Watering your plant material is very important. However there are a few factors that will determine how much water is needed and how frequently you should be watering. The two primary factors are: weather conditions and soil conditions. New trees, shrubs and flower beds require extra care for the first full year, until the new plants are fully established. Your sprinkler system will not provide enough water for newly planted material. We recommend deep watering, generally 2 to 3 times per month, or on an as needed basis. To deep water trees we recommend using a nozzle at the end of your hose that you can adjust down to a trickle. Lay the nozzle by the base of your new tree and let it run for 20 to 30 minutes. Check soil conditions before watering and always check the soil to determine if water is needed. If the soil is dry at 4 to 7 inches deep, you should apply water. Generally, sandy soils will need moisture more often than any other type of soil, but always check before watering. Avoid frequent, light watering. Roots go where the water is. Frequent, light watering keeps the moisture near the surface and causes shallow root systems that are more vulnerable to weather conditions, especially heat and heavy rain.
Newly planted trees and shrubs, and all flower beds, benefit from occasional watering during the cold months. Plants can, and do, die from drought even in the middle of winter. When temperatures are above freezing, roots are actively growing. Provide deep watering as needed. Even in the winter months warm, windy weather causes soil to dry out rapidly. Moisten the soil just before a freeze to prevent a “dry freeze” of the roots to help plants withstand a sudden cold snap better. The water will help insulate the roots during freezes.
Fertilize established plant materials every few years. Apply fertilizer in the fall after the leaves have dropped, or early in the spring. Never apply fertilizer in the late summer. This promotes new growth which makes the make the plant susceptible to winter damage by not hardening. To prepare your plant material for winter you can apply phosphorus and potassium. To prevent the fertilizer from drawing too much moisture away from plants, water both before and after fertilizing.
When planting new plant material, always cut any limbs that are damaged or rubbing with others. Always make the cut at the base of the branch collar, never leave a stub extending off the collar. An open stub - like an open wound - makes plant vulnerable to disease and insects. Generally, pruning should be done in late winter or early spring when the plant is dormant. But there are exceptions to the rules. Proper pruning builds strong, healthy trees that resist disease and are less vulnerable to damage from high winds.