Watering Guide

Written by Greenwise Team
Published on June 25, 2024


To water or not to water

To water or not to water? Caring for your plants cannot be quantified to a specific formula. It requires some observation and judgement depending on the plant, soil, weather, exposure, and time of year. Below are some additional guidelines to help you care for your plants.

General tips

Watering in the morning is best so that the plants can absorb the water before the heat gets to them. The risk of watering at night is that the damp leaves might encourage fungal issues.
Watering an established lawn is site specific. The right answer depends on your turf type, soil quality and what’s growing in or next to the lawn. All of these factors impact water retention. Watering deeply and infrequently during the heat of the summer will help encourage healthy, deep root structure. Setting a measuring unit like a tuna can on the turf is one way to find out how much you’re watering. The ideal measurement would be 1-1.5 inches. Another rule of thumb is if you can’t push a 6” screwdriver into your lawn, you aren’t watering enough.
To check if you are watering your perennials, trees, and shrubs correctly, grab a hand trowel or soil knife and dig near the edge of the root zone. The goal is to ensure that the soil is damp far below the surface.
Soaker hoses can be helpful for trees and shrubs (and some perennials), and particularly for hedges and evergreens. Soaker hoses “weep” at different rates, so you will need to monitor these the first few days to get a sense of how long it takes to adequately water the plants.



Newly installed seed should be kept moist for the first two weeks. Foot and pet traffic should be avoided. If installed during cool weather, water with a sprinkler once in the morning. If installed during warm weather (75 degrees or above), water twice daily: once in the morning and once in the early evening. After germination, reduce the frequency to 2-3 times per week to encourage deeper root growth. Transition to the instructions for “watering established lawns” after 4-6 weeks.


Watering new sod

Sod needs more water than you’d think! Water at least once every morning for 45 minutes to one hour for above ground and hose end sprinklers. If you have a permanent irrigation system, you may need less time watering per zone. Sod should be kept continually moist for the first 3-4 weeks. Minimize foot and pet traffic for the first three weeks. The sod is getting the correct amount of water if it feels spongy beneath your feet; if you are leaving footprints then you are overwatering.


Watering perennials

Perennials and groundcovers have root systems. Because of this, they may require water every day or every other day for the first 1-2 seasons. Give the soil time to dry out between waterings but keep watch for plants that look wilted. Wilting, most common during hot summer weather, means the plants need additional watering. Perennials should be watered using a sprinkler or soaker hose, though we encourage hand watering or irrigation. When watering with a sprinkler, leave the sprinkler on for about 30 minutes in each area so that the ground is thoroughly moist. Ensure full coverage by moving the sprinkler if needed.
Established Perennials: After the first two seasons, regular rainfall should be sufficient for most perennials. Note that in times of drought, supplemental watering once or twice per week is recommended.


Watering established lawns

For a green, lush lawn, we suggest 30 minutes to an hour of watering 2-3 times a week for above-ground and hose-end sprinklers. Again, permanent irrigation systems may require less time per zone. This should continue through periods of drought. Watering can be reduced during periods of heavy rainfall, particularly in the spring and fall.


Watering woody plants (trees & shrubs)

For newly installed trees, we recommend a watering bag. Watering bags are convenient and eliminate the guesswork! You simply refill them when they are empty. Trees, particularly ornamentals and young shade trees, require additional watering beyond regular sprinkler watering or hand watering. A best practice is to remove the sprinkler head and place the end of the hose on a slow trickle a few inches from the trunk of each newly planted tree. Leave the hose on this setting for 30-45 minutes for each tree. This should be done one to two times weekly until there is a heavy frost and the tree enters dormancy for the winter. Trees should be considered established after three full seasons.
Once established, regular rainfall should be sufficient for most trees and shrubs. Note that in times of drought, supplemental watering may be required one or two times per week until conditions return to normal.
For shrubs, thoroughly water two to three times per week for the first two to three seasons. This can be done by hand, sprinkler, or irrigation system.


Container plants

Plants in containers tend to dry out more quickly than in-ground plants. For most containers, daily watering is recommended, particularly on warmer days.
Winter displays should not be watered.

Questions? Call us at 847-866-1930 or email us at info@iamgreenwise.com. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have!