Many communities have restrictions when it comes to watering the landscape because of drought conditions or low reserves, so it pays to conserve this precious resource whenever possible. Good watering techniques, plant selections and mulching go a long way toward meeting the goal of beautiful plants and bountiful food.
Vegetable plants and annual flowers do best when given adequate moisture on a regular basis. Most of these plants need about one inch of water every week to 10 days to ensure good food and flower production. The water can be rainfall or from your spigot. The water can be applied all at once or distributed in two applications. However, infrequent, deep watering is better than frequent, shallow irrigation. If the top two inches of soil feels dry to the touch and no rain is predicted, water the plants.
Established perennials, lawns, trees and shrubs can go several weeks without watering. Newly planted lawns and plants should be given one inch of water every week to 10 days for the first two to three years.
How much water to apply varies from landscape to landscape. Soils that are rich in organic matter usually require less water than sandy soils, for instance. The goal is to water enough to ensure healthy plants, good food and flower production, and a beautiful landscape.
Here are some tips:
Plant selection, mulch and weeds
Avoid using overhead sprinklers. These waste water through evaporation. If using a sprinkler, do so early in the morning to reduce evaporation. Do not water midday when evaporation would be greatest.
Water plants as close to the base as possible.
- Deliver the water close to the base of the plant, which is the most efficient and cost-saving method. If hand watering, use a hose-end shower head nozzle, sometimes called a wand. If you have a small flower or vegetable garden, you can use a bucket or watering can to apply water to the base of plants. For containers, water until it runs through the bottom of the pot.
Soaker hoses are very efficient. These can be placed throughout the garden and covered with mulch, which increases their efficiency even more.
© Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
- A drip irrigation system also is efficient and can be set on timers to reduce worry about when to water and for how long. Always make sure that the system will not water when it rains.
For more information about conserving water in the landscape, check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s pamphlet on landscape watering. The 19-page document offers suggestions for plant selections, planting tips and other ideas to reduce the use of water in the landscape. Click here for the pamphlet: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/docs/water-efficient_landscaping_508.pdf