June 17, 2008
The Summer Watering Issue
Here Comes Summer...
For those of you wanting real summer weather I believe it has arrived. The temperatures are soaring and so is the humidity.
We are going to see the 90's for the next couple of days so stay hydrated and cool if working outside. We have had so much
rain that no one should be watering anything but pots. Now that we are seeing warmer temperatures you may have to water them
a couple times a day. The last round of thunderstorms that roared through gave us more than the inch of rain needed weekly for
this time of year. This weather will separate the "wanna be" gardeners from those of us who will still be out everyday. It is
humid, hot, buggy and pretty awful - but that doesn't mean that there isn't anything to do.
If you are still planting, which if fine, keep an eye on newly planted material. Once again with the temperatures soaring a
newly planted plant will need extra attention versus one that is established. Make sure you have plenty of mulch down. It will
help with the weeds and keep the ground temperature more stable.
Have you had a chance to visit
Johnson Farms yet? They are located in Belton, Missouri and offer a wide array of plants. Now
is a perfect time to visit. They offer "More Flowers for Less Dollars", sounds pretty good to me. Tell them the Savvygardener
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
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.
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...
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...
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
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
"Long about knee-deep in June,
'Bout the time strawberries melts
On the vine."
~ James Whitcomb Riley