The dry, hot weather is here and it’s time to make sure our gardens stay hydrated. Our plants are happily growing, developing fruits, and getting their buds and branches ready for next year. The blessing of the summer sun spurs this growth, but without water all development can come to a grinding halt. Water helps your plants transport nutrients and is critical to photosynthesis. Additionally, a well-hydrated plant is better at fending off diseases and pests than one under drought stress.
Today we’ll be sharing general tips for watering the garden, but if you’re concerned about your lawn, we have a blog about that here. Quick tip for lawns: if your lawn has already browned out and gone dormant for the summer, it’s best to wait for the fall rain to revive it. Until the rain returns, a bare minimum of a half inch of water every second or third week will ensure that the plant crowns stay hydrated.
🚿 First, reduce your watering needs by mulching and mulch well! A thick layer of organic mulch has a multitude of benefits: it keeps soil temperatures down, reduces weed pressure, retains moisture, and provides shelter and food for our microbe friends.
🚿 We recommend watering either early in the morning or in the early evening. The lower temperatures during these hours helps to prevent the water you put down from evaporating right back up into the atmosphere.
🚿 A proper watering routine helps plants to establish deep, resilient root systems. Generally this means watering deeply, but less frequently. If there’s always water sitting in the upper soil layers, your plants may not send down roots to look for it in the lower horizons.
🚿 Be aware of where you’re aiming your water. While there are plants that will do just fine if you saturate the foliage and the soil, some plants are prone to fungal diseases and this could create a big problem. We’re looking at you, zucchinis! Try to water as close to the soil as possible. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses are a great work around for this problem and will save you time as well.
🚿 Keep an eye on the foliage of your plants. Leaves wilt as a defense mechanism - there is less surface area of the plant exposed to the sun which limits sunburn and transpiration. On an extremely hot day, this may be a normal reaction, but if your plant doesn’t perk back up in the evening or after getting water, it could be a sign of too much or too little watering. Conversely, if you have a plant that you know is getting enough water, and it seems to only perk up in the evening, this could be a sign there’s something wrong with the root system.
🚿 For young plants, their foliage may be too tender to handle the heat. A temporary shade cloth will help them through the hotter days.
🚿If you have plants waiting in black plastic pots for their forever home, move them to a shaded area. You can also create a sun break by surrounding them with plants in ceramic/other non-heat attracting pots, or hiding the base behind a garden bed. Either way, the goal is to protect the roots from being fried to bits by the exposed hot plastic.
🚿 Be aware that plants next to or close to a wall may receive radiant or other reflective heat during the day. This can create a space as much as 10 degrees hotter in some areas! While advantageous for sun-loving plants, this microclimate may be too intense for other plants.
🚿 The best defense for extreme weather is having healthy, established plants. Throughout the year it’s important to give them the right organic fertilizers, amendments, and seasonal pruning. When combined with a proper watering schedule, it’s smooth sailing!
🚿 Lastly, don’t forget to stay hydrated yourself and enjoy the garden!
Want to learn more? Give us a call! We’d love to help.