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Water in the Garden

Nothing tastes as refreshing as an icy glass of water in the swelter of summer. After the bright greens of spring, plants take on deep summer hues that can look tired on hot afternoons. Since we don’t live with the scarcity of water that drives the bar high for landscape design in places like California we give our gardens buckets of love. Yet water, fresh water, is a precious commodity and we are pushing the limits of our planet’s resources.

So, for the sake of our plants, pockets, and planet here are some considerations when watering:

  1. Plants need 1 inch of water per week. Pretty simple. Don't over do it.

  2. An irrigation system can be helpful during a drought, but plantings that are dependent on irrigation create shallow root systems. Established plantings (2 years +) should not need supplemental water unless there is a drought or the plant is a water hog.

  3. Let your lawn go dormant in the summer. (Again if there is a drought, water enough to keep the crown alive.) Lightly water to stay green, but over watered lawns have health issues in summer humidity.

  4. Water in the morning. Early.

  5. Use sprinklers that water low to the ground or soaker hoses.

  6. Plant drought tolerant plants. Yet, there is usually that wet place in the yard for your thirsty ones to thrive.

  7. Install in fall or early spring so plants are more established before a hot stressful summer.

  8. If you have a favorite plant that is needy in the water department, plant it where you can see it on a daily basis and give it the attention it needs.

  9. Mulch! It helps keep moisture in and weeds down.

  10. Some plants are pansies (not the flower) and wilt when it is hot. If it is an established plant wait and see how it looks in the morning when it is cooler. If it has perked up leave it alone.

  11. Amend before planting! Healthy soil holds water more efficiently.

  12. Water barrels just make sense. We all have a downspout in an out of the way location that we could connect into. That water is free and is great for watering your annuals, veggies and new plants. I also would earmark one for the kids. Why make mud pies out of clean tap water?

These are simple, practical ways to help your plantings cope efficiently during dry weather. Keeping your landscape green and healthy does not have to tax your plants or your water bill.

A good link for more information is:

And for those who want to dig deeper read Chapter 5 of Toby Hemenway’s

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