"The watering of plants usually exhibits the skill, or the lack of it, of the gardener. It is a practice that cannot be well explained in print."
- American horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey
Watering is a skill that requires hands-on experience in the garden. Anyone can pour water on a plant; however, learning how plants use water takes expertise and patience. These variables include the type of plant, soil texture, weather conditions, sun exposure, and the time of year.
Watering your garden should not be an arduous task. However, you need to pay attention as the amount of water plants require constantly changes. These best practices will help you get started.
Best Watering Practices
Water Where the Roots Are
Concentrate the water on the soil level, and continue to apply it until the entire root ball has been thoroughly soaked. The roots may be as wide as the plant and as deep as a foot or more.
Check the Soil Before Watering
Your hand is the best moisture meter. If the soil surface appears dry, you can probe down several inches to determine if it is still dry. If it's dry, it's time to water. If not, wait a day or two.
Water in the Morning
Morning is the best time to water your plants. If the leaves are wet, they can dry for the whole day. Also, it's more difficult for plant diseases to spread when the foliage is dry.
Dry soil surfaces can cause water to puddle on the surface and runoff, making it difficult for water to absorb. Start slowly, and then gradually increase the amount of water until you get a complete soak. Once the top few inches are moist, your plants will absorb the water more efficiently.
Make Every Drop Count
To direct water to the root zone, use a watering can, drip irrigation, or soaker hoses. Evaporation from the soil's surface can cause moisture loss. Watering in the morning will reduce this. Also, protect plants from the wind to minimize moisture loss.
Plants require oxygen just as much as water. Therefore, the soil surface must be allowed to dry between waterings. Container plants are particularly vulnerable to this drying process. It is always better to water deeply and less often.
Don't Let Plants Dry Out
Plants can sometimes wilt in heat to conserve water but should regrow in the evening. If the soil is too dry, it can damage the fine hair-like projections at the roots' ends. When plants have to regrow these root hairs, they lose energy that could be used to produce fruit and flowers.
Conserve Moisture with Mulch
A thin layer of organic mulch - such as compost, pine needles, shredded bark, or shredded leaves - can be applied to the soil to reduce runoff and evaporation. But don't over-mulch; mulch thicker than one inch can act as a barrier to moisture reaching the roots.
Trust Our Expertise
Short on time? Let us take care of watering for you! A.M. Woodland Outdoor Design offers affordable watering services to keep your flowers, trees, and lawn well hydrated, even in the scorching summer heat. Our mission is to provide the highest quality services and exceed our clients' expectations every time.
Visit our website to learn more about our softscape and planting services, or call us at 847-224-2167 (IL), 262-287-7600 (WI), or (720) 537-5015 (CO) to get started today!