A Watering Basin for New Plantings

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Watering basin around a newly planted tree. Photo: ucanr.edu

To ensure proper watering the first year after planting, that is, the year in which plants are settling in and will need more water than when they are fully established, why not form a watering basin around each new plant?

This technique is used mainly with trees, shrubs and conifers because they tend to be slower to establish than herbaceous plants and also because they are usually a good size at planting and therefore require a greater quantity of water each time you irrigate. However, it can also be applied to any plant, especially if it’s in a situation where it is likely to need frequent watering.

A water-holding basin is simply made of a berm of soil up to 6 inches (15 cm) high all around the root ball. When you water, simply fill the basin with water. The water will then percolate into the soil exactly where the plant needs it!

When the plant is well established, usually after a year, just remove the basin and then the plant will benefit from the same watering as neighboring plants. Besides, after the first year, the roots will have (hopefully!) outgrown the size of the basin and water should be more widely applied to encourage continued expansion of the roots.

Just apply mulch over the watering basin. Ill.: m.espacepourlavie.ca

The presence of a watering basin doesn’t mean you can’t mulch your new planting. In fact, mulching is always wise, helping to keep the soil more evenly moist and preventing weed development. Just cover the soil in the basin and even the berm itself with 3 to 6 inches (8 to 10 cm) of your favorite mulch.

Adapted from an article originally published on August 27, 2015.

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A Water-Holding Basin for New Plantings

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20150827To ensure proper watering the first year after planting, that is, the year in which plants are settling in and will need more water than when they are fully established, why not form a watering basin around each new plant?

This technique is used mainly with trees, shrubs and conifers because they tend to be slower to establish than herbaceous plants and also because they are usually a good size at planting and therefore require a greater quantity of water each time you irrigate. However, it can also be applied to any plant, especially if it’s in a situation where it is likely to need frequent watering.

A water-holding basin is simply made of a berm of soil up to 15 cm high all around the root ball. When you water, simply fill the basin with water. The water will then percolate into the soil exactly where the plant needs it!

When the plant is well established, usually after a year, just remove the basin and then the plant will benefit from the same watering as neighboring plants. In a situation where the plant is likely to continue to suffer from a lack of water and therefore will need regular watering (plantings under a roof overhang, in sandy soil, under trees with abundant roots, arid climate, etc.), however, you can leave the basin in place permanently.

Successful Watering on a Slope

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Plants growing on a slope are more difficult to water than ones growing on a more horizontal surface. That’s because the water you apply (or that Mother Nature applies) tends to flow downhill rather than penetrating the soil. And the steeper the slope, the greater the runoff and the drier the conditions! So a poor plant on even a modest slope is constantly suffering from a lack of moisture!

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Cut a watering basin into the slope to catch rain and irrigation water.

One way of compensating for this is to create a watering basin around each plant. Just cut into the slope on its upward side, leaving a depression, and use part of the soil to create a small semicircular berm on the downward side. This basin will help the plant catch water from rain as well as from overhead watering, allowing it to percolate slowly into the soil. Just leave the basin in place permanently (you may need to rebuild the berm occasionally, depending on the type of soil) and this will give the plant a much greater share of rainfall and irrigation.

Another possibility for watering a slope is to use a soaker hose or drip irrigation, running the hose across the slope, that is, in the at right angles to the slope. Soaker hose and drip irrigation apply water more slowly and in smaller doses than other methods, so it is much more likely to sink in and reach the plant’s roots than to flow down the slope, out of reach its reach.

Also, in the future, remember that slope plantings benefit less from rainfall and overhead irrigation than other plantings and will need to be irrigated more frequently.

20150801COf course, the easiest way of successfully planting on a slope over the long term is to only use drought-tolerant plants in such places. They’ll still need some watering for at least the first year, but, as they root in and establish themselves, should soon be able to take care of themselves.