Watering Trees & Shrubs
After the initial installation, check your plants each
week, water plants thoroughly if natural rainfall is
insufficient. Apply water to individual plants by placing
the hose at the base or truck of the plant, allowing
the water to run at a slow trickle long enough to saturate
the entire root zone. If the water tends to run off,
go to another plant and then complete the watering.
After the first year, established plants should be watered
every 3 to 4 weeks – June thru September. A lay of mulch
reduces water loss to evaporation.
In order for these plants to spread and become established,
they must be watered every other day for the first month,
and then once a week for the next 2 months. If planted
in late spring (after May 15th) or in the summer, watering
may be necessary on a daily basis. A rotary sprinkler
works best for large ground cover beds. After the first
year, your ground cover should be watered every 2 weeks
from June thru September. Mulch is also highly recommended.
Sod & Seeded Lawns
Seeded lawn should be kept
moist until a uniform stand of grass of established.
Apply enough water to keep the soil moist, but not so
much to cause run off.
Sod should be soaked daily
the first week after installation. After the first week,
sod should be watered every 2-3 days. If the sod shows
signs of drying or turning brown, it should be soaked
Special Situations and Exceptions
To every set of rules or guidelines there are exceptions.
The following list of special tips is included to help
you adjust your watering methods to your specific soil
type or plant types.
The required frequency of watering will vary greatly
according to soil types. Heavy clay soils tend to hold
water and therefore need less water to sustain plants.
Remember that it is just as easy to kill a plant
by over watering as it is underwatering. Use common
sense! If a plant begins to show signs of weakening
(yellowing of leaves or needles) and you know that it
cannot possibly be due to lack of water, using your
hands, dig into the soil around the ball and check to
see if the root system is saturated with excess water.
If it is, quit watering – your soil is not draining
as fast as it should.
Frequency of watering also varies from
season to season. Usually, watering is not as critical
during the spring and fall as it is during the summer
months (June – September). Make sure, however, to water
plants close to buildings or beneath overhangs where
they receive little or no rainfall.
Some plants simply do not like wet conditions under
any circumstances. Probably the easiest plants to kill
by over watering are those in the evergreen family.
The list includes all Taxus varieties (Yews), most pines,
most Junipers, most Broadleaf Evergreens such as Rhododendrons,
Azaleas, Boxwood, Holly Euonymus varieties, Oregon Grape
Holly, and Pyracantha. A few others include Bayberry,
and most Flowering Ornamental Trees (especially Dogwoods).
This is not to say that these plants necessarily prefer
dry conditions, but they seem to be the severely affected
Pruning is one of the most essential landscape maintenance
practices. When pruning is done properly, it will help
maintain the plant forms that were intended. The best
pruning practice is that which accomplishes the desired
end result without destroying the natural growth pattern
of the plant.
- Pruning maintains a plant in vigorous
and healthy conditions.
- Shrubs and trees often become unshapely
unless restrained by pruning.
- Because of the blooming and fruiting
of many shrubs and trees, maximum displays of blooms
or bountiful displays of fruit can only be obtained
- Flowering Deciduous Trees and Shrubs
should be pruned immediately after flowering.
- Non Flowering Deciduous Trees and Shrubs
ideally should be done during the dormant season.
However, pruning may be done anytime the wood is not
- Evergreens may be pruned just after
the new growth is completed, usually in late spring
or early summer.
- Broadleaf Evergreens (Rhododendrons
and Azaleas) need to have faded flowers pinched off
(deadheading). Be careful not to pinch off next year’s
buds along with the faded flowers.
- Whenever a stem or branch is dead or
The key to proper pruning is to have the proper tools
and know how to use them. Some of the tools include:
hand pruners (secateurs), loppers, and pruning saws.
Hedge shears, both electric and manual, are to be used
for hedges only. Often trees, shrubs, and evergreens
are sheared into squares, globes, cones, etc., causing
the natural beauty of the parts of the plants to become
shaded out and weakened, thus resulting in poor growth.
Following are some general guidelines for pruning trees,
shrubs, and evergreens:
- Individual cuts should be made ¼” above
an outward facing, active bud at a 45 degree angle.
- Branches should be cut at different
lengths again, to enhance the plant’s natural shape.
Remember, avoid “haircut” pruning.
Maintaining Ornamental Grasses
Watering Ornamental Grasses to get them established
is the same as for your newly planted trees and shrubs.
The one difference being, if your grasses begin to look
a little dried out simply cut them back and new growth
should emerge. Once the plants are well rooted little
or no supplemental watering is required, except in periods
Cutting Back Grasses
This the single most important maintenance rule for
growing healthy, attractive grasses. Cut back the foliage
at least once a year. Cut back ornamental grasses just
before or just as the new season’s growth begins to
appear. It’s best to cut back most grasses in late winter
generally in our area early to mid March. Most grasses
should be cut back to within a few inches of the ground.
Cutting back old foliage before the new growth emerges
is easier than working around the new growth. Most grasses
can be cut back very nicely with a pair of hand pruners.
Be sure to sharpen the blade on your pruners, because
the grasses will surely dull them quickly.
Watering Perennials as with other new plantings
is the same. Frequent checking of the soil and applying
the water close to the soil, so as to avoid getting
water on the foliage, is the best advice. Most perennials
prefer good moisture with good drainage to the soil.
With proper soil preparation, water your perennials
2-3 times a week. Once your perennials are established
water only as weather conditions permit.
Mulching with bark, peat moss
or other organic material will improve air / water relationship
in the soil. Most perennials will perform better the
following spring if an application of mulch has been
applied in late autumn to protect against winter damage.
Trimming Dead-heading (removal
of dead flowers) and trimming off damaged parts during
the growing season will maintain neat, clean, long blooming
Fall Clean Up – When the
top growth has died back, trim for neatness as desired.
Dead top growth may either be removed or left as a protective
mulch. Trim back to within a few inches of the ground.
Clean out weeds and mulch over the plants to protect
against winter damage. Fall is the best time to divide
spring and summer flowering perennials. Otherwise, divide
perennials in spring.