For many back yard gardeners, knowing when and how much to water their plants can be a bit of a guessing game. Westchester Tree Life knows it can be hard to know tell when plants need water; if you wait until they look droopy, you risk stressing the plants. If you water too much, you can cause just as much damage. So how do you keep your plants happy and healthy?
A good rule of thumb is to simply keep an eye on the soil and maintain an even level of moistness to a depth of 6 to 12 inches (less for annuals and vegetables, more for trees, shrubs, and perennials). If you have sandy, dry soil, this may mean watering more than if you have a heavy clay soil. In general, vegetables need about an inch of water a week. A simple rain gauge can help you keep track of rainfall so you only provide as much water as your garden needs. Still have questions? Our team of professionals are happy to assist you; call Westchester Tree Life today: (914) 238-0069.
When watering, you want to focus on delivering water to the roots of the plants. Watering the entire plant is often a waste of water. Wet leaves can even be more prone to disease, so if using a watering can or hose, direct the water toward the base of the plant. You can also opt for installing a soaker hose. The soaker wets the soil with less wasted water. Simply set a timer to remind you to turn off the soaker hose after enough time has passed for your plants to have sufficient water.
Using a layer of mulch around your plants is the ideal way to conserve water. Mulch helps the soil retain water, giving your plants a more consistent moisture level and conserving water at the same time. In addition, mulch provides another source of organic matter to the soil. A mulch depth of 2 to 4 inches can make a big difference in the amount of water you use over a growing season. Mulch is also a great aesthetic addition to your Westchester county garden!
Container gardening requires a somewhat different approach when it comes to watering. Again, your best tool is simple observation. When the soil in your containers is dry, water the plants with a focus on the root area. Use pots with drainage holes in the bottom and add a layer of gravel before filling the pot with soil. Drainage is important to prevent excess water from building up in the pot, while gravel prevents the water from draining too quickly. If the soil in your container is very dry, you may need to slowly water over a period of time to allow the soil to absorb moisture.
The best time of day to water plants is in the early morning. This allows them to soak up a good amount of water before the heat of the day. Mornings tend to be less breezy, meaning less of your water will evaporate before it has a chance to soak well into the soil and be utilized by the roots.
When watering trees and shrubs, keep in mind that the roots which take in water are unlikely to be at the base of the plant. Rather, these roots will be spread around a larger area away from the trunk so your watering efforts should be directed accordingly.
If your lawn is in need of a drink, the old stand by of an oscillating lawn sprinkler is still your best bet. Look for something that is easy to move around so your entire yard gets a good watering. You’ll need enough hose length to cover your property. Unlike other plants, grass will bounce back well after a dry period, so if you want to conserve water, the lawn is one place you can cut back without worrying about a die off.
With a little planning and consistency, all of the plants in your yard and garden will thrive!