All Posts   Posted:   August 11, 2016 by Nicole Forbes - Education Director

By the time August comes around in the gardening season, watering may have become a chore – caring for newly planted landscapes can be time consuming and stressful, requiring diligent attention with a watchful eye for subtle changes. Often, customers at our garden centers ask how to water a particular plant they are purchasing and we always struggle to provide a good answer. Knowing how much water to give each plant and how often involves taking into consideration several factors including the exposure (sun, wind, heat…), soil type (sandy, clay…), planting area (slope, berm, raised bed, container…), the type of plant and how well it is established.

Plant in the Fall for a Successful Establishment Period

Getting your plant off to a great start can reduce your stress and make your job easier as the season progresses. The best time to do major planting is during the fall when temperatures are mild and our seasonal rains are returning; early spring is the next best time for planting. Many of us, however, would prefer to be out in the garden during warmer weather and much of our planting goes on during the hot & dry months of summer. We are fortunate to live in an area where we can pretty much plant things year-round with a little extra attention paid during times of extreme heat or cold.

Pre-soak Plants Before Planting

Before I plant, pre-soaking my plants in water, compost tea or a root-simulator/transplant shock reducer is one of my most valuable techniques. Nursery-grown plants may often be slightly (or severely) root-bound and seldom does the soil in the container match the soil that you are planting into; this can make it difficult for water applied after planting to penetrate both the existing root ball as well as the surrounding soil.

As I am preparing to plant one or several plants (especially during hotter, summer months), I find something that will hold water that is big enough for the container size I am planting (a 5-gallon bucket is good enough for 4-inch to #2 containers, I use a clean 20-gallon garbage can to soak larger plants). I fill my bucket (or whatever) with water and usually add compost tea bags for planting edibles (let tea ‘brew’ for 8-12 hours)  or Root Master B1 (a transplant shock reducer) for planting ornamentals. Before planting, I place each plant into the water – still in its plastic pot - and give it time to absorb enough that it sinks to the bottom after several minutes. Once the soil has been fully saturated the plant can be fished out of the water, its pot removed, the wet root-ball is now easy to loosen-up if roots are compacted and it can be placed in its hole to be planted. Once I am finished pre-soaking all the plants and they have been put into soil, I go back around and water them all in with the same solution they were soaked in – adding additional water from the hose as necessary. I find that this technique gets my plants off to the very best start, ensuring that the roots have been properly hydrated and that the surrounding soil has enough moisture to encourage new roots to grow into it. Give it a try the next time you are planting – see what a difference it makes in how easy it is to keep new plants ‘happy’.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!

Applying mulch to my garden beds is another way that I conserve water in the garden. For most of my beds I like to use Black Forest – a natural soil building amendment that has a rich, dark color and many uses. A 2-3 inch thick layer of mulch can reduce moisture loss from your soil due to evaporation; in fact 3” of mulch can reduce your water needs by 30%! When applying mulch to planting beds always make sure to keep the mulch material at least 4-6” away from the base of trees, shrubs & perennials to reduce the likelihood of suffocating the plant or causing rot around the tree trunk or plant crown. I like to use my stack of empty nursery pots turned upside-down to cover my smaller perennials & shrubs so I can fling mulch hap-hazardly to cover the soil; I then go back and remove the pots that covered my plants to reveal a perfect ring of mulch-free space left around each plant – time saving tricks of a busy gardener who wants it all (that’s me)!

Pre-soaking my plants and using a thick layer of organic mulch has been a game-changer for me in respect to more water-wise gardening. I am spending less time stressing about my plants’ needs and more time enjoying them and therefore, myself.

If you are looking for more water-wise garden advice, stop into one of our garden centers to see the latest tools, products and techniques to help hydrate your plants with less effort and stress on your part.

By the time August comes around in the gardening season, watering may have become a chore – caring for newly planted landscapes can be time consuming and stressful, requiring diligent attention with a watchful eye for subtle changes. Often, customers at our garden centers ask how to water a particular plant they are purchasing and we always struggle to provide a good answer. Knowing how much water to give each plant and how often involves taking into consideration several factors including the exposure (sun, wind, heat…), soil type (sandy, clay…), planting area (slope, berm, raised bed, container…), the type of plant and how well it is established.

Plant in the Fall for a Successful Establishment Period

Getting your plant off to a great start can reduce your stress and make your job easier as the season progresses. The best time to do major planting is during the fall when temperatures are mild and our seasonal rains are returning; early spring is the next best time for planting. Many of us, however, would prefer to be out in the garden during warmer weather and much of our planting goes on during the hot & dry months of summer. We are fortunate to live in an area where we can pretty much plant things year-round with a little extra attention paid during times of extreme heat or cold.

Pre-soak Plants Before Planting

Before I plant, pre-soaking my plants in water, compost tea or a root-simulator/transplant shock reducer is one of my most valuable techniques. Nursery-grown plants may often be slightly (or severely) root-bound and seldom does the soil in the container match the soil that you are planting into; this can make it difficult for water applied after planting to penetrate both the existing root ball as well as the surrounding soil.

As I am preparing to plant one or several plants (especially during hotter, summer months), I find something that will hold water that is big enough for the container size I am planting (a 5-gallon bucket is good enough for 4-inch to #2 containers, I use a clean 20-gallon garbage can to soak larger plants). I fill my bucket (or whatever) with water and usually add compost tea bags for planting edibles (let tea ‘brew’ for 8-12 hours)  or Root Master B1 (a transplant shock reducer) for planting ornamentals. Before planting, I place each plant into the water – still in its plastic pot - and give it time to absorb enough that it sinks to the bottom after several minutes. Once the soil has been fully saturated the plant can be fished out of the water, its pot removed, the wet root-ball is now easy to loosen-up if roots are compacted and it can be placed in its hole to be planted. Once I am finished pre-soaking all the plants and they have been put into soil, I go back around and water them all in with the same solution they were soaked in – adding additional water from the hose as necessary. I find that this technique gets my plants off to the very best start, ensuring that the roots have been properly hydrated and that the surrounding soil has enough moisture to encourage new roots to grow into it. Give it a try the next time you are planting – see what a difference it makes in how easy it is to keep new plants ‘happy’.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!

Applying mulch to my garden beds is another way that I conserve water in the garden. For most of my beds I like to use Black Forest – a natural soil building amendment that has a rich, dark color and many uses. A 2-3 inch thick layer of mulch can reduce moisture loss from your soil due to evaporation; in fact 3” of mulch can reduce your water needs by 30%! When applying mulch to planting beds always make sure to keep the mulch material at least 4-6” away from the base of trees, shrubs & perennials to reduce the likelihood of suffocating the plant or causing rot around the tree trunk or plant crown. I like to use my stack of empty nursery pots turned upside-down to cover my smaller perennials & shrubs so I can fling mulch hap-hazardly to cover the soil; I then go back and remove the pots that covered my plants to reveal a perfect ring of mulch-free space left around each plant – time saving tricks of a busy gardener who wants it all (that’s me)!

Pre-soaking my plants and using a thick layer of organic mulch has been a game-changer for me in respect to more water-wise gardening. I am spending less time stressing about my plants’ needs and more time enjoying them and therefore, myself.

If you are looking for more water-wise garden advice, stop into one of our garden centers to see the latest tools, products and techniques to help hydrate your plants with less effort and stress on your part.