This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Intelligent Irrigation ~ Competitive Nature ~ Grass Guzzlers
~ Veggies Need More ~ Flowers - Blooming Not Burning ~ This Week's Photos
~ Coping With Containers ~ A Hose By Any Other Name ~ Inspiration
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~ All About Composting
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Seeds Indoors
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~ Seed Starting Tomatoes


Shrub Pruning Calendar
~ Pruning Clematis 
~ Gardening in the Shade
~ Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
~ Drought-Tolerant Flowers for KC
~ Preparing for a Soil Test
~ Changing the pH of Your Soil
~ Growing Herbs
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~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
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~ Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
~ Pruning Trees
~ Pruning Shrubs
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This Week's Photos

June 18, 2008
The Summer Watering Issue

watering can

Wonderful Working Weather...
I have to say that the last two days have been the prettiest I've seen in some time. Mild temperatures, low humidity, a slight breeze... so delightful that you can't help but to be outside. And that my friends is exactly where I have been. Kevin and I have been busy top dressing all of the beds with a fresh layer of mulch. I forget what a time consuming job that is, especially if you do it my way. Kevin is a great help but throwing mulch and properly placing mulch are two different things. So when we work together he gets to throw the mulch and I follow behind him spreading it and putting it where it actually belongs. He will tell you that where he is throwing it is just fine but if you are a fussy gardener like me "fine" is just not good enough. I am a tough gardener to please and I am blessed to have a husband who puts up with my quirkiness. It is not always an easy job.

We are in the midst of a great big mess in the back yard. We have decided to re-lay the brick patio. We purchased a fountain from Van Liew's that will be positioned in the middle. I am so excited to have that gurgling water sound in our backyard. Tectonic, our go-to landscape company is doing a great job as usual. They have been working their tails off and thankfully have had good weather. The project should be nearly completed by Saturday. As always Kevin is documenting the different stages so that we can share them with you.

~ Shelly   

Intelligent Irrigation...
Many of us are lucky enough to enjoy the convenience of an automatic irrigation system. With some simple practices and new technology, existing irrigation systems can be made more efficient, lowering your water bill, reducing run-off and eliminating waste. Waterwise habits will result in a healthier lawn and landscape, in addition to conserving water.

The Irrigation Association has provided us with water-saving tips to maintain and update automatic irrigation systems. Read Fine-Tune Your Irrigation System To Save Money and See Better Results now.

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.

Other watering tips for your veggies:

  • Concentrate your watering in the root zone.  Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems are great methods.  
  • Related 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.
  • Use 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.

Competitive Nature...
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 Burning...
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 sunny weather.

Another good long-term strategy would include greater use of drought tolerant flowers. A list of these water efficient marvels (suitable for the Kansas City area of course) can be found here...

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.  


Flow Rates from Different Hose Sizes and Water Pressures
Pressure 1/2 inch 5/8 inch 3/4 inch 1 inch
20 psi 4 gpm 8 gpm 12 gpm 26 gpm
30 psi 5 gpm 9 gpm 15 gpm 32 gpm
40 psi 6 gpm 11 gpm 18 gpm 38 gpm
50 psi 7 gpm 12 gpm 20 gpm 43 gpm
60 psi  8 gpm 14 gpm 22 gpm 47 gpm
Flow rates are in gallons per minute (gpm).  40 psi is typical water pressure for most homes.


Grass Guzzlers...
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 lawn. 
    • Set out three to five empty cans in a straight line going away from the sprinkler. Set the last can near the edge of the sprinkler's coverage. 
    • Run the sprinkler for a set time such as 1/2 hour.
    • Measure the amount of water in each can. 
    • Each 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.  
  • Run the sprinkler long enough to apply at least 1 inch of water or until runoff occurs. If runoff occurs first: 
    • Stop sprinkler and note running time. 
    • Allow water to soak in for 1/2 hour. 
    • Start sprinkler. 
    • If runoff occurs, repeat above steps until at least 1 inch of water has been applied and allowed to soak into the soil. 
  • Do not water again until the lawn has completely dried out. (This usually takes 5 or 6 days.) 
    • Apply enough water to wet the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. 
    • Avoid frequent light applications of water.
    • Water in early daylight hours. 
    • Select a turfgrass with a low water requirement. 
    • Avoid using soluble nitrogen fertilizers. (They promote high growth rates which, in turn, increase water requirements of the plant.)


"What I do know is that few satisfactions match having grown-up children who obviously share my belief that digging in the earth has, since Eden, been the best way of staying out of trouble and meanwhile experiencing sensual delights that beggar my powers of descriptions."

~ Allen Lacy



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