Tips for watering plants

By Gregg Eyestone

Plants need water to survive, fill fruit and develop flowers for next year. A slow trickle of water to the roots of your plants is ideal.

Soaking the root system will make for a healthy and fruitful plant. In general, the soil should be moist to a depth of 8 to 12 inches after watering.

The newest plants get the top priority for watering. They simply haven’t had time to develop a root system to support themselves yet.  Water is important the first three years that a plant is in the landscape.

One good method for watering individual plants is the five-gallon bucket system. The bucket has one or more small holes (1/8 inch diameter) drilled in the side near the bottom. Simply fill the bucket and let it leak slowly. Move the bucket and water on the opposite side of the plant for a total of 10 gallons of water applied. Bags made specifically to retain and slowly release water are also available.

Check soil moisture with a trowel, rod, screwdriver, or probe each week.

On average, water trees and shrubs every 10 to 14 days if it doesn’t rain and soil moisture indicates a need. As the root system of these plants extends during establishment, water in a wider ring around the plants.

Plants will compete for available water. Research proves that turf grass will reduce the growth of trees when used together.

Keep trees free from grass competition by using mulch around them at least for those first three years.

Lawns younger than three years old should be watered as well. Soak the soil to a depth of four inches in the summer. A deeper soaking is important in the fall as it cools off from summer temperatures. Monitor your grass conditions for timing. Once a week is a guideline.

K-State Research and Extension has developed a series of publications on watering plants. They are available at the local extension office and online at ksre.

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