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How to Water Your Plants

Whether your plants are new or established, there are a few things you need to know to make sure your trees and shrubs thrive. Read our guide for care of other elements of your outdoor space. If you are looking for info on watering sod, read our sod care article.


Water, Water, Water! (But not too much).

When your plants are just planted, water them thoroughly. The best practice is to NOT use a sprinkler. Rather, an open ended hose is the preferred method. Small plants will take just 20 seconds while large trees take up to 2 minutes. Water with an open ended hose running at moderate pressure. Use the following guide every day for the first week. For the remaining year use the following schedule 2 times per week.

Watering Chart

  • Small Plants in a 1 gallon container: water 20 seconds, or about 1/2 gallon.
  • Medium Plants in a 3-7 gallon container: 40 seconds, or about 1 gallon.
  • Large Plants in greater than 10 gallon containers or Ball and Burlap: 2 minutes or 4 gallons.

Keep an eye on the plants. Symptoms of over watering and under watering can look similar. If concerned, take a dry sturdy stick and push into the ground next to the root ball to the approximate bottom of the plant’s hole. Look to see if the stick is particularly damp or dry.

Watering Tips

  • Spray wand or watering wand is ok.
  • Use caution with sprinklers. If using a sprinkler place a tuna or cat food can next to the plants and water until the can is full.
  • Rainfall less than 1 inch is NOT a substitute for watering.

Caring for Established Plants

After 2 years your plants are established in the ground and have growing root system. But, that does not mean they are safe during a draught. During the middle of a high dry period of the summer use the above watering guide for once a week watering.

When Should I Stop Watering My Plants for the Season?

There is not a date on the calendar to stop watering.  As the fall weather rolls in, plants need less water. It is best to gradually step back watering until ground and air temperatures are consistently below 40 degrees. Starting in October in Maryland you can go to once per week watering, once per month by the end of November, and then by the end of December we consistently have temperatures low enough that watering is not necessary.