Summer is almost here, South Alabama is already feeling the heat. While we humans can retreat indoors or slather on the sunscreen, our lawns and landscape plants aren’t so flexible. They rely on proper hydration to beat the heat, and they rarely get the water they need from rain alone. They’ll need some help to survive the summer.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as remembering to soak your landscape with the garden hose. There is a right way to water, and it involves giving your plants a drink at the right time, in the right amount, and in the right way. If you don’t use good watering techniques, you could be setting your landscape up for failure.
Before you flip on the faucet, follow these guidelines to nail the right way to water.
The best time of day to water your landscape is during the early morning. This will cut down on evaporation and allow the cool morning soil to retain more moisture before the heat of the day. If you hit the snooze button too many times, aim to water in the late afternoon (between 4 and 6 p.m.) Never water during the hottest hours, as this can lead to leaf burn and fungal disease. If you have an automated sprinkler system, set your timer accordingly.
Water deeply, less often
Unlike humans, plants don’t need water every day – they just need the right amount. Watering deeply, but infrequently, encourages a deep and healthy root system that can withstand periods of drought. If your landscape is established, water it 1-2 times per week until the top 6 to 7 inches of soil is wet.
Leave the leaves alone
It’s not good practice to soak a plant from top to bottom. Plant leaves are not effective at absorbing nutrients from water, and wet foliage is a breeding ground for fungus. Always water around the base of plants until the soil is saturated, wetting the leaves as little as possible. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses are the best irrigation systems for directing water right to the roots.
Make sure they’re thirsty
Even water can turn into too much of a good thing. To avoid overwatering, make sure your lawn and plants are truly thirsty before giving them a soak. The easiest way to do this is by probing your finger a few inches into dry surface soil. If the top few inches are moist, it’s best to wait a day or two to water. If it’s dry several inches down, it’s time to break out the hose.
Add mulch for moisture
Once your plants are properly hydrated, a layer of mulch can help keep them that way. A layer of mulch reduces evaporation and water runoff, helping your soil retain moisture your plants need to thrive. Apply organic mulch in a 2-inch layer – any more than that and you could prevent moisture from reaching the plant roots.
Following these watering tips can help you maintain a healthy landscape that looks cool all year-long. If you need a hand with watering, mowing, or any other landscape maintenance, don’t sweat it – Chad’s Landscape Management is here to help.