Water Your Garden Wisely

Published by Bucks Country Gardens in Lawn & Garden

Successful gardening starts with good soil, the right amount of light and the right amount of water. With summer heating up, now is the time to review proper watering practices in order to avoid being wasteful and inefficient. Figuring out how much to water and when can be tricky. And, having the right tools can make all the difference in the world. In the past, I’ve chosen to water my vegetable garden at sunset using a hose and wand, but after having a lengthy discussion with our resident Horticulturist and Arborist, David Jones, I realize that I’ve been doing it all wrong. And, worse yet, my poor watering practices could have been the cause of my garden’s ill fate.

In general, David recommends watering early in the morning before the temperature begins to rise. This practice supplies plants with plenty of water to make it through the hot afternoon. Since there is usually less wind in the morning, less evaporation should occur, as well. If you can’t water in the morning, late afternoon is acceptable. The main thing to remember is to make sure to leave enough time for the leaves of your plants to dry before nightfall, otherwise you are opening your plant up to the possibility of developing a fungal disease. Alternately, you can choose to water using methods that don’t wet the leaves in the first place, such as soaker hoses. Soaker hoses also make it possible for you to water late at night without adverse effects.

You also need to be mindful of frequency when watering.  “Always take into account how much rain your plants have received when deciding how long and how often you water your plants,” says David. Established plantings need deep, infrequent watering–one inch of water per week, generally speaking. According to the University of Illinois Horticultural Department, “Applying that inch of water in one deep watering will encourage deeper rooting, which leads to stronger, healthier plants.” Shallow, frequent watering will result in shallow root systems. Newer plantings should be watered
twice per week

Below David has created a guide for which tools to use with which plants for the highest level of success:

Soaker Hose: Soaker hoses are great for watering flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, and foundation shrubs. For ease, leave soakers in place throughout the growing season and connect them to the nearest faucet with a garden hose. The biggest benefit to using a soaker hose is that the water goes directly to the root system, leaving the leaves dry and less susceptible to disease. You will have to experiment with the proper amount of time to leave your soaker hose on.  Treegator Bag: Treegator bags are best used with shade trees like the White Kousa Dogwood Tree. Once planted, zip a Treegator bag around the trunk and fill it once per week. Each bag holds 20 gallons of water. David says, “Treegator bags are an investment in protecting your investment.” For larger trees, you can zip together two bags. Use the smaller Treegator Jr. for evergreens like the Norway Spruce with low branch structure and smaller trees such as Kousa Dogwoods.

Sprinkler: Sprinklers are best saved for use on the lawn. Lawns need one inch of water per week, taking into account rainfall. The best time to water is between 3am and 6am. If this isn’t possible, watering before the heat of the day is most important. Avoid night watering , which can encourage disease.

Wand/Water Can: These tools can be used for watering flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, and container gardens. Since they do allow water to fall onto the leaves, make sure to follow the rule of watering in the early morning so that the foliage has a chance to dry.

A properly watered garden is a happy one. C’mon in the Garden Center if you have any questions, or want to check out one of the tools above in person.

Dalissa Reeder | Marketing Assistant
David Jones | Horticulturist, Arborist and Customer Service Specialist