Expert Watering Tips For Portland Oregon

Serving Families Throughout Portland & the Pacific Northwest

It can be difficult to know exactly how much water your lawn, trees and plants need to stay healthy during our hot, dry summer months.

Too much water can be as bad as too little and over-use of our water supplies could someday result in restrictions or rationing.

That’s why it’s beneficial for everyone to learn to water wisely.

Benefits of a healthy landscape and lawn

Having a green lawn and healthy plants doesn’t just look great, there are environmental benefits, too.

  • Cools the air
  • Provides shade oxygen
  • Filters pollutants
  • Adds value to your home


The amount of water varies by the plant type and size, as well as air temperature, humidity, light levels and wind movement over the leaves.  Though we’ll try not to get too scientific, we do want to explain what happens when plants don’t get enough water.

Water loss from leaves is controlled by stomatal opening and closing (like pores on your skin) in response to the environmental stimuli listed above.  When water loss exceeds the plant’s absorption of water from the soil, the plant wilts.

In addition to wilting, plants respond to drought conditions by dropping leaves, developing modified leaves or increasing their number of absorbing roots.  Severe drought periods can even cause root loss.


Different soil types hold varying amounts of water.  For example, clay soil holds more water than sandy soil.  This means sandy soil needs to be watered more often whereas clay soil needs water to be applied slowly over a longer period.

Clay soils do best when you implement a deep soaking instead of frequent shallow watering that allows the soil to dry out since once it’s dried, it won’t absorb water.  Plus, a deep soaking method encourages a stronger root system, which makes grass and plants more drought-tolerant.

Early morning is best watering time

Why?  Evaporation will be minimized, and the foliage has time to thoroughly dry during daylight hours.  FYI-mulching all landscaped areas will help reduce water evaporation from the soil, which means the amount of water can be cut back.


Your lawn needs a minimum of 1” of water per week to stay healthy.  Using a rain gauge or tuna can to measure your watering will ensure you’re watering the right amount.

  • Water once a week deeply (at least 1”)
  • Add extra water in the morning if you know it’ll be hot (over 80 degrees)
  • If it rains, you can water less, just be sure your lawn still gets 1”


Grouping ‘thirsty’ plants together in one area will make it easier on you while allowing more efficient use of your water.  Typically, thirsty plants are annuals, perennials and herbaceous plants and may need to be watered daily if it’s 80 degrees or hotter.

Woody ornamental plants (rhododendrons and azaleas) should be watered at least once a week.  Trees should be watered deeply once every 2 weeks.

A soaker hose works great or you can just leave the hose in the root zone of the tree and turn it on a slow trickle.  Just don’t forget to turn it off!

For those who don’t have a sprinkler system, you can buy inexpensive timers that attach to your hose. This will allow you to start and stop your sprinkler (even if you’re not home) while making it easier to implement a consistent watering schedule.

Remember, water is a valuable resource, which is why we urge you to water wisely!

We invite you to contact General Tree for all your tree, shrub or plant care needs.

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