How Do I Know If My Plants Are Getting Enough Water?

Keep this watering formula handy when watering your outdoor plants. Just remember 1-2-3 to avoid transplant shock and decline in the first year of growth. 

By: Debbie Neese
September 28, 2021
How Do I Know If My Plants Are Getting Enough Water?
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You're going to love the following formula for watering your outdoor plants for those of you who are number crunchers. And for those who don't like math, all you have to remember is 1,2,3! Continue reading to learn how to know if your outdoor plants are getting enough water!

According to Water Use It Wisely, small plants like groundcovers, annuals, or cacti need water to absorb to a depth of 10 inches. As a rule of thumb, an inch of rain will absorb to 1 foot, providing no runoff, and the rain is a steady soft shower. Consequently, that's why supplemental watering is so vital to new shrubs. New Lively Root shrub plantings need water down to 2 feet for their roots to establish. Likewise, larger plants and trees need water up to a depth of 3 feet. For instance, depending on the organic matter in your soil, give a new tree planting that is 5′ tall, 22 gallons of water. 

Watering Depth Guide

Once you estimate how many gallons of water your plant requires from the Water Use it Wisely's handy chart follow these next steps. 

How long does it take to water a shrub? To figure the question out, take a 2-gallon bucket and use your water hose. Time how long it takes to fill it up with the hose nozzle in the shower pattern selection. (This is very important to use this pattern.) Record and use this time as a gauge when watering.

For instance, most new shrub plantings start in the ground at a 2′ or 3′ height. According to Water Use It Wisely, you should apply 4 gallons to a 2′ shrub and 8 gallons to a 3′ bush. As a rule of thumb, add 3-4 gallons to each foot of shrub height. You'll consider how much time it took to fill the 2-gal bucket, then convert that time to the size of your plant and its gallon needs. 

This bucket took 1.30 minutes to fill up. So, it should take 3 minutes to water a 2' Lively Root plant. (When you water, use the shower pattern instead of a blasting spray to prevent erosion and time for the water to soak into the soil.)

After watering your plants around the root zone or drip line:

  1. Wait a couple of hours.
  2. Investigate how deep the water has filtered into the soil. You can dig down or use a soil probe.

Remember to add mother nature's contribution to the watering calculations and adjust supplemental watering's weekly.

If using drip emitters, you will want to use several watering emitters around the plant's drip line to get an even distribution of moisture.

So, if your 3′ shrub needs 8 gallons, you could use four 2.0 GPH spot watering emitters around the drip line surrounding the plants. As the shrub grows, you can add more emitters to accommodate water needs. Carefully adjust your timer to supply an adequate amount of water for your plantings. As your plants grow or weather changes, make adjustments as needed.

As you can see, there is a lot of science behind watering. And your conditions are ever-changing as mother nature has her preference to change things up like a science project! You will have to pay attention and use good common sense. Observe the health of your plants by taking a leisurely stroll through the garden to notice the conditions of your Lively Root plants. The moisture levels of the soil come into play and are ultimately the responsibility of every homeowner. These are average guidelines to go by to get your new plantings off to a good start. Feel free to adjust according to your natural elements and your plant's needs.

If you have any questions about how to maintain the health of your Lively Root plant, give us a shout at If you would like to know what affects the watering needs of your outdoor plants, don't miss it here. And one more thing, send us a picture of you watering your 'lovelies' from Lively Root and tag us with the #livelyroot.

Water Use it Wisely plant watering guide>