it.

And what about watering your lawn? Swingle has some useful information on techniques and checking moisture levels here.

Additionally, Swingle can provide a rain sensor to help monitor watering from your irrigation system.

While moisture is certainly not an issue in Colorado this spring, it’s important to have an understanding of the proper practices for watering when it’s no longer controlled by Mother Nature.