Water Wiser: Keep Your Plants Thriving

Published on
May 30, 2022 at 5:45:00 PM PDT May 30, 2022 at 5:45:00 PM PDTth, May 30, 2022 at 5:45:00 PM PDT

All plants need water, but how much? How often? What time during the day? Don't worry! We're here to help answer those questions.

General Tips

  • Water in the mornings to avoid water loss due to evaporation. Watering at this time helps plants deal with the heat of the sun throughout the day.
  • Watering less often with more water is better than watering more often with less water.
  • Make sure to water at the base of the plant, not on top of the leaves. This helps limit the possibility of disease.
  • Use a soaker hose setting instead of a sprinkler setting. This makes sure the water gets to the base and roots of the plant, not on the leaves.
  • Never rely on lawn irrigation as a source of water. This process waters at a shallow depth and doesn’t give the plant roots a deep soak.
  • Poor soils that contain clay and do not drain well need to be watched carefully so trees do not become overwatered. If you have clay soil, try amending it with Earl May Structure and Organic Planting Mix.
  • The top few inches of soil should dry out in-between watering cycles.


While rainfall is important, supplemental watering to get plants or seeds started is essential. During the season a thorough, deep watering every 2-3 days will help your vegetables thrive and provide the results you want. When watering, also feed your plants to keep them healthy and strong. Granular Earl May Plant Food10-10-10 or Water-Soluble Nutri-Gro is best.


For flowers, we recommend a daily watering for the first week or two after planting. After that, roots should be more established, so a few times a week should do. As always, make sure you read the plant tag when planting and check on your flower gardens every day to determine if they need another watering.

Trees / Shrubs

Water trees and shrubs at a slower rate at the base of plants. It gives them a deep soak that is much needed during hotter temperatures. To achieve a slower rate of tree watering try soaker hoses or tree bags. Avoid watering frequently and at shorter intervals. Newly planted trees and shrubs should be watched closely the first few months after being planted. The amount of water needed for specific plants is difficult to calculate. Most newly planted trees and shrubs will benefit with a thorough soaking 2-3 days per week for the first few weeks. This depends on rainfall, wind, and soil temperature. If you have average soil, one inch of rain per week is ideal for watering newly planted trees or shrubs.

Tip: Apply a 3″ layer of wood mulch around your tree to help provide a buffer from heat, retain water, and avoid root competition with weeds.


Once established, lawns should be watered once a week, the equivalent of 1/2 inch of rain (unless it rains of course). During the heat of summer, this may need to be done twice a week. The best time to water established lawns is in the morning.

Signs You Need to Water

  • Dry soil
  • You've been away for a few days
  • Plants seem sad and droopy

Signs You are Overwatering

  • Slow or no growth
  • Leaves are droopy but soil is still wet or moist
  • Yellowing of leaves
  • Root rot

Grab your watering supplies in our online shop. Still not sure how to water your plants? You can always check with your local Earl May experts on tree watering questions.