The Garden Advisor, By Lisa Ray
Grow Something Today For Tomorrow
Great Ways to Water
Watering is a critical part of gardening—too much and plants drown, too little and plants bake. But, before you water, get to know your soil’s water-holding capabilities. Clay soil holds more water than sandy loam and takes longer to dry out. Clay soil also produces more runoff than sandy soil because the soil surface is tighter and doesn’t allow water in as quickly as loose sandy soil.
Water conservation is an increasingly important concern in many parts of the country. Limited water supplies and periodic droughts often cause water districts to place restrictions and bans on watering lawns and gardens. It is in everyone’s best interest to conserve water in the garden by selecting plants that are well adapted to natural moisture conditions and by using conservative watering methods.
Select Plants Appropriate for Your Moisture Conditions
Most vegetable, annuals and perennials will need supplemental water through the summer months as will shallow-rooted shrubs such as azaleas. However, many trees and shrubs grow well with nothing more than natural rainfall.
Place Plants with Similar Moisture Needs Together
Place thirsty plants together and drought-tolerant plants together so that no plant receives too much or too little water. Place less drought-tolerant plants in area where they are protected from drying winds and hot afternoon sun.
Use Mulch to Conserve Water
A two to four inch layer of organic mulch placed over the ground around plants helps keep the soil cool and conserves moisture. Mulched plants can go longer between waterings than unmulched plants.
Water Early in the Day or at Night
Wind and sun can cause supplemental water to evaporate before it moves into the soil. Water when the air is still and the sun is not hot.
Use Efficient Watering Methods
Soaker hoses, drip irrigation pipes, hand watering and sprinklers that cover a specific area waste very little water when they are properly used. Read on for more details on these methods.
Soil Soaker Hoses
Soaker hoses weep water through small holes in the walls of the hose, so they deliver water at a slow, even rate. Soaker hoses are ideal for watering rows of plants or you can lay them on the ground in a circle around trees or shrubs.
Drip Irrigation Pipes
Drip irrigation systems are generally made from plastic pipes studded with special devices that emit water a drop at a time. Drip systems work at low water pressure similar to soaker hoses. You can easily design a drip system tailored to meet the needs of your garden.
When you’re trying to coax seedlings out of the ground, there is no better way to maintain even moisture than to use an overhead sprinkler that emits a fine spray. But because sprinklers are notorious for watering sidewalks and driveways in addition to garden beds, look for more efficient methods for routine watering. Impulse sprinklers that work by pushing a powerful jet of water through the head are water wasters. They are most appropriate for watering lawns.
If you must do a lot of hand watering, invest in an adjustable nozzle that emits water in different patterns—a gentle shower for watering containers, a light mist for seedbeds, and a strong stream for filling buckets and watering cans. These types of nozzles also have a shut-off valve so you can turn the water on and off without walking back to the faucet.