It’s important to keep a watchful eye on your plants during the dry, hot summer months, but that doesn’t mean your water bill has to be through the roof. Check out these tips that can help you conserve water while the blistering hot sun beats down on your garden:
- Choose the right tool. A plain old garden hose and nozzle is not the most efficient way to apply water to plants. Think about it – a lot of that water is lost as mist, runoff and evaporation. It’s much better to use a soaker hose or a sprinkler wand.
- Don’t over-water. This can’t be said enough.A good rule of thumb is that a lawn needs one inch of water per week and perennial plants and shrubs require about one to two inches a week. For annuals, it’s best to go by the plant tag – it will tell you the sun, soil, pH and water requirements. If conditions are especially hot and windy in your area, look out for wilting. If you spot this, add water to the soil, being careful not to drown your plant. Over-watering is just as bad as under-watering – it can lead to root rot and soil compaction that keeps your plant from breathing.
- Be careful with mulch. Mulch is great for holding in moisture and keeping the base of plants cool. However, a thick layer of mulch can create a crust that keeps water from soaking in. You can allow more water in by breaking up the mulch with a rake.
- Water in the morning. Water can soak into soil before evaporating if you water in the morning when it’s a bit cooler. Watering in the later hours of the day – around dusk – is okay, however you may be putting your plants at risk for fungus because it loves dark, damp places. If you notice mold or mildew on your plants, treat them with Pure 3-Way, a product that uses lemongrass oil, a natural fungicide, to knock out the problem without harming your plants.
- Use cool water. Avoid using a hose that’s been coiled up and filled with water while sitting in the sun all day long. This hose acts like a water heater, and hot water stresses sensitive plants. You should store your hose in the shade, or at least run out the heated water before quenching your plant’s thirst.
- More water, less often. With your perennials, it’s a good idea to give them larger amounts of water at longer periods of time than it is to apply small amounts of water more frequently. Shallow watering promotes shallow rooting. In very hot weather, you may want to water your plants every other day for perennials and every three or four days for shrubs. Water annuals and container plants as needed. Potted plants can’t draw moisture from surrounding soil, so it’s very important that their soil remain moist.