From the Desk of Ed Hume: Ideas on How to Efficiently Water the Garden

July 18, 2011 at 12:50 AM 1 comment

What’s the best way to approach watering the garden?  Should you water by hand, sprinkler, soaker-hose, or by drip irrigation?  That’s a good question, and it’s really up to you.  However, I can give you a few ideas on what works best for the lawn and the trees and shrubs in your garden.

First, when possible it’s best to water in the morning.  There’s a loss of water due to evaporation if you water during the day.  Also, if you water in the late afternoon or early evening plant roots and the plants are exposed to cooler temperatures and might cause extremes for some sensitive plants.

Second, it’s best to water by an irrigation method on the soil, so drip irrigation and soaker hose is ideal when possible.  Of course, that’s difficult when it come to watering the lawn, so a sprinkler or sprinkler system is the most efficient.  Researchers recommend that you apply one inch of water to the lawn weekly during the summer months.  In other words, if it rains ¼ inch during the week, then apply only ¾ of an inch of water that week.

Third, what about watering by hand?  That’s ideal when it comes to watering container plantings or areas where the sprinkler, irrigation system, or soaker hoses don’t reach.  However, to try to water the whole garden takes too long, and as the old saying goes, “one doesn’t stand long enough in one spot to efficiently water the garden.”

So if you use a sprinkler, what type of a sprinkler is best!  Personally, I prefer an oscillating sprinkler.  Look for one that disperses a coarse spray.  Stay away from the type that emits a soft spray, as the slightest breeze will carry the water way and into places where you may not want it.

After setting a sprinkler, always check to be certain the water is not running off the lawn or garden and running down the sidewalk or driveway and being wasted.

Plants like tomatoes should not be watered overhead.  Always water them by the irrigation (or soaking) method.  Keep the water on the ground and off the foliage.

I find hanging baskets to be the biggest watering challenge.  How often do you water them and how much water do you apply?  I water them by hand, filling the top of the basket with water until it overflows.  Then wait a couple of minutes and check to see if water is dripping out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the hanging basket.  On a normal summer day, this only has to be done about once a day, but on a really hot day it may be necessary to soak the hanging basket more than once.

For more information on watering specific plants, log onto our web site


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