All living things require water for life. Water is a precious natural resource that should never be wasted, but used wisely. That’s not to say we shouldn’t garden, just that when we are watering garden plants we need to be mindful that our plant watering is done in an efficient water saving way. Different plants have different water requirements so it is important that you know and understand the needs of your garden style and then water accordingly.
Tips for Water Wise Gardening
- Conserving water begins with a well prepared soil and use of mulches.
- Some areas receive sufficient rainfall so that no extra watering is necessary, but for most of us the summer months bring on enough heat that we must water our gardens manually. In heavy short rainfalls the water tends to run off the soil before it has a chance to be absorbed and useful for plant roots. A short shower merely darkens the earth but the water is lost to evaporation quickly. Regardless of how you water the water must reach down into the soil for several inches so that moisture and nutrients can reach the plant roots. Better to water longer but less often.
- New plantings and young plants will require more water than mature gardens as the new plants are still developing their root systems.
- Anything planted in a container will have to be watched on a daily basis as evaporation is rapid in flowering pots.
- Generally fruits and vegetables require more water than ornamentals.
- Proper watering of plants is not difficult. If possible try to keep your plants in like groupings. There is no sense having a water hog next to a xeriscape plant as neither will be happy. Most likely the dry plant will receive far more water than it requires to do well.
- Regardless of your watering system insure it is not faulty. More water is wasted on leaks, improper connections, bad timers and watered asphalt than we care to think about.
- Systems that apply water directly to the ground are superior to over head sprinklers as less water is lost to evaporation, there is less leaf damage and less possibility of mildew.
- Water slowly and gently so the earth has a chance to absorb everything, and water about once a week to encourage your plants to develop strong deep root systems.
- When using an automatic watering system for plants, the business of setting timers to water the garden 15 minutes everyday is not the wisest way to water. You would be better to water that same area for 30 to 45 minutes once a week. And yes, you can water too much, especially in heavy soils where you end up drowning the plant roots.
- When watering plants try for early in the morning when the air is still cool from the night. If not then go for late afternoon, and only if you must water at night. Night watering tends to promote and spread fungal diseases. Of course, we must be sensible about this and the gardener will have to water when the gardener has time.
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