As the days heat up, watering can become a dreaded garden chore and too many gardeners use wasteful techniques that use plenty of water but don’t give their plants the moisture they really need. Make watering plants easier and more efficient with the proper practices and tools…
- Mulches not only make plantings look more attractive, but their most important functions are to help retain soil moisture and minimize weeds, which would also usurp moisture from your plants. Mulch around plants to a depth of 2-4 inches, refreshing mulch as needed to maintain that depth and attractiveness.
- Watering cans and small containers work great for spot watering plants with different watering needs by hand. You don’t always need to get out a hose or sprinkler to get the watering done.
- Check to make sure that you have the proper length hose(s) to reach every corner of your garden. Take into account any obstacles in the way, and be sure you aren’t dragging the hose over any delicate plantings to reach more distant dry spots.
- Add a water wand to the hose to get the water where it’s most needed – the base of the plants – without needing to bend over repeatedly, which can cause back strain.
- The best time to water is during the early morning hours of a sunny day. This will allow plants to absorb more water before it evaporates when temperatures rise, but won’t leave water to sit on plants overnight when mold can develop.
- Always water plants and container gardens thoroughly and deeply to encourage deeper, more drought-tolerant root systems. It is better to water less frequently but more deeply rather than more often but with less water.
- In the landscape, a good rule of thumb is to provide an inch of water per week minimum. Keep track of precipitation with a rain gauge to avoid wasting water by overwatering when Mother Nature does the job.
- New individual plants that are set out, direct sown seed beds, sodding, etc. often require daily care, including watering, until established. Check moisture levels carefully during this period so the plants are well cared for.
- Use soaker hoses to provide slow drip watering. This allows plants to absorb water easily without wasting water by evaporating from foliage or spraying into the air. Soaker hoses can even be layered beneath mulch to preserve as much moisture as possible.
- Pay extra attention to plants in containers and hanging baskets as they tend to dry out faster and with greater frequency. These plantings will likely need to be watered daily or even multiple times a day during heat waves.
- Place Tree Gators, a drip irrigation bag, on newly planted trees for slow, steady watering that will soak down to the root system without draining away along the surface of the soil.
If you’ll be away on an extended vacation, or even just for a few days, make arrangements with a trusted friend or neighbor to “plant sit” while you are gone. There’s nothing worse than worrying about your garden while you’re away – except coming home to crisp plants that haven’t been watered properly!