Watering - Efficiently
So far our landscapes have been very lucky to have only seen a handful of hot dry days this summer. In turn I'm seeing a lot of healthy, lush lawns and gardens.
Our natural landscape here in New England is very good at managing water. Most of the water cycle happens over the course of a full year. Our gardens and lawns however need some help from us on a regular basis.
Some entry level tips, which I'm sure you've all heard at some point or another are as follows;
- Water early morning or evening so you're less likely to lose water to evaporation. Also some plants can be shocked by water when under stress from mid day heat.
- Water slowly. Have you ever watered a garden to notice the water pooling and running away from the plant? Soil compacts and actually seals itself in an effort to hold water below the surface. When you pour water onto a dry garden it may take a little extra water before the soil opens up to accept it. So water slowly and thoroughly to be sure the roots are getting water.
- Water infrequently. When you water too often you make the plants lazy. We like to see roots work deep into the soil so they can be stronger and more efficient. So when you water, water thoroughly and then wait a few days before watering again. Wilting leaves on hot days don't always mean that the plant is thirsty, some plants just take a break.
- Water from the bottom. Some vegetables can get diseases from too much irrigation during hot days. To beat this, try watering close to the roots so the leaves and fruits stay dry.
- Automatic Irrigation Systems are awesome, if they are adjusted properly. Sprinklers can be a huge waste of water as well as a big contributor to a weak lawn. Keep the same tips for hand watering in mind when setting up your sprinklers. Once you've made sure the lawn is getting complete coverage, set the system to run as long as necessary to fill a quarter measuring cup. Divide that run time up and spread it out over a few times per week.
Keep automatic sprinklers from hitting flowering shrubs and ornamentals. High pressure spray from lawn sprinklers will harm more than help most shrubs and flowers. Keep the sprinklers in the lawn and look to drip irrigation or micro sprayers for the gardens.
- Dry spots can be remedied over the course of a week. Water thoroughly and daily until you notice a change. Once the plant appears healthy again, water skip a day or two between watering and look for a change. If it continues to do better it was just dry. If it relies on you for water daily it may need fertilizer or a different home in the yard.
- New Plants need LOTS OF WATER! Especially during dry months, water daily for the first month after planting. The need for water is so great with a new plant because it hasn't yet developed a root structure to hold water that has yet to be absorbed. We encourage a compost or organic soil to be added when planting. The organic matter will help hold some of that moisture for the plant that would otherwise run away into the earth.
Summer is here, Enjoy it! Water those plants before you head to the beach. The flowers will thank you!