It’s officially Summer – don’t forget to hydrate your plants and yourself! Here are some useful watering tips from the plant pros to keep everything green and happy.
DeAnna: New Trees are Thirsty
I am hearing customers ask daily, “how often should I be watering my new tree?” We are watering trees twice a day here in the garden center; first thing in the morning and again mid-afternoon. Morning watering is most important to make sure the trees are well hydrated to handle the heat of the day. Big drinks of water are necessary to saturate the root balls. I recommend watering twice a day for the first 2 weeks, then once a day for 2 weeks, then every other day for 2 weeks. This is just an approximate schedule depending on the heat, wind, type of tree, and of course rain. I should have taken my own advice on my new Southern Catalpa tree at home – I got busy, and the tree got too dry: perfect on Saturday, damaged by Monday. Gonna strip the leaves and let it start over!
Harry: Let the Hose Do the Work!
I tell my clients all the time – don’t work too hard! Instead of holding the hose while you water, drag the hose to the base of the plant, then go turn it on to a slow trickle. This gets water down deep to the roots. If you turn the hose on full blast, most of the water will run off instead of soak in. This slow, deep watering takes time, but you can play with the dog while the hose does the work for you.
Diane: Don’t Scald Your Plants!
Run the hot water out of your hose before you water!! The longer the hose, the longer this takes. And remember that water can burn a leaf if it sits on the foliage (like the way a magnifying glass focuses heat), so always water the soil, not the leaves.
Hidalgo: How to Use a Jar or Glass to Prevent Soil Erosion
My Grandfather always had a big veggie garden with long planted rows that he watered by hand. He taught me this trick: to keep the water from blasting the soil and eroding at the base of your plants, slide a mason jar or heavy drinking glass over the end of the hose, lay it down, then turn on the water. This way the water hits the bottom of the glass first, then flows back gently and evenly instead of eroding the soil.
Mike: Aerate (Poke Holes) to Get Oxygen and Water to the Roots
Our heavy clay soil tends to compact and not allow oxygen and water to penetrate, especially after a rain. For trees and large shrubs (or any plant that looks like water is not soaking into the soil), I recommend aerating around the root ball about once a month. Drive a piece of rebar into the soil about 2 feet deep, about every 8 inches outside the root ball to help get oxygen and water down to the roots.