Everyone enjoys the sight of the colorful crepe myrtles in bloom as well as the taste of delicious fresh vegetables in the summer. The trick to keeping your lawn, garden, or plants looking their best all summer long is to water regularly and properly. While watering your plants may seem simple enough, there are a few tips that can help them get even stronger.
Most plantings around the house, including lawns, flower beds, and vegetable gardens, need 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week during the growing season. If there is a good pouring rain during the week, you can probably avoid watering. Otherwise, you will need to provide water. The best practice is to water abundantly and infrequently. You should avoid watering more than twice a week as frequent, shallow watering promotes shallow rooting. Your plants will be much stronger and better able to tolerate stress if they have a deeper, more established root system.
You can determine the amount of water supplied by your irrigation system by placing a shallow container, such as a can of coffee or a glass jar, in the area to be watered. Place a mark on the container an inch from the bottom. A black laundry marker works great for this. Place the container in the area to be watered, then watch the time to determine how long it takes for the water to reach the 1-inch mark you made. If you live on a slope, you will need to adjust the way you water as it will most likely drain before it has time to penetrate the ground. To avoid runoff, reduce the volume of water you turn off so that it takes longer to fill the container to the 1-inch mark. You will also need to make adjustments if your soil is compacted. Water for a shorter time, wait a few minutes for the water to soak in, then water again.
Although water is essential for plant growth, it is possible to overwater. The roots of your plants need air as well as water and are not able to get enough air when flooded. We often see landscape plants die off during the summer months due to overwatering rather than watering. Use the container method to determine how much water you are applying and don’t apply more than 2 inches of water per week. There should never be standing water in a flower bed or garden.
The best time of day to water your plants is early in the morning. Watering in the morning helps conserve water by letting it soak into the soil without evaporating. Avoid watering at night as foliage that stays wet through the night often leads to disease. Watering in the middle of the day also has its problems. Every drop of water that settles on the leaves of a plant will act like a magnifying glass and scorch the leaves of your plants in the sun. Additionally, if sprinkler irrigation is used in the middle of the day, much of the water evaporates before it even reaches the ground. So in summary, watering in the morning saves water, allows more water penetration and reduces disease problems.
Adding a good, thick layer of mulch in gardens and around trees and shrubs is a great way to reduce the amount of water required by plants. Mulch actually reduces evaporation from the soil and it also cools the soil. In addition to the items just listed, mulch can act as a barrier against weeds that compete with the plants in your garden for water and other nutrients. Many different organic materials can be used as mulch, including tree bark, chipped wood, pine needles, grass clippings, or dried leaves.
Plants will bloom during the summer months if properly cared for. Watering properly is one of the best ways to keep your plants in good condition throughout the season.
The weather is warming up and we are all excited to get out and work in our landscape. For more information, contact the Garland County Extension Office at 623-6841 or visit our website at http://www.uaex.uada.edu. The extension office is located at 236 Woodbine in Hot Springs and office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Information on the master gardener
The Master Gardeners meetings take place on the third Thursday of each month online. Meetings are open to the public and guests are welcome. For more information call the extension office at 623-6841 or email Alex Dykes at [email protected]
Are you interested in joining an existing extension housewives club? EHC is the state’s largest voluntary organization. For more information on EHC, call 623-6841 or email Alison Crane at [email protected] Follow Alison on Facebook @garlandEGF and @Garland FCS, and EHC on Facebook @GarlandCountyEHC.
For more information on Garland County 4-H Club membership or program benefits, call Carol Ann McAfee at the extension office, 501-623-6841, or send an email [email protected] More information is available at http://www.uaex.edu/garland.