Q. How much water do plants need to keep them healthy?
A. The amount of water plants need depends on several different factors, like type of plant, how long it’s been planted, type of soil, and location.
Established trees, shrubs, and perennials need approximately 1 inch of water per week to keep them healthy. When Mother Nature provides an inch or more of rainwater per week, it is not necessary to water. If supplemental water is needed, water deeply one or two times per week. Annual plants usually require more water, especially if they are planted in full sun. Newly installed plants require more frequent watering, perhaps two or three times per week.
To determine if soil has sufficient moisture, carefully dig down 2 to 3 inches below the surface. Soil at that level should be moist, not wet. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water — but not overwater. Clay soils retain moisture longer than sandy soils. Native plants require less water because they are adapted to a specific area, especially prairie plants.
Native plants may wither and brown earlier than normal during a dry season, but they will return year after year. Native shade plants, like those in woodlands, need less water than plants in sunnier areas. Although most turf species require a fair amount of water to remain green during the growing season, lawns that brown due to lack of water don’t die; they go dormant and usually green up quickly when supplemental water is applied.