GROWING GREEN: Autumn watering for woody plants
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Oct 31, 2012  |  Vote 0    0

GROWING GREEN: Autumn watering for woody plants

Hamilton Mountain News

The fall season offers an excellent window of opportunity for planting new shrubs and trees into your landscape.

It is also a critical time to maintain the health of woody plants that were planted in the spring and summer months.

Summer was exceptionally warm this year, so the watering that you do in the coming weeks will have a significant impact on the health and viability of your new plants over the long run.

Newly planted shrubs and trees require infrequent but thorough watering that reaches to the full extent of their root systems. Avoid frequent, light watering which results in vulnerable shallow roots.

Water your woody plants by locating a hose at the base of each tree in turn and setting the water pressure to allow a trickle of water to run over the root zone for about 30 minutes. In a week, with significant rainfall, either a full day or night of rain, you won’t need to do this. However, doing this once every seven to 10 days during dry and windy weather is very important to ensure that your plants go into the winter months fully hydrated.

When planning out your watering schedule be sure to include large specimens, broadleaf and needled evergreens, spring flowering plants as well as any trees or shrubs on breezy corners or in exposed locations. Trees that go into winter dormancy without appropriate hydration are subject to potential desiccation resulting from contact with winter winds. Keep up your watering regime until the ground freezes.

Another beneficial practice is to use a two to three inch layer of mulch around the base of shrubs and trees. This helps to maintain the moisture level in the soil, insulate the root zone of your plant and also diminishes the amount of weed growth and subsequent competition for water and nutrients in that area. When applying mulch, be sure to leave some space between the mulch and the crown of your plants and the bark of trees and shrubs.

Growing Green is prepared by Mount Hamilton Horticultural Society ( and appears biweekly. This week’s column was written by Shelley Peterson, past president of the Mount Hamilton Horticultural Society.

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