June 21, 2006
The Summer Watering Issue
The first day of summer is here and it
sure feels like it - Hot! It will be interesting to see what
lies ahead for us. July and August are typically scorching, dry
and miserable. I guess one could only hope that this summer
might be different. No sense in getting too excited about a
change. Having lived in the Midwest for many years I have
learned at least one thing - the summers are hot and humid -
period. So we will prepare accordingly and make sure that to
keep an eye on our plantings. Remember the rule of thumb - an
inch of water a week will keep everything in the garden looking
its best. So if Mother Nature is not helping out remind yourself
to water, water, water.
Every year at this time we dedicate an issue
to just that - watering. I hope you find the tips
helpful. We always receive so much positive feedback on this
particular issue. I think everyone needs an extra reminder
during those hot periods, especially when your gardening spirit
is waning. Remember that staying on top of watering now will
result in healthier plants both short term and long term. So,
don't forget to water.
New house update.
We're moved in (mostly)
and ready to tackle the landscape. Lots of great trees
(including a huge Ginkgo), nice lawn, and plenty of room to
plant. We even discovered a mama duck and her nest of eggs in
We've already had
Ryan Lawn &
Tree out to assist us with what they're best at - lawns and
trees! More updates as we go...
Veggies Need More...
We've stated in the past that most gardens require one inch
of water per week. As the weather heats up however water
consumption for a vegetable garden will gradually increase up to
two inches of water per week and then taper off again as the
weather cools. Remember that it is imperative for you to water
deeply once or twice a week. Watering a little bit every day is
just not good for the plants.
watering tips for your veggies:
Concentrate your watering in the root zone. Soaker hoses and
drip irrigation systems are great methods.
to the above, try to minimize watering of leaves. This will
help prevent disease.
- Water in
the morning between 6:00 and 9:00 AM. Midday watering wastes
water. Evening watering may lead to plant disease.
- Keep the
garden well weeded to eliminate competition for water.
mulches to aid water retention in the garden soil.
Coping With Containers...
Container plants (those in pots, window boxes, hanging
baskets, etc...) are the first to be affected by lack of water.
Since the container itself is exposed on all sides the sun and
heat cause the limited amount of soil to dry up much quicker than
in a garden. As a general rule you should water containers until
the water drains out the holes in the bottom. During the summer
it is not unusual to do this two or three times a day.
Don't let grass or weeds grow beneath your trees and shrubs.
They compete fiercely for available water and will slow the
growth of trees, especially newly planted ones. Worse yet, the
longer turfgrass grows under trees and shrubs the greater the
reduction of new growth. Left alone a cumulative effect may
decrease tree growth for several years. For instance, if the
growth of a tree is reduced by 20 percent for one year because of
grass competition, the growth automatically is 20 percent less
during the second year's growth. Grass competition alone reduces
tree and shrub growth by as much as 50 percent.
Flowers - Blooming Not
Different flowers have different watering needs. The one
inch of water per week rule is a good start but it's always best
to keep an eye them. Look for the telltale signs of drought
stress including wilt, droopiness, and the premature loss of
foliage and/or blooms. Like vegetables your flowers will benefit
from deep and infrequent waterings. Also, a couple of inches of
mulch will do wonders to help retain soil moisture during the hot
good long-term strategy would include greater use of drought
tolerant flowers. Savvygardeners can find a list of these water
efficient marvels (suitable for the Kansas City area of course)
A Hose By Any Other Name...
Hoses are easily the most common means of getting water to your
gardens and containers. Most gardeners give little thought to
their hoses until it's time to replace them. If you are
replacing a hose or just interested in a new one take a little
time and choose one that's best for you. Like most tools, hoses
are available in varying quality levels with prices that usually
follow. Hoses come in different diameters but 5/8-inch is the
most popular. Different diameters deliver different flow rates
and this may be an important factor in your choice. Use this
table to assist in sizing.
from Different Hose Sizes and Water Pressures
Flow rates are
in gallons per minute (gpm). 40 psi is typical water
pressure for most homes.
For many of us our lawns are the single biggest users of
"gardening water". Unfortunately excessive watering is wasteful
and can actually be harmful to your lawn. If waterings are too
light or too frequent the lawn can become weak and
shallow-rooted, which in turn makes it more susceptible to stress
injury. To make sure you get it right use the following steps to
determine the amount of water your sprinkler or sprinkler system
puts out and check its distribution pattern at the same time.
Determine the rate at which your sprinkler applies water to the
out three to five empty cans in a straight line going away
from the sprinkler. Set the last can near the edge of the
the sprinkler for a set time such as 1/2 hour.
Measure the amount of water in each can.
can will contain a different amount of water. Usually, the
can closest to the sprinkle will have the most water. The
sprinkler pattern must overlap to get an even wetness of the
soil. Use this information to find out how long it takes
your sprinkler to apply 1 inch of water. For example, if you
find that most cans contain about 1/4 inch of water after the
sprinkler runs 1/2 hour, it would take 4 x 1/2 or 2 hours to
apply 1 inch.
the sprinkler long enough to apply at least 1 inch of water or
until runoff occurs. If runoff occurs first:
sprinkler and note running time.
water to soak in for 1/2 hour.
runoff occurs, repeat above steps until at least 1 inch of
water has been applied and allowed to soak into the soil.
not water again until the lawn has completely dried out. (This
usually takes 5 or 6 days.)
enough water to wet the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.
frequent light applications of water.
in early daylight hours.
a turfgrass with a low water requirement.
using soluble nitrogen fertilizers. (They promote high growth
rates which, in turn, increase water requirements of the
"Along the river's summer walk,
The withered tufts of asters nod;
And trembles on its arid stalk
The hoar plume of the golden-rod."