Proper Watering (With an Eye Toward Conservation)

Water-hose-runningWatering Tip 1: Learn to “read” your plants’ symptoms of early drought. They may wilt, but some do not. Leaves may turn olive-drab or some other odd color. Grass glades may roll or fold. Water at first signs of drought.

Watering Tip 2: “Smart controllers” monitor soil types, slopes, sun/shade, plant types, etc., then determine when sprinklers should run. They cost a few hundreds of dollars initially, but they usually pay for themselves within a year or two. They are among the best new products for gardeners.

Watering Tip 3: Most cities now require that we water sometime between 6 pm and 10 am the next day, at least between late spring and mid-fall. That’s because less will be lost to evaporation, also since winds are usually lower in evening for better distribution.

Watering Tip 4: Most garden plants need 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water per week. But, different types of sprinklers deliver water at different rates. Use a shallow can with vertical sides to measure the amount of water put onto an area in a known time, then determine how many minutes will be needed to reach the desired amount.

Watering Tip 5: It’s better to soak the soil deeply (and less frequently), to encourage deeper rooting. Sprinkler systems should NEVER be set to run every day, even for short intervals. If water runs off if you let the sprinklers run longer, water in short and repeating cycles until you reach the desired amount.

Watering Tip 6: Newly planted trees and shrubs will need to be hand-watered all summer long, and those frequencies of application will be shorter intervals than for routine lawn and landscape irrigation. Their root systems are not developed. Build berms of soil around them to help retain the water you apply, so that it can soak in.

Watering Tip 7: I get 1000 inquiries about plants that have gotten too dry to every one that does turn out to be a plant that’s been too wet. Yet, it seems like everyone assumes they have over-watered their plants. That’s rarely the case, in my years of experience.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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