Despite our country being known for it’s rain, during most summers, watering is required. By watering efficiently we are preserving a precious resource and if like many households, your water is metered, it will save you money.
Water is of course necessary for a plants survival, to replace water lost from the leaves and for its part in the plants growing processes. Plants draw water through their roots from the soil, water therefore needs to reach where the roots are. The key to efficient watering of your garden is deep and infrequent; this will encourage plants to generate a strong root system. By deeply soaking the soil, you will encourage the plants to put out more roots in search of water. This is much more efficient than just creating a shallow area of moisture with regular watering; a plant growing in these conditions will develop a shallow root system and be weak.
Research indicates that plants can survive with less watering than we assume. Plants that are used to the stress of less frequent watering will thrive in varied weather conditions.
Time and Frequency
The ideal time to water your garden is first thing in the morning, before the day has begun to warm up. This will minimise the amount of water lost through evaporation whilst providing essential water for the plants that day.
It is a good idea to water the garden every few days with a deep soaking. As a guideline try to water your garden with 1 inch (2.54cm) of water every week, this should be the total amount combined with precipitation also.
When not to water the garden
Avoid watering during the hottest part of the day. Avoid watering the garden last thing at night as damp and cold leaves are susceptible to fungal infections and rot.
Lawns will normally recover. Established trees, shrubs and hedges will draw in enough water except in extreme drought conditions.
Some plants will soon show sign of distress (or worse) if they dry out, so look after;
- New plantings, trees and shrubs that are not established
- Containers – consider moving temporary to a shaded area
- Vegetables – watering is critical as the crop swells
- Hanging baskets
For south facing areas with uninterrupted sun all day, it is worth planting drought tolerant plants. Keep weeds under control as these will compete for water. A mulch helps to prevent evaporation.
Targeted hoses are the ideal option for this as opposed to devices that finely spray water all over the garden, you want to reach the soil rather than the foliage. Make a dip in the soil around plants so that water can soak down to the roots rather than running away.
By far the best solution is drip irrigation, these systems are easy to install, although they do take time, but are well worth the effort. They will also look after watering during your holiday. Drip Irrigation