Plants need water to live, but it’s not that simple. Incorrect watering techniques are the number one cause of plant loss. Whether it’s providing too little or too much water, plants will suffer from poor watering practices. Here are some guidelines to proper watering during a dry season. [photo via wikimedia]
Type of Soil
It is necessary to know the type of soil your plants are living in order to know how to water properly. For example, clay soil drains water slower than a sandier soil. Therefore shrubs planted in sandy soil will need a longer watering.
For plants that were planted recently (in the past two years) proper watering practice is extremely important. These shrubs have not yet established a firm placement in the landscape because their roots are still growing and spreading. For all plants deep watering is best. Water at low pressure so that water saturates the ground and soaks deep into the soil and not just on the surface. If water soaks up too fast and puddles either on the surface or under the surface the plant will suffer and possibly die. At low pressure a longer watering is necessary and will help moisturize the soil for up to ten inches.
A hose is sufficient or you can use a water bubbler. During the hotter months or in hot, dry climate areas, water your plants in the morning and in the evening to minimize evaporation from the heat or sun. The duration of each watering depends on the type of shrub and the type of soil. A responsible plant owner will research the shrub to find specifics however a general recommendation is to soak the roots (a deep watering) at least twice a week during the dry season. In addition, weeds steal water from shrubs and other plants so it is important to get rid of weeds when they appear.
Proper watering also means to be careful not to overwater. If you pick up the soil and it feels moist and it stays together when squeezed then it has a sufficient amount of water.
There are things you can do intermittently to ensure proper watering. Check your hoses, sprinklers, and faucets for leaks because leaks change the water pressure in your system. Fertilize your shrubs at the recommended times during the year. Aerate your soil or dig a small trench along the edge of the planting area so that water can reach roots easier and faster. If you live in a colder climate, water thoroughly in the fall so that during winter the plants have a good water reserve. Also take advantage of long warm spells during winter and give your plants some water to prevent root damage.
Knowing your plant and your soil is most important. Taking care of your shrubs during the dry season provides the necessary environment for these plants’ survival.