This Summer is starting out drier than normal. As the Summer heat starts to kick in, we worry about our landscaping drying out and about any new plant material. It's a must to keep your new plantings, sod and newly seeded grass well watered to keep them looking great. Avoiding drought distress by following these guidelines:
Pro Tips - Early morning is the best time to water your garden. It's beneficial for both you and the garden due to cooler temperatures which allows for less evaporation and longer soakings.
While some may not have irrigation systems, oscillating and impact sprinklers are the best tools for water large garden beds and newly seeded lawns and sod. However, soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems are the best method to water plant material, allowing for root penetration and a set it and forget it watering times. Also mulching planting beds and around perennials can help cut down water evaporation, keeping the root system cooler during heat spells.
For New Plants - When watering any new plantings (e.g. shrubs, trees, perennials) avoid quick sprinkles. Instead opt for a deep watering once in the morning at the base of the plant. This is the best way to promote long roots. Also, spraying the leaves may result in leaf damage as the hot sun dries the water on the leaves.
If watering by hand, water deeply and thoroughly, allowing the water to soak through the mulch and reach the root system.
For New Sod or Seed - water once in the morning and once late afternoon to early evening. Each watering cycle should last 20-30 minutes for the first few weeks to allow the top couple of inches of soil to be soaked. During unusually long periods with no rainfall, you may consider sneaking in a third watering midday. Remember, seed and sod like to stay moist and should only be dry for brief periods until fully established. After watering the seed for the first time, the growing process has begun. Be mindful…seed can die in just one day during hot temperatures without water!
Many homeowners over-fertilize lawns and plants - when really all they need is more water! When watering, you should use a "gentle shower" setting or use a misting sprinkler. Water sections of new lawn until the water starts to puddle without quickly draining back to the earth. Be careful not to wash the seed out or damage sod by pressure spraying or holding the hose on one area for too long!
Consistent, Moderate Watering is Better Than Inconsistent, Heavy Watering!
Many times, homeowners plant new seed or plants and forget to water for days at a time. Then they say to themselves, "I really should water tonight!". Unfortunately, it is often too late. Any new grass seed may have already died off, and new plantings may be stressed beyond revival.
As a general rule of thumb, landscapes need 1 inch of rain per week for success, and it is better to water for 30 minutes every day rather than 2 hours once per week! Additionally, inconsistent watering patterns can often lead to fungus, disease and other damage.
Know Your Landscape's Water Requirements!
Different plants have different needs…just like us. Knowing your landscape will ensure that you are watering appropriately. Sometimes, homeowners with irrigation systems actually water new plantings too much. Juniper, for example, only needs watering 3 times per week until fully established. On the other hand, Iris and Hydrangea benefit from watering once per day when trying to establish.
It costs money to install new lawns and plants…be informed and protect your investments!