Irrigation – Don’t rely on the summer rain

As we move into the middle of Summer and (hopefully) long dry spells, it’s worth taking a look at the sort of irrigation this season’s new plantings will require.


Man watering a Leylandii hedge


Firstly, different plants require different amounts of moisture so its worth consulting the nursery on this point. For example, River birch, Willows and Alders require lots of water and will survive some periods of flooding throughout the year. However, yew or Taxus for example require only a modicum and any amount of overwatering or water logging will almost always lead to their demise. This group of plants must only be planted in “free draining” or well drained soils.

Bareroot trees and shrubs will not normally require irrigation. Expect 5-10% failures without watering and replant losses after the second year. You will find this approach is far more practical and avoids compacting surrounding soil structures with heavy machinery. Generally speaking, irrigation should start up around the end of March as the ground drys and continue through to October when the rain returns.

It should be noted that summer rainfall is rarely adequate as it usually runs off without permeating into the ground. Don’t be tempted to stop irrigating as this may prove fatal!