Answer: Determining just how much water to apply can be confusing because the amount of water each plant needs may vary, and different soil types retain more water than others. The important thing is, that the rootmass of each plant should receive sufficient moisture to keep it healthy. The most critical time is during the first growing season after installing the plants. That would equate to 3-4 months in your gardening region. I agree that moist but not soggy soil should be damp, cool and readily crumble when pressed between your fingers. The depth of this moisture should be as deep as the entire root mass, not just a few inches beneath the surface of the soil. You can add too much organic matter to soil, the problem being that as it decomposes it will sink and your plants will begin to sink, too. However, organic matter makes it easier for plant roots to venture out and anchor themselves; it also holds in moisture but at the same time provides plenty of oxygen.
If your plants are looking stressed, they may be over or under watered. One way that you can check to see how efficient your watering practices are is to water as usual and then wait 3-4 days. Dig a hole near the roots of your plant and observe the moisture in the soil. If the soil is moist 3 inches beneath the soil surface, you won't need to water for a few more days; if it is dry, it's time to water again.
Most trees and shrubs will be happy with one inch of water per week, applied slowly so it has a chance to trickle down and wet the entire root mass. I think your woody plants will be happy with this amount of water; your herbaceous plants may need more frequent applications of water because of their thick, fleshy leaves.
Hope this information sheds more light on the watering requirements of your new plants!
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