I was asked just the other day what one should do about watering the garden and terrace plant pots and was it in fact just as easy to over water even in midsummer when we have to water almost daily? Well like all things there are a few simple rules and of course common sense should prevail.
The few drops of dirty sandy rain we have had recently have been nowhere near enough to think it would help the daily watering chore, in fact we need to water more to wash off all the muck left behind after such a shower.
So... do we need to water our plants every day or not ? I am going to start with the easiest part of the garden to water if you have a lawn.
Hopefully at the time of laying down a lawn a watering sprinkler system was considered and installed so it is just a matter of turning on the tap. We mentioned cutting the lawn more frequently just last week and of course watering it goes along with that, probably two or three times a week will suffice when watering the Bermuda grass type lawn. Rye grass is another matter altogether and almost advisable not to use this type of grass for a lawn in our climate because it demands far more water daily.
Trees and shrubs are far less demanding on water, once established their root systems will have grown down in search of water to the point where the soil does not bake dry from the heat of the sun every day. It is best to ensure the ground is well dug and clear of weeds around the trunk to allow any watering to soak directly in, probably once a week will be enough or if alongside the lawned area it will catch some of the sprinkled water as you go along. All of this is of course the easy part, as I have just mentioned , a couple of times a week, be sure to turn the sprinklers off or install a time clock on the tap which is a great help.
The vegetable garden will need looking into every other day or so. It’s obvious to see when some plants wilt that one should ‘ up’ the watering and be preparing watering.
Gullies between the planted rows just to fill with water is by far the easiest way, not only that, the water goes directly to the roots where it is most needed. Tomatoes are particularly demanding and once deprived of water will easily wilt which frequently encourages a condition known as ‘blossom end rot’ , an unsightly brown dryness around where the flower was on the fruit. So, be sure to keep an eye on the tomatoes and water regularly.
Now we turn to the terrace and potted plants, that is a different matter altogether.
Plastic plant pots just need to be gently lifted to be aware how light they may have become when needing water. One gets accustomed to how light or heavy a plant pot should be.
Terracotta pots do stay cooler and seem to hold the water better but in all cases a drip tray is a must to collect excess water.
Some plants really don’t like to be watered from the top but prefer just wet feet as we say, which means directly watered onto the soil or into the drip tray and this really is almost a daily task, especially if the terrace is in full sunshine all day long. Success with potted plants has a great deal to do with the size of the pot or container and going right back to the beginning, the quality of the potting soil and the provision for drainage at the time of potting up each plant.
It is known that a plant can be drowned by over-watering but rarely in the summer when evaporation counteracts half one’s efforts at watering.
As a whole in both gardens and terraces, it is recommended that watering in the cool of the evening is more beneficial all round, there is less likelihood of scorching the leaves with the extremes of burning sunshine and the water has all the cool of the night to filter into the ground rather than literally evaporating as you water.
The one exception that I know of is the Bermuda grass lawn, that really does enjoy a good soaking in full sunshine especially just after cutting and even better after a little fertilizer has been added.
The whole lawn grows greener than ever but of course the grass grows faster than ever and needs cutting more frequently. But... here we go again, what is gardening but a round of jobs that we repeat again and again if we want to maintain that peaceful and colourful haven called a garden.