Tree-Planting Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Jun 18, 2016 3:53:27 PM

shade_trees2.jpgTrees are a valuable investment–they help cool our homes, clean the air, provide habitat for wildlife and make our neighborhoods a pleasant place to live. Planting properly increases their ability to provide these benefits.


Take a look at our top five recommendations for planting trees:

1. Spare Your Back...Don't Dig Too Deep

When you're planting, be sure to compensate for the settling of air pockets in the soil, which can eventually result in the plant sinking down a few inches from where you planted it.  Print our tree planting guide for reference.  Dig your hole wider than it is deep, with an undisturbed "pedestal" of soil for the root ball to sit on.  The pedestal keeps it from settling below the soil line. Remember, the majority of tree roots are in the top 24" of soil, roots tend to go wide rather than deep.

2. Stakes Promote Strength

When you buy your tree, you'll notice it has a small stake attached to it, usually tied to the trunk with green gardener's tape.  This is the nursery stake, also called a transportation stake, to help trees survive transport in the nursery.  It's not substantial enough to support the tree after it's been planted, and should be removed and replaced with two proper tree stakes, or lodge poles, and one or two flexible ties.  Staking is essential for supporting your tree while it's developing an extensive root system, and until it can support itself.  Allow for flexibility in the wind to grow a strong trunk. 

Again, refer to our tree planting guide to learn about best practices when staking trees. 

3. Watering Longer, Less Often

Say it with me now: deep, infrequent watering; the best irrigation practice for most plants, and it's essential for trees.  When we say "deep" that means getting water all the way to the root base.  Drip irrigation is ideal because it can release a very small amount of water, over a long period of time, which thoroughly saturates an area with minimal soil erosion and runoff.  Generally speaking, the top six inches of soil should be allowed to dry out before being watered again. 

Depending on the size of the tree, it's location, your soil texture and the season, this may be two-to-three times per week at first, while the tree is getting established.  To get on the correct schedule, start off by probing the soil before each watering, if it's moist six inches down by the rootball of a newly planted tree, there is no need to water.  Helpful tips for watering trees on our Watering 101 Guide.


4. Right Tree, Right Place?

For long-term benefit, select a tree that will fit in the space you've chosen to plant it, do well in your soil, and be happy with the exposure it will get.  Green Acres Nursery & Supply partnered with the Sacramento Tree Foundation to publish The Shady Eighty, a tree guide packed with information about trees that thrive in the Sacramento region.  Visit any one of our five locations, to pick up the guide and we we'll be happy to show you which trees will work for your specific situation. 

5. TLC (Transplanting Love & Care)

Transplanting can be a traumatic experience. It's stressful to be transported to a different spot, uprooted, stuck in the ground and expected to acclimate to a completely new environment.  There are a few things we recommend to ease the transition and help trees become established more quickly:

  • Wilt_Stop-2-826069-edited.jpgMulching regulates soil temperatures, slows the evaporation of water in the soil, mitigates erosion, feeds beneficial soil microorganisms, and suppresses water-thirsty weeds.  To set yourself up for success, every tree you plant should be mulched at least 2-3" deep around the base of the tree (leaving six inches of bare soil around the trunk). 
  • Fertilize with an organic starter fertilizer such as E.B. Stone™ Sure Start™.  It contains beneficial organisms, such as mycorrhizae, which form a relationship with roots.  That symbiosis extends the capacity of roots to take up water and nutrients.  Plus, because it's organic, you don't have to worry about shocking the roots, or burning them, with salt build-up. 
  • Check the weather after transplanting.  If temperatures are above 90°F or it's going to be very windy, mist the foliage of your tree with Bonide Wilt Stop® to help slow transpiration (water loss through the leaves). 

Now that you know how to care for your living investment, check out the Top Ten Legacy Trees for Sacramento.

Legacy Trees

Topics: Tree, Irrigation Tips, Sacramento Trees, Mulch, Trees

Show us How You Fixed it for Good

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Jun 16, 2016 5:51:06 PM

Green Acres Nursery & Supply is teaming up with Save Our Water to inspire you to rethink your yard with simple upgrades to improve your water efficiency in the landscape. 
Participating is as easy as 1-2-3! 
1. Snap a Picture of Your Water-Wise Upgrades
What does a water-wise landscape upgrade look like? It can be anything from using mulch to help slow the evaporation of water from the soil, to converting your irrigation system to drip, to planting drought tolerant plants. There are hundreds of ways you can help reduce your water use, without compromising your beautiful landscape. 
  Saving H2O in the Landscape
Want some inspiration for low-water landscape designs? Join us for one of our free California Landscape 2.0 Workshops this summer!
2. Share Your Water-Efficient Upgrades on Instagram or Twitter
To participate, simply use the hashtag #ifixeditforgood and #idiggreenacres on Instagram or Twitter along with pictures of little improvements you have made in your landscape from June 15 to September 15, 2016.  We'll select some participants to feature on our website and social media as a Water-Saving Partner. 
3. Inspire Our Communities
Let's show our friends and neighbors just how effective it is to make simple upgrades to save our water–for today and long term. Every adjustment, no matter how small, contributes to healthy landscapes with less water waste in our communities, and that's good for all Californians. 

#ifixeditforgood Contest

Topics: Smartscape, Waterwise, Sacramento Low Water Plants, Irrigation Tips, Organic, Low Water Plants, Drip Irrigation Supplies, Drought Tolerant, Mulch

Gardening Tips to Beat the Sacramento Heat

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on May 31, 2016 6:48:34 PM

Check out this video for a few quick fun ideas

When temperatures soar, plants can get stressed, and it's often hard to know how to help them. Fortunately, there are many ways you can help mitigate the effects of heat stress now, and for summers to come. 


Immediate Solutions

Water Properly

Our first impulse when temperatures spike is to water plants more. It seems to make sense; we are thirsty and therefore our plants probably are too. The problem is plants don't really "drink" water like we do. Their roots absorb water vapor. That's why deep, yet infrequent watering is best. Put down enough water to slowly and thoroughly soak the root ball. Provide enough time for the plant to take it up through the roots, and allow oxygen back into the soil, before watering again.

If you're unsure about whether your plants need water, probe the soil several inches down. If it's moist, no need to water. For trees and large shrubs, use a soil probe to a depth of at least six to seven inches. 

Tip: It's best to water early in the morning to hydrate plants so they can withstand the daytime heat. Watering at night can encourage fungal issues, and should be avoided whenever possible. Use a nozzle with a shut-off valve if you do not have a drip system in place.

Watering 101


Extra Care for Container Plants

Container gardens dry out more quickly, and plant roots can be adversely affected by radiated heat from the pavement. Be sure to use "pot feet" to insulate container plants from radiated heat underneath. For hanging baskets or plants in hard-to-water spots, Soil Moist can help. Soil Moist is a granulated polymer which absorbs water and slowly releases it to help extend the period in between watering. 





Mulching helps slow the evaporation of water and insulate the soil temperature to keep the roots cool. It also breaks down to mulch.jpgfeed microorganisms which help improve soil structure, leading to better water penetration. 

All wood mulches offer these benefits, but only if they are layered to the proper depth:

  • Layer large chunks of bark at least 3-4" thick, because the large pieces allow for lots of water and air to penetrate the soil.
  • Layer smaller chunks of bark 4" thick. They fit tightly together, but allow air to circulate, while retaining moisture. 
  • Shredded mulch should only be layered 2-3" thick, because the fine-textured pieces knit together to keep the moisture in. A thicker layer can create a lack of air flow, which can lead to unhealthy soil conditions.  


Bonide Wilt Stop®
For tender plants, new transplants or especially stressed specimens Bonide Wilt Stop® can make all the difference. Wilt Stop is an all-natural, resin-based foliar spray which helps plants survive heat by slowing transpiration (water loss through the leaves). 




Future Prevention

Plant Shade Trees

A strategically planted shade tree in your yard is extremely effective at preventing plant stress, and can help cut energy costs. The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, but the second best time is today. Check out the top ten Legacy Trees for Sacramento to get an idea of which tree is right for you. 



Penstemon_Margarita_BOP.jpgPlant for our Mediterranean Climate

The right plant in the right place will always fare better in stressful situations. There are hundreds of water-wise options available, check out our water-wise plant list below to get inspiration:

Drought Tolerant Plants




Rethinking your yard in favor of water-wise options? Check out our California Landscape 2.0 Design Templates for ideas and inspiration. 

Topics: Irrigation Tips, Drought Tolerant, Mulch

Caring for Trees in a Drought

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Aug 12, 2015 4:39:02 PM

Sacramento is the city of trees, boasting one of the largest urban forests in the nation. With mandatory statewide watering restrictions, many people are wondering how they can keep their trees healthy on a limited watering schedule.

The Sacramento Tree Foundation recently launched a new campaign called Save Our Water & Our Trees to bring awareness to the value of continuing to care for and plant trees even in low water years. California has a Mediterranean climate, and our state will continue to cycle through periods of low water. It is more important now than ever that people plant shade trees and nurture their established trees so they may preserve their countless benefits for generations to come. 


Here are some simple ways to care for trees during low-water years:

  • Trees do best with deep watering, which means very slowly irrigating the soil so that the water percolates down through to where the roots are, as opposed to running off or only saturating the first few inches of soil. To facilitate a slow, deep soaking, try using a drip system with a timer. 
  • Mulching around the tree about 2-3" thick will suppress water-thirsty weeds, cools the soil, and reduces evaporation of water from the soil by up to 70%. To prevent crown rot, be sure to keep the mulch 6" away from the trunk. 
  • If you are planting a new tree or have a tree that is on a slope, try creating a "basin" of raised soil a few feet around the circumference of the trunk so the water is sure to seep down into the root zone where it's needed. 
  • Keep a bucket in the shower to "cold-catch" water as your shower is heating up. You can feel good about using water that would have gone to waste to help save your trees.

Things to avoid:

  • Pruning. Unless you are removing branches that are already dead, refrain from doing any heavy pruning on a stressed tree during the summer. Stressed trees send out chemicals which attract insect pests, and pruning wounds make them even more susceptible to infestations.
  • Fertilizing with Synthetics. Unlike organic fertilizers, synthetics cause trees to push a lot of unsustainable water-thirsty growth. 
  • Watering with Sprinklers. Sprinkler systems put out a lot of water very quickly, which is okay for watering shallow-rooted plants such as turf, but less than ideal for trees.
    Unsure of how to begin? come into any Green Acres Nursery & Supply Garden Solutions department and we'll walk you through the steps of retrofitting your sprinkler system to drip. 

How do I know when to water?

The frequency of watering depends on three main factors: your soil's texture, the tree's species and its age. 

1. Soil Texture 

  • If you have dense clay soil, the particles are very small with little space for the water to move through, meaning that you must water very slowly. However, it also dries out very slowly so it's best to water deeply, yet infrequently.
  • If you have sandy soil, the particles are large and therefore water moves through it rapidly. It will also dry out quickly, so you may need to water more frequently. 
  • If you have loamy soil, the particles are medium-sized and tend to allow water to move through at a moderate pace. This is the ideal soil texture, usually people have combinations of all of the soil textures throughout their yard. 

No matter your soil texture, you should always probe your soil at least 6" down to determine how moist it is at that depth before watering. If the soil is crumbly or hard, add water. If it is sticky or moist, do not water. 

More information about how soil's texture affects your watering needs...  Watering 101

2. Tree Species

If you are planting a new tree, consider planting one that will have low or moderate water use once established. All young trees need regular water to develop a healthy, extensive root system. However, a young tree will only need 10-15 gallons per week, which is negligible when you consider all of the benefits that tree will eventually provide. 

Here are some shade trees which are well adapted to the Sacramento region: 


  • Crape Myrtles
  • Chinese Pistache 'Keith Davey'
  • Arbutus 'Marina'


  • Chinese Elm
  • Scarlet Oak
  • Tupelo
  • Ginkgo 'Autumn Gold'
  • Raywood Ash

This is just a small sampling, there are many other trees which are low-water when established that may be the right fit for you. For more information, check out Top 10 Legacy Trees for the Sacramento Region, or come into any Green Acres Nursery & Supply location and we'll help you find what you need. 

3. Tree Age

Young Trees (>5 Years old)

  • Roots are located mostly a few feet around the trunk, to a depth of 12-18"
  • Requires 10-15 gallons of water per week
  • Slowly soak the area around the base of the tree 2-3 times per week with 5 gallons each time

Established Trees (5+ Years old)

  • Roots are located mostly outside of the dripline, or the width of the tree's canopy, to a depth of 1-2'
  • Avoid watering near the trunk, or on the foliage 
  • Expand your watering to accommodate the tree's expanding dripline as it grows


In addition to these three main factors, it's important to account for environmental conditions which affect how much water is used by the tree. Trees planted near heat traps such as driveways and foundations may need more frequent irrigation. 

Best Irrigation Methods

  • A garden hose on a slow trickle
  • A soaker hose, such as Dramm Tree Soaker Ring
  • Irrigation tubing with drip emitters built in (inline tubing)
  • Micro-spray emitters or any other low-flow drip system
  • Deep Drip Tree watering stakes 

More information on irrigation efficiency and other water-saving tips...  #waterwise

Topics: Tree, Irrigation Tips, Drought Tolerant

Manage Landscape Water Use with Moisture Manager

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Jun 25, 2015 10:43:07 AM

Looking for ways to stretch water in your landscape? A healthy landscape adds value to your home, improves quality of life, and helps cool the climate. Moisture Manager is one of the best preventative measures you can take to keep your plants hydrated during low water seasons.

How does it work?

Moisture Manager uses a patented blend of liquid humectant and hygroscopic compounds known as Hydratain which helps improve the water holding capacity of your soil. Hydratain basically captures small amounts of precipitation and keeps it in the soil where it can be accessed by the roots, rather than being lost to evaporation. It also helps keep the soil moisture levels consistent no matter what your soils texture is, which helps the overall health of your plants during the drought and beyond.


Applying Moisture Manager to your landscape means instant water savings of up to 50% less water.

One quart covers 3,500 sq/ ft and each application lasts 3 months. For more tips on reducing landscape water use, check out our water-saving resources:


Topics: Waterwise, Irrigation Tips, Sacramento Gardening, Drought Tolerant

Real Answers to Your Irrigation & Irrigation Supply Questions

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Jun 19, 2014 1:19:00 PM

Let's face it, irrigation can be confusing.  Add these hot summer days, and it being a low-water year and you want to make sure you are doing it right and not wasting water. Here are the latest questions we've gotten about irrigation supply products from our customers.


1.  "How much water do I put on my plants?"

This is probably the most common question we get this time of year.  Because of the many types of plants and different watering needs, the answer to the question depends.  

Some things to consider when determining a watering schedule for your plants:

  • What type of plant?  Is it a succulent?  Tropical?
  • How large is the plant? Did it come in a 3-5 gallon-sized pot?  
  • Is it newly planted, or is it established?

As a rule of thumb, if you have a 3-5 gallon newly planted shrub you will require 3-5 gallons of water per week.  If you have a one gallon plant, you need one gallon once per week and so on.  (Note, this is total gallons needed per week- it can be given at two separate waterings but it is the net total amount).

Watering Considerations:
If you have a low water plant, then the water requirements will be less once your plant is established.  If you are dealing with a tropicals you will likely need more water.  The watering amount is influenced by how established your plant is.  Did you plant it within the last two years?  Then it is still fairly new and will need more frequent water.  If it has been around three years or more, and is healthy, it will need less.  It's also important to think about soil type...but that would take a complete blog article to explain about soil type and textures.  Read our Watering 101 Guide for more information.


irrigation supply

About Drip...
If drip irrigation is your route make sure to have the correct emitters.  The emitters are the tiny spouts on the end of the spaghetti tubes that release the water to the plant.  If you have the textbook plant as mentioned above, for example, then  you could simply use a three, four or five gallon per hour (GPH) emitter one time per week, for one hour, and done!  A common mistake homeowners make is getting too low of flow on an emitter and running it for too short of time.  If you have a three- gallon shrub, and run your 1 GPH emitter for five minutes, one time a week, it is not enough water.  To equal three gallons a week, you'd have to run that 1 GPH emitter for one hour, three times per week.  If all this talk of GPH is confusing, we can help- just stop by one of our stores today.

irrigation supply

2. "What's the best way to water while I'm gone on vacation this summer?  Is there an inexpensive, easy to use product?"

irrigation supply

The answer is a resounding yes!  There are lots of nifty hose-end timer solutions at reasonable prices that allow you to water your plants automatically even when you are away on vacation.  No more coming home from vacation to a bed full of dead plants.  Basically, all you need is a hose bib and you can setup a simple automatic irrigation system for around $30.  One of our popular models of hose-end timers is by DIG Corp.  DIG's hose end timers offer the most convenient way to automate your drip irrigation or sprinkler system. DIG's battery timers offer programming flexibility for a wide range of uses. They operate using a single 9-volt battery with a life up to one year and require no wiring
or digging.

DIG Hose-End Timer Product Features:

1. Flexible programming options. 
2. Despite all the options it is simple to use.
3. It works on one 9-volt battery, and one can use rechargeable 9-volt batteries.
5. The timer is well built and long lasting.
6. A wide flow range typically from .1 to 6.3 gallons per minute.  
7. These timers can be used in a wide range of applications, including drip irrigation or micro sprinkler systems connected to a garden hose or faucet/spigot. 

3.  "How do I know when I need to water my lawn?"  

Most lawns need to be watered when the top two inches of soil is dry.  You can use a simple soil probe to take a sample of the soil to see how far water drained, and if the top two inches are dry. (see photo).

irrigation supplies 

4.  "What time of day is best to water my lawn and how frequently?"

We recommend watering early in the morning when evaporation and wind are minimal.  Avoid watering at night because it can lead to lawn diseases.  Deep, and infrequent waterings are preferred to watering everyday.  This rule applies to most plants.  


5.  "How should I prioritize my watering during this drought?"

Think of preserving the foundation plants in your yard.  What is a foundation plant?  Another way to describe a foundation plant is that they are the bones, or structure of the landscape design.  This would consist of trees and shrubs that are established in your yard and help frame your home.  These are important plants that add value to your home and take many years to establish and grow to maturity.  Please don't ignore these plants during this low-water year! Consider putting these plants on a drip system so you can save water and keep them well watered even when you are on vacation.   


6.  "Does Green Acres provide irrigation education?"  

As a matter of fact, we do.  It's always free and it's this Saturday, April 18th & 25th at all Green Acres locations.  Come on by for some free coffee and help on how to get the most out of your irrigation clocks. . 


Want more information on watering?

 Download our free Watering 101 Guide 



Topics: Irrigation Supply, Irrigation Tips, Sprinkler Systems, Drip Irrigation Supplies

4 Gardening Tips for Sacramento

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Mar 17, 2014 1:25:00 PM


At Green Acres, Spring is a time of renewal. The increased sunlight and newly emerging flowers give us the feeling of hope and renewal. Spring is also a time of change and most important to fellow gardeners, growth.  

A famous Chilean author once said... 

Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrán detener la primavera 


“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” 
- Pablo Neruda

We are three days from Spring's official beginning, and if you peer outside, you can tell.  As you look toward your gardens, its important to understand what makes a healthy environment for spring growth.

Here are four foolproof ways to foster a healthy Spring garden & lawn.

1) Diverse Soil

Good soil is worth a lot! Ask any farmer what’s most important to his crop and he will say soil & water!  If you are planting in native soil we definitley recommend adding natural amendments to improve the soil.  Let's face it, unless you are gardening in the heart of downtown Sacramento, (which is the site of an old riverbed- AKA the softest and richest soil EVER), you are probably up against less than ideal soil.  
All of the soils you'll find at Green Acres are of the highest quality, mixed locally in Northern California, and contain no bio-solids like lots of the box store soils.  

Try these amendments mixed with native soil or straight to any raised bed:

  • EB Stone Planting Mix is complete with needed nutrients for your plants
  • Our EB Stone Fir Mulch adds to the aeration & composition of the soil with decomposed fir bark, chicken manure, earthworm castings, bat guano & kelp meal
  • Our EB Stone Soil Booster is an excellent mix for flowers and vegetables that reduces watering and improves aeration.  Allowing for easy root establishment of smaller species and edibles
  • EB Stone Top Soil Plus blends mushroom compost, sandy loam and redwood compost for a superb multi-use planting mix

2) Rich, Organic Fertilizer

Our E.B. Stone line of fertilizers offer the home gardener a chance to use organic products year-round!  Did you know that using organics during a low water year is important?  Organic fertilizers are slow release and provide sustained nutrients throughtout the season.  Avoid synthetics when possible (like Miracle Grow), which encourage rapid water-thirsty growth.

EB Stone Organic Fertilizers:

  • Sure Start 4-6-2 helps new plants get off to the right start.  Reduces transplant shock, encouraging root establishment and sturdy growth. This product even has soil microbes which are colonies of minute, beneficial bacteria.
  • Bone Meal is wonderful for root and flower formation growth. Can be used for veggies or flowers!
  • Cottonseed Meal naturally acidifies the surrounding soil-great for blueberries, azaleas & camellias
  • Bulb Food 4-6-4 allows bulbs to send deep, sturdy roots into surrounding earth while promoting blooms

3) Unique Plant Choices for Spring & Early Summer

Great gardens start with healthy plants.  Try something new this season, choose unique varieties or cultivars that expand the diversity of your landscape.  Have some fun!
Bulbs & Tubers such as Dahlias, Bleeding Hearts, and Gladiolas are available at our locations now.  Plant these bulbs and tubers now, and then get gorgeous fresh cut flowers for your home come summer.  If you live in the foothills of Sacramento, Pollock Pines for example, you have until mid-May to plant.  For those of us down the hill, plant now through mid April for summer blooms!

  • Try summer bulbs & tubers such as towering Gladiolas that emerge onto 48”+ stalks and provide month-long color. Shorter options include Dahlias, Lily of the Valley, or Bleeding Hearts. Some require shade.
  • Annuals such as Marigolds, Sweet Alyssum, Zinnias, Coleus, Impatiens and Begonias will add rich color to the yard.  Planting flowers like Sweet Alyssum and Zinnias next to your veggies actually increase the number of good insects in your garden.  Always a plus!
  • Perennials like Lavender, Salvia, Pincushion Flower, Lupine, and Mexican Evening Primrose will attract beneficial insects, hummingbirds, birds and bees.  Remember, perennials are those which will come back year after year for your enjoyment.

4) Smart, Low-Water Use Irrigation

Be a water-wise homeowner.  Retrofitting your current system to be more efficient does not require much work or money-it simply means changing out sprinkler heads or moving to drip systems.  Our Irrigation Specialists can answer your questions, just drop on by.  We can provide information about tuning up or retrofitting.

Be Water-Wise, these are some of our favorites:

  • Thumb-controlled water nozzles like nozzles from Dramm
  • Soaker hoses for perennial and shrub beds
  • Orbit Apollo 8 Manifold which converts any old sprinkler head into a Drip watering system.  Cost is around $10.00. 
  • Water-conserving sprinkler heads like the Hunter MP Rotator.
  • Smarter irrigation clocks like the Hunter Solar Sync ET.  This is an advanced weather sensor that can adjust water times and schedules for your clock based on local real-time weather conditions.  Rebate programs available in some cities.

Water Conservation Tips making for a Healthier Lawn:

As you walk around your neighborhood you might notice that some of your neighbors like to water the sidewalk more than their lawn.  Basically, they are overwatering their lawn and once the lawn is saturated, the excess water simply runs off.  Cycle & Soak is a method of watering proven to conserve water.  

For example, instead of watering all at once, the Cycle & Soak method would have you set your sprinklers to water lawn:

  • 3 times a day
  • 4 minutes each watering zone
  • 1 hour between each watering cycle

You must take into consideration what type of soil you have before you determine watering times.  Always avoid watering at night- which increases the risk for disease and fungus.  Also avoid watering in the heat of the day, which of course causes increased evaporation and increased water waste.


Happy almost Spring.



Topics: Soil, Fertilizers, What Can I Plant This Season?, Irrigation Tips, Organic, Organic Fertilizers, Lawn Care

Are you a Water-Wise Homeowner?

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Jan 15, 2014 3:11:00 PM

water wise

Gardeners know that water is an essential part of plant sustenance and growth. Roots take moisture from the soil and carry it to the plant’s trunk, stems, and leaves. Moisture is constantly released by a plant as part of its breathing process, called transpiration. 

Understanding how to water your plants properly can save you money and make the gardening experience more rewarding.Read on to learn our best practices for watering.  

Consider these variables to determine best watering practices for your landscape: 

  • Plant type 
  • Soil type
  • Plant size
  • Season
  • Plant location


  1.   Is it your lawn?  An annual, native shrub or shade tree? 
  2.   Is it newly planted (less than 2 years old) or is it an established plant? 
  3.   Is it planted in a container or in the ground?  The same plant will require  more water if planted in a pot versus in the ground.

Plants are typically classified as high, moderate or low water plants.  The following is a guide to help understand which plants are each category.  

Plants with High Water Needs: Plants that require a lot of moisture

  • Evergreen trees
  • Certain fruit trees
  • Small shrubs
  • Many vines
  • Certain perennials
  • Roses
  • Many vegetables
  • Lush ground covers

waterwise landscape resized 600

Plants with Moderate Water Needs: Plants require regular moisture and shouldn't be too wet or too dry.

  • New plantings of drought tolerant plants and succulents
  • Ornamental trees
  • Shade trees
  • Shrubs


Plants with Low Water Needs: Plants need less than regular moisture. Watering every 2-3 weeks.

  • Established drought tolerant plants and succulents.  
  • This category includes water-wise perennials, certain fruit trees, and a large selection of trees & shrubs.  

Define your landscape. Is your yard a high, moderate or low water landscape?


Sandy Soils

  • Coarsely textured and have large pores in the soil therefore they do not hold moisture well
  • Soil drains quickly. Plants may need more frequent watering.

Loamy Soils

  • Medium texture and are composed of clay, silt, and often organic matter.
  • Ideal soil
  • This rich soil holds moisture well.
  • Checking soil in between waterings will prevent over-watering.

soil types

Clay Soils

  • Fine textured with very small pores in the soil so there’s little air..
  • This soil holds onto water a long time and does not drain quickly.
  • Clay soils need slow, deep watering to allow the water to percolate down to the root zone.




Potting Soil

  • Ready to use for plants in containers.
  • Most are designed to hold moisture well.
  • With containers it is important to keep the pot raised on ‘pot feet’ to assure proper drainage.

Describe your soil type.Is it sandy, loamy, clay, or potting soil? Soil testing kits are available to determine what soil type you have. Try soil amendments to make existing soils richer in organic matter and closer to a loamy state. 


The larger the plant typically the more water it will need. Unless it is an established drought tolerant plant.




  • During spring the ground is warming up and plants are coming out of dormancy- its an ideal time to plant.
  • If using a drip irrigation system, trees and shrubs should go on separate valves as their watering requirements differ.
  • After new plantings the soil needs to be kept moist but not soggy. With established plants allow the soil to dry slightly before watering again.  
  • Depending on rainfall frequency your established landscape will need to go back on a regular watering schedule. Drip irrigation can be turned back on but adjust frequency and time according to the weather. 


  • Most watering mistakes occur this time of year. Soil should never be soggy especially overnight as this increases the potential for disease and pest problems.
  • The daytime temps can be extreme; however plant stress does not always indicate to water more.
  • Confirm that drip irrigation emitters are flowing properly.
  • Small plantings such as annuals and hanging baskets will need deep watering more often. Established shrubs and trees benefit from deep infrequent watering.
  • Deep watering encourages roots to go to deeper soil levels.
  • Established natives will only need occasional watering.


  • Daytime temps can be warm, but the evening temps cool off.
  • Very ideal time to plant, especially California natives and other low water plants. 
  • Monitor drip according to temperatures.


  • Most shrubs and trees are dormant but still will require occasional watering.
  • The ground is cold and will hold onto water longer. The soil should not go completely dry.
  • Drip irrigation needs to be adjusted and often can be turned off especially during a wet winter. Tip: Try Hunter Solar Sync sensor which automatically adjusts water based on enviromental needs.
  • During a freeze it is crucial for the plants to be hydrated. Water before applying frost cloth to insulate your plants.


Watering practices vary depending on the plant’s location. Imagine you have a plant that gets 6 hours of full, hot afternoon sun. It will require more water than that same plant with morning sun and afternoon shade. Adjust watering times on irrigation systems accordingly.Take adjacent reflective heat sources such as walls or concrete patios into consideration, these surfaces absorb heat from the sun and radiate them onto your plants into the evening. 

waterwise succulents 





Topics: Waterwise, Irrigation Tips, Reduce Water Costs, Landscape Design

Popular Sacramento Gardeners Give You Advice

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Dec 6, 2013 2:25:00 PM

Everyone loves a good tip.  We contacted some of the best gardeners in the area and asked them to share their knowledge.
What is your best and most actionable gardening advice in Sacramento during winter?

Water with the weather. And, because reports indicate that we're facing another drought year, conservation of water is vital. So, what can we do right now -- today?  Reduce the frequency and duration that your irrigation system runs. Cooler days and nights mean that plants do not require as much water.  

Install a rain sensor that will interrupt your controller's irrigation schedule in the event of rain. Once the rains begin, turn off the irrigation system altogether for the winter season.

Keep in mind, however, that the fall and winter seasons are when many plants expect rainfall, especially some California natives and plants suited for Mediterranean-type climates such as ours (typically cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers). So, if this fall and winter are dry, then you may need to provide supplement water for your plants.

Cheryl buckwalter resized 600

Cheryl Buckwalter

Program Manager Green Gardener Training Program

Executive Director of EcoLandscape California



Turn off the irrigation timers. Monitor the moisture level in the soil wherever you have actively growing plants. Use a moisture meter or dig down eight to twelve inches and feel the soil at root level. Irrigate manually if the soil at that depth is on the dry side. If the soil is saturated in the root zone don't add water, even if the surface appears dry.

farmer fred resized 600

Farmer Fred

Lifetime Master Gardener and Host of the "KFBK Garden Show"



Don't just let your garden sit there -- do SOMETHING! Sacramento winters are relatively mild, which allows for a lot of gardening opportunities. You can plant a winter vegetable garden. Or start preparing beds for next spring and summer.

Fava beans help with both tasks. Started now, favas are dependable, low-care and prolific -- and they help build better soil for next summer.  They're a delicious and versatile addition to the winter garden; the edible leaves taste like spinach and the beans can be eaten young like green beans or allowed to fully mature. Meanwhile, their roots help "fix" more nitrogen in the soil, which squash and tomatoes will appreciate next summer.


Debbie Arrington

Senior Writer for the Sacramento Bee covering Home, Garden, Food & more!



Prepare for a rainy winter.  With a fresh 9 Volt battery in hand, head towards your sprinkler system controller.   If necessary, clear a path to the controller by relocating the collection of items that accumulated over the summer.  Does your system have a battery backup? If yes, install the fresh 9 Volt. The battery will allow your controller to keep time when winter storms interrupt power.   Next, verify the time of day is correct (day-lite saving time).  The most important step is to adjust the watering days and run times to coincide with your plants reduced water needs.  Some gardeners can actually turn the system OFF until early spring. With your remaining enthusiasm, continue to prepare for the rain by raking the leaves collecting in the storm gutters and drains.

Judy McClure

Master Gardener Program Coordinator

UC Cooperative Extension

Sacramento and Yolo Counties


Prevent many of next year’s pests with a dormant application of Bonide’s All Season’s Spray Oil or Monterey’s Horticultural Oil, both are organically acceptable. Defend against Peach Leaf Curl (PLC) with a dormant spray of Liqui-Cop. Make the PLC spray more effective by adding a 1% concentration of one of the oil spray products mentioned above. Don’t spray until the leaves are off the tree and you expect a minimum of 24 hours without rain.

Steve Zien

IPM ADVOCATE  with the Our Water Our World Program


Want to prevent pests from overwintering in your garden? Sanitation is key when it comes to overwintering pests and diseases. Remove any fallen fruit or diseased leaves from the garden area. Fallen fruit can be composted but diseased leaves may survive a home compost pile so make sure to put those in the Green Waste Recycling.

annie joseph

Annie Joseph

Our Water Our World  


Extra Irrigation Tip from Cheryl Buckwalter
How can you tell if you need to irrigate?

Get dirty. Grab a trowel, or better yet a  soil probe, and dig into the soil three to five inches to get a sample. Feel it, squeeze it. Is the top two inches or so dry to the touch, but then below that the soil is moist? If so, you can probably wait another few days to water. If the majority of your soil sample is fairly dry to the touch (meaning that it's not as dry as powder and there is still some moisture in it), then run your irrigation system for a cycle.  

As seasons change, our irrigation schedules need to change as well. Remember, water with the weather. Our plants will be healthier for it! 



Lots of tips on irrigation and correct watering practices!  We hope you found this helpful.  
Look forward to more garden help at our annual Dig Into Spring Event.  Troubleshoot your toughest garden problems. 

Topics: Winter, Irrigation Tips, Tips for Winter, Reduce Water Costs

Common Autumn Gardening Mistakes

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Nov 8, 2013 4:11:00 PM

autumn gardening

After the long harsh days of summer, the cooler breezes of autumn bring relief to the plants and prompts a second bout of energy among gardeners.  The weather feels like spring but instead of increasing temperatures, they are increasingly getting colder.  The day-length, instead of increasing, is continually getting shorter in the fall.  

These fall trends in temperature and day-length affect the physiological processes of plants in a different way than in the spring.  In the spring, plants are poised to actively grow while in the fall, they prepare to go into dormancy.  Some gardeners fail to take this fact into account.   With the best of intentions, gardeners may do more damage than good when activities are poorly timed.  Here is a list of some of the most common gardening blunders committed in this area (Zone 9) during this season.

autumn gardening

1.  Under Watering
   This is probably the most common gardening blunder in the fall.  The cooler temperatures and the angle of the sun are deceiving.  They make the color of the soil and the leaves deeper mimicking the color of well watered plants.  

Gardeners often take this as an indication that they can take a break from watering.  The fact is - plants will continue to need water to function well.  Water loss will continue through transpiration (from the plants) and evaporation (from the soil).  Check the soil moisture and water whenever necessary. 

2.  Not Adjusting Irrigation Timer
  The lawn is often the victim of this mistake.  When the days get shorter and the temperature drops, water has a greater chance to linger in the soil and it remains more available for the plants.  Overwatering can be avoided by judiciously adjusting the watering timers.  

3.  Applying Nitrogen to Woody Plants
  Fertilizing is important but make sure to use the right fertilizer at the right time.  Nitrogen promotes growth.  Although growth is good, time may not be on your side.  Application of nitrogen in the fall results in new growth that will still be young before the cold season sets in.  

Young, soft branches are susceptible to frost damage and pests.  Also, a young branch that has not fully hardened before it goes into dormancy (in the winter) does not have enough stored energy resulting into a weak and unproductive branch in the spring.  If you must give in to the urge to fertilize, then apply one which is rich in phosphorous, which promotes stronger roots. 

autumn gardening

4.  Pruning Woody Plants
  Pruning early in the season has a similar result to the use of nitrogen fertilizer. In our Zone 9 area, fall temperatures are still warm enough that pruning will induce new buds to emerge.   Beware!

Fall is not the time to encourage this to happen. The plants will be more vulnerable to frost damage.  Instead, wait until the plant begins to turn color or drop leaves – this is a sure indication that the plant has begun dormancy.

5.  Watering in Late Afternoon
  This is generally a bad habit, but during fall it is even worse.

Wet leaves, especially with warm afternoons, promote the spread of diseases.  Watering is better done early in the day so that moisture can evaporate quickly from the leaves.

6. Lawn Seeding
  Just because the fall weather allows successful germination of grass seeds, it does not imply that the new lawn will be healthy.

For best results, sow grass seeds when weather is still warm in late summer or early fall. This allows for uninterrupted development of foliage and roots prior to the cold winter months.  If you simply must have that lawn in the fall, then opt for sod. 

7.   Ignoring Wildlife  
As summer bounty dwindles, wild animals run out of their natural food supply and tend to search your front yard for nutritious meals.  Pansies that adorned your front porch in the spring and summer may suddenly turn into a delectable salad in the fall for your four-legged-antlered friends (a.k.a. deer).  If you were successful in evading disappointment last season, then maintain that success by choosing plants more carefully. 

So there you go.  This list is not exhaustive, but if you can avoid these common pitfalls, then you are in for great autumn of gardening.


At Green Acres, we offer a wide variety of nursery supplies for your fall gardening needs such as:

  • Soil moisture testers
  • Water-timers that coincide with local weather conditions
  • Fertilizers for all types of plants
  • Sod 
  • Deer-resistant plants and deer-repellant sprays.  

Happy gardening!


Topics: Installing Sod, Autumn Gardening, Winter, Irrigation Tips

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