Whether you are a beginner gardener or already have some gardening experience, you may not give much thought to how you are watering your plants - after all it can just seem like a no brainer.
Yet, poor watering can be detrimental to your plants and the overall health of your garden, and knowing the best practices for watering plants will help you become a better gardener who cultivates the best specimens.
It is helpful to do some research and understand the specific water needs for different plants in your garden. Requirements including the amount and frequency of watering are usually based on the species of plant, size, climate and environmental conditions of the garden.
Best Time for Watering
The ideal time to water your plants is either in the morning when sunlight is weaker, or late afternoon as garden plants are able to absorb moisture after the hottest hours of the day without too much evaporation. Do not water in the evening, as wet foliage can encourage fungus growth or disease.
Water Infrequently but Deeply
Watering deeply but less frequently is recommended to reach plant roots and encourage them to grow deeper into the soil, which will make your greenery more resilient to dryness and healthier in general. On the other hand, watering lightly and frequently will promote shallow root growth for your plants and is considered a less efficient practice.
Water at the Base for Efficiency
Focusing on watering your plants at the base and especially the roots to avoid wetting foliage. Do not water from directly on top and on the leaves, as this encourages fungal growth and diseases. For more targeted watering, use a garden hose or irrigation system.
Apply organic mulch around your plants and garden beds to help retain moisture and keep the soil cool, as well as to reduce evaporation. Mulch also deters weed growth which competes with your plants.
Watering Container Plants
Plants in containers usually need more frequent watering as they lose moisture faster. Check the soil of your container plants frequently, and water if the top part of the soil feels dry. Be careful not to overwater, which can lead to root rot.
Water New Plants Frequently
All newly planted perennials, scrubs, and trees, especially those in their first year will require more frequent and regular watering than established plants in your garden, and also in times of less rainfall.
Flowers and plants with flowers have different watering needs depending on the species. In general, flowering plants require deep and regular watering, and the soil needs to be consistently moist but not in excess of water.
As a simple rule of thumb, lawns usually require about one inch of water per week. It is encouraged to water your lawns infrequently but deeply for deeper root growth. Water lawns in the morning hours before the hottest time of the day to prevent too much evaporation.
If you have newly planted trees in the garden, you will need to water them regularly until they are established in the soil with strong roots. For more mature trees and shrubs, water deeply and infrequently as they generally have deeper roots and can retain more moisture.
Veggies and Herbs
Vegetables and herbs will need frequent and consistent watering to stay healthy. Aim for about 1 inch of water each week with deep and regular watering. Some vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes however, can actually grow better in slightly drier environments.