Knowing how to water your plants or flower bed properly is the key to gardening success. Read our top 10 best watering tips to learn the right time of day to water, how to check soil’s moisture levels, and when to use sprinklers or an irrigation system to care for growing plants.
Check the soil by hand
Although letting the soil dry out slightly before watering promotes root growth, it is important to maintain uniform soil moisture. The best way to tell if you need to water is to check the top 3 – 4 inches of soil. If it is dry, water immediately. If it is wet, check again in 6 – 12 hours. Moisture meters can be a big help. By regularly checking the soil, you will be able to set a watering schedule based on your soil’s unique characteristics.
Water infrequently but thoroughly
If watered thoroughly, your plants may only need a couple of watering sessions per week depending on how quickly your soil dries. It is better to give your plants plenty of water intermittently than a little bit every day.
Provide the right amount of water
Effective watering ensures that the roots receive enough water to be fully saturated. If you water too little, the moisture will only cover the upper inches of soil – or won’t even reach the soil at all, like when there is a thick layer of mulch that doesn’t allow enough water to soak through. For new plants, it is crucial that the entire root ball receives sufficient moisture during each watering.
Provide larger amounts of water in steps
Water takes time to soak into the soil. To prevent run off, it’s better to water your garden repeatedly in parts. For extremely dry soils, water for about 5 minutes to wet the top layer, wait 30 minutes, and then water again for about 10 to 15 minutes. This approach will allow more water to soak into the soil instead of flowing away unused.
Water when the sun is down
Watering cool soil before the sun rises in the morning or overnight after the sun sets will minimize the amount of evaporation and allow more water to soak into the ground. This timeline also ensures the plants have the water they need before enduring the heat of the day. Of course, if the soil is dry and plants are beginning to wilt, water them immediately – no matter the time of day.
Keep the leaves dry
Focus on watering the base of any plants because wet leaves are more susceptible to damage and disease. Leaf mold can infect leaves that are left wet overnight. Plus, during the heat of the day, water droplets can act as magnifying glasses that burn the leaves.
Water all around the base
One of the most important watering tips is to make sure water is evenly distributed around the base of a plant. One-sided watering can lead to one-sided root growth and poor nutrient uptake. Always make an effort to water around the entire base of the plant to ensure the water reaches all sides of the root ball.
Supplement your irrigation system
Drip irrigation, sprinklers or a soaker hose are great for established plants, but your new plants will need additional water until their root systems develop and extend outside the original root ball. Most irrigation systems don’t provide enough water to fully saturate the root balls and often give a false sense of security. Keep your irrigation system on for existing landscape, but focus on hand watering any newly installed plants or patches of grass.
Waterlogged soil lacks the air pockets that roots need to live and grow. Care for your plants by checking the moisture level of the soil before watering. Keep in mind that plants are much more likely to suffer from underwatering than overwatering in Texas, especially during the summers.
Use quality soil
Help your flower beds thrive by using a soil that is rich in nutrients and minerals to provide an excellent foundation for new plants to develop and establish strong root systems. Amending native soil to improve its chemical composition is critical to promote drainage and prevent waterlogging.