5 Essential Watering Tips for Gardeners

It seems so simple: water your garden when it's dry, and you're good to go.

But actually, there is a right way to water (and quite a few not-very-right ways). Knowing proper watering techniques will not only keep your garden growing, it will help your plants grow stronger roots and resist disease. And you'll save money, too.

Here are our favorite tips for watering your garden and helping it look its very best.

Water in the early morning hours. Watering before the sun comes up allows the plants and soil surface to thoroughly dry during the day. It also prevents the burn that can occur on very hot, sunny days when water evaporates too quickly.

Watering in the evening isn't as good an option, as this will allow the opposite: evaporation and soaking that's too slow. Dampness overnight increases the chances of fungus, which can harm your plants.

You'll also save money by watering early, as less water will be needed due to the even absorption and controlled evaporation.

Water deeply and infrequently. Unless you have plants that require either abundant watering or, as with desert plants, very infrequent sprinkling, water your plants about twice a week. As a quick rule of thumb, count to twenty-five on each plant.

When you water this way, you encourage plants to grow deep roots that will serve your plants well in times of drought.

Water the soil at the base of the plant. Many people spray at the top of the plant in an arc, expecting the water to get to the soil. It will, but since plants take up water through their roots, invest in a watering wand to target where you're sending the water. The rosette, or breaker, on the end of the wand provides a gentle shower of water for the plants but will not forcefully erode the soil while you water.

Try self-watering containers. If you use containers for your veggies, try self-watering ones. These containers (or a conversion kit to fit into a container) allow you to fill up a reservoir under the soil where the plants grow. The water is drawn upward into the container through a wicking system, thus keeping the plants evenly moist.

Besides keeping moisture at the proper level (it's easy to over-water with container gardening), self-watering containers are great for those who travel frequently or who are too busy to remember to water regularly.

Be careful that you don't overwater. Overwatering can kill a plant just as easily as under-watering. Keeping the soil constantly saturated means that oxygen cannot reach the plant roots. This can lead to root-rot.

Research your plant varieties so you know how much is too much, and look out for signs of overwatering such as wilting, bending of the stems, or yellow leaves.




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