Watering Trees and Shrubs: How to Care for Landscape Plants

watering tips for trees and shrubs

For much of the country, it has been very wet as of late. However, as summer begins, the likelihood of a prolonged dry spell seems probable. The recent rain has allowed trees and shrubs to grow well and produce lots of leaves. If the rain stops for an extended period of time, some plants may drop some of the extra leaves as the plants adjust to the drier weather. Depending on the extent of the dry weather, a few leaves dropping should not be too concerning. Keep an eye open for drooping, though, as it could be a sign that you may need to water your trees and shrubs.

Water Your Trees and Shrubs When They Begin to Droop

Many people concentrate their watering efforts on their lawns and forget about the trees and shrubs. If the leaves on your plants are drooping, it usually means that they are in need of water. The best way to water a larger tree or shrub is a slow, steady trickle from a garden hose directed at the base of the plants. Leave it at the base of the plant for 15 to 20 minutes and check the soil to see if it is getting wet more than an inch or so. The goal is to keep the soil wet down to 8 to 12 inches. Move the hose and water different areas under the tree to get the entire area watered. Most sprinklers are designed to water large areas, so they usually don’t work well to water established trees or shrubs.

Possibility of Disease

If, after watering, your plant is still drooping, you may have a bigger problem such as a disease or insect infestation. This may require you to contact a tree care service to have them come out and check your plants. There are numerous other possibilities that could cause a plant to lose its vitality. It is better to have someone who can identify these problems and provide the best recommendations to help your plants grow.

Many Spring-Green offices offer tree and shrub care services. If you have a question about your landscape plants, contact your local office to request a free landscape evaluation.

Overwatering Your Lawn Can Lead to Brown Patches in the Grass

brown patch in grass from over watering

Many customers equate a brown spot in their lawn as the lawn needing more water, when actually the opposite is what is often required. Too much water saturates the soil, filling up all the air space between the soil particles with water. This results in an anaerobic condition; basically the plant drowns, as it does not have enough oxygen to survive.

How Do Sprinkler Systems Overwater the Lawn?

Having a sprinkler system is great and it allows you to water your lawn with the push of a button. Unfortunately, people with a sprinkler system have a tendency to overwater. This can result in wasting water and can be detrimental to the health of your lawn—and that’s when many homeowners see brown patches in the grass.

Many sprinkler systems have a rain sensor in place as part of the system. These are great additions, but they do need to be inspected at least once a year to ensure that they are functioning properly. These sensors fail occasionally, meaning that they will not turn off the sprinkler system if it begins to rain. They can also get covered by leaves, become dislodged, get dirty, or need internal parts replaced on a regular basis.

Consider Adding Moisture Sensors to Prevent Overwatering

Another addition to the system would be moisture sensors that are placed in the ground to monitor how much moisture the soil contains. These sensors would then report back to the control unit and shut that zone down or increase the amount of water another zone may require. There is added cost to installing the sensors, and you may need to upgrade your control unit, but these items will pay for themselves by using less water and guarding against overwatering the lawn.

Maintenance Is the Key

Having your sprinkler system inspected on an annual basis is almost a necessity these days, especially if you live in areas experiencing drought conditions. Having an efficient system that correctly places water where and when it is needed is best for your lawn as well as your bank account.

In select markets, Spring-Green offers sprinkler system maintenance checks as well as upgrades to your current system. Check with your local Spring-Green office to see if this service is available to keep your system in tip top shape.

The Basics of Lawn Care: Aerating, Overseeding, and Fertilizing

On Page Seeding

Like many people across the country, Mr. Roy wondered how to reclaim his thin, bare lawn after an especially harsh winter, so he sought the advice of Spring-Green’s authority on lawn care, Harold Enger. Read below to see how you, too, can thicken up your grass and get your lawn back.

Question:

“My lawn is very thin and has some bare spots after this hard winter. What do I do to thicken up my lawn and fill in the bare spots?”

Mr. Roy, thank you for sending in your question. I would not be doing my job if I didn’t tell you that you should contact Spring-Green and request a lawn evaluation. You can visit our website at www.spring-green.com or call (815) 436-8350. If you prefer to attempt to do the work yourself, here’s what I suggest:

Step 1: Core Aerate

Rent a core aeration machine from your local hardware store or rental center. This machine travels across the lawn, removing plugs of soil and thatch and leaving them on the lawn. This opens up the lawn to allow more air, water and nutrients to penetrate the soil, and it also helps to build the root system. The cores or plugs that are left will dissolve back into the lawn with rain or normal irrigation.

Step 2: Plant Grass Seed

Following core aeration, you’ll have a good site for seed germination. I usually recommend seeding cool season grasses in late August to early September, but if your lawn is thin, then you may want to consider seeding this spring. There are a few considerations that you have to keep in mind. First, you cannot apply a crabgrass preventer as this product will keep your grass seed from germinating as well. Second, you cannot apply a broadleaf weed control for dandelions, clover or other broadleaf weeds until the new seed has germinated and has been mowed three or four times. Light, frequent watering is the best for new seed. If you plan to seed your entire lawn, you may be disappointed with the results if it cannot be watered. I recommend a blend of 70% Perennial Ryegrass to 30% Bluegrass. Most hardware stores carry seed, and this is one area where you don’t want to look for the cheapest price. Buy good, quality seed.

Step 3: Fertilize Your Lawn

Applying fertilizer will help thicken up the lawn by stimulating new growth. As with grass seed, get a good quality fertilizer. Although there are regulations in Illinois that prohibit the use of fertilizer that contains phosphorus (the middle number on the fertilizer analysis) you are allowed to use it after seeding. If possible, use a fertilizer with an analysis of 14-14-14. Read the label that comes with the bag to ensure you are not over-applying the product.

Conclusion

In addition to following the above order, you want to follow good cultural practices, too. Mow at 2.5 – 3 inches in length, leave the clippings on the lawn after mowing and do your best to supply 1 inch of water to your lawn at least once every other week. In my experience, I usually try to talk customers out of seeding in the spring so that the weeds can be kept in check throughout the spring and summer, then, it makes sense to aerate and overseed in the fall. The fertilizer you apply now and throughout the summer will help to thicken the lawn and get it in better shape for the fall. Or, as I said earlier, contact Spring-Green and let us do the work for you!

Watering Trees and Shrubs

Spring was very wet for much of the Midwest, but now we have entered into a hot, dry spell, which is not that unusual for summer.  All that rain this past spring allowed trees and shrubs to grow well and produce lots of leaves.  Now that the rain has stopped and the heat has increased, many plants are dropping leaves.  This could be the result of the recent hot and dry weather.

If the leaves on your plants are drooping, it usually means that they are in need of water.  The best way to water a larger tree or shrub is a slow, steady trickle from a garden hose directed at the base of the plants.  Leave it at the base of the plant for 15 to 20 minutes and check the soil to see if it is getting wet more than an inch or so.  The goal is to keep the soil wet down to 8 to 12 inches.  Move the hose and water different areas under the tree to get the entire area watered.  Most sprinklers are designed to water large areas, so they usually don’t work well to water established trees or shrubs.

If, after watering, your plant is still drooping, that could be a sign of a bigger problem, such as a disease or insect infestation.  This may require you to contact a tree care service to have them come out and check your plants.  There are numerous other possibilities that could cause a plant to lose its vitality.  It is better to have someone who can identify these problems and provide the best recommendation to help your plants grow.