How to Water and Care for Your New Garden

A watering can is great for small jobs but a new collapsible hose is our go-to watering tool. Lightweight and space saving, they shrink up and fit iN a Small mesh pouch tucked inside our garden bag. (Photo credit: Michael Coghlan)

A watering can is great for small jobs but a new collapsible hose is our go-to watering tool. Lightweight and space saving, they shrink up and fit iN a Small mesh pouch tucked inside our garden bag. (Photo credit: Michael Coghlan)

The mulch has been placed, shrubs pruned, perennials dead-headed and cut back, new plants carefully placed and designated established perennials divided and transplanted…the garden renovation is complete. And it worked; your garden is looking fabulous, just like it should.

Now it’s time to sit back, let the plants fill out and do nothing but relax until the next weeding…well, almost.

A plant responds to relocation the same way a lot of us do: with stress. The best way to help mitigate the strain your new planting is experiencing is to ensure it is thoroughly hydrated. If you’ve opted for mulch, you’ve already given your plants the advantage of water retention, soil temperature moderation, reduced competition from weeds, and a nutrient boost, but they still require frequent watering. If you want to keep your revitalized garden looking healthy and vibrant, you simply must water your plants.

Here is our guide to caring for your newly renovated garden.

Trees and shrubs

Depending on the variety of shrub or tree, spring and fall are preferred for planting or transplanting. Sometimes, however, it is not practical to wait for these times and we use a number of tactics to mitigate plant stress.

If caring for a renovated garden during the summer months, it is especially important to pay attention to the following steps.

1.)    Planting. We hand pick nursery items for client gardens to ensure plant vitality and thoroughly water all plants about to be transplanted. Site preparation includes the right size hole which is filled to check for good drainage and moisten the surrounding soil to keep newly planted roots cool and hydrated. We use bone meal to help bolster overall health and plant…adding a final soak for good measure. But the process doesn’t end there.

2.)    Week 1. This first week after new plantings, water trees with a nice slow soak in the surrounding soil once a day. Either the cool of the morning or evening is best, being sure to avoid the firehose effect of blasting at its foliage and roots with an open hose. 

3.)    Week 2. Last week’s watering gave the shrub a chance to adjust to its new environment and it is a little stronger, so you can cut back to a thorough watering (during the cool of the morning or evening) every other day.

4.)    Week 3. Your trees should be well on their way to establishing a nice strong set of roots, continue to water every third day for maximum success.

5.)    Week 4. Your shrubs should nearly be established, but they aren’t quite out of the woods yet. Continue to water them once a week.

6.)    Subsequent weeks. Depending on the heat and rain frequency, make sure to implement and maintain a regular watering schedule.  Setting up a slow trickle on your hose and leaving it go for about 45 minutes twice a week, either in the morning or evening, is well worth it. Your trees and shrubs will thank you with their beauty!

Perennials and Annuals

In the heat of the summer we recommend a good watering a couple of times a week for established plants: always in the cool of the day with a focus on the surrounding soil to avoid foliage sunburn from water pooling on leaves. For newly planted or transplanted perennials, more frequent watering might be necessary during warm days or dry periods. Each plant will differ in its need for water, so testing the soil is a good idea. You don’t want muddy soil, but if it’s dry and chalky that’s obviously not a good sign.

A good plan for ensuring maximum beauty is to establish a routine of deadheading and cutting back tired growth. Your garden will look better and some perennials will give a second flush of flowers if deadheaded promptly. To deadhead most flowers, pinch the bloom back to just above the first set of healthy leaves.

Also, don’t be alarmed if you’re not seeing too much new growth or flowers the first year. Peonies, for example, routinely take a growing season to establish themselves before they’ll reward you with new blooms. 

If your yard features window boxes or containers even extra care should be taken to keep them looking their best. Plants in containers use potting mix instead of soil and need more water than plants in the ground. Ideally, a daily drink right at the soil around plants first thing in the morning is best (this helps with water retention, decreases chances of burnt foliage, and decreases likelihood of mildew growth). No blasting of the soil though, a gentle flow is your aim. If you can’t do it daily, every second or third day, especially in the heat of the summer, is pretty much mandatory. Remember, we’re not talking a deluge here, more like a gentle soak until the peat based potting mix is well moistened, but not soaking.

Remember, regardless of how established your garden is, it is best not to leave the hydration of your plants up to Mother Nature. We love July’s sun-filled days in the garden knowing that we will need to help out with watering to optimize our garden’s beauty.