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Establish the Entire Landscape

Let’s put together all our plant establishment watering advice in a brief, easy-to-remember schedule.

Just remember the numbers 4-3-2.

All plants including grass, shrubs and trees require frequent and consistent, but small amounts of water initially. Then watering gradually changes to infrequent, deep amounts.

  • All warm-season lawn grasses – Bermuda, zoysia and St. Augustine – require three to five weeks of frequent irrigation, depending on the weather, to become established. I’m suggesting four weeks as your number to remember.
  • Shrubs and flowering perennials – woody perennials need more time to establish themselves, but that varies with size. I’m advising three months as your number to remember.
  • Trees require the longest establishment period, but certainly not as long as most people think if watered correctly. I suggest two years as your number.

This meets the overall duration. Frequency is a bit different, particularly for grass which requires water every day for the first two weeks and then every other day for the next two. Shrubs and trees fare well with the 3-2-1 method.

How much water is enough? This depends on the plant. For grass, it is ¼ inch daily. For shrubs and flowering perennials, 20 ounces per gallon container will suffice. For trees, it’s two gallons per inch of trunk diameter.

Now you’re armed with more information than most professionals. Go out and establish your landscape correctly because a properly established landscape requires very little supplemental irrigation.

Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you’re likely to find him hiking San Antonio’s wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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