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Watering Guidelines

Watering is essentiallly our way of providing assistance to plants under stress from insufficient water intake. Plants suffering from lack of water are usually in one of three categories: those recently planted, those enduring a period of drought, and those poorly suited to the soil conditions in which they were planted. New plantings require a lot of water. Trees and shrubs experience stress when they are moved and as they struggle to adapt to a whole range of new conditions. The larger the specimen the greater the shock and the longer the plant will take to become established.

When planting, be sure to create a circular dike approximately the diameter of the hole that was dug to assist in a thorough watering of newly planted trees, shrubs and even larger perennials. To water new plantings simply fill up the area inside the dike with water; this will bathe the entire root ball. This should be done immediately following planting, and subsequently every other day for the first few weeks, moving to one or two times a week for the next few months depending on the amount of rainfall. Newly planted trees and shrubs take time to gain their independence. Regular watering should continue for at least one subsequent growing season. Keep in mind, watering can continue up until the ground freezes although cooler temperatures and the slowed metabolism of the plant mean that water requirements will be greatly reduced.

When it comes to watering there are no rules, except that one should maintain even moisture levels around the root ball by closely monitoring the both of the soil and the condition of the plant itself. If there is a significant period of rain then, naturally, you do not need to water; on the other hand, if the weather is hot and dry you may want to water a new planting daily. Again, check the soil; it is possible to over water. Signs of over watering are yellowing of leaves on the lower inside of the plant. Plants suffering from lack of water, by contrast, first show wilted and yellowing leaves at the top of the plant.

Periods of drought in the Northeast United States are not uncommon come middle to late summer. While new plantings will obviously require continued watering, established plants tend to be remarkably resilient. In fact, a degree of stress can actually benefit a plant by encouraging greater development of the root system and thus better preparing the plant for future dry spells. The ultimate goal of watering is to provide assistance only during extreme conditions and to leave the rest up to a plant's ability to adapt to existing conditions.  


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