Do you know how to water your plants? We have an easy guide to help ensure your gardening success. Simply follow this guide and proper watering will quickly become a part of your gardening routine, even during the hot, Texas summer conditions.
STEP 1: 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.
STEP 2: 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.
STEP 3: Provide the right amount of water
Effective watering ensures that the roots receive enough water to be fully saturated. Water too little and the moisture will only cover the upper inches of soil – or won’t even reach the soil at all, e.g. when there is a thick layer of mulch covering the soil and not enough water to soak through and into the soil. For new plants, it is crucial that the entire root-ball receives sufficient moisture during each watering.
STEP 4: Provide larger amounts of water in steps
Water takes time to soak into the soil. To prevent runoff, it’s better to water repeatedly in parts. For extremely dry soils, water for ~5 minutes to wet the top layer, wait 30 minutes, and then water again for ~10 to 15 minutes – this will allow more of the water to soak into the soil instead of flowing away unused.
STEP 5: Provide larger amounts of water in steps
Watering cool soil decreases the amount of evaporation and allows more water to soak into the ground of your garden. This also ensures the plants have the water they need before enduring the heat. Of course, if the soil is dry and plants are beginning to wilt, water them immediately – no matter the time of day.
STEP 6: Keep the leaves dry
Wet leaves are more susceptible to damage and disease. Leaf-mold can infect leaves that are left wet overnight. During the heat of the day, water droplets can act as magnifying glasses and burn the leaves.
STEP 7: Water all around the base
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.
STEP 8: Supplement your irrigation system
Spray and drip irrigation is 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 system on for your existing landscape, but focus your attention and hand-watering on your newly installed plants. Knowing the benefits of hoses, soakers, and sprinklers for your garden will help your landscaping thrive.
STEP 9: Avoid overwatering
Waterlogged soil lacks air pockets that roots need to live and grow. Keep in mind that here in Texas plants are much more likely to suffer from underwatering than overwatering during the summers. Using a timer on your irrigation system will help prevent overwatering your garden.
STEP 10: Use quality soil
Soil that is rich in nutrients and minerals provides an excellent foundation for new plants to develop and establish strong root systems. Amending native soil is critical to improve drainage and prevent waterlogging.
What about the rain we have been having?
Pick up a rain gauge at our store nearest you and keep track of how much moisture your garden is receiving each rainfall. Continue to check the soil and follow the steps above. Questions? Ask our Texas Certified Nursery Professionals available at all of our store locations!
We hope these watering tips for gardens helps your plants thrive.