Summer Watering Tips

July 4, 2012 12:00 am
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When the weather is hot and dry and there is no measurable rain, even rookie gardeners are aware that most plants will not survive without regular watering. Unfortunately, just giving them a squirt with the water hose isn’t going to do much to relieve their stress. Wise gardeners give their plants the amount of water each one needs in ways that save time, effort and water.

It is important to use the right equipment. Much water can be saved in the summer by watering each part of the garden by a method appropriately suited for it. Briefly, hand sprinkling is fine for sprouting seeds, but all other watering should be done with conventional irrigation systems or drip systems. Reserve watering by hose for filling furrows and basins around trees and bushes, when these are not equipped with bubblers. (When you water this way, put the hose right down on the ground, and let the water sink in slowly.)

In summer (or any time, for that matter), it is best to irrigate deeply but less frequently to encourage plants to send down deeper roots that are protected from the summer heat. Vegetables and annual flowers, though, will have to be watered more frequently since they don’t produce deep root systems. Always water your garden in the early morning hours between 4:00 AM and 8:00 AM to reduce water evaporation. Deep watering is best, which requires watering 2 or 3 times a week to put down 1″ of water.

Treat new plantings like babies, they eat (need water) more often than adults. After the 1st year, your plants are more established and require different watering habits.

Be sure to give special care to plants in containers. Water them frequently, especially plants in terra cotta pots. These porous containers “breathe,” allowing water to evaporate faster than in plastic or glazed ceramic pots. If you take good care of your plants in summer, you will be rewarded throughout the rest of the year. Be smart and consistent when you water.