Watering Your Trees and Shrubs Through the Hot Summer Months


A lot of beautiful trees and shrubs went out of our doors this spring and summer, which means there are at least that many new woodies that found new homes in the St. Louis area recently. As the temperatures continue to climb, it’s important to feed these new babies all the water they need to thrive. The root systems we’re setting up now are the ones that will carry them through the cooler months ahead, and for years to come.


Here are some reminders/refreshers/tips on how to keep your new friends well watered and happy:

  • Water thoroughly, every other day.

What does water thoroughly mean when it comes to trees and shrubs? As a general rule of thumb, we recommend 1 minute of good soaking, with a 2 minute break, 3-4 times, each time you water. That will give your new friend a total of 3-4 minutes of good, deep watering. If you have more than one plant that needs water, as most of us do, it’s a good idea to spend 1 minute on each one, and go down the line. When you’ve finished with the first pass, go back and start again, and again, and again. Now you’ve completed a thorough, deep watering.

  • Water the base, not the foliage.

Although watering the foliage is a good way to knock off any pesky insects that have set up camp on the leaves of your tree or shrubs, it does little to help sustain them. Additionally, watering the foliage is an easy way to bring on unwanted fungus. It’s important to keep your hose down at the base of the plant, to ensure a successful second part of a thorough watering.

  • Your plants will communicate.

You may not have known but plants talk, sometimes scream, at us. They will give you clues when you or the environment has done something to make them unhappy. Some plants are hard to over water (redbud, magnolia, hydrangea), while others are sensitive to receiving too much water (junipers, pine, spruce), but they will all let you know if you’ve pushed them too far in either directions. Just take a look at their foliage! Bright yellow tell us they’ve had too much water, while brown, wilted, crispy edges, signify thirst. Another rule of thumb is to notice where the discoloration in happening- outside-in yellowing signifies not enough water, while inside-out yellowing signifies too much water.

  • It rained! Now what?

Rain is an inevitable, sometimes much needed, part of St. Louis living. The forecast is a great tool to figure out when you should and should not water. If massive rain is coming in a couple of days, adjust your schedule to start over on the day it rains. And while this weather may not seem like something to celebrate, relish in your well deserved break from frequent watering. WARNING - do not fool yourself into thinking a light morning shower will do the deed. Remember the thorough part.

  • Interview the person you’re relying on keeping your woodies watered (i.e. the teenager that lives with you, whose job it is to keep your beautiful new tree alive)

Teenagers can be trusted with few things. It’s a fact, right? One of our resident tree experts, Tom, stresses the importance of a grueling interview process with whomever is put in charge of taking care of your beautiful investment. This is a very important task and whoever you entrust with it should know the weight they must now carry on their shoulders. All jokes aside, watering properly in the hot months is not something that can be rushed. It can be a tedious process, but imperative to the vitality of your plants. It’s not difficult, just time consuming. Taking a minute to educate the person in charge of this task will have a massive payoff at the end.

  • I’m going on vacation, it’ll be fine for a week, right?

NO! It probably won’t be fine! There are a couple of of things you can do, however, to help them get by while you’re on a beach, living your best life. One of the easiest solutions is to ask a neighbor (preferably the one with the nicest yard) to lend you a hand. There will inevitably be a time when they’re out of town and may ask for the favor returned! If friendly neighbors are not an option, we retail a product called Tree Gater ($29.99) that will do a great job keeping up on watering you can’t tend to, for about a week.

Again, these watering guidelines are general. If you have any question for specific plants you purchased with us, please don’t hesitate to come in and chat with one of our very knowledgeable tree and shrub guys. It’s important to all of us at Garden Heights Nursery to set you up for success when making a purchase, and we love sharing our knowledge and love for gardening with you.

Happy watering!

#stlouisgardening #wateringplants

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