A General Guide to Watering


One of the most consistent questions I hear this time of year is, how much should I water my plants? While watering is easy, watering correctly can be complicated. Consider these three factors when watering: time, duration, and frequency.

The age, size, and type of plants also greatly affect water requirements. 

All too often, understanding and correctly adjusting for these factors are the difference between a drooping or dying plant and a lush, healthy landscape filled with happy, thriving plants.


So, when is the best time to water? Simply put, the best time of day to water is in the morning. Watering early increases more absorption and decreases evaporation.


Applying the correct amount of water per plant is critical. Overwatering can lead to disease, distress and possibly death while not watering enough can encourage shallow rooting, yellow or wilted leaves, and will eventually lead to death. A vital component to calculating duration is knowing the soil texture. Sandy soils will require longer and more frequent watering, while heavier, clay based soils will require less watering. 


Frequency is the recommended number of times to water per day or week. Typically, three times per week are recommended during the summer months. However, frequency is determined by age and size of your plants, sun exposure, overall temperature, and soil texture. Not all plants have the same water needs, so it is important to accurately determine the sometimes delicate balance between too often and too infrequently.

In general, plants need at least an inch of water per week. Although there are some plants that will either need more or less than an inch, so know your individual plants' watering requirements. Below are general guidelines for trees, turf, and shrubs.


The University of Tennessee Extension Agency recommend watering trees once or twice weekly during the growing season when rainfall is limited.


The University of Tennessee Extension Agency mention two "philosophies" for irrigating your turfgrass. One option is to encourage a deep root system by watering less frequently. Water to a depth of at least six inches and water again when signs of drought stress start to show. The second option is to water frequently with a light application. 

Most professionals recommend the first method with the exception of incredibly hot and dry periods. During drought conditions, more frequent watering is necessary.


The University of Florida IFAS Extension give the following advice for the Southeastern United States. Shrubs that were given proper irrigation during the first growing season after transplanting take approximately 6 months "per inch of trunk diameter" to become fully established. If establishment does not occur due to under watering, more irrigation will need to be used. If newly transplanted, three light frequent irrigation sessions weekly during the first few months are necessary. Then water weekly until fully established. Each session should consist of "2 to 3 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter over the root ball."

I hope this has given you a general guide to watering your plants. If you have any questions concerning the welfare of your plants, please ask. I will be happy to discuss your watering schedule with you. In the meantime...

                                                                                                       Happy Watering,

                                                                                                       Justin Stelter                                                                                                                 
References and additional information:                                                                             http://www.the-daily-record.com/ap%20lifestyle/2013/06/11/good-watering-makes-good-gardens