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Learn about proper care of your new plants!

Caring For Your New Landscape

Your water bill is going to increase. How much it increases can vary, depending on your irrigation system’s water consumption rate. Each head may be using 1 to 3 gallons per minute. For example, if you have a 6 zone system that runs and 30 minutes each zone and they each have 5 heads using 2 gallons per minute each, your sprinkler system can consume 1,800 gallons of water in just one cycle. Only running the cycle once each day can consume 54,000 gallons in one month. Water bills may just have a slight bump if you are only watering a few plants when the highs are in the 60s and you have a septic system or go up several hundred dollars if you are paying sewer fees (wastewater disposal) and watering daily using your whole irrigation system and the highs are in the high 90s.


Watering requirements also change as time passes after the installation as well as due to seasonal conditions. Multiple adjustments to your sprinkler system settings are needed throughout the year.


Even with an irrigation system, you may not have adequate coverage to each and every plant. Some watering by hand may be required.


Zone run times depend on seasonal conditions, whether or not head spacing provides adequate coverage, and the type of zone (spray zone, rotor zone, drip zone, etc).


A light rainfall is not a substitute for watering. If there is a good amount of rainfall, it can be considered as watering.


Check Soil Moisture: It is very important to touch the soil in the planting beds to see how wet it is. If the soil is wet and saturated, reduce watering. You may have to dig under the mulch slightly to accurately measure how wet the soil really is. Plants will wilt and turn yellow if they are overwatered (just as they would if they were under-watered), so it is important to feel the soil to ensure they are not being drowned.

Inspecting Your Plants


Inspect each and every plant daily for the first month. Observe for signs of insect activity (eaten foliage). If insect damage is present, treat as needed. Proper ID of the insect and proper use of insecticide is vital to protecting your plants. Look for additional issues. 


Newly installed landscape plants will suffer transplant shock, particularly during the hot summer months. Keep a close eye on these plants. Make sure you are providing the proper amount of water, not too much and not too little. Fertilization may help them recover sooner.


Trees and shrubs do not die overnight, so please call when you feel the plant is suffering. Sometimes it’s just the plant experiencing shock, while other times there may be a more serious issue. Your warranty is voided if we are called and the plant is completely brown from top to bottom.

Protect Your Plants


Be careful to not damage your plants. Avoid poor pruning practices. Don't let your pets go potty on the plants. Keep children from playing in the landscape beds. In the event of a deep freeze, especially when the temperature quickly drops and plants haven’t had a chance to adjust to the weather change, we recommend covering your plants to protect them. Use a bed sheet, tarp, or other plastic sheeting. Some plants are more prone to winter damage than others.


Caring for Your Plants


Newly installed landscape plants will suffer transplant shock, particularly during the hot summer months. It is imperative that plants receive proper care, so as to minimize stress. Upon installation or purchase it is then the responsibility of the owner to supply the plant with sufficient water and fertilizer (as needed) during their growing season (May to October) to keep them healthy.  


It is your responsibility to provide care for your plants. This includes fertilizing and applying products to control damaging insects and plant diseases.


We suggest applying a balanced slow-release granular fertilizer (10-10-10 or similar) once a year in the spring or fall. Miracle Gro also has products available to purchase for homeowners that are simple to use. Products for homeowners are available at your local garden store. Read and follow the directions on the label. Improper use of products can damage or kill your plants. A variety of insecticides and disease control products are also available. Read and follow the label. If you are unsure of how to properly care for your plants, please research on the internet or hire McBrayer Landscapes to care for your plants. We have the knowledge and expertise to give your plants the proper care. You can also contact us with pictures and questions.


Tree stakes can be removed one year after installation.




Keeping an adequate layer of mulch or pine straw around the base of the plants will help to retain moisture, possibly extending the time needed in between waterings. Mulching also helps to protect the plant’s root system from harsh winter temperatures. Hardwood mulch is much better than pine straw at providing protection for your plants (and looks better too!).




Plantings are very different than sod. Plantings can drown very quickly if overwatered. Planting zones should be on a separate program and watered less frequently than sod.


Not all plants are the same and need to be watered different amounts. Many factors will determine how much you need to water plants. Larger plants with large root systems will need less frequent watering while 1 gallon and 4 inch plants will require more frequent watering due to root system size. How do you know how much is enough?


We recommend performing the index finger test. This is where you penetrate the soil around the plant with your index finger for about three inches deep and see how wet it is. If you pull out mud, then you should skip, if it is wet and sticks a little bit, you can wait or add a little bit of water to it. If it is dry then please soak it with water. 


Not all plants are going to be in the same environmental condition when planted. Soil profiles can change in different areas of your property. Some plants will receive more sun than others; therefore, they will lose more water due to evaporation. Some may be in direct competition for water with bigger trees. The roots of trees will take moisture out of the ground, taking away your new plant’s source of water. These new plants competing with tree roots for water and nutrients will need to receive more frequent watering than plants that are not in direct competition with tree roots.

Watering Annuals


Annuals are plants that live less than one year. They are typically changed out twice per year in the Spring and Fall. Annuals require frequent waterings, typically needed everyday for the first couple of months to establish and every other day thereafter. During hot weather, summer annuals may still require daily watering to establish. Fall annuals, like pansies, may only need water daily for the first 2-3 weeks and then less frequently as colder weather sets in.


Watering New Perennials


New perennials and other 1 gallon plants may require more frequent watering than 3 gallon or larger plants. The root ball of a 1 gallon plant is smaller and can dry out faster than larger container plants. Keep a close eye on all perennials.


Watering New Shrubs


These plants are generally 3 gallon containers but can be 5 gallon, 7 gallon or larger. While they won’t dry out as quickly as a 1 gallon plant, they require frequent waterings when new.


Watering New Trees


Trees typically have larger root balls than shrubs and perennials. The best practice for watering trees is to slowly soak them in, They will require less frequent waterings than shrubs and perennials. Larger planted trees may require longer soakings but less frequent waterings. 


Watering Frequency


Deeper, infrequent watering helps plants grow healthy extensive roots, that stand up better to drought stress. Smart watering makes a big difference in the health of new plants! During the first season, frequent watering is absolutely necessary.


The watering guide below is a general recommendation for watering practices, not necessarily an exact schedule to follow. Pay attention to the plants. Don’t wait for the plants to tell you with wilting and leaves dropping off. If they appear to be wilting and the soil is dry, water immediately. If they appear to be wilting and the soil is wet, you may have overwatered and need to let the soil dry out some before watering again. To prevent making this mistake again, only water your plants when the soil is dry to the touch.


Year 1 (Spring through Fall when the weather is dry) - Frequent watering is needed during spring, summer, and fall. Watering can be skipped on days when a significant rainfall is received. A light drizzle is not significant enough to skip watering a day.

  • Wet (Temps not applicable)

    • ​Some watering may be needed unless rains have been slow, soaking and at least 1 inch per week.

  • Cool (Temps under 60°F)

    • ​Water every 3rd day during the first month after planting.

    • Water every 5th day at most after the first month.

  • Warm (​Temps 60-80°F)

    • ​Water everyday to every other day during the first month after planting.

    • Water every 2nd or 3rd day after the first month.

  • Hot (​Temps above 80°F)

    • ​Water every day during the first month after planting.

    • Water every 2nd to 3rd day after the first month. 

    • Water daily in temperatures above 90 degrees until temperatures cool down back to 85 degrees during the season.

    • Extreme temperatures may require twice a day watering.

Years 2 & 3 - Water deeply once or twice per week. How often and how long you water depends on your soil composition. Continue to monitor all the plants for signs of problems.

After Year 3 - Plants should be established, and thrive with less watering. Drought-tolerant plants may need no supplemental water, whereas shallow-rooted plants or plants with greater water needs may need water weekly. Many plants may need watering only once or twice a month in dry weather. 


Watering With Irrigation System


Even with an irrigation system, you may not have adequate coverage to each and every plant. Some watering by hand may be required.


Zone run times depend on seasonal conditions, whether or not head spacing provides adequate coverage, and the type of zone (spray zone, rotor zone, drip zone, etc).


Rotor zones should run for about 30-40 minutes per zone and spray zones 10-15 minutes per zone. 







Watering By Hand


For new landscapes that do not have an irrigation system in place, regular watering by hand is the only thing that will ensure your new plants’ survival. Each individual plant must be watered for 15 to 20 seconds.

Special considerations

Drought-tolerant plants need regular water until they are established.

Planted containers tend to dry out quickly, particularly unglazed clay pots. Check them daily during the summer by sticking your finger into the soil. If it’s dry down to the first knuckle on your index finger, add water. Always apply enough water so that some drips out of the bottom drain hole.

Shallow-rooted plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, heathers, and bedding plants may need more frequent watering than other plants.

Young trees need deep regular watering. During times of little or no rain, water deeply once a week until trees become established.

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