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Watering - easiest part of gardening?

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One might think that watering would be the easiest part of gardening. However, experienced gardeners know that it is not as simple as it seems, nor is it rocket science. With just a few good pointers, you too can have happy, properly watered plants and a beautiful garden.

Timing: One commonly known fact is that watering in the morning is best. Not that you should not water in the afternoon or evening but when possible, avoid watering in the heat of the day. Morning watering is best for two reasons: 1) less water evaporates as you water and 2) Overnight dampness on the leaves could cause diseases so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Frequency: Watering more thoroughly is better than watering more frequently. A thorough drink for your plants will help them establish deeper, stronger roots.

Amount: This is where it gets tricky and no one can precisely make a blanket statement on how much water your plants need. It depends on your soil type, the air temperature, wind, type of plant, age of the plant, in-ground vs. in containers (and which type and size of container). An overall rule of thumb is to give your plants 1” of water per week. If you have sandy soil, you will likely need to water more than 1” per week. If temperatures spike then you will also likely need more than 1” of water per week.

Technique: Drip irrigation, hand watering, sprinkling or other? The best technique sends water to the soil and roots, not the leaves of the plant. The roots are where the plant takes up water and nutrients so hold your watering tool close to the soil. Sprinklers are not a preferred tool for watering gardens so save those for your lawn. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are good but if you have it set on an automatic timer, check frequently as it is easy to over-water when a good soaking rain comes through.

An inexpensive rain gauge is an easy way to keep track of how much water your garden is getting. If your plants have not received an inch of water in a week, you know to supplement with additional watering.

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