Civano Nursery Watering Care Tips


The guidelines presented here are for native and desert adapted plants (excludes cacti, & ocotillo). High water use plants will require more frequent and  longer irrigation period. Citrus and Cacti care are not included in the below instruction but are available on their respective care sheets.

Where Should I Water?

The soil surrounding the plant’s roots, called the “root zone”, serves as a storage tank from which the plant draws moisture.  Most of the roots spread 1-1/2 to 3 times as wide as the plant’s canopy and usually penetrate 2-3 feet deep, depending upon the size of the plant. Shallow or compacted soils can cause shorter and wider root zones so make sure you saturate the complete root zone each time you water.

How Should I Water?

  • Drip Systems – Most drip systems do not have enough well placed emitters.  Add emitters and increase the area watered as the plant grows.
  • Bubblers – Be sure the basins are level and extend beyond the edge of the canopy.
  • Hoses – A perforated soaker hose is a good device for watering shrubs and trees.

How Much Should I Water?

Be sure to completely fill the root zone every time you water.  A good way to test how deeply you have watered is to stick a thin metal rod into the ground soon after you irrigate.  The rod should easily slide through the wet soil.

How Long Should I Water?

The amount of time needed to sufficiently water your plants depends on three things: (1) type of watering method used (2) size of the root zone (3) type of soil.  Monitor how quickly the water soaks into the ground, using the rod method.  Repeat the watering steps appropriately with every watering.

How Often Should I Water?

The trick to watering is how often you water.  Generally, Civano Nursery suggests watering established plants no more than three times per week in the summer and no more than every week in the winter.  There is an establishment period of 1-2 years for all newly planted trees and shrubs.  The watering of an un-established plant varies greatly but generally needs more frequent watering. A newly planted tree should be watered every day for two weeks.  Make sure that the root ball gets well saturated.  How often your plant needs water depends upon the weather, the type of plant, the maturity, the root depth, and soil type.

  • Weather – Plants use 3-5 times more water during the hot, dry summer as they do during the winter.  Adjust your watering schedule with the season and when there are significant changes in the weather.
  • Plant Maturity and Type – To prevent wilting, young plants should be watered more often than older plants. Water consumption rates vary greatly among plant species. High water use plants, like roses, need to be irrigated about twice as often as established arid region plants. 
  • Root Depth – Root depth also has a major impact on how often plants need water. The deeper the roots, the less frequently you will need to water. Encourage a deep, drought-resistant root zone by watering deeply. A good rule of thumb is to irrigate when the top 1/3 to 1/2 of the root zone is dry.
  • Soil Type – If your soil is shallow, compacted, or sandy you will have to irrigate more frequently.

Signs of Under- and Over-Watering


  • Soil is constantly damp
  • Leaves turn a lighter shade of green or turn yellow
  • Young shoots are wilted
  • Leaves are green yet brittle
  • Algae and mushrooms growing


  • Soil is dry
  • Older leaves turn yellow or brown and drop off
  • Leaves are wilted
  • Leaves curl

Tips for Efficient Watering

  • Apply 3-4 inches of mulch under the canopy.  Mulch retains soil moisture and discourages weeds.  Do not lay plastic over the soil. Crushed rock is also another form of mulch and commonly used as a ground cover in Arizona.
  • Avoid sprinkling tree and shrub leaves with water.  Salt in the water can damage the foliage.
  • Control weeds, including turf grass, that compete for your plant’s water.
  • If you water by hand, install a faucet timer and use a soaker hose.
  • Once or twice a year, water twice as long as you normally do to help leach the salts out of the root zone.
  • Expand the area you water as the plant grows.
  • Prevent run-off!  Retain the water in a basin around the plant or water at a slower rate.

Have fun gardening and thank you for choosing Civano Nursery.