Updated: Feb 2022 As gardeners, we want to save what plants we can after a…
Texas summers are tough on us all. Imagine if you – like your landscape – were stuck outside, unable to escape the heat and sun. Watering your plants is essential for their survival in the summer but it must be done correctly.
Best Practices for Watering Your Garden
You’ll need to get to know your city’s water restriction guidelines and make sure you follow those. With proper planning and the right watering techniques, you can keep your garden healthy, even during the heat.
A well-planned water schedule can save homeowners money and effort. Effective watering incorporates basic principles of good gardening, and implementing proven practices will increase the effectiveness of your irrigation plans.
Focus on the soil first:
The first step in any successful planting is to know your soil and, depending on what you plant, to incorporate soil amendments. The infamous “black clay gumbo” soils of much of the Dallas area have very poor drainage, and many plants will develop root rot in soggy, heavy soil no matter how carefully you water them.
A healthy lawn and landscape always starts with the soil. Soil that is rich in organic matter will naturally retain more moisture. Amending your beds with organic compost and topdressing with 2-inches of mulch will conserve moisture.
Adding compost and expanded shale can improve drainage, and planting Texas natives adds the advantage of gardening with plants that have evolved with our soils and temperatures.
Watering too often doesn’t help:
Homeowners often make the mistake of watering frequently, but for short periods of time. However, deep, infrequent watering is best for established landscapes. Shallow watering results in weak root systems. Weak root systems are more susceptible to heat and drought. When it comes to lawns, watering too frequently will also encourage fungal diseases.
A deep watering once per week is sufficient for established lawns and landscapes. You can always supplement your sprinkler watering with hand watering or soaker hoses for new plants, veggies and container gardens. If you’re under more strict watering restrictions, a deep watering with your sprinkler
The second watering-related practice to help your garden grow is to plant any perennial, shrub, or tree with the root ball soaking wet with a root stimulator, then water again once per month for three or four months to get these plants established.
Root stimulator promotes both healthy root development and increased temperature tolerance. This inexpensive, easy-to-use product is a must-have for any gardener.
Next, maintain your plantings (including hanging baskets) with 2”-3” or mulch or compost as a top dressing. This is a great way to hold moisture in and control soil temperatures, and as it breaks down, mulch and compost provide low-level organic fertilization.
When to Water Plants in Summer
Once it’s time to get out the hose and sprinkler, remember these tips:
- Water early in the morning. You will lose less water to evaporation, and plants can start the day well-hydrated.
- Water slowly and deeply, but less often. This will promote stronger, deeper roots systems. A general rule of thumb is to water to a depth of 6”. If you set an empty tuna can in the lawn or flower bed, the time that it takes to fill up is a good amount of time to run the sprinkler – this amount of water will infiltrate to a depth of 6”.
Watering once per week in this way is usually enough. One exception to this rule is that flowering annuals like pentas, marigolds, and begonias – and including those in hanging baskets – may need daily watering to support constant heavy blooming.
- New plantings of perennials, shrubs, and trees may require additional watering until the root systems are established. This is also true for vegetable gardens, which may have to be watered twice a day in the heat of summer to support the development of juicy tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelons.
- Products like slow-release “gator” bags around new trees, soaker hoses, and drip irrigation provide slow, deep watering and keep moisture off the foliage, thus reducing the chance of fungal disease. And hoses and drip systems can be put on a timer for truly hands-off irrigation.
How long should you water your garden?
A common question is how long to run an automated sprinkler. Most homeowners tend to run their systems three or four times per week for 10 minutes per zone. This is the worst way to water! Once per week for 40 minutes to 1 hour per zone is much more effective. But, you’ll need to audit your system to find out exactly low long to run each zone, and see if your soil can absorb that much water in one delivery – or if you’ll have to split up your cycles. Every system is different and pressure will vary. *
If you live in Dallas, you may water your landscape with your automated sprinkler system twice per week. You may hand water in your landscape or trees any day of the week and also use drip or soaker hoses whenever needed. Different cities have their own watering restrictions, so be sure to know your city’s ordinance.
*Tip: Have an irrigation system audit performed to make sure you don’t have any leaks, clogged heads or problems with pressure. A licensed irrigator can also help you learn how long to run each zone in order to deliver the equivilent of 1″ worth of ranfall to your landscape. That’s how you’ll determine how long to run each zone.
Find out more on all of these topics and more this weekend May 24th and 25th at NHG’s WATER WISE WEEKEND! North Texas water issues from the experts, managing home sprinkler systems, tough perennials for the garden and more. Great plant specials, too! Visit the Events page at NHG.com for details!
How Often to Water Your Garden
One of the most common questions gardeners ask is “Exactly how often do I need to water?” This is a tricky question, and though once a week to a depth of 6” is a good rule of thumb, the answer is determined by many factors: Has it been hot? Humid? Do temperatures drop at night? Are the plants in sun or shade? An inexpensive moisture meter helps take the guesswork out of watering, and it’s a great tool for hanging baskets and interior plants, too.
Correct watering is one of the basic skills that every gardener needs to feel confident about. North Haven Gardens’ “Garden Coach” program is a great way to review and implement best-practice techniques in your own landscape with the guidance of an experienced NHG Garden Coach.
Appointments are available in-store or at home (with the NHG service area). To learn more and schedule your consultation, go to https://www.nhg.com/garden-coach-program/.