Summer Watering Tips

Oklahoma summers are often long with hot temperatures, drying winds and minimal rainfall. Landscape plantings, especially those recently installed, are very susceptible to damage or death during the summer months due to lack of adequate soil moisture.

The purpose of adequate moisture is to keep your newly planted trees and shrubs alive, and establish a healthy root system. This is accomplished by giving plants enough water to meet their needs, but nothing more. By keeping the plant soil a little on the dry side we encourage the roots of the tree to seek out moisture in the surrounding soil and establish roots.

Immediately after planting, slowly water any plant from the top of the root ball until the soil is saturated. Later in the day, water a second time using Fertilome™ Root Stimulator to stimulate early root growth and stability. This is the only fertilizer your shrubs and trees will need for its first year and it should be applied every 2 weeks, even in winter, to promote healthy root growth.

Keep in mind that newly planted container-grown plants require more frequent watering. Until the roots grow into the surrounding soil the plant can dehydrate even though the bed soil is damp. When watering newly planted container-grown plants, you should slowly apply the water directly at the center of each plant.

Water as needed to keep the soil evenly damp but not wet. Do not rely on sprinkler systems alone to properly water new plantings. Water your trees during the Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer, any time the soil is dry.  Tree roots remain active at all seasons.

If the soil is heavy clay, the key is to water very slowly to allow gravity to pull the water down into the clay layers. This action alone helps to aerate the clay, which in turn helps the roots of the plant material to go deeper into the soil. Sandy soil allows the water to pass through quickly, so a slow watering helps keep the water in the root zone.

Be cautious not to overwater your plants. Too much water and lack of water produce the same symptoms and result – damaged leaves and death of the plant. One way to determine if your plant needs water is to stick your finger or a shovel into the ground.

If your finger or shovel comes out clean, you need to water. If your finger comes out damp or muddy, you should not water that day.

Keep the grass and weeds away from your tree for at least two years to prevent competition for water and nutrients. A layer of Grade A Cypress or Grade A Cedar Mulch placed to a depth of 2 inches over the area of the hole will discourage grass growth and conserve moisture. If necessary, you may pull the mulch back to inspect the soil moisture of the root ball to determine watering needs.

Methods of slow watering

  • Soft spray hose attachment, such as a Dramm™ Watering Wand
  • DeWittTM Watering Bag
  • TreeGator Jr.™ Watering Ring
  • Ross™ Root Feeder
  • Dramm™ Soaker Hose
  • Slow trickle from a garden hose
  • Soaker hose or drip irrigation system

Remember, irrigation systems do not eliminate the need for regular inspection of the soil moisture. Watering by hand is often necessary even though an irrigation system is in use. Be sure to regularly inspect each plant for lack of moisture or overwatering.

If problems exist, please bring a sample of the damage to TLC Garden Centers for identification and recommendations.

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