Especially this year, our typically dry July, August and September quickly erase any reserves stored below the surface of the soil. Fine-tuning watering techniques can not only conserve water but also create healthier plants.
Keys to watering:
- My answer is to water deeply and less frequently. This can be accomplished most easily with either a drip or soaker irrigation system. The drip system can be set to water individual plants, shrubs, or trees. The water requirements of different plants can be met by using different sized emitters, and by placing several emitters on large shrubs or trees.
- A soaker system will water the whole garden evenly and can be hidden underneath mulch.
- Hand watering is also an option, but make sure that the water is penetrating deeply.
- The final way to irrigate is with an old-fashioned sprinkler head. Make sure that the spray hits all areas and that you leave it on long enough to water deeply.
Tips for watering:
- Getting water to the bottom of the root zone promotes drought tolerance by keeping the roots deep in the soil, instead of on the surface where they can dry out quickly. Water should soak in deep enough so all roots are thoroughly wet. The first few times you water, test to see how deep it goes. After a few tries, you’ll know how long the water needs to run.
- Always water during the cooler part of the day to lessen evaporation. Nighttime or early morning is best.
- Make sure you mulch.
- Plant densly enough so plant roots are not overheated by the sun.
As your garden matures and plants become well established, you’ll be able to cut back the frequency of watering.
Michael Muro Garden Design offers garden planning and comprehensive landscape design in Washington State.