Summer time brings plenty of fun in the sun, but it’s important to pay extra special attention to watering your garden and landscape this time of year—especially new plantings. While it might be easy to assume that trees and shrubs can adapt to their landscape and don’t need as much attention as flowers do, this is not necessarily true. If you have new trees, shrubs or perennials on your property, you may be wondering how to water them. Follow this simple guide of tips on what to do and what not to do when watering this summer.
How to Water New Trees, Shrubs and Perennials
New plantings need particular attention during the first year after they have been planted. In general, new plantings need approximately one to three inches of water per week, so ensure they get this through manual watering or Mother Nature.
Before we dive into watering (pun intended), it’s imperative to ensure you plant everything properly first. Here is a general overview of the proper planting technique to get things started correctly (this may not apply to all plantings, but in general is accurate for most, so when in doubt speak to a specialist before planting):
Now, let’s look at how to keep these new plants happy in long-term:
New Trees: We encourage watering young trees deeply once or twice a week. Doing this will encourage the tree to grow deeper, healthier roots which, in the long run, are less likely to sustain damage during dry periods. Younger trees do require more frequent watering than well-established ones, but even a mature tree will need deep, regular, weekly watering during periods of hot, dry summers when we are not getting any rain for weeks at a time. Continue watering your trees until there is a sufficient amount of rain or until winter rolls around. As a general rule: New tree plantings can take up to one year to become established, so until then be sure to baby it.
In particular, evergreen trees can trick you as they tend to react slowly, and once you notice a change, it can be too late. Their needles may appear green and lush even when they are under stress; it often takes time for the outward appearance of an evergreen to reflect this stress, and once yellowing needles appear, the damage is done.
New Shrubs and Perennials: The timeline for establishment varies depending on the plant but in general new annuals, perennials and shrubs establish relatively quickly; with larger shrubs potentially taking as long as a new tree to fully establish. With that in mind, the frequency of watering will vary based on the type of plant; it will also vary depending on weather and soil quality. For example, sandy soils will drain more quickly than clay soils, and shallow-rooted shrubs such as hydrangeas or azaleas will dry out more quickly than plants with deeper rooting systems.
When to Water in the Summer
A general rule of thumb for watering not only trees, but all plants really, is to try to do so either in the morning or in the evening. If you water during the hottest portion of the day in the summer (between 10 a.m and 6 p.m.), it’s a bit of a waste of resources as a lot will be lost to evaporation. This means that your plant may not get enough water, or you’ll have to use significantly more water to ensure that it does.
In the days after planting, physically check the top of the root ball and see or feel if it is dry. You must put real effort into looking and/or feeling the plant's root ball to assess its water needs. This is how to protect your investment!
Chronic overwatering and underwatering can show the same symptoms in plants. Chronic overwatering causes plant roots to die in two ways.
Once the roots die, they cannot move water up into the plant and the plant actually looks like it's thirsty or drying out.
Being the sole water provider for your landscape during a long, hot, summer can feel like a bit of a heavy task—but it doesn’t have to! With the right tools, knowledge, and understanding, you should be able to keep your trees, shrubs and perennials nice and healthy—even in the most challenging conditions. Stop by Carolina Seasons Nursery if you have any questions about tree maintenance or are on the hunt for the perfect new plant to add to your yard!
How to Plant & Care for Evergreen Shrubs
From Abelia to Wax Myrtle, there is a long list of evergreen shrubs that thrive in North Carolina and will lavish your yard with color and vibrancy all year long. Caring for evergreen shrubs is also simple, especially once they’re established. Here’s how to ensure your evergreen shrubs will live a long, healthy life.
When Should You Plant Evergreen Shrubs?
Planting at the right time is the first step in caring for your evergreen shrubs. In North Carolina, you can plant shrubs in the fall, late winter, and early spring, but the best time to plant is fall.
Step-By-Step Instructions for Planting Your Shrubs
Finish off your newly planted shrub with a layer of mulch about 3-4 inches thick. Not only is mulch aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also particularly good for plants that are establishing themselves in a new home. It keeps their roots cooler in summer and warmer in winter and it retains soil moisture.
Make sure your mulch layer is flat. If you create a volcano-like mound of mulch around your shrubs, it could cause them to rot and die.
Caring for Evergreen Shrubs
After you’ve planted your shrubs, it’s time to nurture them so that they successfully establish themselves in their new homes. The key? Consistent watering.
How Often You Should Water
Your shrubs could take as long as a year to get fully established, and during this time, they need to be watered frequently and regularly. For the first two weeks, very thirsty plants like Tea Olive and Wax Myrtle may need water every day or every other day. Boxwoods and Camellias don’t use as much water and may need less frequent watering. Watering once every two or three days may be enough for them. Later, you may be able to go longer between watering your new plants, but the frequency also depends on daytime temperatures and the porosity of the soil, so be sure to check the top of the root balls to make sure they are not drying out in between. Keep this up for the next few months. For example, if you planted them in the fall, keep this routine going all the way to spring. If it’s a dry spring, your frequent watering will need to continue.
Beware of Overwatering
It is possible to drown shrubs with too much water. So, keep a watchful eye on them for signs of overwatering. One such sign is leaf loss. It’s normal for newly planted shrubs to lose up to half their leaves because of the stress of being moved. However, if you give them the same amount of water consistently and they lose more than half their leaves, it’s likely because of overwatering, and you should ease off.
Wait until your shrubs are well-established before you begin fertilizing. Even after they’re established, they may not need fertilizer if they’re growing in high-quality soil or in a lawn that’s fertilized regularly.
That being said, fertilizer for recently established shrubs is proven to speed up their growth. The best fertilizer for such evergreen shrubs is the slow-release type. This type of fertilizer gradually releases nutrients. Select a slow-release fertilizer formulated for shrubs, and follow the instructions carefully. Better yet, have your soil tested. The NC Department of Agriculture Soil Lab will recommend the best type of fertilizer that fits your plants’ needs. We have the supplies needed to send samples to the lab and we will help you through the process at no cost. You can also pick up the required supplies at the Pitt County Ag Center.
Over 80 Varieties of Evergreen Shrubs at Carolina Seasons Nursery
Carolina Seasons Nursery