All too often we see people spend their hard-earned money on flowers and vegetables only to have them die due to improper watering. In addition, we see a lot of water being wasted by automatic irrigation systems that are improperly configured to water every day, rain or shine.
Here are a few tips to help you be successful with your flower beds, vegetable gardens, and patio containers.
Water Once A Week
One good soaking of 1-2″ of water once a week is all you need. This applies to lawns, landscapes, and vegetable gardens. Watering once a week like this promotes deeper root development which means the roots can draw moisture from deeper in the ground. The deeper root development allows you to get by with watering less frequently.
Automatic irrigation systems should be set to water once a week in the mornings for however long it takes to get 1-2″ of water on your yard, flower beds, or garden. You can measure your water output by placing an empty container and measuring how much water you are applying.
Watering every day wastes water, promotes poor root development, and also stresses the plants by keeping them too wet. Overwatering is just as bad as not watering enough and probably contributes to more plants dying than under-watering. Plant roots need both water and air to be healthy, and they cannot get the air they need when the soil is waterlogged or flooded for long periods.
When in doubt, let ’em dry out!
Water In The Mornings
If your schedule permits it, try to water in the mornings. This allows you to conserve water because you lose less water to evaporation and allows more water to be absorbed into the ground for use later in the week.
Watering in the afternoon can cause problems with some plants with the sun shining through the water droplets on the leaves. The water droplets focus the sun like a magnifying glass and can burn the leaves.
Watering in the evening also causes problems too. Wet foliage at night can lead to foliage disease problems.
Soaker Hoses and Drip Irrigation
Soaker hoses and drip irrigation both have advantages over traditional overhead watering with a hose. Primarily these advantages are slower water application that allows deeper water absorption in the soil and the ability to water without wetting the foliage.
A layer of mulch in your flower bed will help reduce the amount of water you need. A layer of 6″ will slow the rate of evaporation of water from the ground, keep the roots of the plants cooler and healthy, and will also prevent a lot of weeds from sprouting.
Hanging Baskets and Patio Pots
After we have you convinced to water once a week, we have to change gears and tell you that your hanging baskets and patio pots need to be watered every day. As your baskets and pots get bigger, the plants in them draw more water from the soil in the pots. Unless your pot is huge, there will not be enough soil volume in the pot to keep your plant hydrated for more than a day or so.
Give your baskets and pots a drink every morning. On really hot days, you may need to water twice a day. The best way to tell is to stick your finger into the soil of the pot. If the soil is dry, give them a drink. If the soil is still wet, you can let them go until the next day.
When there is a prolonged dry spell or drought, you may need to water your trees. Newly planted or young trees will be more prone to being affected by a drought than older trees with their deeper roots will. When you water your young trees, set your hose to a trickle and place it at the base of the tree overnight. Shut it off the following morning and move it to another tree that evening if you have more to water. The slow trickle will seep in deep to the roots. Repeat every week or two depending on the severity of the dry spell and pay close attention to any county or city water restrictions if there is a drought.