Watering during the summer months


Girl watering garden. It's much better to water more deeply and less frequently. Customer photo: B. Hawkins.

Good watering techniques and proper scheduling during the summer months are extremely important for both new plantings and established landscapes.

I strongly recommend getting a rain gauge. You need to know how much water is falling from the sky. A general rule of thumb; if you don't get AT LEAST ½″ of rain, most soils will only be wet 3 to 4″ deep, leaving the roots dry beneath. If you get several ½ ″ rains in a row the soil moisture will be pushed deeper. Otherwise, you'll need to irrigate.

For established plants and landscapes, it's much better to water more deeply and less frequently. You can train your garden to be more water thrifty by doing it this way. In the heat of summer here in arid New Mexico I water once every 7 to 10 days watering long enough that the water goes 8 to 12″ deep into the soil.

For new transplants, even xeric (water thrifty plants) regular watering during the first growing season is essential to grow a strong, deep root system. Don't water stress new plantings!! BY WATERING DEEPLY AND FREQUENTLY AT THE START OF THE SUMMER HEAT, you'll save water in the long run as the plants will establish more quickly.

Be sure the plants have a nice, wide, one inch deep saucer-shaped depression around their base to hold water. I also filled the depression with mulch to keep the soil cool and damp. (Yes, I fill the saucer-shaped depression with mulch to help it hold its shape after repeated waterings.) WATER TWICE; fill the saucer to near over flowing, let it percolate into the soil and fill the saucer again.

Text by David Salman; Customer Photo

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2 thoughts on “Watering during the summer months”

  • Beth Clemensen
    Beth Clemensen 02/24/10 at 7:17 am

    I've lost a lot of expensive native plants to insufficient water. Many are planted far away from my water faucet. I've hauled out buckets of water on my 40 acres, only to have half the water splash out on the way. I'm thinking of a gizmo -- A 60 gallon trash can or larger. Insert a spout. Ccnnect a soaker hose. After planting, leave spout on 'til can is empty. Then once a week go out and fill the can again (if the ground is dry).

    I use a similar setup for water for my barn cats, only theirs has on on demand gravity water bowl, and for winter heat tape and a floating heater in the big plastic garbage can.

    Do you have any other ideas for distant gardening?

    • David Salman

      Beth:
      Your idea for a gravity flow drip system for your far off plantings is a good idea. The keys to success are to locate the barrel as high as you are able taking care to mount it in a safe manner. The higher the barrel the more "head" (or presure) is created to push the water through the system.

      You might want to visit dripworksusa.com to put together a drip system using pressure compensated drip emmiters. This would be more efficient than a soaker hose and allow you to more evenly distribute the water to your plants.

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