7 Watering Rules of Thumb for Your Thirsty Plants

garden hose and watering can

It's the middle of summer, and gardens everywhere are in production mode. In my own neck of the woods, we've had sunny days but very little rainfall this year.

How much water does a garden truly need? Here are a few things to consider when thinking about your garden's water needs.


1. Gardens need an inch of water per week.

This, of course, is just a basic rule of thumb. Some plants will require more water and others less.

How do you know if your garden has received an inch of water? Invest in a rain gauge. Check the gauge at the end of the week, and if you see less than inch, better roll out that garden hose.

2. Water potted plants and veggies in containers more often.

Containers cause the soil to dry out more quickly. Always check your potted plants for signs of wilting. You can also check the soil by digging just below the surface level to see if the soil is moist. If not, it's time for a thorough watering.

3. Water slowly and deeply.

Forgo surface-level watering. Plants require a deep watering in order to be healthy. Think of a gentle rainfall. You want the water to soak in down to the root system. Take your time. If you're going to take the time to water your garden, you want it to count.

4. Water in the morning or evening.

If you water your garden in the middle of a hot, sunny afternoon, you are going to lose up to 30 percent of the water due to evaporation, according to The National Gardening Association.

5. Water newly planted trees and shrubs generously.

They need more water than established trees and shrubs. The same is true of seedlings and transplants. If you add a new plant to your garden, chances are you will have to provide it with a little more water.

6. Water evenly.

Some plants, like tomatoes, require more water when they are setting fruit. Be consistent when watering your tomatoes. Uneven watering can lead to lower numbers of tomatoes or even problems such as cracking fruit or blossom-end rot.

7. Use only what your garden needs.

Sprinklers are handy if you are low on time, but they sure do use lots of water. You don't need me to tell you that water is a precious resource that needs to be conserved. Keep that sprinkler on a timer, consider mulching your garden to help the soil retain moisture, and plant a few drought-resistant plants such as succulents to reduce the amount of water that your garden needs.

What's your best watering tip?


Image via Shari Altman

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