We’re all guilty of it.
I’ll admit I was so terrified my plants would die from a lack of water that one of my plants got a touch of root rot. So I read about drowning plants with over-watering and started to over-correct by watering them less– and less to the point they were bone dry and dead. My poor plants.
It’s time we simplified—watering is actually quite easy. Here are some tips to get you back on track with worry-free watering
Tip 1: Know your soil
Your soil is unique, so knowing some basic information can really help ease your gardening journey. Knowing things like pH and drainage properties is important. You can talk to the pros at your local garden center to find out what’s common in your area, or send a soil sample for analysis with your local extension.
Basically, there are three types of soils, high-draining sand, slow-draining clay, and the middle-of-the-road, silt. Most people land somewhere on the spectrum between these soil makeups, and this will determine how your soil drains water. This is important because it will determine which plants will easily thrive, and how frequent you’ll have to water to account for the drainage.
For example, succulents like it dry, sandy soils that drain fast and don’t hold in water are best for them. Others, like Hydrangea and Ninebark use more water, so if your soil is sandy, you may want to choose lower water use species, or settle for watering more often.
Tip 2: Check your Soil – 2 inch rule!
Dig into the soil to about two inches deep and feel if the soil is dry or moist. If the soil is dry it’s time to water. If the soil is moist, don’t water yet, and check again later. You can also buy a soil moisture sensor to get even more accurate and test further down near the roots.
Tip 3: Add Mulch
Mulch is possibly the easiest and best thing you can do to keep your plants hydrated. Adding a 2-3 inch layer of natural landscape mulch will make you happy in 4 ways:
- Efficient watering – Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil. Conserving water makes sense and saves you money.
- Prevents weeds – Spend less time pulling weeds and more time relaxing.
- Creates a clean look – Mulch makes your garden beds beautiful, creating a clean, consistent look that’s weed free.
- Mulch breaks down over time, releasing nutrients to your plants. Replenish every 1-3 years
Tip 4: Water early in the day
The best time to water is in the morning before the sun is bright in the sky. By watering earlier in the morning you are giving your plant the time it needs to absorb the water and handle the heat of the day.
Tip 5: Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation
If you set up drip irrigation or soaker hoses rather than spraying from above, you will save water, time, and work! You can even connect an automated timer that will control the watering based on your settings, so you can nearly set it and forget it. Talk about easy!
Watering slowly at the base of the plant also allows it to soak deep into the soil where the roots are establishing, helping them use the water efficiently.
Watering Plants in Containers
Plants in pots on your patio or balcony will dry out much faster than plants in the ground. The same watering principles apply, so check the soil moisture often and don’t be surprised if your containers need daily watering schedules in the heat of summer.